Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Travels!

Dr. Dickson has been invited to speak in Amsterdam so he will get to post pictures from Singapore and the Netherlands. Exciting stuff! Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane

Leaving on a 747, in fact. It's about 4:45am, and we're getting ready to go check out of the hotel, get in a car, and head Chiang Kai Shek Airport, where we'll fly to Osaka, and then on to Detroit. We'll arrive in Detroit (through the wonders of a revolving Earth) earlier than when we left Osaka -- our flight leaves there at 1:30pm, and we arrive in Motown at 11:40am on Monday.

When we get back, we'll wrap up this journal, including a description of our adventures at "very famous dumpling restaurant" on our last night here. But for now, it's time to pack up the laptop, and say good-bye to the warm weather, the culture, and the friendliness of Taiwan.

Xie-xie for following us on this adventure, everyone!


Marcus here -- Class is over now

First of all, be sure to look all the way through the blog -- Heather and Pei have caught up on some delayed entries for the blog, and put the entries in correct chronological order, so you'll need to scroll all the way through to see everything!

We wrapped up class today, and it was a good class. The topic was Organizational Staffing, and covered things like Recruiting, Personnel Selection, Performance Appraisal, Employee Retention, Cultural issues affecting Staffing, and linking Staffing to the Organization's Strategy. Fifteen students in total, including several people with a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience in HR and Staffing, and several others with really no Staffing background. It made for an interesting class, trying to balance the needs of both groups. (I'll post a class picture once I get a copy of some of the ones taken today.)

The last part of class is always a group presentation of a project they've worked on all week, and the presentations today were all really good. I was very impressed with the level of effort and understanding, and it was fun to see how they integrated the class topics into their own workplace situations. We also had lunch at Schwarzwald, a local German restaurant, which was a lot of fun.

I learned while I was here that the Baruch HR Executive Master's Program is ready to launch in Singapore, and I am scheduled to teach there the first week of June. I'm already starting to learn about the country, and to prepare for that trip. Apparently the Russia program they had been working on fell through (the partners in Russia were apparently unsavory folks), but I'm excited about the Singapore opportunity.

Tonight is the last night for us here, and we're not yet sure where we're going to dinner, or how we'll spend the evening. Heather did all the laundry, so we're pretty much ready to go. So we'll find something fun to do to wrap up our Taipei adventure and Heather's first trip to Asia, and Pei's initial trip anywhere.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chung Cheng Park

Blogger takes a really long time to upload pictures. So I will be posting a few digital scrapbooks for you to enjoy. You can- (if you feel inclined) print them as scrapbook pages. So... this is the first part of yesterdays trip- to the coast. Our first stop was Chung Cheng Park. The park includes two "temples" one to Milefo and one to the Goddess of Mercy. There were several buddhas that I did not post pictures of. The entire 22.5 meter tall statue of the goddess is surrounded by the various buddhas that one might ask for help with different aspects of life. More about that later... for now enjoy the show;) - love Heather
Click to play Chung Cheng Park
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Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Message from Pei- TALLL BUILDING

Today was supposed to be rainy BUT instead it was sunny and over 70 degrees. We finally made it to the Taipei 101 building. It is very tall, but not as wide as most buildings. In the center of the building there is a damper system which is comprised of many pillars and one HUGE "damper baby" Damper Baby is 660 ton steel weight which hangs in the center of the building to help absorb the sway of the building. They are really proud of the damper giving it a super hero character named Damper Baby. They even display the Damper. We EVEN got our picture taken with the damper. The viewing area for the damper is on floor 88. To get up there you take a superfast elevator. It was like half a minute to go from the 5th floor to the 89th. Our ears were popping!

On floor 89 there is an observation area which is all enclosed and has a shopping area. They had a display of the Taipei 101 and Marcus showed me where we were at in the building. Then we got to look ou the windows. You could see the WHOLE city. Even though there was a little bit of fog you could still see the mountains in the distance. The entire building has windows all around it. Heather and Marcus wondered how they cleaned the windows on the building. Marcus said they might have a system for it and that sound like a good idea. Then we saw these guys. Heather decided that she doesn't do windows! I don't think any of us wanted to volunteer to be part of the window cleaning crew. To get to the outside viewing area you climb a set of stairs. We went up three flights of stairs to reach the 91st floor. Then we got to go out side to look around. The view was awesome. The sun was nice and warm but it was still windy.

After we looked around we went back and saw a video about the building being built. The end of the video had a section on the 2008 new year celebration where they shot fireworks off of the building. That was sooo cool! Before we went down, we sat at a little table and had some ice cream- Marcus had mint chocolate chip (Michael's favorite, boy I can't wait to meet him). Then we got BACK on the super fast elevator and shot back down to the shopping mall that is in the first several floors of the building. There was a McDonalds there and we got French Fries (mmmmm yummy) We also got Michael a present, but I can't tell you what it is. What a fun day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I wasn't feeling great yesterday, but this morning I am some better. I put this together, these were taken yesterday on the tour of the Northeast coast and Chiufen Village. About an hour's drive north of Taipei.

Click to play Northeasterncoast
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Marcus again

Heather's going to catch up on the blog for Pei, but right now, she's a little worn out. We had a long but fun day, and it was rainy and wet, so she's taking a bit of a nap before we grab some dinner.

We had planned this morning to go to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world (or at least, it is depending how you measure!). You can get a great view for miles around from the indoor observation deck on the 89th floor, or from the outdoor deck on the 91st floor. (There are, you guessed it, 101 floors in all.) However, we took a look from our hotel, and saw that this might not be the best day for viewing the view from 101 -- you can see the building looming over everything else, but the top floors, including the observation decks, were hidden in the clouds. So we thought we'd wait until another time to use the world's fastest elevator (84 floors in 37 seconds!).

What we did do today was go on a tour to the NorthEast coast of Taiwan, and to Chiufen Village. The NorthEast coast is very rugged, with stone beaches -- very little sand at all. The waves were running high today, and crashing on the shore. Both Heather and I took little spills as we walked out onto the rocks jutting into the North China Sea, and discovered that some of those rocks were very very slick.

Chiufen Village (by the way, also spelled Jioufan Village, just to make it interesting on the map) is the site of what was essentially a gold rush town in the early 1900s. The gold is long gone, but the village remains, apparently mostly as a tourist location. It is high on a mountain, up a VERY long and twisty road that made me think that even the roads in Pittsburgh are straight compared to this road. At the top, we went to see the local temple, and to wander through the many, many shops of food, clothes, souvenirs, and who knows what else. I had some sausage grilled right there, and also a sort of ice cream in which they put a scoop of what seemed pretty close to sherbet onto a sort of rice tortilla spread with peanuts, add in some parsley, and then roll it all up like a burrito. It took a little to get used to, but was actually pretty good.

Tomorrow will probably hold the Taipei 101 trip, even though the weather doesn't look a lot better. We'll also probably go out after my class is over to participate in the Lantern Festival -- the conclusion of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lunch at the Grand Hotel

Today... I felt REALLY awful- But we did manage to get out and about to the Grand Hotel. Jenny, from Leadchief took us to lunch there where we had dim sum. So many really wonderful dishes. My favorite was the seafood soup, (no wheat!) Marcus seemed to prefer these little bread wraps with bbq pork inside. I felt really bad and I didn't take pictures. However, I pulled some stock photos so you can see the place. Sorry, I know I have subjected you to a lot of slideshows and digital scrapbooks but here's another one;)

Click to play Grand Hotel Taipei
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Here is more about the hotel:

"After Chiang Kai-shek's retreat to Taiwan in 1949, Chiang felt it was difficult to accommodate foreign ambassadors, as there weren't any five-star hotels in Taipei. Thus, he wanted to build an extravagant hotel to treat foreign guests. His wife Soong May-ling suggested to build it on the old Taiwan Hotel on Yuanshan Mountain, the site of the ruins of the Taiwan Grand Shrine, a Shinto shrine during the Japanese rule. Chiang decided on a Chinese palace-style architecture to promote Chinese culture to the West through its extravagance. Taipei-based architect Yang Cho-Cheng was responsible for the design of the new hotel.

The hotel was established in the May of 1952, but it was expanded several times before it became the landmark as it is known today. The swimming pool, tennis court, and the membership lounge were constructed in 1953, and Golden Dragon Pavilion and Golden Dragon Restaurant opened in 1956. The Jade Phoenix Pavilion and Chi-Lin Pavilion opened in 1958 and 1963, respectively. In 1968, the hotel was rated as one of the world's top ten hotels by the US Fortune magazine. And finally, in the Double Tenth Day of 1973, the main Grand Hotel building was completed, making it an instant Taipei icon.

In June 1995, a disastrous fire broke out on the roof during necessary reconstruction and refurbishment, and because neither ladders nor high pressure pumps could reach the fire, the roof and the upper floors were destroyed. Not until 1998 did the hotel recover from the damage and became fully reopened to the public. Following the fire, the two dragon heads on the roof were rotated 180 degrees to point inwards. As dragons are traditionally a symbol of rain and water, this was intended to symbolize preparedness against a future fire."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Of Cabbages and Kings....

Today Pei, Marcus and I went to the National Palace Museum. Here we learned alot about Chinese Calligraphy. I was of course interested in seeing the art and figuring out its influences. One of the things I thought was so incredibly striking is that if there is a great piece of art that it often copied. In fact copying great works was looked upon as a GOOD thing. The more closely copied the more honor you did the artist. This is very much counter to the ideas of the western world that prizes art as individual expression.

I had to put together a slide show from the Palace Museum site. When Marcus was there last he was able to take pictures. WE however were not. So I gathered pictures of some of MY favorite things. I was there on Sunday with a quick tour group. Then again today with better company;) Sadly though, I am beginning to really feel under the weather.

The National Palace Museum Slideshow-

Click to play National Palace Museum
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After the National Palace Museum we made our way to Longshan Temple and finally the market-

The original was built in 1738by settlers from China. The temple has since been destroyed either in full or in part by earthquakes and fires and in 1945, it was even hit by American bombers who claimed the Japanese were hiding armaments inside. Taipei residents rebuilt it as soon as the war was over. Determine no? Longshan is seen as an emblematic example of Taiwanese classical architecture. At the site one can worship Buddhist, Taoist or even folk deities like Matsu.
But here is my slideshow for it:

Click to play Longshan Temple
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

A message from Pei- Sightseeing and lots of Lions!

Today is Sunday, February 17th, 2008 but if you are in Taiwan it is also the local year 97.

Today we went traveling around the city in a van to see all of the sites. Of course we could not see all of them in a day, not even in a week! Taipei is a very large city! Taipei is actually from two words Tai-which means Taiwan and Pei which means North. (So my name means north). The first stop was at the building once called Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (It is being called Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall- Heather will give you more about that later.)On the left you can see the Memorial hall with 89 steps each step is a year in the life of Chaing Kai-Shek. Here I am getting ready to go in the main hall.

There in the main hall there is a huge bronze statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. There in the hall there is a also a display of "kites of freedom." Some of the kites are really cool and some are almost a little scary. From the Memorial Hall we hopped back into the van and drove a few minutes to a Taoist Temple-

This particular temple is called the Bao-An Temple. This is one of the most popular temples in Taipei. The largest temple is called the Lungshan Temple and we will go see it tommorrow. The Bao-An Temple is primarily a Taoist temple though it is certain also for Buddists. Many of the temple's visitors come to pray for health, fortune and to see to it that the ancestors are taken care of. There were lots of inscence sticks and burners. There were also lots of lions used in the decoration of the buildings the way some places uses gargoyles. Chinese lions/Taiwanese Lions have scary expressions on their faces and their mouths open to protect the people and ward away evil and bad luck. I am not sure I would make a good guardian lion, yet. I will keep practicing! We watched people make offerings to the gods and keep the memory of the ancestors. Finally, we got back into the little van and continued our journey.

Our next stop was the Martyr's Shrine which is a war memorial- the brochure says this: The Martyrs Shrine is dedicated to approximately 330,000 men who sacrificed their lives to the overthrowing of the Ching Dynasty before the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, and who fell during the Sino-Japanese war (1938-1945) and the Chinese Civil war (1945-1949). Plates of these brave and loyal martyrs have been inserted into the four walls of the main building in testimony of their heroic deeds.

Here at the gates there are guards that stand perfectly still until the changing of the guard. This place was very solemn. Heather got some video of the changing of the guard but I was busy practicing my chinese lion stance. Do you think this is any better? After my practice, it had started to rain so we were happy to climb back into the van for the long drive to the National Palace Museum. We didn't get to take any pictures there because it is now forbidden to take pictures in the museum itself. We saw the ivory ball in a ball in a ball in a ball and the jadite cabbage. Marcus has pictures of this stuff because you could take pictures the last time HE was here. So we can use them. We were in a rush and Heather and I decided we would come back tomorrow!

On the drive back, the driver dropped everyone else all, but because we are Americans he drove us over by the Taipei 101 so we could see it. He was really a fan of the US. It made us feel really good to be from there!

As we drove by, traffic was stopped by a light and we snapped this rainy window picture. Tomorrow Marcus, Heather and I will go back to the National Palace Museum. So, more from me after that!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ya live... ya learn

Sunday- February17th- 1p.m.

It has been threatening to rain all day... so Pei and I decided to stay close to the hotel. The Lamb Restaraunt was close and the food there wasn't bad... also we have to be ready to leave for the tour so we couldn't afford to get lost today... HOWEVER... That's where the where the story gets interesting. Since I didn't want to have the same thing twice. Pei and I ordered Lamb and Melon. Sadly, there was alot to be said for my preconcieved notions of what I was about to partake of. Never the less we waited until our meal had been prepared and placed in to go boxes. I had to wonder what this would taste like, because to me melon is a sweet thing... so... we took our lunch back to the hotel room. Of course Pei was willing to guard it because it was lamb and that is tasty. Never the less we opened our treasure and at first glance were intrigued but not alarmed. At first bite I realised that this was made with what is called bitter melon. It gave the dish a kind of bite kinda like cold strong coffee, but not quite flavored that way. I mixed it with the rice unwilling to rule a food out just because it was a little out of my comfort zone. The next threat to my comfort zone occurred when after the third time of

coming acrossed something not really flavored except kinda briney but both rubbery and crunchy at the same time. I had cleaned off the first small bit so digging some more out,. As I was putting more on my plate, I took a good look at the colors and textures. The bitterness of the dish had already ruled out a repeat performance. Then I found these little devils... I began to laugh really hard and then finished my plate before it all sunk in. You can't see it very well in the picture but they are little fish... heads and all. Not unlike an anchovy, but certainly not as strong in flavor... oh and they were crunchy. In my head the first rule of any cultures cuisine is that they eat it and it doesn't kill them so I'll live. However, eating like a native here is NOT for the timid! Again, I did finish my plate, but sadly I did not finish the whole take out box. Tried it Kept it down- sounds like a success to me. I don't think that it is something I would try again. Not so much because the fishies had their heads but more so because the bitter melon did not have a flavor I liked. Pei didn't seem so willing to guard it after all. Maybe the stuffed lion has more wisdom then I give him credit for. Well, can't say I am not willing to try something. However, pray for me... it sounds like I am gonna need it.

My Breakfast Faux Pas

Well, it would seem I made my first slip in the OH I shouldn't have eaten that column. Apparently, the sauce on the Chilli Bean Curd was a wheat product... hrm... but after spending most of the morning recovering from THAT... I have booked a tour of the city this afternoon. Pei and I took our morning tea in the hotel room. But I am feeling better now and am having some coffee. Then thought I would share this.

Of course THIS gives me a chuckle. and while I am not entirely sure what Love milk is but strangely it tastes like fresh milk and it is heavy on the cream factor. YOU JUST can't get milk like this at home unless you go to a farm. Its really good. However, the name is once again a tribute to the strangely-almost english- product names and advertisements. It served to amuse me. Hope you got a kick out of it too! More Later-

A message from Pei- Night Market Fun

I waited for my turn to use the computer. Now, I get to tell you all about the rest of our day!

After a nap, it was time to go back out exporing. We went out and about to see the sites and sounds of Taipei at night! Here is a picture of Heather and I out shopping. It was kinda crazy because there were so many people. Taipei has a population of 2,630,872 people, so you see it really is a large city. There are lots of signs that are written in Mandrin and some that are in English. Sometimes, though the english doesn't make much sense to people who speak English every day. Like this sign for shoes. Which says Fancy Holiday... There are lots of signs and shirts which say things in English just to be in English even if they don't make much sense.

After our trip to the market it was time for dinner. It was pretty easy to figure out what they were selling. They sell goat and lamb. They even have goat horns in the window on display. Which doesn't bother a lion like me. Not sure Michael would like it though. We got our dinner to go and I could hardly wait to dig in because Lamb and green onions didn't sound too bad to me. It smelled really good too. I even got a good sniff from inside the bag. So, I was all ready to have dinner and get ready for bed. It has been a really long day and tomorrow afternoon Heather and I will be going on a city tour. That should be fun and we will have to tell you all about it. *yawn* its time for good little lions to be asleep.
So good night-

Marcus here

Just a quick note to say that we've had a good time here so far, and all is well. I taught class today, and had 15 students. There is a real range of background and experience among the students, so class is interesting. For lunch we went to a Japanese place, and I had tempura (flash fried vegetables and seafood).

This evening, Heather and I (and Pei) went to the Shida Night Market. Heather got some cool photos to show this very densely packed, very Chinese location. We'll probably make it to she Guaxi Night Market later this week -- also known as Snake Alley. It's right next to the Longshan Temple, so we'll go there first, and then go get a foot massage at the Night Market. Lots of fun things for us to do here, but first, I have another full day of teaching tomorrow. So we're having a late dinner of Lamb with green onions, and noodles, and then it is bed time!

A Message from Pei- Cool things

Breakfast time!!! Yummy! There are all kinds of foods here in Taiwan, some of them Michael would eat and some he might not like so well. For breakfast we had: Scrambled Eggs, Fried Rice, Grapes, Grapefruit and Cabbage. Do you think you would like any of these things? I liked the scrambled eggs- yummy!

After breakfast it was time for Marcus to go teach, so he left us

to go do that- Wave bye! He will be back later today after he teaches his new Master Degree students. Then tonight we will go to something called a night market. Do you think they sell Nights there?

After Marcus left Heather and I had to decide what to do... We looked out over the city and it was huge. But we took off for a walk and decided that we would need some snacks for later and it would be nice to go get some lunch. Before we left though we accidently scared the lady who came to make our bed. She was very sweet though. So... we went off to get some lunch. I was hopping for a nice big steak... instead.. we got TEA EGGS... with seaweed... hrmmm... We tried them and they were pretty good But I think I would have rather had a steak. We walked 2 miles around the city and went to the family market and the wellcome market. We got sugar and milk and cornflakes and cookies and because it is still part of the Lunar New Year celebration and the Lantern festival we got a special rice cake to celebrate. I haven't eaten any of it, but I sure hope its better than tea eggs. Heather liked them but she doesn't think Michael would. I think I would agree with Michael! We also got Seaweed Sushi potato chips (yuck what is with Heather and seaweed today?) THEN, we got chips ahoy chocolate chip cookies, which Heather says Marcus and Michael like alot. I have to agree with them! Good thing we didn't find any seaweed cookies. All in all though we saw LOTS of scooters... and some really cool things! (just not the tea eggs)