February 28th 2005

Yea, I was right. At the end of January I wrote that the month of February will probably pass over very soon and so here we are. Chinese New Year and my final exams are over, both have been quite well, you can guess my grade and post it here, it’s a number between 1 and 100% 😉

Tomorrow I will officially start the second Chinese study book, kick off the so-called intermediate level. Intermediate? Well, the thing is, the second book doesn’t offer you those helpful things like Pinyin or Bopomofo, most of the time you really have to read Chinese !!

I don’t know if it will make me lose my mind or improve my reading abilities, which are quite poor actually. I will also get another teacher and new classmates, so somehow I feel like half a year ago right now, but I can speak more Chinese :):):)

I still don’t know how many pictures survived this big hard drive crash which recently occurred. I reviewed all of the 6461 pictures, which could be recovered, then separated them into loading and non-loading, then sorted them by their size, the next thing is to bring them back in their groups and then maybe try to find their original order, coz right now all of them have the same date!! It’s a real stupid work, but that’s the price if you always just think about making a backup, but never find the time to do one.

Last but not least for today, I wanna ask for a favor: Could anyone please stop THAT RAIN !!! Last week, after three days and four nights of permanent rain I thought the worst will be over, but…after a short break it began again…and it seems there will be no end that soon again. It’s not about having to take and to use your umbrella whenever you go outside, it’s more about that I’m afraid someone will cut out my eyes by this excessive use of umbrellas when you cross the street and people think of it as a weapon to make their way through the crowd. Maybe this is hard to understand when you live in a city with less than a few million people or maybe it’s just like this in Taipei …..however, if it didn’t rain people also wouldn’t have to use umbrellas, thus there would be one problem less, so please, someone stop the rain!

February 17th 2005

I’m back from my Chinese New Year holidays. The last 10 days, my girlfriend and I went to many cool places, more than in the past 6 months together 😉 Of course we have been in Taichung to spent Chinese New Year with my gf’s family, from there we also went to Nantou and Sun-Moon-Lake, finally!! I still remember the first time when I read my travel guide about three years ago…my most favorite place had been…Sun-Moon-Lake! However the first two times I have been to Taiwan we never got the chance to go there, so we finally made it this time and my expectations were really fulfilled. This place is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I think I could spend one week just viewing the lake and doing nothing and I hardly would get bored with it. Thus I think the first time wasn’t my last time to go there.

A few days later we went to Hualien, to the east coast of Taiwan. I never saw the seaside and high-rising mountains together in one scenery, in Hualien there’s no problem in that. From the city it’s also not very far away to go to the Taroko gorge, which is even an adventure only by driving car. At the evening, we also went to take a bath in a hot spring…very dark around and the air a bit cold, but the hot water super comfortable and next to you only a few hundred meters of raising rocks…incredible fascinating scenery!!

I almost forgot that Taiwan has much more to offer than busy people and crowded streets, full-time work and less time for relaxing. This trip, especially to Hualien, showed me how worth it is to go around and explore more places on the island. However, I’m not a classic tourist anymore, always have to find the time and have the money for traveling around, but for sure it’s something I should do whenever I get the possibility to do it.

PS: I hope I’ll be able to upload new pictures soon. Unfortunately my hard disk crashed some days ago, I could recover most of the pictures, but right now they are all unsorted, so first have to figure out how to sort a few thousand jpg’s!!

February 4th 2005

So I went out to apply for a resident visa today…finally, the law upgrades me from a foreign visitor to a foreign resident as long as I pay my tuition and keep on paying it every three months (…which means that nothing changes). So I thought I would have the paper and office work done, paid my tuition, got my school registration certificate, filled out the application form, attached two passport pictures (…I made two dozens of it before I went to Taiwan, since you can’t have enough of them), took my passport, took 2200NT in cash and went to the Bureau of Consular Affairs. So far, so good.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs is a large office with 40 or more counters, from which the half seems only to be for issuing passports for Taiwanese citizens…I guess they are waiting for the day they can issue 1.3 billion new passports, otherwise I cannot explain that number 😉 However, the place looks more like a Turkish bazaar than a government organization. I had to think of „The Terminal“. What will happen if my home country breaks down at the day I go there and apply for a resident visa? Would the policeman (yes, they have policeman standing next to the counters) arrest me or would I also have to live there like Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) at the airport? And could I decide to live at the airport and not there, please?

Probably I wouldn’t write about this if everything went well, but it didn’t. They told me that they also need a document which proves my financial solvency. I didn’t have one so I could go back home with nothing. Ok, stupid me, next time take a closer look to the rules…but the question is: whose rules? Taking a look at the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs they write about „other documents“ which may be needed, as far as I know I also could sign a sheet of toilet-paper and declare it as(s) a document. Taking a look at my students manual they write about the prove of solvency.

The result is: Don’t trust the official authorities website. Okay, so you might think this is not a big deal, however I think it’s important. If they want a prove of financial solvency they should write it and not generalize it to „other documents“. If I have other information (…my students manual) or not, I think there is a lack of authenticity if they don’t give you the RIGHT information in what exactly you have to do…so whoever wrote the information on the visa part at www.boca.gov.tw…guy, very lousy job!!

So I have to try again tomorrow, although the website tells me that they don’t open on Saturday’s but they told me I can come back in the morning. Another top-rocking event in my career as a foreigner in Taiwan. Hopefully I will find out what a valid document looks like (….no, I won’t take my signed toilet-paper with me, although….). They suggested a bank statement, I would suggest the same if the next printer of my bank wouldn’t be 6000 miles away, hello? A definition of „foreigner“ could be „not a resident“, which includes „not having a local bank account“, coz opening a bank account requires to have an ARC, getting an ARC requires to have a RESIDENT VISA for which I just try to apply for……

Ok, another idea. Asking them about a print of my financial stats I can access online they said it would be ok…..so what???? Sorry, coincidentally I was a bank official for three years and I can tell you that THIS never was and never will be a valid document, even the toilet paper would be better, however, they wanna accept it, so I will look forward to it tomorrow.

The whole thing is: it makes no sense, it makes absolutely no sense. Or would I register for another three months at the university without having the money to buy my next dinner? Probably they just wanna make sure I’ll be able to pay the application fee. 3000NT for printing a paper! I would suggest to invest this money in a better, more detailed website, i.e. a better webmaster…what about me, for example? Maybe I can do it when I move to my home at the Bureau of Consular Affairs 😉

February 1st 2005

Chinese New Year starts with the second New Moon after the winter solstice and ends on the full moon 15 days later.

Like all Chinese festivals it is determined by the lunar/solar calendar, so the actual date varies from late January to mid-February. In 2005 it falls on February 9.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion, thanksgiving and remembering departed relatives.

Preparations for the New Year festival start during the last few days of the last moon. Houses are thoroughly cleaned, debts repaid, and new clothes bought.

Doors are decorated with vertical scrolls of characters on red paper whose texts seek good luck and praise nature, a practice that stems from the hanging of charms to keep away ghosts and evil spirits.

In many homes incense is burned, and also in the temples, as a mark of respect to ancestors.

On new year’s eve, houses are brightly lit and a large family dinner is served.

In China, the public holiday lasts for three days but the festival traditionally lasts until the 15th day of the new year and ends with the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

Traditionally, the years are named, in a 12-year cycle, after animals. In 2005 the Year of the Monkey gives way to the Year of the Rooster.