GYA16: The Neighbor from Hell

Itinerary: Telephone from crazy neighbor, Coco Curry, clothes shopping @ the Net, Mollie

Fleur and I were all set to go out for a proper Chinese breakfast this morning.  But a phone call from our downstairs neighbor threw our plans out the window.

The first week we were here, he had called the 鄰長 or the head of the association (I think), who then called us to tell us we were being noisy.  Thirty minutes later, while I was taking a shower, the security guard shows up at the door to see how noisy we were.  Thankfully, the children were all sitting on the sofa just watching TV.

I get a call from him a few days later about how he has not been able to sleep, even went out to get some sleeping pills, because of noises from upstairs.  We went around and around in circles where he tells me his woes and I ask him to tell me when he heard the noise, only to have him continue to go on and on about the noise, but no specifics.


GYA16: Pokemen, 823 Park, Yabooks 八二三公園和雅博客

Itinerary: Japanese lunch, 823 Park, Shaved ice, Yabooks

I was all set not to visit any more bookstores for a few weeks.  But yesterday, a Halloween costume sale at Yabook floated across my FB feed, putting Yabook in my mind; where, like a fly, it wouldn’t go away.

So, today, instead of homeschooling like I’d planned, we went off to 永安市場 Yong-an Market MRT stop.  It’s on the brown line, southwest of Taipei city, across the river.

Of course, by the time we got there, it was 11:30 and the kids were all cranky and needing lunch.  Given that we did minimal research before hand, we just settled on some random Japanese restaurant, 松亭新日本料理.  It was nothing to write home about other than that huge my set lunch only cost $300.


GYA16: Worldschooling

Itinerary: homeschool, nap, pick up groceries

It was 90 degrees today when we went out this afternoon to run errands.   I wasn’t necessarily sweating, just covered in a sheen of moisture that doesn’t go away.   Otherwise, just a normal, boring day.

Wait, just one side note.  I picked up my co-op grocery today from the co-op.  Just to give you an idea,  1 basket of fruit and veggies cost us $19 USD.  It included 1 batch yam leaves, 1 batch 空心菜, 10 eggs, 3 taro, 3 tomatoes, 2 strange potatoes, 2 火龍果, bag of passion fruit, and 1 huge Asian pear.  Is that similar to US prices?

I would show you some pics but as usual I devoured half of the food before I remembered.   What I love the best about this CSA is that I would actually eat everything in the box, unlike the US ones, with often had things I didn’t know how to cook.

So rather than talk about our boring day, I thought I’d meander on the topic of our world schooling so far. (more…)

GYA16: Work and Play all in a Day

Itinerary: Homeschool, Join co-op, 南門書局, 大安公園, 喫飯

We had one of those amazing days today, where everything goes according to schedule and got done.

The children started school close to 9am and we managed to finish school by 12:30pm.  By finish, I mean they actually finished everything they had chosen to do on their workplan.  We even had time at the end for Astroboy to reach a milestone, namely getting sidetracked in his work and writing 2 super long strings of number to add together by himself.  Plus I actually gave Thumper a lesson on decimals.

I’m really sick of having wontons from lunch.  Today was our 3rd day straight.  Because we have nothing else in the fridge to eat!  I was all set to take that taxi to RT Mart and do some serious grocery shopping.  But what did I find in my stack of papers, the stack that I’d turned over quite a few times already?

My Taiwanese ID!  The one I thought I’d lost!


GYA16: Getting Settled into Our Apartment

Itinerary: Be a home body.  Research the organic food/grocery store environment.

I guess I didn’t realize just how tired I’ve been from all the running around we’ve been doing.  With Fleur gone, I have no energy to move.  The kids woke up at 9 and 10am respectively this morning.  It threw our whole routine off and we ended up staying home all day.

The kids spent the day studying and I spent the day researching, shopping, and napping.


GYA16: Getting a Hair Cut

Itinerary: Research milk, haircut, Chinese breakfast, visit aunt.

We started the day in a cranky mood.  Or really, mostly me because I really wanted to just go down my todo list while the kids study by themselves.  But I got mad at Thumper because she was going through the motions, trying to check off work.  The longer I homeschool, the more I agree with Baba.  Elementary years are not about stuffing yourself with knowledge, though that’s a good by product.  It’s learning how to learn.

So when I’ve explained to her why we learn something a particular way and she just wants to finish her work without doing this “something”, that always sets me off.  I know it’s not her fault but rather the way I’ve set up the environment for her.   I was not being very nice.  But during the moment, I was quite ready to just ship her off to school.  She’ll have classmates there and a nicer Mama as a teacher.

A delicious potsticker lunch and little nap improved all of our bad moods.  We then went off  Daan District 大安區.  It’s really far away by public transportation.  Since we live in the mountains, I’m not walking through the neighborhood by the MRT station to discover restaurants and stores.  It’s not actually on the way to anything.  So I keep going back to the neighborhood I am familiar with.


GYA16: Joining a Co-op and Jinmei Nightmarket 主婦聯盟和景美夜市

Itinerary: homeschool, Daiso, co-op meeting, nap, Jinmei Nightmarket

Yesterday started semi-crappy but ended up well after we visited a night market.

We started the day being lazy.  In the morning the kids watched Monster’s Inc in Chinese on TV while Fleur got ready for her sightseeing trip.  By the time they left it was 11 and we squeezed in an hour of homeschooling before lunch.

After lunch it was a mad dash out the door to run errands.  First is to withdraw some money.  The rate I’m burning through cash is scary.  Like Mandarin Mama says, it’s like Monopoly money!

Oh right, so crappy thing #1, Astroboy lost his Easy Card on the bus.  We’d bought a nice retractable clip for it too.  I was very sad. (more…)

GYA16: A Full Day Looking for Used Books 逛舊書店

Itinerary: OCAC, 掛包, Mollie,  Shaved Ice & Papaya Milk, Ya Book, Mollie, Shida Night Market 師大夜市 dinner

My original plan was to homeschool and then go to a used bookstore once a week.  But alas, the books keep calling and calling out to me and I could not focus.  So yesterday, when Mama Fleur offered to watch the Fleur’s kids, I took the opportunity to go book shopping with her and my kids.  I could have left the kids with her, but another long story on our downstairs neighbors and why I decided to just take the kids out.

With kids along, our plan was to alternate between shopping for books and eating.  We left at 9:30am and didn’t get home till 8:30pm.  I brought along snacks and our iPad and Kindle to entertain the children.  I was surprised at how well they behaved most of the day since those managed to entertain the kids till Ya Books only.  Plus there was all that walking (13k steps!), in rainboots.  Poor Astroboy.

But other than complaining about sore feet, they were generally fine with just looking at books at the bookstore.  Made me so so happy.

So anyways, we first went to OCAC, where with your one passport you can get 10 books.  I only grabbed the AP Chinese prep book #1.  I’d already grabbed all the textbooks, which I’ve never used, 3 years ago.

By then it was 11 and my tummy was growling.  So it was onward to the best 掛包 place, ever, according to my friend.  藍家掛包.  It’s a 1-2 little ally blocks from Mollie’s.  We picked 3: the lean pork, mostly lean, and half lean.  It was pretty good.  Couldn’t tell you if it’s the best unless I had other ones!

Mollie’s 茉莉 is right in the ally next to exit #4 of the Gongguan 公館 MRT stop.  I already went there 2 days ago and yet somehow I managed to find a few more books.  Because it’s the first bookstore we went to, we spent a lot of time looking at the books one by one.

By the time we were done, my brain was spinning.  So we went to a shaved ice place for something to eat.  Yum, peanut, red bean, and aiyu shaved ice.

Next, in the ally right next to the shaved ice store is 雅博客 Yabook, where we spent another hour or two and I somehow convinced Fleur to buy the Deer Bridge Publishing set that I wish I could buy, but alas my kids outgrew.  It’s a preschooler bilingual book set called 真善美 about the seasons, and time, and whatever non-fiction info that kids generally are taught in preschool.    It’s written by Maria Ruis, and you can find English versions on Amazon.  (sample pages here)

Deer Bridge

We then walked to 台電大樓 Taipower Building MRT stop to say goodbye to our friend, then walk again toward the other Mollie.  It was an eventful walk, because by now Astroboy was TIRED.  We made a pit stop, a bakery stop, and 2 bubble tea stops.  By now we were all hungry and tired so we didn’t stay that long at this Mollie, though we still managed to buy 2 boxes of books.

With the call of food, Astroboy was much better about walking back.  師大夜市 is on the way to Mollie’s, so we made a quick stop to have some oyster pancakes, bought some pastry, then back home we went.

All in all a tiring but fruitful day.

How are the bookstores? 

Mollie tends to price more recently published books higher than Yabook.  Yabook prices their older books at higher price.  Every bookstore has a $40 book special price section where it’s 4 books for the price of $100.  We keep finding many books from the 智茂圖書 紐伯瑞兒童成長文學精選 Newberry Medal Literature set.

For the newer, more in demand books, Mollie sells them at around 60% of list price, which is good, but not great.  It’s when I find things like the Mike Venezia set on artists that I’ve been eyeing for 5 years at 4 books for $100 that I feel like I got a great find.


Yabook has a much smaller collection, but more varied.  I found the artist set there, and the Deer Publishing books.   Often there is only 1-2 out of a set, whereas Mollie has more.   Every bookstore has tons of non-fiction comic books, 漢聲中國童話, Newberry medal set.

You can get really addicted trying to find treasures in bookstores.  The only reason why I’m not buying used books online is because I’m allergic to dust mites and I wanted to flip through most of the books to make sure I’m not getting super itchy or sneezing non-stop.  Most of the used books we see have mildew marks on the jacket inner page.  If they’re at very good condition they’re shrink wrapped.

Last, at both bookstores, after the first $500 spent, you can get membership, and then all books are at 85% of sticker price.  At 師大 Mollie, we could get the books at 80% of sticker price if we purchased over $5000.  Easy to do if you go with a friend!

At Yabook, you get free delivery after spending $1000, whereas Mollie you have to pay $70 per A4 box.  Either way, pretty cheap for next day or second day delivery!


  • 藍家掛包 台北市中正區羅斯福路3段316巷8弄3號
  • 茉莉二手書 台大 Mollie Used Bookstore – 台北市中正區羅斯福路四段40巷2號一樓
  • 台一牛奶大王 - 台北市 大安區 新生南路三段82號
  • 雅博客 Yabooks -台北市大安區新生南路三段76巷9號1樓
  • 茉莉二手書 師大 Mollie Used Bookstore – 台北市和平東路一段222號B1


GYA16: A Day at Taipei Children’s Amusement Park 兒童新樂園

We’ve been traveling for 5 weeks and finally I have time, and physical space, at night to document our trip.  Rather than start from the beginning, I thought I would just go forward and then back date when I get to them.

Note that all prices are in NT unless otherwise specified.

Today marks the first day in the whole week we’ve been here when it is not raining.  So we stopped homeschooling for a day and brought the kids to the Children’s Amusement Park (TCAP), otherwise known as 兒童新樂園.

We’ve only been to the old version of the park.  The new park is located somewhere else.  We took the MRT to Jiantan 劍潭, then took the special TCAP #2 bus to the amusement park.

The park operates totally on Easy Card system.  Entrance fee is only $30 for adults and $15 for kids.  Though one gotcha was that even though Astroboy has to pay to ride the MRT, children 6 and under don’t have to pay for TCAP.


Adding Zhuyin to Ebooks

Please note, I have mostly Mac products so this post is fairly Mac specific.  I’m sure there are PC versions of the same thing but I didn’t look into them.


Last week I had Thumper listen to Harry Potter English audio version and she loved it.  So for the next few days, I had a new obsession: adding zhuyin to Harry Potter Chinese edition.  You can get online Traditional Chinese version of Harry Potter from Haodoo 好讀.

It’s not the official version published by Taiwanese publisher, Crown Books, because they thought the first few books were poorly translated.  From my quick search, it looks like it’s from this website. They fixed up book 1 and changed all the names to traditional Chinese, but not the subsequent books.  This means the subsequent book translations may not be too good.   (It was bad enough that Haodoo 好讀. took down Book 5)

I’m not sure what they used as the “base” book, but from the little I’ve read of Book 1, it seems pretty good.  I read the first few chapters to Thumper awhile back and I remember thinking, “Wow, there are words here can’t even pronounce!  We need a zhuyin edition!”  But this online version seems pretty easy and Thumper is able to read the non-zhuyin version just fine, after not being able to read the paperback version earlier this year.  I will have to wait till I get to Taiwan or back to US to compare it with my paperback copy to see the difference.