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June 18, 2005

Trip To Danshui (Tamsui)

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Started the trip to Danshui by taking the free bus from the mall to the Zhishan Train Station. I said "shieh shieh" to the bus driver like the sign said I should do. Danshui River runs through Taipei and empties into the sea at the town, Danshui. Danshui is the current way of spelling this word now but because the old spelling, Tamsui, was so commonly used, you see it spelled that way on many signs and maps.
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As soon as you get off the train, you hear music. I think this instrument is a Guzheng, pronounced "Goo-Jeng", also known as Chinese zither. It is one of the most ancient Chinese musical instruments according to the documents written in the Qin dynasty (before 206 BC). Guzheng is the forerunner of Japanese koto, Korean kayagum, Mongolian yatag, and Vietnamese dan tranh. Guzheng has been a popular instrument since the ancient times. It is one of the main chamber as well as solo instruments in Chinese music. Because of its long history, the first character of its name, "gu" means "ancient." About the second character "zheng", there are legends. One version says that once upon time, a 25-stringed Chinese zither owner had two daughters, both of whom were talented with playing this instrument. When the owner became too old to bequeath the instrument, both of his daughters wanted it. With a broken heart, the owner split the instrument into two parts. One part had 12 strings, and the other got 13. To his surprise, the new instruments sounded more mellow and beautiful than originally. The happy owner gave the new instruments a new name "zheng", the second character for guzheng's name.

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This calligrapher is writing Buddist text from memory. Many characters are not in common use therefore hard to write and pronounce by the a Buddist novice like me. :-)

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Some artists show their talents with vegetation. Here is a grasshopper with a soda straw through it's body so, when you blow into it's tail, it makes a vibration sound.

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Rosa purchasing a ticket for a boat ride across the river and back.

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The ticket.

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The boat.

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View of Guan Yin Mountain from the boat. This scene has been painted by many famous and not so famous artists.

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OK, one food picture. It's shaved ice again but this was shaved so thin and was so cold that, when it was placed on the tongue, it felt dry. For one dish, milk was pre-mixed with the water before it was frozen. For the other, a peanut paste was mixed in before freezing. Red bean and taro is under the ice, somewhere.

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Rosa posing in front of a decorated wall.

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Dan is posing with "door guards" at a Taoist Temple.

Posted by Dan at 09:42 AM

June 17, 2005

Evening Walk

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The evenings are cooler than the day temperatures and are good for evening walks. A lot of food is still being sold in open front stores. We just left a photo developing shop on our way for some coffee. Coffee is not a food, so, technically this is not a food posting.

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Parking is easy in Taipei. You just park anywhere you want. If a vehicle can drive around you, it's OK to park. Here is a car parked in a cross-walk on the sidewalk, at an intersection, next to a fire hydrant. Seems OK to me. Did I mention the grade school across the street?

Posted by Dan at 11:49 AM

Din Tai Fung

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OK, this will be my last food posting. But, Din Tai Fung is world famous for it's soup dumplings. That is the name on the red sign. The black sign behind my head is for a book store next store. The characters were written by Tong Yang-Tze (tong_yang_tze.gif). She is a good friend of Bao-Meii and I met her several times both in Taiwan and New York. By the way, my head is blocking the character for "stone". Seems appropriate.

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Because there are long lines even at 10 AM when it opens, you can select your dishes before your seated.

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The staff is busy. The masked man brings the dumplings in the circular steam trays you see piled up nearly to the ceiling.

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Bus tours even stop here and are met by the staff, with umbrellas if necessary.

Posted by Dan at 01:40 AM

June 16, 2005

Food - Back By Popular Demand

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Let's see, what did I eat today. That's a "tea egg" sitting on top of rice. And, that's cabbage to the right. On the lower left, is tofu. Not "stinky tofu", though I do smell it, so there must be some within a mile radius from here. And the meat? That's pigs feet. I prefer the front left foot (left hand, if you are from Hong Kong).
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Happy Patron "A".

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Hungry Patron "B".

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There are no walls between where the food is prepared and where the food is consumed.

Posted by Dan at 04:20 AM

New Way To Find Chinese Characters In Dictionary

I attended a demonstation of a new technique for looking up chinese characters in a dictionary. I was held at the CSC World Headquarters.
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Mr. Alex Chou (alex.gif), from Switzerland, showed how to assign a number to a character by use of a 10x10 matrix and then look up that number in an index. Next to that number in the index is the page number in the dictionary where you can find the character. The online version of this index let you choose from many dictionaries.

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Mr. Chou's system uses 99 characters to assign that number. Traditionally you need to know 214 root characters, and then count the remaining strokes in the character before you can start searching the dictionary. Even I was able to assigh numbers to my name. And, the demo was giving in Chinese!
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- 58108153 for the first character, 85188585 for the second character, and I'll let you firgure out the number for the third character using the above chart.

All the students were impressed by the demo.
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Posted by Dan at 02:56 AM

June 15, 2005

Mein Mein Ice (Shaved Ice)

mein_mien_ice_characters.gif Mein mein ice is the best.
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My favorite topping is Red Bean but you can get three additional toppings at the same time. I chose Black Grass, Taro Root and Almond Jelly. A clear block of ice is clamped into the ice shaving machine. Very fine ice crystals are shaved off the block and put on a plate. You then have your favorite toppings put on. Some liquid sugar is poured over the whole pile and served. I usually start by taking a little topping and then some unsweetened ice on a spoon. I eventually mix it all up into a sweet icy liquid and eat it like soup. Yum yum!

Posted by Dan at 02:16 AM

June 14, 2005

EasyCard

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More about the EasyCard.

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Arabic numbers, Chinese characters. Sorry, no English. I copy down all the bus numbers at my local bus stop so, when I want to get home, I look for the same number at bus stops where I find myself. Works so far. The maps are useful but takes me a while to figure out where I am.

BTW, the signature on my card is that of Taipei Smart Card Corporation Chairman, Dr. Ou Chin-Der.
Ou_Chin-Der.gif

Posted by Dan at 02:12 AM

Making My Lunch

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The variety of fruits and vegitables seem endless and there are twice as many flavors. The only way to sample all of this is to go out to eat. Or, go out to buy ready to eat and take home. That is what we did today for lunch.

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I was limited to only five items, but, there is always tomorrows lunch.

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It was only a short walk to the market. The ready to eat food was up stairs of a large enclosed market, air conditioned. All the fresh fruits and vegies were on the ground floor. Also meat with the hooves and noses still on some of it.

Posted by Dan at 01:11 AM

June 13, 2005

Bus # 606

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Here is Rosa, on Bus #606, as it goes by the National Taiwan Normal University. Using the logic of there were no "black and white" TV's until there was a "color" TV, there must be a National Taiwan Abnormal University somewhere.

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Here is a non-typical picture of a nearly empty bus. Notice the the rectangle next to the drivers station. This box reads the EazyCard when getting on or off the bus. One beep for me, two beeps for stu-dent and three beeps for old per-son.

While sitting in the bus, waiting for the traffic light to change,
I noticed potted plants on the outside window sill on the building across the street.
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I thought this was a dangerous condition. Then, confirming my notion, I noticed fallen pots on the small roof covering the sidewalk. I didn't notice any fallen pots on the sidewalk. They must have cleared them off along with the bodies.

Here is a picture of me, Father Bernard and Boa-Meii.
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We attended a Mass for him before he starts this chemotherapy. We plan on sending more music CD's, to him, to replace the one's he has given away. Father Bernard is only in his eigthties.

Posted by Dan at 12:36 AM

June 12, 2005

Donut At Mister Donut - Not

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This is the typical wait line outside Mister Donut #001. About an hour long.
When it first openned, the line was three hours long and it went down the street. One lady, I know, had her daughter bring here lunch so she wouldn't loose here place in line. We didn't get a donut. I wont mind waiting 5 minute at Dunkin' Donuts next time. We got a croissant from a French Pastry Shop down the block.

Posted by Dan at 08:46 PM