Wendell’s German (“We’re Out of That”) Bakery, Taiwan

Wendell’s German bakery, Taiwan

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Overall view, but the place is pretty big, with a hallway between large rooms.

This time I was actually at the restaurant while I wrote the review, so it should be accurate to memory, at the very least. My first impression was unimpressed. Half of the things I wanted to order were seasonal, the other half were for lunch only, so I came back three hours later. I ordered the brought worst (the meat craving I get in this country is sizeable). I tried to order a beer. Again, they were out. I tried another drink. Out. Finally, they had eggnog. When I ordered desert, the same thing happened. Their selection of drink and food are both pretty vast, if they actually had anything on the menu. This doesn’t set a good first impression at all.

After I ordered, I immediately received a still-hot fresh baked bread basket. The butter in the basket looked like cheap unsalted stuff, but actually it’s rather creamy, and the breads were good. One had fruit, another two had nuts in it, and one was plain fresh white. I love bread, so this was an excellent touch. To be fair, the food is really good, too. The brought worst was delicious and pretty mild- not too salty or overly-flavourful. The sour kraut tasted like it probably came from a can, so if you’re picky about that be warned. I’m not picky about that at all. The mustard was regular American yellow mustard. The mashed potatoes were the best I’ve had in Taipei so far- just perfectly salty. No peels inside, so I’m not sure if it’s peeled or just not fresh-made. It didn’t seem liked boxed stuff, though.

I ordered the berry pizza for desert, though I would have preferred the apricot almond one that they were out of or simply didn’t have. The waitress I was talking to didn’t speak English (but a lot of the staff did. More importantly, they are friendly- they were even friendly when I was getting frustrated about their lack of products). It was a very delicious and tart desert! It’s about the size of a medium pizza in Taiwan.

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I’m exited about this because it’s rare in Taiwan: this establishment takes credit cards! However, though their menu is really cool, the fact that they are out of practically everything mid-way through the week at lunch time made me pretty sour. I tried this place in February of 2017, so I’ll update if I ever go again.

 

TL;DR

  1. Half the stuff I wanted to order was out at lunch in the middle of the week.
  2. Not necessarily authentic but good food.

 

Inca Trail (Day One, the “short” one).

Day One

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Welcome to Ollantaytambo, where your Inca Trail experience no doubt begins. This van (or one like it) is going to take you to the start of your trail. In actuality, there are several ways to get to Machu Picchu. One is by train, which is about $100, but brings you straight to the little town of Machu Picchu, where you are the first person the next morning to reach the ruins by bus. The second way is by Lars Trek, a much less strenuous trail for those who want something in-between. The last is the famous Inca Trail, which is a four day and three night trek on a real Inca stone-paved path, and a massive amount of stairs.

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These are your porters. Well, these were my porters.

 

Porters (the people who carry your food, tents, and some of your stuff in a duffel up and down the trail at a run) are cool. Honestly, this is one of the most important things to remember. Porters are locals who run up and down this trail for months at a time before they return to see their families. Yes, they are payed, but tip those guys anyway! You need to bring at least 40USD worth of tipping money for your porters, and I wish I had brought more. Clap when they pass you, because they will pass you, and they need encouragement too, I’m sure. If you want to do something super cool bring them some snacks. I highly recommend freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit, because it’s delicious and it’s so very light. Break it out the first night and hand it out to them. They loved the pineapple ones I gave out, and I’m so sad I only had one bag. This trail is not easy. These guys are carrying your stuff so you don’t have to. If your trail guide sees you paying attention to the porters, they may even have an introduction so you can thank them all and find out which ones speak English or Spanish.

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Necessities Only! Chao (our Gadventures CEO guide) told us a story about when he was a guide, in which a woman was struggling so hard to get up the hill the first (easiest) day, that he opened her bag. Lo and behold, here’s a make-up kit, a blow drier, the whole shabang! Not only is there no electricity on the trail and bringing electronics is a waste of space and energy, but lugging your cover up and eyeshadow is a bad, bad move. If you really can’t live without your make-up for four days, I suggest you reconsider the trail, because the sheer weight is too much, and the trail itself will have you sweating like a pig and dripping everywhere. There was a group that really did wear their makeup on the trail and they looked miserable.

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These bridges were burnt when the Incas tried to stave off an invasion, and later rebuilt. That said, they don’t always look new!

 

PMA. Speaking of miserable, keep this one very important item with you at all times! It’s lightweight, simple and makes the whole trail worth walking! It’s call “Positive Mental Attitude.” Even if you have to play a game (the second day, I played a game where I looked around and pointed out in my head all the things I loved) to keep up your PMA, without this your trip will be an even tougher road! Tucking away your pride is also important. Make sure you communicate with your guide about what is happening with you, especially if you are in some sort of pain. If your guide asks you to hand some stuff over to the assistant to help you along, take that advice.

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The first day of the Inca Trail seems to start a little rough, but quickly turns very easy and enjoyable. You will probably hike with your group most of the day. People may drop out (two members of our group were very sick and had to turn back), but don’t be discouraged (one was my mother and I went on without her, so you can certainly soldier on)! Your guide will probably stop you a lot too, and explain various ruins you will see. I think we saw at least four ruins the first day. There is one steeper part after your snack break (Gadventures only, I’m not sure what other companies do). Consider this your warm up.

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The first day you will see locals on the trail. Donkeys, small villages, and women carrying children on their backs wrapped in wonderful blankets are everywhere, because this is the part of the trail that has already been damaged by traffic. The sheer number of people on the trek, and especially animal hooves, have broken up the old trail. On the second day you pass the point where people live, and where domestic animals are not allowed. However, you may see some random wild alpacas wandering.

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Campsite for the first night. It’s different for everyone because every tour has their own tents carried by the porters.

Your surroundings are stunning! Especially the second and third day, but starting even from the trail point. I suggest the low season for going, not because there are less people (thought that’s true) but because the earth is so green there during rainy season. We had wonderful weather, but make sure you bring a rain poncho. I’ll be covering day two, three and four in much more detail. The first day only takes a few hours (read: six) to hike compared to the longer days (read: eight and nine hour days) ahead. Welcome to the trail!

 

TL; DR

  1. Positive Mental Attitude
  2. Tip and respect your porters.
  3. Don’t bring anything unnecessary like make-up, blow dryers, etc.
  4. The first day is about 6 hours, and it’s the shortest.

The McKamey Manor Halloween Scare! (Beware, Here Be Clowns).

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“But Rae, it’s already Halloween now!” you say? That’s okay. McKamey Manor is open year-round! I know just the photographer image-bank to send you too, as well! Feast your eyes on the horror of Mark Rollerson’s photography!

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McKamey Manor is located in San Diego, near the convention center and gas-lap district, making it convenient for a couple of Left 4 Dead Comic-Con cosplayers such as ourselves to make their way through. This haunted house is more of a zombie horror house, honestly. We went during comic con (yes, it was packed), because lovely Mike Rollerston, who took all of these fantastic zombie photos, was kind enough to give us a photo shoot, then free tickets. I’m not sure the ticket price, and during Halloween you have to make a reservation.

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There are also some rules inside the manor. A quick tour around their website will tell you they only accept guests 21 or older (this is most likely new, because I believe I was twenty that year). You may not touch the actors of course, but unfortunetly the actors CAN touch you! When I went, there were several rooms, most of which were themed. My favorites were the doctor room, and a room where it was extremely difficult to find the exit in the dim light. Now, it seems that the tour is much lingers and much more intense, but it could simply be the season. There’s not much else to say except “Go there! Have a spooky time!”

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If you hate clowns, bring an unaffected friend- I happily guided my eyes-glued-shut friend through that particular part of the attraction. I’m not sure how much they change, but judging by photos over of this attraction, they seem to switch and fiddle each year.

Spoiler alert!

If you don’t want a nasty surprise, don’t hang out at the bottom of the stairs when you exit the haunted house. The last thing you have to do before leaving is pass through a zombie chain saw man. My friend and I stuck around to take a hilarious photo of a zombie sign. Suddenly, right behind us, the noise and fumes of a chain saw reached me. We bolted up the stairs without further ado, followed by the chainsaw zombie, until we reached the daylight, where an aquantance who had waited outside laughed her butt off at us. If you hang out at the bottom, you will be chased!

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Special thank you to Mike Rollerson for tickets and pictures! You are the best, man!

Your Spooky Halloween Adventures?

Have you ever been to a haunted mansion? Was it much like a carnival, or actually terrifying?

TL;DR

 Check out Mike Rollerson’s photography (some displayed above) to get you in the mood to go to McKamey Manor in San Diego for Halloween! Reservations required at Halloween time, but open year-round.

No, Not Just Anyone Can Do It! (Get Hired in Japan, That Is).

Ominous Warnings…

Okay, first, I gotta say…  I really, really don’t suggest working in Japan. Just my two cents: I have the worst time of my life there. I don’t even remember the month of February from the second year because I was so depressed, and though I tried hard to make it work (again, I stayed for two years), I could never adjust. Is this a reflection on me? You know what- maybe so! But certainly not because of it being a different culture. I do FINE in Taiwan. I actively like it here, much more than the states. There are so many reasons why I feel that way about Japan that I will be making a separate post about them. Of course people do happily teach there, but I literally feel I’d rather die. And unlike some people, I know the meaning of literally.

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Okay Rae, Shut Up and Talk About the Thing

That said, let’s move on. When I was in high school and college, everyone’s (read: people over 50 years of age) reply to a lifelong dream of mine was “Oh, anyone could teach English in Japan! You don’t even need a degree for that!” While I certainly think there are countries in Asia where pretty much anyone over the age of 18 can be an English teacher, Japan is definitely not one of them! Japanese companies look for several things while they are hiring, and you can’t even get a visa without a few specific documents. Unlike some places, Japanese are VERY strict about visas. If you are interested in teaching in Japan, you should certainly shoot for having the following items at your fingertips.

Most Companies Are Looking For:

A degree from a four year university. Basically, a Bachelor’s. An Associate’s degree is NOT acceptable. Where your Bachelor’s came from doesn’t matter. You have to prove you have a piece of paper that says you graduated, though.

A TEFL, TOFL, or equivalent teaching abroad degree. BUT don’t work too hard on this. Go to Groupon and grab a coupon for a whole lot off of the next online TEFL degree you see. Trust me they do not care where it came from as long as you have one.

Japanese Language skills or lack thereof. This varies massively; some people want you to pass a Japanese proficiency test at the highest level (very unusual), and some people want no experience at all (though if you have some I’ve never heard of them not hiring you based on this). Some want “conversational Japanese,” and this even varies per employer, with some claiming conversational as actually having a conversation, and others wanting basic niceties likes “osukaresamadeshita” (you must be so tired, sorry for leaving) and “summimasen” (excuse me).

A recent photo. Does this seem strange to you? Japanese society is heavily based on “face,” and in some ways it extends to your actual face! If you don’t have a professional looking photo with a nice background and a smile on your face, there are plenty of companies here that won’t consider you. You don’t have to have it professionally done, but use a decent camera and make sure the background is good. Wear conservative and unrevealing, plain clothing. Smile a little. Make sure you look like you mean business, but not too much business. Many of you will teach young children. They want someone with both character and business sense!

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Some Companies Also Want 

A driver’s license. A license is important if you live in the middle of nowhere. I believe there are two ways to get one. You can take the Japanese test, or you can use your license from your country. If you want to use your license, you must prove that you have been driving for, don’t quote me, six months. If your license just expired and you got a new one, you will need to bring documentation from home. So if your job requires one, please ask in your interview how they want you to obtain a driver’s license. Note that the tests for one seater motorbikes, two seater motorbikes, and for cars are all different, so know what you are driving, too.

A visa. You must have a visa before you arrive, and not for tourists! So how will you get one if they already require it? Unfortunately, that means this job is not for you. It’s for the people already living here who have a visa, and are switching jobs. Maybe that company can sponsor in the future, but currently wants to test your passion and teaching style, or they need someone immediately.  However, sometimes they can’t sponsor at all. By the way, I did hear a story once where someone took a sponsored job and then left the company in the dust with their new visa upon arrival to get a job that previously said they couldn’t sponsor them. I think it’s safe to say that this is a low move in any society, not just Japan. Please consider that when a company sponsors you they spend a very large amount of money doing so, and do you a great favor. If things are seriously unsavory, I understand leaving, but if you can tough it out for the remainder of your contract, that is clearly the best move! (Sexual harassment doesn’t count: I ended up doing the same thing after I got my sponsored visa because of this problem, after no one would help me).

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During Your Interview:

Play Up Your Passion. For me, this was easy, because I honestly do have a passion for teaching! But for many people, this job will not be what they want to do for the rest of their life. Many employers are perfectly aware that you are here to explore Japan for your own reasons, and your job is a way to finance your adventure. It’s a truth that is both evident and a little inconvenient for them. Naturally, hiring you is very expensive and they would much rather keep you on at least two years, and longer is better!  This means you need to talk about how much you want to teach, love to teach, love children, etc. It’s fine to include you have an interest in the food, culture, or media, and they certainly feel a sense of pride in being Japanese and having the things you are so curious about, but that is not your selling point!

Use proper grammar and be VERY polite. The former goes without saying (so why did I expend the energy to type it?), but the latter is a bit more complex than interviews back in my country. Remember that your employer may have some experience with foreigners or may not! Don’t make eye contract. Instead look at their tie or necklace. On an online interview, look at their picture, not that camera. Looking someone this high up in the eyes is considered offensive to many Japanese, so play it safe. Look up the proper etiquette- Google is your friend, friend!

2. You want to bow during your interview, or if they can see you at all. Just incline the entire chest and head area down slightly, even if you are sitting. Bowing twice quickly before logging off and saying “Osukare sama deshita” should earn you a few brownie points.

3. Sit up very straight and smile constantly. For some reason, this is now in your job description. Many Japanese really do seem to believe foreigners always smile!

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If you’re dead set on Japan, I hope you have a great time! Good luck and remember, you’re dead in the water without a sponsorship! Happy job hunting!

Have you ever worked abroad? Did you feel that you needed to meet a lot of qualifications to find your ESL job? 

Some Stuff About Versailles (That Most Reviewers Leave Out)

I found a lot of stuff about this trip online, but the usual tips are about where to go and the like so I want to blog about tips I didn’t find elsewhere. You can always go to the end to check out the TLDR.

1. Don’t purchase fountain tickets for any days but Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday because it’s not running. So obviously, you will waste your money. Most places won’t refund it even if they aren’t running, and they will totally let you buy it.

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2. Audio guides are worth it if you care to listen to art and history lessons. If not, don’t purchase it. If the guide doesn’t work in the first room, go back immediately and say the Bluetooth is damaged and you’d like a new one. I had to do that twice. You payed for that product, so get your moneys’ worth. The downstairs runs on a bluetooth that should activate with each room, and there are three rooms. They explain how Versailles was built and why, and are quite interesting. The top floor starts with guide number 201, and each subsequent room goes to the next number. Some rooms might be closed.

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3. The inside is only worth looking at if you’re super into French art and/or history.

4. Follow the throng, then out to the gardens (some people say gardens first. I present to them this counterpoint: no. Because that day it was 12 degrees in the morning and 19 in the afternoon, so which do you want to walk around in? Also because I never heard of it being less crowded any other time. Almost all the reviews have stated it was “still” crowded. Just mosey and enjoy the art). The only upside to doing that first would be skipping the entrance line.

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5. If you aren’t going inside at all (I don’t suggest the inside) then you don’t need to wait in the same line.

6. My favorite part was hands down Apollo’s grove. It’s in the first garden on the right after you go down the steps and before you hit grand canal. There’s a series of gardens with fountains hidden in various parts of the trees.

7. There are many options for transportation around the gardens. You can rent a tiny car (fits 4 people), but I never found the station so I don’t know the price. A bike can be rented for six euros fifty for an hour. A boat, too, but I forgot to ask the price. Not too helpful, I know.

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8. I walked and I regret that, because I would have seen more and been less exhausted at the Louvre the next day if I had simply rented a bike to do most of my tour. I did see a lot of less tried areas, though, because I didn’t go down the main stairs to start. Unfortunately all the queens areas and Marie Anttonett’s area were closed for renovations.

9. Unless you like long, long walks in the forest (mine was 2 hours) don’t stray far down the grand canal. I tired myself out really fast doing this and thus was too exhausted and short on time to visit all the parts of the garden. Still, the gardens made it worth the effort (even the dark forest parts, which will inspire my fantasy stories) when the chateau itself failed to deliver for me. I’m just not that into French art. I think most people will enjoy the inside more than I did, and probably the gardens are much better on peek days.

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10. Risk going on a peek day. I regret not seeing the fountains.

11. The snacks there are really excellent! I had two ice creams. I personally recommend the ice cream stand next to Little Venice, the Italian restaurant, because they have a wonderful lilac. Their pistachio doesn’t shine, so instead opt for an orange/lemon sorbet (I’m a fan of pistachio and not of lemon, and yet…) I also ate a pie and had some tea at the little restaurant between the bike rental and the restrooms. The tea is like 6 euros for a teabag! But they will refill, so if you are as desperate for some warmth as I was…

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FAQ/tldr

Would you go again? Yes, definitely, absolutely. But only to the gardens.

Would you buy an audio guide? Nah.

A bike? Yes.

A car thingy? Yes, if I wasn’t alone.

A boat? If you want that experience, but it wasn’t important to me.

Should I go on a popular day? After seeing how many fountains weren’t on, yes. Even crowded, I’m sure it’s spectacular.

Bring food or buy food? Both, the snacks there are good, but meals are too expensive.

How much time would you take? All day, for several days, if I really wanted to see it.

Palace or gardens? Gardens.

Best garden? Apollo’s grove.

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Shrimp Heaven (Not for the Shrimp, Though. For You).

Apparently shrimping is so culturally interesting there’s been tons of information about it everywhere, but I had personally never heard of it until my dad, who lived in Taiwan for a year to learn Chinese, took my brother and I to a place outside the city for the night. By then I’d already been living in Taiwan for six months. Shrimping is an incredible experience, but it’s much like fishing in the way that you sit for a long time and might not catch anything.

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Typical Shrimping Place

The experience

My first experience shrimping was in a larger place outside of town, or rather on the fringe of Taipei. Shrimping is 24/7 there, so when we finished with Shilin night market (not on my list of favorite places), we simply took a taxi.

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So you just sit there. Like fishing.

For me, the shrimping experience needs bait, friends or family, and a Taiwan beer (no other brand will do it for me despite the fact that I usually don’t drink beer at all, and Taiwan beer is the cheapest beer in, well, Taiwan). Chips, sweets and snacks are also good to have, especially for long-term shrimping. My favorite is to simply buy that sweet Taiwan sausage from the nearest vendor, or snacks from the place itself, though 7-11 is almost always an option.

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Check out the unhappy little fella hanging there.

From there, I pretty much sit. Since I’ve caught at least one shrimp before that part of the experience is finished for me. (I was very serious the first time, you should have seen it). I don’t care if I catch any, and I’d even say I’m terrible at it. Then we cook what we (didn’t) catch and eat it, smothered with sea salt.

When my dad went shrimping with friends, he claims they didn’t catch anything, but the manager gave them sixteen free shrimp! One time when I was out with friends, we caught about four, and were given about three as a present from what I assume was an employee. He told my friend that the manager asked him to give us shrimp when he caught one. I guess he just liked shrimping! But it’s also possible to buy the shrimp if you don’t catch much. Hint: groups of foreigners are more likely to get free stuff. It’s a discrimination we actually enjoy.

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How to hold a shrimp without loosing a finger

Tips

Snacks are available to purchase, usually, and drinks and beer, too. Some places serve food as well. Sometimes vendors will be outside, and other times there will be actual meals served inside like a restaurant. We went to one place that was playing (bad) live music, and wished we hadn’t. Another place, on the outskirts of Xindian, outside Bito, also had lobster fishing (and buying).

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Unlike crabs, they don’t sabotage others. Also unlike crabs, they don’t even try escaping.

Everyone says that the trick to shrimping is to watch the bob on your pole and then if it starts to dip down or float gently to the side, a shrimp is on it. Now, these are veined, shell-on shrimp, so be prepared to work for your food. When you see the bob acting funny, pull up as fast as you possibly can. You want to snap it so the shrimp gets caught. Me? They don’t even bite. The bait just sits in the water for two hours! (You should change your bait if none are biting, since it gets a lot less succulent sitting in dirty shrimp water).

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Kill it with salt first.

When you catch one, get it off the water as soon as you can in case it drops. Then snag it in the middle so the claws can’t get you and toss it into the basket provided. There are little nets you hand there so your shrimp stays in the water as you continue.

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Then kill it with fire. 

After you shrimp, you’ll probably be expected to cook it for yourself. That means handling live shrimp and cooking them alive as well, so if you’re sensitive I suppose it’s not a great activity. First you stick the shrimp in a bucket in a big sink and wash them with water. Pop them in a grate (provided) and sprinkle the sat nearby onto them, to taste. Then you close the grate and stick them in the fire, claws, head, and all. Alive.

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“I love killing things!”

Make sure you turn your shrimp! Usually you can do so by simply taking the grate out, flipping it, and sticking it back in. They are double sided.

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Me too, because then the things are delicious. 

 

When your shrimp are ready, you can eat them with some refreshing cold Taiwan beer at a nearby table!

The Story of My Feral Cat

Adopting a dog or cat in Taiwan

After more than a year in Taipei, and more than three living outside of the states, and more than six without a pet, I can safely say that the severe lack of cats in my life was slowly driving me insane. However, adopting a pet at a shelter in Taipei appears to be very different than going to the local Pets Mart in my own country, so I wanted to share some of the highlights. THERE IS ALSO THE MATTER OF AN IMPORTANT NEW RULE IMPLEMENTED IN DECEMBER OF 2016 (See: returning a pet).

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Feral Cats and Stray Dogs (My Experience with Shelters)

First of all, I honestly believe there are pets in these shelters that should never be adopted at all. Feral Cats, if they can be adopted, will only ever trust the human they were adopted by. And of course dogs and cats can both be dangerous if they feel threatened. Now I’ve never been to a shelter in America, but brief research on the topic online tells me that feral cats are not adopted out in the states. And I’m almost positive it would have to be a very special case indeed for anyone to let you adopt a dog or cat that would be dangerous for you.

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I had a coworker living here who adopted a dog that had quiet clearly been abused, which I think is common for shelters. Dogs in Taiwan, on the whole, are calmer and lazier than other countries I’ve been to (I’m not sure why but that fact that many shy away from humans makes me think it has to do with treatment). This dog was afraid of sudden movements, especially of the hands, and had frequent nightmares. I’m talking about the whining was so bad, it was like screaming. You had to call his name gently for a while until he woke up.

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Mei Lee, Day One (Picture quality of most of the following is due to the fact that she was terrified of me, so I was always at a distance).

The cats are a little different. All I got in the Taiwanese shelter I adopted the first cat at was “Oh, do you know this cat is nervous and has attacked people?” Of course I’m thinking “Pfft! I can handle any old cat! I get stays to come to me on the street all the time!”

Nope! The shelter may have named her Mei Lee (Beautiful), but on the inside she was terrified and hostile to humans. Of course this was partially my fault for thinking I was an all-powerful cat magnet, but my apartment is very small, and while I may have considered owning a previously feral cat if I’d had the space to give HER space (bathrooms in Taiwan are very wet, and out of the question), I didn’t. I made a cat fort for her and attempted within one week to see if she warmed up. She was litter box trained, but very suspicious and tried to hide from me all the time. Also, since I accept couch surfers, and I wanted to adopt one more cat, I didn’t feel this would be a good environment for her. I was NOT informed of the new rule, and I was told I could keep the cat for one week. Of course, these may have been language barrier communication issues, but I felt a little cheated when I went to return Mei Lee.

Which leads me to…

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January

The New Taiwanese Law About Returning Pets

You have one month to try that pet in your home after adopting, and if it isn’t working out, you can bring them bak to the shelter at the end of six days with no charge. However, if you go over that amount of days, you need to pay a little over 2,000 NTD ($60). So it was one month, or not at all, as far as I was concerned. I don’t mind paying money to support and care for the cat, but beyond that, it’s not happening.

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February

There is another, more serious problem with returning an animal, though. According to the shelter I went to, a new law in Taiwan prohibits you not only adopting, but even buying another pet in Taiwan if the animal is abandoned or if you return an adopted animal to a shelter! Another acquaintance of mine, who volunteers at the Tayoun Shelter, confirmed that this was true for all of Taiwan. This law was implemented in December 2016. 

I wasn’t informed of this before, but they insisted they told me, and thus, I had to take Mei Lee back to the apartment that she was terrified to live in.

So What of Mei Lee?

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March

The shelter gave me a cage to keep her in, but I decked it out and then gave her the bathroom, moving my portable bath tub and giving up showers in lieu of wash-cloth baths and the hair in the sink method. She felt decently hidden under her blanket covering her open-door cage.

Later I moved her into the general room, but moved the furniture away from the wall so she could easily hide. I didn’t see her for three weeks, but she was eating, so I was happy enough. When I got the second cat, I moved Mei Lee to the balcony, which I had cat-proofed and turned into a playground.

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April

Introducing the two took a long time, but around three months into her life here, she was alright with coming out while I was in the room, though she and Damian didn’t get on. After six months, she meows at me, plays with toys in the room and with me, if the string is long enough, and lets me feed her and cross by her area by about two feet, but I’ve still never touched her, and I’m not sure I ever will. She does hiss and she’s never been out of the apartment, but when I can I leave the balcony door open so both cats can cross unhindered. They like each other well enough, now.

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May

If I could go back, would I adopt Mei Lee? Knowing she could learn to at least not live in so much fear, yes. But would I adopt another feral cat? Probably not. Those are best left tagged and released back onto the streets of Taipei, and there are many friendly cats who need adopting!

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Playing with Damian, today (after teasing my tissues to pieces).

Elephant #9, Karon Beach, Review

Like many of the places in this area of Phunket, this restaurant was Trip Advisor suggested. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should go there, but in my opinion, this place was safe. I got sick on the food a lot in Thailand, but never here. I tried the pineapple stuffed with seafood and the lobster. The drink pictured below is a kiwi smoothie, though I can’t remember what my travel partner ordered. Something with coffee, I’m sure. I think the smoothie glass is pretty humorous. It even had a navel.

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The lobster was very rich, and the seafood glaze was to die for! I really loved these dishes. But the place was deserted almost all the time. To be fair, there was only one place that was packed most of the time, and everything else did fairly unsteady business. Also, this was quite a bit up the street, and past the temple and day market. Much fewer tourists ventured out this way.

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Could you find this food elsewhere nearer the boardwalk? I don’t remember seeing these exact dishes anywhere else, but I’m sure you could find it, or something similar. There’s tons of restaurants all serving Thai and  Western food in equal measure, all competing with one another.

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As for service, it was just like everywhere else. They know that you are the lifeblood of the restaurant, so they cater to your needs and serve you strong drinks. They are friendly, and they speak some English- enough to take your order. They are not helicopters that wait around for you all the time, so don’t be shy to call the waiter or waitress over anytime you want anything. I would say the service here was maybe slightly above par to other restaurants.

Where to Care for Your Hair (Taipei Edition)

Introduction

“Wow, Other Foreign Expat, where’d you get that rockin’ hairdo?”

“Oh, I go to Eddie.”

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Eddie and I after one of my many haircuts

Real conversation from around the time where I moved to Taiwan, though Other Foreign Friend can be replaced with many names. At least three of my gal friends would get their hair done at Eddie’s Picahair salon, and though now all but one has moved away. I also frequent Eddie’s salon.

Eddie and I after my most recent haircut

Picahair is a great place because for a little around 1,000 NTD (30 USD), you can get a nice shampoo with scalp massage, fantastic English conversation, and of course, a haircut. Eddie speaks great English and loves to chat. I’ve always been satisfied with his work, even though his shop is a little pricy compared to what I payed in the states. Ah, well. You make a lot of money as an English teacher, after all!

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Hair shampooing station in the shop

Information

Eddie is located near the intersection of the brown and blue lines, Zhongxiao Fuxing, almost across from the big white Sogo (not the green one). Go out of exit three if you take the MRT. It may take you a bit to find him because he’s on the third floor, so look at the different signs hanging from the shops. Look for Picahair Salon. His shop opens at 10am every day except Sunday. Saturdays are busy.

3F, No 76, Sec 4, Zhongziao E rd, Daan District, Taipei 106

Phone: 0932-322-843. You can text him as well.

Eddie only does hair by appointment, so make sure you make one before you go!

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