|Outdoor Hotspring at Xin Beitou|
The outdoor place was fun but crowded. There were various pools of different temperatures and a cold shower. It didn't seem especially clean, but hey, everyone else was in there. They wouldn't keep going in there if there were some serious hygiene problem right? As usual, my lackadaisical approach to hygiene had no bad consequences.
|I guess it is a bit low-cut...|
I will say though that my swimming suit was wildly inappropriate. Most women were wearing one-piece suits which showed now cleavage and had little skirts, kind of more like tennis dresses. My bikini is not atypical for home, but was a bit odd here. It being the polite and civilized city that it is, though, no one gave me any trouble at all. There was just a bit of involuntary staring, but nothing serious.
On Monday we had our first calligraphy class. I was a little disappointed that we didn't actually get to try anything. Why is that? I happened to have been contemplating an essay I had to write for class on theory versus practice in education. Our system is really slanted toward practice. Do stuff! try stuff! or at least form opinions about stuff! The first calligraphy class involved a lot of advertisement for why calligraphy is cool (and by the by, why our teacher is so good at it). But I have heard that speech many times over. That part does not make my calligraphy any better. My calligraphy never really gets too much better because so much of the time allotted for class is involved with proselytizing calligraphy or talking about the theory behind it. Still, it was interesting in the second half of the class because he wrote each of our Chinese names for us.
Right after the class, I went out to a hotpot restaurant with one of our teachers and all her students, as well as one of the other teachers and her students. It was a big group, about 20. The restaurant was interesting, buffet style, with all kinds of appetizers and desserts as well as hot-pot ingredients. Then everyone had their own little bowl of soup. I ate way too much, but had a fun time chattering, mostly with the teachers (who are roughly my age).
On Tuesday it was busy busy busy as usual. I was supposed to write two essays, but I could only manage one, plus my other homework. The other essay is always optional anyway. They just said, "However much you can write, write that much." That is a kind of devilish proposition, because usually I end up writing a lot. Tuesday night, though, "however much I could write" turned out to be nothing. That was okay too.
|A Yellow Shrine|
Wednesday was the Fourth of July. I started out the day in kind of a bad mood but I had a meeting for the school e-bulletin at lunch and the teacher who runs it said really nice things about my writing in Chinese. I had written a brief report about a talk I had gone to see (on visual representations of the garden from Hong Lou Meng) and she really liked it. Usually I do not much go in for compliments, but it is easy to feel discouraged about my Chinese sometimes. I am working hard at it, but the bar is always getting raised. So it was a very cheery thing.
After school I had been intending to go with some of the students to a big ferris wheel, but when I went there no one was there. Kids today. I later found out they had changed the meeting time via Facebook only about half an hour before, but I hadn't thought to check. Anyway, I had been sitting in a cafe with R doing homework, so we just wandered back to my neighborhood and went to a Korean restaurant instead. I introduced her to naengmyeon. She liked it! It was pretty good naengmyeon. I was reminded that there have been many Fourths of July in my life when I have eaten Korean food. Anyway, I companionably walked R to her bus stop after dinner and it was all really nice.
R and I had made a pact that we were going to work on our own research after school. We headed to a non-school part of town, near the Zhongxiao Dunhua subway stop. It was a much more ritzy part of town than I am used to.
|View from the Window of Rainbow Cafe|
This was the view out the window of the cafe. I should have been more conscientious about taking a picture of the inside. I have been to very many cool cafes lately, and never even the same one twice, though each one was easily cool enough to go back to. There is just such a thriving cafe culture here. There are chains (Starbucks, Dante), but there are also just a lot of great independent ones which have so much character. People know what they want: a nice place to sit and do their work. Taipei is happy to provide it.
I got a good couple hours of work in on the manuscript, which made me feel satisfied. We got a nice dinner and some frozen yogurt, and then I bought the next installment of my comic book at the nearby Eslite Bookstore. I am up to volume 4! It really makes me happy to feel like I can read something in Chinese for fun, even though it is translated from Japanese. I also feel justified in buying them because they are not available for sale outside of Taiwan (supposedly).
By the way, I have also seen some exceptionally fine looking lizards. They are hard to catch on camera, but here are a couple:
|In the Grass|
|On the Tree|
There is not too much else to tell I guess. Yesterday (Friday) there was a big and violent rain. I dropped by the library after class. After I came out I walked down the Avenue of Palms and it was very soggy.
|Rainwater on the Avenue of Palms|
There is so much life here. It springs up everywhere. The people seem lively too. I'm sure they have their flaws, but I feel inclined to see them best in them, almost all the time. Really my only complaint about being here is the weather which is no one's fault, and of course I did know what to expect.
Unexpectedly, the library closed at 5. Since it didn't seem like time to stop working (I was doing an abstract for a conference I might go to) it was off to another cafe. It was a great one, near the Gongguang MRT, again up on the second floor above a fantastic "guabao" (steamed bread sandwich). Of course I had a sandwich too. Here is the adorable hand-drawn menu from the cafe:
I am definitely going back here again. For real!
|First Taipei Haircut|
It's always hard to tell with a new haircut, but so far I feel really happy with it. The guy also seemed to enjoy talking with me, and I was having an okay Chinese language day, so I managed to understand most of what he said.
Tomorrow it is more new cafe and social adventures, and I am going to update more regularly so I don't have to do everything at once like this. I am resolved!