Posted by: kaichen3 | March 3, 2013

Happy Yilan New Year

I know, I know. Chinese New Year holiday actually ended more than 2 week ago and I haven’t updated my blog for like 4 months (for crying out loud). So why the heck I still bother to update this thing? My friend asked me. Well, since I started this thing in August 2009, I’ve posted 110 blog entries on this sucker. There have been over 30,000 views from more than 20,000 visitors who have graced this blog so far. I feel I want to keep writing, keep posting, keeping sharing about the adventures of my life on this thing. I live, therefore, I blog.

Waterfall in Chiao Hsi I.

Waterfall in Chiao Hsi I.

Waterfall in Chiao Hsi II

Waterfall in Chiao Hsi II

Hotel Lobby of Hotel Royal

Hotel Lobby of Hotel Royal

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi II

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi II

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi III.

Hotel Royal Chiao Hsi III.

New Year Eve dinner by the pool with the street light of Yilan in the back

New Year Eve dinner by the pool with the street light of Yilan in the back

Fireworks for the New Year

Fireworks for the New Year

Down with ginger ale and the whole year

Down with ginger ale and the whole year

That being said, a friend of mine did complain that my blog entries are boring as it details all the places I’ve been and all the restaurants I’ve eaten on all my the trips. Oh well, I can only say I would tighten things up a bit. All right, enough said about all the lame excuses I have. After years of spending Chinese New Year apart across different oceans and continents, my parents decided to start a new holiday tradition: going away from our extended family instead of going back to them for the holiday season. We are doing this not because they are jerks (though some of them really are), because Chinese New Year is so long (9 days!), we just wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we don’t go somewhere and get stuck in the traffic jam for hours.

Bad weather and overcrowed ruined the day to Tai-Ping Mountain

Bad weather and overcrowed ruined the day to Tai-Ping Mountain

Cilan Forest Recreation Area

Cilan Forest Recreation Area

Cherry Blossom in Cilan National Forest Recreation Area

Cherry Blossom in Cilan National Forest Recreation Area

Cherry Blossom Closeup

Cherry Blossom Closeup

Cherry Blossom Wood

Cherry Blossom Wood

Despite its short driving distance from Taipei (thanks to Hsueshan Tunnel, the longest tunnel in Taiwan and 5th in the world), my family rarely visited Yilan, the small county in northeast Taiwan. Similar to Hualien and Taitung, two other counties in eastern Taiwan, Yilan is blessed with beautiful scenery (and few people) and abundant tourist spots. We went to Chiao Hsi (礁溪) first, a small town known for its hot spring (personally, I think the hot spring itself there isn’t as great as other places, but Hotel Royal is just gorgeous). We had dinner by the pool which overtook the whole Yilan from our hotel. As the clock approached mid-night for Lunar New Year countdown, for some strange reasons, I decided to have a glass of ginger ale by myself while listening to a duo playing Norah Jones’ “Shoot the Moon” in an empty bar. A rather unique Chinese New Year experience that was.



May Flower Lake

May Flower Lake

Dawn of Yilan

Dawn of Yilan

Ludong Forest Park I.

Ludong Forest Park I.

Ludong Forest Park II.

Ludong Forest Park II.

Ludong Forest Park III.

Ludong Forest Park III.

Dongshan River

Dongshan River

View of Yilan Plain

View of Yilan Plain

The rocky beach in Nanfangao

The rocky beach in Nanfangao

The beach of Yilan with Guishan island in the back

The beach of Yilan with Guishan island in the back

The street of National Center of Traditional Arts

The street of National Center of Traditional Arts

Chen Clan is in the house

Chen Clan is in the house

Hot spring in Tai-ping Mountain

Hot spring in Tai-ping Mountain

People cooking eggs in hot spring

People cooking eggs in hot spring

The rest of my trip pretty much repeated itself every day like Groundhog Day: we ate, we slept, we socked in hot spring, we took some pictures in some cool places here and there, we got fat, we watched TV… 9 days went by and I gained 3 pounds for my reckless eating. If you think the pictures I posted here are so cool that you would be darn if you don’t ever visit these places, below is the list of cool places I visited:

Luodong Forest Park (羅東林場)
Cilan National Forest Park (棲蘭公園)
Dongshan River Park (冬山河親水公園)Tai-pingMountain (太平山)
Nanfangao (南方澳)
Mr. Brown Coffee Castle (金車咖啡城堡)
National Center for Traditional Arts (傳藝中心)

Hope you guys; enjoy these pictures and I HOPE I get to update my blog…let’s say,…every other two months 🙂

The light show at Downtown Yilan

The light show at Downtown Yilan

Downtown Luodong

Downtown Luodong

Happy Yian New Year

Happy Yian New Year

Posted by: kaichen3 | November 24, 2012

ANOTHER island getaway

No, this is not a copy and paste of my last blog entry. The great thing about living in an island surrounded by ocean is, you can always get away to another smaller island surrounded by the same ocean. Last month (again, apologize for the late entry), I took a couple of days off to go back to Kaohsiung which I had not been back for more than 2 months. I had two agendas in mind: redeem myself on the golf course and spend a night exploring the tiny island of Liuqiu. Back in February, I shot an embarrassing 148 and lost 2 dozens balls on a golf course in Pingtung. After taking 10 lessons and practicing thousands of balls in the driving range, I was ready to head back to the same course to prove that I could actually hit the ball out of tip box. Hitting the ball out of tip box I did. I shot 106 this time and only lost 5 balls in the process. I then proceeded to hit another 46 on the additional 9 holes. Not too shabby.

Not a bad day to stage a come back on this course

Crystal clear water of Liuqiu

The awesome coastline

Tranquil street of Liuqiu

The rocky beach of Liuqiu

Fishing harbor at night

I then rushed to the harbor of Donggang to catch a ferry to Liuqiu, a tiny island just east of Taiwan. I went to Liuqiu a long time ago. The only thing I remember from that trip was I threw up 10 times during the 40 mins ferry ride and the island was hot and filthy. But after his recent visit, my friend Jordan strongly recommended visiting the island and staying in a small guesthouse called 相思埔. Jordan also recommended taking the beach tour with the owner of that guest house in the morning. I followed his advice and the island didn’t disappoint me during my short trip there.

My $50 guest house room

All these for $5, all for myself

No wonder my weight is going up faster than Apple share price

Shaved Ice in a sea shell

I rented a scooter when I got off the boat and circled around the whole island in 30 mins (it’s tiny). Many places were closed on Thursday because only a few tourists came to visit in the slow season, but Liuqiu charmed me with its crystal clear water, fresh seafood and amazing scenery. Mr. Hsu, the owner of my guesthouse also did an awesome job showing me all the beautiful sea creatures that I never had a chance to see living in Dallas or Taipei. It’s hard to imagine an island so easy to get to can be so beautiful and intriguing. I am definitely going back for another get away trip there. But before that, I probably got 10 pounds to lose before I can make another all-you-can-eat trip in Taiwan.

The shallow water between the beach and ocean. This is where the explortation tour was

Mr. Hsu, the owner of guesthouse. His hat says “I love Liuqiu”

Feeding a school of fishes

The colorful shrimps off the shallow water

Sea urchin

Vase Rock, the most famous spot on the island

Posted by: kaichen3 | October 21, 2012

An island getaway

Again, I have to (and I HATE to) start this blog entry with an apology for being so late updating my blog. I am not sure how long does it usually take for others to post a blog entry. For me, going through the pics, researching the places I visit and recollecting my thoughts usually takes a while. I mean, 4 or 5 hrs probably, depends on the numbers of pictures and places I visited. And I do have a demanding job and other time consuming commitment such as church activities, watching Baylor football and playing video games. So I am sorry that it has become a norm the frequency of my blog entry has dropped from 2 weeks for one to 3 or 4 weeks for one. But this is life, at least I am still updating it after posting 114 entries on my blog since 2009.

Penghu Great Bridge that links up two main islands of Penghu

The Great Banyan Tree. All of these is one tree which has been growing here for 300 years

The old house built to sustain the brutal northeast wind in Penghu

All right, back to the story. My dad had been wanting to take James and I to Penghu for a while. The first time we were going to go, James suffered a collapsed lung condition and ended up being hospitalized for 3 days. Then a typhoon hit Taiwan the second time we tried to go. Finally, we made it the third time on 9/9. Located 50 something kilometers from the main island of Taiwan, Penghu is made up by more than 90 islands in the area. Surrounded by ocean, Penghu is well-known for its seafood and tourism. Prior to this trip, I visited Penghu twice before. The last time was 11 years ago with my buddy Jordan from Wenzao. Jordan’s family is from Chimi island, a beautiful island in the southern chain of Penghu famous for its heart shape stone weir. Jordan and I had a blast traveling together in the summer of 2001. This time was bound to be different though.

The village of Chen. Starting with a couple who moved here 250 years ago, everybody here is a Chen

Old school bed in a old house

The gorgeous coastline in Siyu island

My dad has a client who runs a hotel in Jibei, an island in northern coast of Penghu island chain. He had been dying to host us for a family vacation. So my parents flew from Kaohsiung and James and I flew from Taipei to spend a weekend in Penghu. Since Penghu is not big, my dad decided to rent scooters to get around the island. Despite my mom’s warning, James and I didn’t bring any long sleeve shirts, which proved to be a costly mistake on our part later. The flight to Penghu was relatively short, about 40 mins. So we landed about 7:30AM on Saturday and started cruising around the island on our scooters. Only 140 kilometers from China, Penghu has long been a place for Chinese to emigrate since 14th century and the area is rich in culture. We checked out temple and historical villages while stopping alone the beautiful coastline and fishing ports in the morning and good part of the afternoon.

James loving the scooter

One of the many small, charming fishing harbors in Penghu

Since we are in an island, got to eat like a fishman

Lighthouse at the tip of Siyu

In the afternoon, my dad’s friend sent his motor boat to pick us up at the harbor to Jibei. The guy is into many kinds of businesses from steel processing to cosmetics and tourism. He owns two hotels and travel agency and water recreational activity company in the island. As hospitable as he is, he took GOOD CARE OF US. I meant, from free water skiing to private fishing tour to a 9-courses seafood feast. As the only guest in the hotel that night, we were totally spoiled.

Off to the island of Jibei

Jibei is well know n for all kinds of recreational activities, on water

Young man and sea

The next day, we rode his boat again to Magong, the main island of Penghu. We spent the rest of trip checking out old streets of Magong, feasting on more seafood and wandering around different beaches. And thanks to our ignorance, James and I suffered sunburn so severe that we literally felt pain in our forearms. Eventually, the skin all peeled off after we got back to Taipei. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t listen to your mom. Other than that, the trip was a blast. James got to swim in 5 different beaches in 2 days and I also managed to gain 3 pounds from feasting on all the seafood. But next time, I am definitely bringing a ton of sun block lotion with me to Penghu.

Now is this a feast or what?

The tranquil Jibei beach in a quiet Sunday morning

It’s too ealry to see any hot chicks in two pieces, my cousin

Crystal clear water in Penghu

Old neighborhood in Magong

Brown sugar shaved ice, yummy

Lintou Park, the last and final spot for our two days island getaway

I SO wanted to get on that boat and stay in Penghu forever

Chimi Twin Hearts Store Weir. Didn’t have a chance to go this time. Well..there is always next time.

Posted by: kaichen3 | September 15, 2012

The baby story

Sometime in July (I apologize for being such a slacker when it comes to updating my blog), John and Laura, two dear friends of mine from my days at Baylor who still live in Waco, TX, e-mailed me. Completely out of blue, they said they were coming to Taipei for a few days. I honestly thought they were just going to swing by on their way to visit some other places in East Asia with no hidden agenda whatsoever. So the Saturday morning before their arrival in late night, I dropped off a cell phone at their hotel so they could call me when they got here. When asking the lady who worked at the front desk how long John and Laura would stay, I was told that they would go “somewhere” after staying in Taipei for a few days to do “something with the baby” , then came back. I had no earthly idea what the heck she was talking about and just dropped the phone for them. I also made some travel and sightseeing plan for them since it would be their first time ever visiting Taiwan.

Laura and her Taiwanese national flag

The little mountainous town of Jiufen

Finally, they called at 11:40 PM that Saturday night because their plane was delayed in Tokyo and they were totally cool with my crazy plan to pick up them at 7AM next morning despite their jet lag. So I woke up bright and early on August 5 to pick them up at the hotel (also got pulled over by a cop on my way there for a illegal right turn). Even suffering from lack of sleep, they seemed to be in good spirit.

Shaved ice and taro balls just right for the Waco couple

Keelung harbor from Jiufen

Jiufen Waterfall

“Hey Kai!” Laura gave me a big sweet hog like she always did when we were in school. “It was so great to see you in Taipei!” After exchanging a few words, I cut to the trace “So what brought you here to Taiwan? The lady who worked here yesterday morning said something about a baby. Laura, did you have a baby already?” “Ohhhhhhhhh, Kai, we really wanted to surprise you, but she spoiled it for us. We are here to adopt a baby”. “YOU ARE HERE TO ADOPT A TAIWANESE BABY?” I was completely shocked by what I just heard. Knowing John and Laura, I wasn’t surprised by their decision to adopt a baby, but a baby from my homeland? That’s crazy. But we got a full day ahead of us anyway. So we rushed to the subway station to catch a train to the north coast.

The gorgeous Northern Coast

The gorgeous Northern Coast II

On the train, they told me the crazy story how they ended up adopting a baby from Taiwan. They spent a whole year working with an adoption agency in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, the adoption policy changed there. So they ended up on a waiting list for a baby boy in Taiwan. Amazingly, even there were still two American couples on the waiting list in front of them, the biological mother of the boy wanted John and Laura to have her baby the first time she saw their picture. So here they were, had no earthly idea on how to be parents, about to be father and mother to a 4 month old Taiwanese boy.

After a 40 mins train ride, we arrived Ruifang, a little town in New Taipei located on the tip of north coast. From there, we took a bus to Jiufen, a former mining town made famous by the movie “A city of sadness”. The former deserted mining town is now a popular tourist place. We wandered around this little town, tried different delicacies and caught up the time we missed since I moved to African in 2009. Looking at the mountain and ocean, we were all amazed by how quickly time flew by and how we became who we were today. Laura and I met in Common Ground in fall semester 1999. She shared gospel with me the first time we met and three months later, I became a Christian. I became friend with John through Laura in fall 2003, my last semester at Baylor. John and Laura broke up a few weeks before I graduated. They got back together and I moved to Dallas to work for the next 6 years. The last time I saw them was in a small ice cream shop in Waco, less than a week before I moved to Uganda. Somehow, God brought us together, sitting in a small shaved ice place in Jiufen.

Taiwanese people are always fond of water, does not matter how strong the current is

The beach of Fulan

We spent the rest of Sunday taking bus to different places in north coast, wandering and hiking from mountains to beaches. I also took them to Taipei 101 and night market. They got so addicted to the mango shaved ice that they needed to have it twice before they flew back to the states with Samuel, their little adopted boy. Even though they only stayed in Taiwan for a few days, I am sure they will be back to this island with Samuel and the most importantly, Samuel’s life is forever changed for better because of them.

Laura and John do Din Tai Fung

John is a proud father now

Posted by: kaichen3 | August 18, 2012

The Grand East Coast Excursion II.

After one night in Hualien city, we went to the beach to check out the seashore of Pacific and Qingshui Cliff. Unfortunately, the weather was cloudy and rainy and we didn’t get the best view of famous Su-Hua Highway. So we headed into the mountain for Taroko National Park and its world renowned gorge. Just like all the popular tourist spots, that place was swamped with Chinese tourists despite repeated incidents of Chinese tourists being stroke by falling rocks in the areas. In fact, a part of the most beautiful hiking trail has been shut down for good due to falling rocks and all the tourists are advised to wear hamlets. Just a couple of weeks ago, a daredevil Chinese tourist chose to ignore the warning and ventured into the closed trail. Needless to say, his little adventure didn’t end well and my family had no intention to follow his example although we all wore hamlets for safety reason.

The beach of Qi Xing Tan

Qingshui Cliff

My boar meal, YUMMY!!

James liking his Hualien cowboy steak

Before we headed in to the trail, we had lunch at Buluown, a little terrace in the mountain that used to be a tribal village of aboriginal people Taroko tribe. I really liked the quiet little mountainous village which now has been turned into a resort place that provides food and lodging. The food there was absolutely yummy. I got myself a roasted boar and James feasted on his steak (and James discovered the bathroom sign in the restaurant which he thought was the coolest aboriginal art craft ever). After a hearty meal, we then walked around the trail and took whole bunch of pictures in the famous Taroko gorge. There are a ton of gorgeous hiking trails in the park. However, due to the James’s knee injury, we didn’t have the chance to walk on any strenuous trails. So we checked in the hotel early afternoon to let James get in the pool and dad and I headed to hot spring deep in the gorge ourselves.

The guesthouse in Taroko

Look at what James found

The awesome gorge in Taroko

The awesome gorge in Taroko II

The awesome gorge in Taroko III

The long and winding tunnel of Taroko

Despite its concealed location, Wenshan hot spring attracts good number of tourists. The hot spring was shut down for 6 years after falling rocks killed two people and injured 5 others in 2005. The park reopened this place last year after many people pleaded for it. My dad and I went deep in the gorge, crossed a suspension bridge to reach this place. The water was HOT, about 120 degree. I spent most of time in the cool water of river instead of soaking in the hot spring. Although I didn’t enjoy the hotel spring, just the scenery itself around the hot spring was amazing enough. After a little hot spring adventure, we didn’t do much the rest of trip other than watching a fabulous aboriginal dance show in the hotel in the evening before heading back to Kaohsiung the next day (it was such a LONG DRIVE from Hualien). The rest of it was history as I headed back to Taipei for two surprising visitors from TX. I will leave that for the next post 

Pavilion and gorge

James liking the pool in the gorge

The gorge and people chiling in the hot spring

The bamboo stick dancing by the aboriginal people

Posted by: kaichen3 | July 29, 2012

The Grand East Coast Excursion I.

Since James arrived in this island in early June, his time in Taiwan has been nothing but disaster full of injury and sickness. After suffering a bone fracture that forced us to cancel the trip to China, he suffered spontaneous pneumothorax that got him hospitalized for 3 days and we canceled another trip to Penghu as a result. So finally, he recovered from his personal hell in the most expansive hospital room in Kaohsiung that cost us more than $300 a night and was fit to travel to the east coast with us last week. Although my family goes to Taitung all the time for hot spring, it has literally been decades since I visited Hualien (more than 20 years, I guess) which is just north of Taitung.

Unfortunately, James ‘s liberty is still crippled by his injury

The rocky shoreline of Taitung

My family got up bright and early Saturday morning to start the long drive around the southern tip of Taiwan. Although the weather was bad in the whole west coast, it cleared up by the time we hit Taitung. It got better the further north we traveled along the Pacific coast line. By the time we got Cheng Kung town, there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky. Before we started our day on the beach, my dad asked me to find a nice restaurant in Cheng Kung, a fishing town famous for Pacific blue marlin. Thanks to Google and my HTC phone, I was able to uncover the best kept secret of whole east coast – a fabulous seafood restaurant in the middle of nowhere by the ocean. Being a foodie like me, it has always been the dream of my life to discover all the yummy places around the world. And this place, man, is OUT OF THE WHOLE TAIWAN EAST COAST. Not only the decoration and atmosphere top the nice restaurants in Taipei, the food is absolutely yummy for a price that’s only a fraction of the price in Taipei. We had so much fresh blue marlin: raw, boiled, deep fried, stir fried….that you could stick a fork in me and I would be done for the trip.

This place is out of Taitung

Fish, Fish and more Fish!!!

After feasting at the greatest discovery since Columbus discovered America, we went to Sanxiantai, a scenic area that has a beach stretches for over 8 miles with several islands. The pebble beach with crystal clear water and blue sky was breathtakingly beautiful. Even James who has been mesmerized by nothing but online video game since he arrived Taiwan was amazed by the scenery as well. I walked around the whole place and took whole bunch of pictures for an hour before we headed north to Hualien City.

Crystal clear water in Sanxiantai

The astonishing beach of Sansiantai

The bridge to the island, the landmark of Sansiantai

Note how tiny the people are compared to those rock formation

You are not in Texas anymore, James

Although I do have a good job as a stock analyst, sometimes I really envy my dad who is a well-respected vice president with one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Taiwan.His job allows him to wine and dine with all kinds of high rollers in Taiwanese business community and sometimes his friendship with those high rollers pays off. One of his clients has a membership with Farglory Hotel, a fancy resort hotel located on a mountain that overlooks Pacific, Hualien city and the Central Mountain Range, and he never uses his free stays during the year. So we got to stay in the hotel for free. Needless to say, James and I took advantage of all the amenities in this place and chilled by the indoor pool and SPA all night before calling it a day.


Hualien welcomes us with more blue sky and crystal clear water

The canyon of Xiuguluan River, the most popular white water rafting place in Taiwan

Located on the mountain that overlooks Pacific, Hualien City and Hualien – Taitung Plain, this place’s got a speculator view

Farglory Hotel’s welcome party. Apparently, they are from Victorian era

Long lives Liberty and delicious Chinese food

Amazing night color of Hualien City and Harbor

Hualien plain at night with Central Mountain Range in the back

Posted by: kaichen3 | July 15, 2012

A Tamsui get-away

To the citizens in Taipei, Tamsui is like just Santa Monica to the people in L.A. Don’t get me wrong. There is no gigantic beach with battalions of girls walking around in bikinis in Tamsui all day (or I would have been there myself in the summer every weekend). I mean in the way that Tamsui is a popular and easy get-away for Taipei residents and tourists alike with its amazing sunset and historical neighborhood. Every time I visited Taipei during my trips back from the states, Tamsui was always a must-go place because I could easy get there by myself with Taipei MRT and spent hrs wandering around the neighborhood, riverbank and oceanfront. But this time, thanks to my friend Daniel who invited the whole church small group to his home in Tamsui for a bike ride and Canjun home cooking (despite being a Taiwanese, he lived in Louisiana for 8 years), I got the chance to visit the parts of Tamsui I never been before.

Tamsui River with Taiwan strait and Taipei harbor in the right

Frank and Hsin-chia battle with Ah-gei

Tamsui Ah-Gei

Tamkang High School chapel

But before we undertook the strenuous 2 miles bike ride that would burn 10,000 calories for the afternoon, Frank, another Tamsui native, offered to take me and Hsin-chia to a delicacy and neighborhood tour of his hometown. We started our tour by eating two Ah-Gei (tofu staffed with pasta made with green bean powder. I know it sounds weird, but it’s absolutely delicious). Why two? Frank said Ah-Gei from different stores have different flavors, one sweet and one salty. Then we toured around Tamkang High School, Frank’s alma mater. Founded in 1914 by the Canadian missionary George Mackay, Tamkang High School is the first private school in northern Taiwan, also the alma mater of somebody who is way much more famous than Frank (no offense to my friend Frank): Asian pop sensation Jay Chou. Mr. Chou even filmed his first movie “Secret” in this beautiful and historical campus. Although Frank also attended this school, he’s still at his early stage of teaching career and probably got a long way to catch up with Mr. Chou’s fame.

The famous Tankang High School main building which is featured repeatedly in Jay Chou’s movie

Jay Chou: say what about my school?

After 2 and half hours of wandering around Tamsui, we joined the rest of group to bike along the coast line of Tamsui. The weather was pleasant and sunset was beautiful but the company was even better. After a nice bike ride, Daniel’s wife fixed some delicious Cajun gumbo for us. Her home cooking with 4 slices of pizza and my addiction to fruity beer definitely didn’t help my cause for weight loss. Actually, some of us even went to watch the Amazing Spider Man afterwards and I even more pop-corn in the theater. Despite the fatty pop-porn and expansive 3D movie tickets, I really have to say Andrew Garfield is a better Spider Man than Tobey Maguire.

8 fierce bikers

Sunset on the ocean

Thanks to Daniel and his wife for the amazing meal

Taiwan Beef- Mango Flavor, the best thing since a slice of bread

Reckless and a little cocky, Andrew Garfiled put a different spin of Spider Man

Posted by: kaichen3 | June 26, 2012

What the heck happened to this blog?

And me that I haven’t updated this thing since March. I’ve received many e-mails and phone calls from all over the world asking if I was still alive. Actually, nothing happened to me since March. Nothing funny, nothing exciting, nothing entertaining, nothing worth writing about. My life as an equity analyst has consisted of nothing but waking up at 6AM and working 14, 15 hrs a day plus weekend for the past 4 months. I didn’t even leave Taipei City once during this painful stretch. For crying out loud, I didn’t even watch A SINGLE NBA PLAYOFF GAME this year, not even the championship final. The only thing I managed to accomplish other than writing a 65 pages report on Far Eastern Department Store was gaining weight. I am talking about 8 pounds in 4 months. Fortunately, my life is back to normal after I finished my report and passed the senior broker license exam last week.

James celebrated his 18 years b-day with his tiny cake

The beach and ocean in Kenting, always beautiful, always sunny here

James, my mixed American cousin also came to visit me from Dallas two weeks ago. After just graduating from high school in May, he came to Taiwan hoping for an adventure of his life time. Unfortunately, after only being in Taiwan for 5 days, a freak accident landed this young stud on the disabled list with a bone fracture on his right knee cap. We were planning to take him to China for a few days, but the plan was canceled due to his injury. The doctor told him that he will probably heal by the time he flies back to TX on July 30. Poor kid. I feel horrible about it. Since he got hurt, James has been doing nothing but playing video games, watching ESPN and HBO, chatting with friends on Facebook….all the stuff he could do at his house in Plano, TX. However, since he flew all the way to Taiwan, I can’t just let him sit on his butt for the rest of his trip. Last Friday, I got him and myself two high speed rail road tickets to Kaohsiung and off to the beach in Kenting we went. Honestly, we couldn’t do much but walk around the scenic spots here and there. James labored intensively just walking for 100 ft then he would need some rest. We probably would have done much more if he wasn’t hurting. But it is what it is now and we will do our best to make the best of it.

James liking the beach. Too bad he couldn’t jump in the water

Eat up all the clams, young stud

My parents and James

James isn’t the only one visiting from the states this summer. Lydia, my classmate from Wenzao, is also back from Portland for the summer. The last time she was in Taiwan over Chinese New Year, she had so much fun that she forgot to broad the plane until one day later. However, I had not seen her since the last time I stayed with her in Portland in 2007. So Lydia, Hui-yu, another classmate from Wenzao and Hui-yu’s 6 years old boy and I got together for breakfast to catch up on what’s going on in everybody’s life. Before Sunday, I hadn’t seen Hui-yu since 1999 (!!) and time sure flies as most of my friends have gotten married, had kids but I have travelled all over the states and African by myself. Everybody has made different choices and chosen different paths for lives. I can’t say that I am not content with my life. After all, I do have a good job that I enjoy and a loving aunt who takes care of me in Taipei. However, I do know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living this way because my life has been a non-stop adventure since I moved to Africa and started this blog 3 years ago. So how I keep living my crazy adventures in the midst of the boring 12 hrs of work a day, 5 days a week? I guess we will see.

Screw Taipei. I want to stay here

Old friends from Wenzao. Lydia on the left and Hui-yu and her boy on the right. I, of course, am the fatty behind.

Posted by: kaichen3 | March 18, 2012

It’s March and I am MAD IN TAIPEI

Two years ago, I had an amazing March Madness in Uganda, watching my beloved Baylor Bears losing a bitter game to Duke in fight to Elite 8 until 4:30 in the morning. It was definitely THE BASKETBALL GAME of my life. Last year, Baylor didn’t make it to the tournament and I was stuck in the high mountain serving air force anyway. Now, Bears stormed back to the Big Dance again. Unfortunately, I can’t get as many Americans as I did to do the bracket with me in Taipei this year. I did manage to get two of my friends to do it. John, who went to Georgetown, unwisely has his alma mater in the national final on his bracket. No disrespect for John who is a great guy with a bright future but let’s just say there is no way in hell he’s going to win my $ with Georgetown in national final. Lucas, who is a MIT grad, has Michigan St. beating Kansas in national final. That, is a better bracket than both mine and John’s, at least for now. (I have Missouri making the final 4, ouch). Oh well, as far as I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, my heart is always with the mighty Bears.

You don't mess with the yellow jersey. No, you just don't.

All Brady, all the time

Posted by: kaichen3 | March 4, 2012

The memorial day that few actually cares

Thanks to the 228 Memorial Day which Taiwanese government made it an official holiday only a few years ago, everybody in Taiwan got to enjoy a 4 days weekend this year. Initially, the government made it a holiday to pay tribute to the victims of the massacre, but now, it’s just another day that most Taiwanese don’t have to work. Since I am an avid golfer who averages 150 strokes on the course whenever I get to play, this was the perfect opportunity for me to not only escape Taipei, but also play some golf with Pete, my American golf instructor from church. Thanks to my dad’s personal connection, we got to play at an awfully nice golf course in Pingtung at a great discount.

Sunwood Lake Golf Club

Peter and caddy to find his ball on the fairball while mine was deep in the wood

Awesome view from the restaurant on the golf course

However, my golf game wasn’t nearly as awesome as the weather. I brought 18 balls with me and planned to lose one ball per hole. However, I lost 3 already at the hole 2 and even my caddy couldn’t bear watching me losing one ball after another. She gave me some old balls she found on the golf course and only counted half of strokes on the score card. On the other hand, Pete cruised along and ended up with 82 for the day while mine is a pitiful 135 strokes. Well, I guess I won’t be playing on the PGA tour anytime soon then.

The cherry blossom two weeks in Taitung before we got there

The lone cherry blossom remaining when we got there

Other than 4 hrs of humiliation on the golf course, my family and I also went to Taitung to see the cherry blossom that was supposed to last through the end of February. Unfortunately, we were at least 2 weeks late and all we saw was miles of cars and battalions of tourists. Fortunately, we had fun biking in the forest park and soaking in the hot spring. Although we didn’t see the cherry blossom, I was also eager to spend 2 hrs of my life at the buffet line of Royal Chih-pen hotel to make up for the loss. Other than not playing on the PGA tour, I guess my weight isn’t returning to the normal level in the near future either.

Pacific ocean by the park

Lake in the Taitung Forest Park

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