Tag Archives: Taipei

Taipei in Three

One.

Two.

Three.

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Because who doesn’t like to see adorable Taiwanese children randomly on Tuesday?

Here is a child size chair in a Taiwanese classroom. But where are the children?

D’oh! That’s not a Taiwanese child, that’s ME!

Is that a Taiwanese child? Nope, that’s Teacher Maddie!!! (known to me and you as cousin Maddie)

Ah, finally, the children! Right?

Yep, that is Teacher Maddie’s classroom in Taipei. She and this class hosted me for a day when I visited in May 2011. The class was gracious, hilarious and rambunctious! I was exhausted after the two and a half hour session!

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What I love about TPE

First of all, Taiwan’s largest airport (TPE) essentially has three beautiful names:

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

台湾桃园国际机场 (traditional: 臺灣桃園國際機場)

Táiwān Táoyuán Gúojì Jīchǎng*

*(for non-pinyin readers, this third name is in pinyin, which phonetically spells words using a system of accents that conveys the four to five vowel intonations that gives Mandarin Chinese its very lyrical and incredibly difficult-to-learn reputations).

The airport was a welcome spot to land after my 24-hour journey to Taipei from Catania (CTA) (the return trip took 30 hours). It was easy to navigate and it welcomed me to Taiwan in my own language.

This guy also provided a cute welcome.

On the return trip, I started out by exploring the TPE gates. There was a delightful educational display about Taiwan’s natural resources. It was right next to a series of Prayer Rooms. During my journey to and from Taipei, I encountered Camel sponsored smoking rooms (thanks a-freakin-lot Germany), Chinese tourism posters like this one,

Postal Logistics headrest sponsors (“Go Postal!”),

and all variety of multicultural combinations of food in my airplane meals (e.g., veggie rice stir fry, bread and Irish butter, fresh melon, Chinese beer, and a Tiramisu to finish).

Yet, Taipei was the only airport where I noticed the Prayer Rooms. There were symbols above each doorway indicating which faith was appropriate to which room. The Hindi and Muslim rooms requested removal of shoes, and the Christian room requested silence. Though not religious myself, I really like the idea of prayer room and I wished there had been a non-denominational/non-religious room for quiet contemplation. While I would be comfortable using any of the rooms for that purpose, at times I pause in order to respect those using them for the stated purpose. This desire to display respect (although nobody was around) extended to my reluctance to snap a photo.

However, I did not feel the same reluctance when it came to documenting the translation of the education series. The series of displays, like this one, prepared me for more quiet contemplation.

First, I contemplated spatial relationships.

Second, I contemplated translation choices.
“Its special gorge scene…leaves people all the gasps when they see it…” I thought that was a beautiful way to say it leaves people breathless.

Then, I contemplated the joy and delight of making crayon scrapings. I would not have noticed but nearly ALL the Taiwanese adults were having a great time making the scrapings. Never one to turn down an opportunity for simple joy, I wandered over to take a peek.


This German guy was peeking, too; he started scoffing, I hustled up to the table for my turn!

Here are examples of the carvings.

All European scoffing aside, I had a great time!

I remembered my trip to Taroko Gorge.

What? YOU don’t remember that trip? Oh yea, I haven’t blogged about it yet…

Then, I ventured to Taipei 101 and Sun Moon Lake – two destinations that didn’t fit into my itinerary (hey, family comes first!)

The thoughtfulness, cute factor and love of play evident in my short stint at the TPE airport reaffirmed all I had learned about Taiwanese culture.

Well, perhaps it confirmed what little I had been able to glean in a few weeks of light research and one week of trying to tap into the culture – that the Taiwanese are not only intelligent and resourceful, but they tend to live a life based in the principles of gratitude and graciousness. Gratitude for this very moment, and graciousness to the person next to you. It is a noble and exemplary way to participate in life. Xie xie, Taiwan.

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Mr. Cheeseburger Face Man

Or is it “Mr. Cheeseburger Head Man”???

Cheeseburger FACE?

or

Cheeseburger HEAD?

That is the question.

No matter your answer, if you see this symbol whilst traipsing about Taiwan, you can feel secure that should you stop by for breakfast, brunch or lunch, you will enjoy traditional Taiwanese food, freshly prepared, served in a Western style format familiar to you, at low cost.

Here is another picture with poor lighting. Practice glancing at this quickly before you leave for Taiwan, that way you’ll always be able to spot Mr. Cheeseburger Head Man (JSP) as you are walking down the average Taiwanese street. Streets are filled with a lot of other neato things to look at, plus traffic, scooters, and people, so you might be distracted. And, let’s face it, you don’t want to be so distracted you miss Mr. Cheeseburger Face Man.

If you insist that it is Mr. Cheeseburger Face Man, then you are probably adventurous enough to try this.

I saw these jiggly white patties getting crispy on a griddle in Hualien and just had to try them. Maddie and I mistakenly thought it was some variety of tofu, so Maddie asked for tofu. The two women working the breakfast shop in Hualien looked at us with very confused faces. Maddie was speaking in Chinese, so we thought maybe she hadn’t gotten the tones quite right (each vowel sound has four or five tones that completely change the way the word is understood). Maddie then showed them the kanji characters from her handy phrasebook, and the confused faces stayed right in place. Then Maddie and I were confused! Instead of using words, Maddie walked over and pointed at the cake on the griddle and the cook added it to my breakfast sandwich.

This version was at Mr. Cheeseburger Head Man in Taipei, a hop, skip and a jump from Maddie’s apartment. The mysterious cake is made of turnips or white radishes and it is delicious.


Why yes, that IS a plastic sheath covering a plastic plate.

The crispy edge from sitting on the griddle gives texture points and flavor points to the otherwise flat flavor of the cake. The oil on the griddle probably helps a lot. The flatness of the flavor was hopefully due to the high ratio of turnip to “other” ingredients in the cake. I do not know what those other ingredients might be, but fillers are rarely good for you. The texture of the cake itself was a gelatinous cake. It was not so gelatinous to be Jello-like, and not so gooey as to be cupcake batter, somewhere perfectly in the middle. It got a little boring at the end of the serving pictured above, but when it was served in the middle of a hamburger bun with fillings, an egg and homemade tomato-vinegar sauce, as pictured below, it was delightful!

Listen to Mr. Cheeseburger Head Man and “Just Start a Powerful Day!”

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