GYA13: Vaccination shot and Zhuyin class

Ahhh, the vac shots, such a traumatic experience.  Thumper has never cried so long and so hard since her vac shot in Taiwan.  They’re totally no non-sense in the health clinic.  Because of it she was more adamant about not getting a shot.  When we next got our shot in the US, it was breezy and no tears, because of the nurse’s attitude.  At instances like this, I’m very much aware that my kids are very American in their upbringing. 

I’m oh so glad Thumper’s now past the phase of crying at every single new class/encounter.  It is one developmental period I wouldn’t like to repeat.

Itinerary:  Vaccination shot, some Taiwanese food, zhuyin class

Have I mentioned that Taipei has been raining non-stop for the last week?  The weather has also turned cold, in the 50’s.  We did not bring enough wintery clothes with us.  I will need to somehow find the time to go shopping for some jackets.  In the meantime, this rain is driving me nuts.

My friends had told me it’s rains alot and wondered why I wanted to go back in December.  I said as long as it’s warm it’s fine.  And it is.  But one thing I didn’t count on was that we drive everywhere in the US.  So in a way the rain doesn’t bother us.  But here, you’re constantly whipping out your umbrella and really feeling the weather and wetness.
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GYA13: Getting a Medical Exam

So the moral of the story for getting residency?  Don’t wait till your kids are past 6.  So many more hoops they have to jump.

Itinerary: medical exam, grocery shopping, swimming lesson.

The days are slowly starting to blur together now that the kids have adjusted their sleep somewhat.  Now we’re going to sleep at 10pm every night, and getting up at 8-9am, which is a bit late.  It keeps all the adults up having to entertain them.  So I’m going to try and get them to sleep earlier.

GYA13 Taipei continues to rain rain rain nonstop, and I don’t feel like doing much.  Except that there isn’t much to do at home either so we have to go out or else everyone goes crazy and watches too much TV.

The first stop today was a medical exam at 和平醫院 (He Ping Hospital).  I was going to go on Wednesday but then thinking we had to have a stool sample, delayed it.  We need the medical exam in order to be a resident here.

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GYA13: Shopping for rainboots

The 雜貨店 was my favorite store in Taipei and one I tell everyone to go to.  Everything you ever need, other than food, is there crammed into 4 stories.   It’s right down the street from the Technology Station MRT.  This is where I bought our rain boots, all of ours stationary supplies, our ID holders, our piggie banks, and ultimately my tea set.  

Itinerary: Rainboots, New Cellphone, “organic” milk

Today was a shopping day, something I’d been meaning to do for days and days.  With 2 kids, it takes a whole day to shop.

Our first stop today was at the local 雜貨店.  I don’t know the English words for it.  It’s kind of like a Daiso.  We went looking for some rain gear since it’s been raining so much and the kids don’t hold their umbrellas correctly.  After trying on numerous pairs of shoes, we settled on a pink pair of rainboots for Astroboy (he wanted that color).

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GYA13: Department of Health & Swimming

I keep forgetting why we only end up with 1-2 activities a day max when we were in Taiwan.  Because we kept stopping to have a snack or lunch or snack!

Itinerary: Department of Health,  Swimming

It continues to rain rain rain here, non-stop.  The kids no longer find novelty in holding an umbrella and walking long distances.  We’ve yet to purchase rainboots and raincoats so it makes every outing a nagging session (“hold the umbrella right”, “don’t step in the puddles!”), which I’m sure is not helping.

I decided we needed to get started on getting residency, given how many surprises I’ve encountered each time I try to do something related to this.  The first top is the local Department of Health to translate their vaccination records into Chinese.  Taipei is carved into districts and each district apparently has its own health department, kind of cool.  Ours happen to be super close, just a 15 minute walk with kids.

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GYA13: Daan Park, Swimming

 Taking swim lessons was one of my least favorite part about the trip, in hindsight.  It gave me a taste of what fairly traditional teachers, and parents, are like.  I was so surprised at how often I heard different parents say, “The children need a teacher who are mean stern to toe them in line.  Because look at how they don’t behave otherwise.  They ride all over the teacher.”  

There are definite differences in expectations in appropriate children behavior.  And for some of these parents, a stern teacher equates to a good teacher.  

I’ve since heard from a fellow swimmer friend from Taiwan that there are different systems of learning to swim in Taiwan and the teachers in these teaching schools tend to be a bit more old school than say, YMCA.

Itinerary: Daan Park, Citibank, Shaved Ice, Swimming lesson

Our daily life has settled into a routine where I try to do one adult event, be it shopping or getting residency) and one child fun event.  Today the adult event was getting a bank acct, cellphone, and milk.  But, I only managed one of those thing.

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GYA13: Hsin Yi Kids Park

Funnily, after this one indoor play area, I never went to another except once at the top of a department store.  

Itinerary: Hsin Yi Kids Park, curry

Today was a rainy day so I decided to look for an indoor play area.  I found this great website that gives you the lowdown on places to go in Taiwan, mostly Taipei.  They’re on Facebook too.

1.1387178001.ball-poolThere were a lot of cool sounding places, like a Toy Museum, and the Science and Technology museum.  But since it was raining pretty hard, I decided to go by taxi to somewhere close, Hsin Yi Kids Park.  It’s right in the basement of the Hsin Yi publishing company bookstore.  What sold me was the sheer amount of disinfecting they do.

The “park” itself is basically 5 main areas, a huge reading room that noone really went to, an empty space that parks toy cars and is where you have music time, two areas devoted to motor skills like puzzles or thematic activities, and a huge gross motor skill area which features a ball pool.  Ball pools seem to be the thing for most indoor play areas here.  And there are so many too.  I can’t quite imagine Studio Grow having such an area.

We had our temperature taken and our hands sprayed with alcohol before we went in.  The kids went straight for the plastic ball pool.  We paid $250/person to stay there for all 3 “sessions”.  Each session is 2 hours long with half hour disinfecting time, and limited to 50 families.  However, we only stayed from 10 to 2 or so.  I got really bored just watching the kids play.  GYA13

They mostly played with the pool, and some of the fine motor toys.  It was pretty full in the morning with a lot of young children but less so in the afternoon.  What was neat was that the theme this time was the “Barefoot King“, which is a newly published.  So they had activities from the book, like walking on stilts.

During the time the park was closed, we went looking for food down the street.  Thumper wanted curry instead of potstickers, so we tried this place called Ebisu.  I was hesitant because it featured items such as cheese and chicken curry and yogurt and mushroom curry, which we ordered.  It came with cut up slices of cheese right on top.  Strange I say.  But at the end of the day, tastes just like curry and the kids wolfed it down.

Anyways, after I dragged the kids away at 2 something, we came home and I forced everyone to take a nap.  It took some doing and they all slept till 6pm.  We then had another delicious dinner by Aunty.  (I must take a picture one day).  My third aunt came and brought some toys.  (yay!) and Thumper is now learning how to read the chinese characters off of Chinese Chess.  Hopefully my uncle will be able to teach her how to play because it’s been awhile for me.

GYA13: Rainy Day in Taipei

Wow, I didn’t realize this is 5 days after we got to Taiwan.  Still suffering from jet lag!  Wonder how our Japan trip will be like this time because I’ve filled out days with sightseeing from the minute we land!

I really like to slow travel and am happy Fleur apparently does too.  One of my favorite activity is to just hop on the subway and ride it all the way to the end station.  I love people watching, and imagining the kind of lives the passengers are leading, where they’re going. 

Itinerary: Chinese breakfast, nap, massage, NTU waffle, dinner

After yesterday’s marathon walk to the park, I decided to take it easy today.  The sky decided to help by raining really hard when Astroboy woke up at 5am.  Thumper decided to get up at 6am and after awhile they were making too much noise for all the other sleeping occupants in the house, so I took them out for Chinese breakfast again at the same place we go to every day.

On the way back, we decided to take a detour on the MRT.  We just hopped on the metro and went 4 stops.  The MRT was very full on both directions for a Saturday morning.  I’ve actually never seen it quite this full because we usually hop up at 6am, when the metro starts.  We saw a group of children who were going to a vollyball game.  And others who look like they’re going to work.

Thumper and Astroboy could barely walk home so I made them take a nap.  It took about an hour for Astroboy to go down.  But he went down for a good 3 hours. Thumper, on the other hand did not want to nap, so she listened to the whole Wizard of Oz on audiobook as we passed the morning.  I napped with Astroboy for a bit and then sat in front of the laptop.  We had lunch, she went back to listening.  Then I went to get a massage at 2pm for my bad back.   (more…)

GYA13: A Walk to Taipei Library

I need to write a post about getting a Household Registration in Taiwan.  My mother thought I was crazy in getting one since we don’t live there.  But it makes life so much easier when you have an ID and is household registered.  You can go to school there!

We went to the library a few more times after this but honestly I did not like my library experience.  They’re big on the children being quiet, even in the children’s section. Not sure how that attracts any child to want to stay at a library.  

Itinerary: Chinese breakfast, Household Registration ID, Daan Park, Gyoza lunch, Taipei library

The days are starting to blur together and I’m taking fewer and fewer pictures.

In keeping with my plan of just one main event a day, I decided I needed to get my Taiwanese ID today now that the kids are semi-adjusted to jetlag.  Astroboy woke up at 5am in the morning, and we went on our typical walk to the neighborhood Chinese breakfast place after getting coffee at 7-11.  We saw a kitty cat in a restaurant and stopped to admire him.  Astroboy said, “It’s drinking coffee!”

He is getting used to the Taiwanese intersections.  He likes to point out when the lights are green or red and is very concerned when we do not wait at a red light.  The road parallels a metro line that’s up high and he likes to ask when it’s going to arrive every 3 minutes as we walk to the restaurant.  The metro doesn’t start till 6am daily.

Today there were more scantily clad women with much older men eating breakfast at the break fast place.  Wish I could have taken some pictures!

After breakfast, since it was close to 6am, we decided to hop on a metro.  But we got a text a few stops in telling us that Thumper had woken up.  I didn’t think she’d wake up so early considering she went to by at 9pm.  But we rushed home after that.

After Thumper had her breakfast, we headed out again by taking a taxi to the Household Registration office.  This is where you register for your whole family.  For what purpose I have no idea.  But I needed to do that in order replace my super old ID.

Your household registration is transferred out when you leave the country for over 2 years.  I had to give them the household registration record I’m transferring in, a head shot, my old ID, and an hour later I had my new one!  It was really painless and the office is the most user friendly one I’ve ever seen; unlike most public service departments.

However, by this time the kids were hungry, so while we waited for the ID to get made, we rushed out and tried to find a 7-11 for some snack.  Failing to find one (how is that possible?), we went to a Mos Burger, which is a Japanese hamburger chain store.  We got the cheese burger and K did not like it at all.  It had some sort of strange ketchup sauce that had chopped up tomatoes in them.  Astroboy wolfed it down.  I was told later that I needed to try the rice burger instead.

After we got our ID, I decided to walk in the light drizzling rain to Daan Park because the kids have been antsy at home.  Astroboy fell asleep in the stroller so Thumper played there by herself for a bit.  She fell from the monkey bars because it was slippery.  And Astroboy in his rolled up pants (he’d gotten hot chocolate from Mos Burger on them) invited a few comments about how it’s too cold.

Very typical Taiwanese response.  People are concerned with food, and if you’re wearing enough clothing.

Things were wet so we couldn’t really do much.  But there were still kids there.  I really like the Daan Park area especially now that the metro line opened this year.  It’s just so close to everything, schools, shopping, eatery, etc.  I imagine it’s super expensive to live here though, having that nice park right across the street from you.

By now it was 12:30 and I was getting hungry, so we double backed the way we came via the other side of the park (it’s a rectangular park), to Taipei Main Library.  It was a long walk and I was famished by the time we got there.  I spied a gyoza place 八方雲集 and we had gyoza, soy milk, and some corn chowder (which the kids didn’t care for).  This restaurant was a designed vendor when there was the International Flower Expo 2 years ago and my mom said that only really tasty vendors get chosen.  I don’t know if it’s true but I do really like their gyoza.

There are 11-15 floors to the Taipei Main library, including an area just for kids to study.  The children’s collection was down in B1.  It was a much smaller collection than I thought and most of the books were well flipped through.  I was very surprised by it.  The other thing I didn’t like was that there were signs every where saying library is a quiet place.  There were 2 other children there on a weekday afternoon but I didn’t feel comfortable staying long since the kids wanted to talk.  I thought it was strange because if you want children to like the library, especially young children, I didn’t think posting “Quiet” signs is the way the go.

We chose 6 books and went upstairs to get a library card.  You can borrow 10 books for 30 days.  I’m so glad I have an ID now.  It really opens doors on so many more things in the city.   We checked out using an automated system.  Oh and my Easy Card is my library card!  So convenient.  Every book has an RFID tag, which is the controversial short radio frequency system they tried to implement in Berkeley library and had much opposition because it’s wireless.  Here, we just put a stack of 3-5 books and it automatically checks it out for you.

As we left the library, I spied a automated library book checkout machine.  It’s a huge vending machine-like contraption with books inside.  You can browse through them behind a glass and then use your library card to check it out.  It will dispense the book into the slot below just like a vending machine.  A really neat machine.

We walked the long way home and by this time the kids were tired from all the walking.  Strangely, the minute they got home, they wanted to play with the cousins and neither wanted to sleep.  I took a nap myself while they roamed free and then we had a delicious dinner at home before turning in again at 9pm.

All in all a very productive day!

GYA13: A Taiwanese Haircut Experience

In researching organic milk again the last week, I learned that one possible reason for no organic milk is that Taiwan is a small island and it’s very easy to cross contaminate your crops.  So the farmer cannot guarantee the food they’re feeding the animal is organic (non GMO).

However, I also learned that Organic Valley milk is now sold in Taiwan!

Itinerary: Chinese breakfast, stationary for Thumper, haircut

Our biggest accomplishment today was getting our hair cut. Astroboy got up at 4am and Thumper 7am. I took him out to 7-11 for coffee and breakfast, and then we walked to 四海豆漿大王 which is a 5 minute walk from the Technology Building Metro station.  At 5am, Taipei is dark, quiet, and calm.

There was a table of people already there when we arrived. The store is located on a street that has many porridge shops. It’s kind of like your midnight (or early morning) run restaurant, good for people who’s been out pub’ing all night or what night.

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GYA13: Checking out of Hotel and a Day of Doing Nothing

Even though we stayed with relatives the whole time we were in Taiwan, I’m glad I made the decision to spend the first 2 nights at a little teeny tiny hotel to deal with our jet lag.  When we have no agenda and I’m the sole parent, I do very well with the kids .  It’s why I love traveling with them.  I get to boss them around all by myself!

Itinerary: check out of hotel.

Wow, this is a day where we truly did nothing.  In the morning the children woke up way too early.  First we wasted time by taking showers.  Have I mentioned the hotel has a rain shower?  I need to get one of those for my house.  It’s much easier for the kids when they take showers.   Then it was bright enough to walk to a local 7-11 to get breakfast at 6am.

We walked to a traditional market where everyone was just starting to set up shop, sat down on the sidewalk and ate our breakfast there.  I asked a vendor where to find a traditional Chinese breakfast (soymilk, Chinese churro etc)and was shocked to be told that I’d have to walk really far away for that.  Thinking back, I don’t see too many of those storefronts anymore walking around.

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