S: My Trip to Taiwan by Andrew Laffoon
BC: Thanks to my beautiful wife for putting up with me being gone for so long, my wonderful relatives for taking me around, to Jeremy and Celine for hosting me and showing me great food, and the Mixbook team for being awesome!
1: My Trip to Taiwan by Andrew Laffoon
3: Introduction In April 2007, I traveled to Taiwan to visit the Mixbook offices in Taipei. This book is the story of my trip. Enjoy!
4: Part 1: Six Thousand Miles of Water
5: 2:00pm - Tuesday, April 3, 2007 After a short vacation with my wife, here I am about to leave the office. She's going to miss me. | Notice the Chinese book in my hand. I had a lot to learn to communicate in Taiwan!
6: Here's my plane! The flight to Taiwan took about 14 hours, but I slept nearly the whole way! They did give me some cool slippers though... | When I woke up... I was in a different country. As I walked off the plane, I was surrounded by people - Asian people! And...it seemed that very few of them could speak English...
7: At the Airport After some fun adventures trying to tell cab drivers that No!, I did not need a ride in their cabs. For some reason, saying "No" in English seems to mean yes in their dialect of Chinese. So I started saying "bu yao", which means "I don't want" in Mandarin. That worked pretty well.... until finally...
8: Meet Jeremy Lu and his fiance, Celine Jeremy helped us build the Mixbook Creator from our "office" in Taipei, and he is getting married in June 2007 to his beautiful fiance, Celine. They were my hosts...and my ride. :)
9: Jeremy and Celine took me to my first Night Market Experience! Luckily, there was a night market conveniently located 1 block from my hotel.
10: Part 2: Mixbooking in Taiwan
11: My First Morning in Taiwan After waking up, I headed over for my first day at the Mixbook office in Taipei. These are some of the scenes that I saw while walking around the streets of Taiwan every day. | Part 2: Mixbooking in Taiwan
12: Scooters! | In Taiwan, scooters are everywhere. The drive fast and wild, and if you don't watch it, they'll hit you!
13: Oh, and before the truck comes by, a guy rides by on a bike ringing a bell. All day long. Glad that's not my job. :) | Garbage Trucks The garbage trucks in Taiwan are hilarious! I wish I had more photos of this... Unlike America, garbage trucks in Taiwan drive down the street without stopping. People literally RUN out of their houses and shops, throw their trash in the back. And the whole time, the trucks are playing classical music. Seriously.
14: And, of course. There is the Mixbook Office.
15: This is where I spent most of my time in Taiwan. Coding. (Jeremy looks tired)
16: Part 3: Taiwan = Incredible Food
18: Food in Taiwan is really incredible. | They have so many delicious dishes. like...
19: Beef in Scallion Pancakes Delicious slices of beef wrapped in hot scallion pancakes. This is savory and delicious! | Oyster Omelet "Owa Zhen" Typically found in the night markets, this is a DELCIOUS oyster omelet served piping hot with special sauce. I could eat these every day!
21: A Taiwanese Feast In Taiwan, ancestors are very important. They have a special festival called the "Tomb Sweeping Festival" for returning to your hometown to care for ancestors' graves. Luckily for me, this festival traditionally includes the preparation of an amazing feast for the family! | Jeremy and Celine invited me along, and I have to say it was one of the best meals I had! In this meal, you make "Chinese Burritos" full of vegetables, rice, noodles and meats, plus some incredible peanut powder that adds a wonderfully unique flavor to this already unique dish.
22: Taiwanese Beef Curry Tender beef in delicious, savory, slightly spicy curry with vegetables over rice. Only 70 NTD (a little more than $2 US) | Fish Ball Soup A light but flavorful broth and tantalizing fish balls make this a delicious snack! I ate these in Danshui with Bekah's relatives... so delicious!
23: Sweet Omelet Ice Cream Bar A strange but delicious snack that I bought at a gift shop at the top of Yan Ming Shan (a mountain outside of Taipei). | Chua Bing Taiwanese shave ice - it's huge among the college crowd at National Taiwan University. Mine was filled with sweet red bean and peanuts MMMMMMMM. :)
24: And Now The most Taiwanese dish of all So authentic, my wife doesn't even like it. Stinky Tofu
25: Look at me! I'm Taiwanese!
26: Part 4 Touring Taiwan with Relatives
28: The Wang Family (plus me)
29: Jiu Jiu | Jiu Ma | Xing-Yi | Seng-Wen
30: While in Taiwan, I got to spend time with my wife's relatives who live in Taipei. Spending time with them was one of the most fun and rewarding parts of my trip to Taiwan. Enjoy. =)
31: The First Day We left from Yong Ho (my hotel) at 6:30 am. | I'm not used to this! But it was fun!
32: The first place we visited was the National Palace Museum. When Chiang Kai Shek left China for Taiwan, he took many of the cultural treasures with him - and they are displayed here.
33: It's beautiful here. | Even at 7 in the morning...
34: Then, we headed up the mountain (Yang Ming Shan), where we spent the day...
38: We visited a volcanic area at the top of Yan Ming Shan (Mountain)
39: And we took some pictures together... | (and I went a little crazy in the fumaroles)
40: Next, we headed to Danshui, a city by the sea north of Taipei. (It was a foggy day, so we couldn't see much of the ocean) | Danshui (pronounced dahn shwei) is famous for its special Taiwanese foods and beautiful ocean views.
41: Of course, we had to start our time by eating some Delicious Taiwanese Food. =) | Sadly, I don't remember what these are, but I'm sure they were delicious!
42: We watched people FLIP things in the air.... | And, occasionally ... catch them. (of course, the dropping is fun too...)
43: This guy threw small pastries up in the air... and then he waited... | "Why isn't it falling?" (it's because he had a special section of the ceiling for them to stick to...)
44: We got to ride the ferry across the water to Bali (a small city also on the coast). | And we got to eat tons of good food...
46: And we finished the day of with... A Feast With all of my mother-in-law's family.
48: One week later... (early in the morning)
49: We took another trip. This time it was only Jiu Jiu (uncle), Jiu Ma (aunt) and me.
50: We visited Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall | It is surrounded by a beautiful courtyard, along with Taiwan's National Concert Hall and National Theater.
51: Top: Me in front of the National Concert Hall P.S. The name of the giant gate is crazily cool | Middle: The Gate of Great Centrality and Perfect Uprightness Bottom: National Theater
52: We dropped by the Grand Hotel
54: Then, we visited my Uncle and Aunt's home in Shi Lin. They still live in the same house where Uncle John, Rebekah's mom and their brother grew up. Amazing! Here is the street they live on:
55: The House is full of history. In one doorway, they had measuring marks for the height of every member of the family. | Here I am measuring myself and pointing to the measurement for Bekah when she visited 10 years ago.
56: Then, we ate some Taiwanese Water Apples ("lian wu") | These beautiful fruits are sweeter and crispier than normal apples, and they have a unique bell shape and amazing sweet taste!
57: And we had a little Chinese lunch with many different Chinese and Taiwanese delicacies. | You can see the chefs above hard at work in the kitchen making my food!
58: After lunch, we visited a traditional Taiwanese market. Visiting these traditional markets is quite an adventure. At the market, you can find all types of unusual things, along with the normal things you would expect (at bargain prices). You can find (see next page): - Purses (with nice fake brands!) - Clothes (of all types) - Fresh food (and samples!) - Fresher Food (notice the fish in the bottom right) - REALLY FRESH FOOD - they have LIVE chickens, which they will take and kill for you on the spot. You can't find that in the US!
60: As our last stop for the day, we visited the changing of the guard at the Martyr's Shrine
62: Every two hours, the guards perform a dramatic march from the front gate to the main building of the shrine in the back.
63: It culminates with a dramatic ascension | Up the stairs...
64: But, for all the drama, I had the most fun just taking pictures
65: I'm a bit of a nerd sometimes
66: While in Taiwan, I did many other fun things. Here are some pictures that fill in the gaps.
70: I love you Taiwan! I'll be back again soon. Next time, I'll bring my wife! :)