Vignettes from Kaohsiung
I feel like my posts have been coming at a slower rate lately, and for that I apologize. But since I’ve been applying for jobs, and interviewing, and now working, I’m a little busier than I was my first few days here, but as you’ll learn a few inches down the way, there’s really one, major, sad reason as to why my posts have been less prevalent lately, and why they should be picking up in a few days.
I have quite a few little stories to tell today, so we’re gonna have some quick-hit fun. It’s a game for the whole family! But first:
Subscribe to Nick in Asia!
The more eagle-eyed of you dear readers may have noticed that things on the right side of the blog have changed a little. For noticing this, you win a smile and a hearty handshake next time I see you. But if you’re looking now, you’ll no doubt see that at the top of the right column, you now have a couple options to subscribe to this little blog. Doing so will ensure that you never miss a post – unless it’s by choice – and it might give me a tiny ego boost. So really, subscribing to Nick in Asia is a win-win situation.
Pray for My Camera
One of the main reasons I haven’t posted much on here lately is the fact that I don’t have any pictures to post at the moment. On my last day in Taipei, something terrible happened. I was carrying an armful of things back to my room, with my camera on top of the heap. I could have put the camera in my pocket; I should have put it in my pocket. But alas, I did not, and that momentary thoughtlessness cost me. My water bottle fell off to one side, and as I tried to catch it, my camera followed and sailed down to the tile floor. My camera’s fallen before, but this was the final straw. Later that night, I discovered that the toggle switch between “photograph” and “video” was broken, and stuck on video. Sad.
So on Sunday, I found a little Canon section on the Electronics floor in this giant department store. In broken English, the ladies behind the counter told me that they could have it fixed in 5 days for only NT1000 ($30 US). So keep my little trusty camera in your thoughts and prayers. I’ll let you know Friday if I indeed got it back in working condition.
I Got a Haircut
Also on Sunday, it was time for a haircut. Normally haircuts don’t fall into the “newsworthy” category, but this one kinda does. Obviously, this was my first haircut in the Far East. It’s one of those things you don’t think about much in the states, but also one of those things where speaking the same language really comes in handy.
There’s tons of little barbershops here in Kaohsiung, and most of them are little rooms with three or four chairs, and one or two women cutting away. So I walked into one a block down from the hostel and said I needed a trim (by pointing to my head and saying “haircut”). She sat me down, put the little smock over me, and then held up her thumb and forefinger about an inch-and-a-half apart from each other, as if to say, “Is this how much you want taken off?” I laughed, shook my head, and moved her thumb and finger only about half an inch apart. “Like that,” I said. And just to make sure she understood, I held my own thumb and forefinger up about a half inch apart. She smiled, grabbed a comb and some clippers, and I guess thought to herself, “Nope, I’ll cut what I want to cut.”
She started on the sides, using the clippers. I usually only let scissors touch my hair, but it wasn’t a big deal. Many barbers use clippers for the sides before grabbing scissors for the rest. But not my lady. She was in clipper heaven. There were scissors on the counter. Several pair. I saw them. But she showed no interest in them. It was like sitting at your accountant’s desk and watching him doing your taxes on his fingers.
By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late – the top of my head looked like a closely pruned shrub, and I had no choice but to stay in my seat for the whole ride. I think she got a little carried away, and when she went for my bangs a third time, I smiled and said that it was already perfect. I got up, paid her, thanked her, and took my spiky locks home.
My hair’s shorter than it has been in years. But to tell the truth, it really doesn’t look bad at all. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot cooler in this brutal heat than it had been. So really, I just wrote this because it was a fun story. We’ve all won a little something today.
Noodles & Tones
My first night in Kaohsiung, I found corner noodle shop about two blocks from the hostel. I asked for the only dish I knew (Tang mian), and got a wonderful meal. They even added some stuffed wontons on the side. Since then, I’ve been back to my little noodle shop no fewer than five times, and each time I’ve ordered tang mian. Well, I’ve actually gotten three different dishes over the course of my trips. Sometimes I get what I’m pretty sure is tangmian, other times they bring me noodles in some sort of broth, and once I got noodles with something crazy on them.
I have no idea what I’ve been saying, but apparently I need to learn these Chinese tones better. As I’m sure you know, Chinese is an incredibly complex, subtle language, and different tones can mean different things. You can say one word eight different ways, and it can mean eight entirely different things. As soon as I publish this post, I’m headed back to the noodle shop for lunch. I’m half expecting them to bring me a badger and some canola oil.