I haven’t blogged in five days, which is quite a while for me, so here is a massive post detailing the merriment of the past week and a half or so:

1) I’m recovering from a cold that I came down with last night, most likely passed down from Ron. Journalists are such filthy creatures. Anyway, I had a sore throat and stuffy nose, so I made Ron make a step n’ fetchit trip to the pharmacy to get me a bottle of Pei Pa Koa, or Chinese cough syrup (photo from here). I love that stuff. My mom used to give it to my brother and me when we were little. From time to time, I would sneak down to the fridge, where my mom stored our bottle of Pei Pa Koa, and just drink it for fun (sorry mom!). The syrup is herbal honey loquat flavored and its main ingredient (besides honey, sucrose and yet more sucrose) is elm bark. It did a very good job of soothing my throat without making me jittery like most cold medications, including Sudafed, do. And, no, despite my Pei Pa Koa fetish, it does not have alcohol in it.

2) There was an earthquake very early on the morning of Sept. 7. The fact that I didn’t bother mentioning it in prior postings probably betrays the fact that I grew up in California, earthquake central. It was strong enough, however, to wake me up and upset my Kid Robot Dunnys:


Ron, who grew up in Texas, immediately ran to our room and started shouting for me to get up. I told him to duck and cover; he told me to run outside. Now, I absolutely refuse to take safety directions from someone who regularly gleans tips about fire preparedness from old Fire Marshall Bill clips on YouTube. You should never run outside during an earthquake, especially in a densely populated area, because you might get hit by flying debris. According to the American Red Cross, if you are indoors, you should take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture or against an interior wall, and stay there until the shaking stops. Then, if you feel like it, you can run naked and screaming like a ninny into the street.

3) I bought a SIM card and a cheap Nokia cell phone. In Taiwan (as in most countries), the phone you buy is not married to the carrier you use. A SIM card allows you to choose a plan and carry it, along with your contacts and other data, from phone to phone. It was hard for me to find a shop that was willing to give me a contract, however, as I don’t have an Alien Resident Card yet. Apparently, there is a big problem with foreigners skipping out on their cell- and land-line phone bills when they leave Taiwan. Ron and I ended up going to Chunghwa Telecom in Taipei 101, where I signed up for a pay-as-you go plan. All I needed was my ID number, my student ID and my passport. Texting from cellphone to cellphone is free in Taiwan, so that has been my main method of mobile communication with Ron and my classmates.

4) Ron and I went to see any amazing modern dance performance called “The Smallest Flower” (最小的花–hey, I can read all that!). From his review:

“Mia Hsieh (謝韻雅) and Wang Pei-chun (王珮君) dance to the music of a kou xian (口弦), or mouth harp, around a wooden frame filled with cotton. They fluff the material, pluck and bang one-stringed Balinese violins against the structure, then hoist it and slowly carry it across the stage, as if it were a boat or a coffin.

Wang and Hsieh are using their bodies to express things many Taiwanese have in common but rarely talk about: the struggle to flee China a half-century ago and rebuild their lives here, the longing for their lost homes, and the pain of separation from relatives who never made it to the other side. (more)”

Anyway, I’m off to get the taste of Zicam Oral Mist out of my mouth–with more Pei Pa Koa! Muhaha.