The Color Red

If you have ever seen one of the Kill Bill movies you are for sure familiar with Beatrix Kiddo scribbling down the names on her 'Death List 5'. What you may have not noticed, was that she writes those names in red ink. The significance of this is a Chinese superstition that a name written in red means you will die.
I made this mistake in class when I was explaining a grammar point on the board. I was using a red marker and without thinking, wrote a child's name on the board with the red ink. Realizing what I had done, I tried to quickly erase the red Jeremy that was on the white board; however it was too late. A terrified gasp swept the classroom and one girl even said, did you see what teacher did? I apologized and told them I really didn't mean it...I don't even believe in this but I still felt very guilty for potentially having a child killed.

Chou Dou Fu

In English, this is called Stinky Tofu. And yes, it describes it to the its full extent. The first time I smelt it, I actually had to stop and inspect the sidewalk to see where the stench was coming from. I was confused, as the nearest thing to me was a street vendor with a plume of steam coming up from a pot. When I walked closer, I realized that the stench was the food he was serving up to people, Stinky Tofu.
Now I'm open to new experience, new foods go with this; however, when it comes to food I like to use all five senses. Normally, all five senses should have a good reaction to the when my sense of smell sends off alarm bells of 'foul stench', I wonder how I could consume such a food. A friend told me that a shop owner was once fined due to how bad his tofu smelt.
I have not tried it, yet. I will...I just have to work up to it. Many have told me that it actually does taste good...others tell me that no, it tastes just like it smells...that being pretty awful.

My other experience with a strange food came when I was at a breakfast buffet after just a couple days of arriving. I bit into a bun that looked reminiscent of an asiago cheese bagel...however, when I bit into it I dropped it in horror after finding it stuffed with a fuzzy red substance that was overly salty and really not pleasant. I must have let out a scream because a the table next to me with a couple of Japanese tourist were curiously looking at me staring at my plate in horror. I later learned that the fuzzy red stuff is some kind of shredded pork substance...and is put on loads of baked goods here.

Perhaps it's all an acquired taste?

Settling In

My old home of Yemen has recently been in the news due to a series of bombings in the capital of Sana'a near to where I lived. This along with political unrest in the south are cause for quite a bit of tension in the country...however, when I emailed friends to find out what was going on they all were quite mellow saying that, 'yes we did hear of some explosions. Not sure why, but it's all okay. No big deal.' or 'so whack job with a grenade threw a grenade over a fence and now CNN's reporting Al Queda is on the offensive...which is completely blown out of proportion.' Despite my friends' complete disregard of the events, the US Embassy has issued departure of all non-essential personnale from the country. I'm glad I left when I did, but sad that this is all going on, not fair.

After nearly two months in Taiwan, I've settled into daily life. My first pay check immediately went to paying debt which really made me upset...but, this is how it goes. I have private lessons teaching what can only be described as a demonic's only for a couple hours and I make around $30/hour for I will deal. A company wanted to hire me as a spanish tranlator, however then said that they wanted someone with a European Spanish accent...that being the one with the lisp. Something I proudly do not have! But alas, I did not get that job.

I am surprised at several similarities that I see between Arab and Asian cultures...however, I have clearly been taught patience in the Mid East as I hear a lot of westerners complain of the 'crazy traffic' and 'lack of lines'. When I see the traffic it all look quite orderly to me...I mean they actually drive in lanes here as opposed to on the sidewalks and down the wrong way as they did in Egypt and Yemen. As far as lack of lines go, I think I'm guilty of nearly everyone else when I cut to the front...I had to learn to fend for myself in Egypt. However, not only the Arabs are guilty of the mob scene at counters...Italians are pretty bad about that, too!

Two things that I'm getting used to are the non-confrontational conversations and the food.
Taiwanese will neverly directly tell you if something is bothering you...rather, they will politely beat around the bush until you pick up what they are trying to say. Such as if you wear shorts to work and your boss is displeased, she will say to you, "Is it cold outside today?" when it is very well hot...then you are supposed to wonder why she said such a ridiculous comment and then decode it to know she meant that you should not be wearing shorts. Often you do not know this until its too late and she does not give you a raise do to a flaw with the dress code.
This happened to a friend of mine. I now find myself freaking out everytime a Taiwanese person makes a comment directly to me...not sure if I'm supposed to decode it or not.
As a result of this non-confrontation, everyone is extremely polite. Even when they are upset with you, they have to be polite...otherwise, it is shameful.

The food is the other things I'm getting used to. Sometimes it's just downright bizarre, at least for me. I'll write more on this later. I have pictures to go with it!