Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Baiyang Trail

Here are some more pictures I took on the Baiyang Trail in the Taroko National Park in Taiwan.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Added software feature

I have added a feature to the planned software that I should have put in to start with. I want the program to display all the lessons that are being or have been learnt at any particular point. This should be easy to do by just adding an extra table to the database.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chinese name

This is an interesting web site. It lets you look up your name and see how it is written in Chinese.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Why is Chinese so damn hard?.

I found this PDF file that is an essay titled Why is Chinese so damn hard?. If you know anything about the Chinese language it is kind of funny. If you are just thinking about learning Chinese then you probably shouldn’t read this because it will scare you out of the idea without a doubt.

Unfortunately a lot of what he talks about is still in front of me.

Friday, May 26, 2006

More Taroko National Park pictures

Here are some more pictures I took in the Taroko National Park in Taiwan. All these pictures were taken at the start of the Baiyang Trail which is a walking trail that winds it way up a narrow gorge, through a few man made tunnels to a set of waterfalls high in the mountains. The trail starts by going through a mountain in a very long tunnel, which you can see the entrance of in the second picture. The last two pictures were taken just outside the other end of the first tunnel.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My software

I have finished working out what I’m going to make as a first version of the flash card software. It will actually be a very simple program to do a single job. Later I would like to add more features, but firstly I’ll just give it the features to allow me to do what I am using jMemorize to do at the moment.

There will be one major difference with the new software however. In jMemorize a question is displayed on the screen, you try to remember the answer, press a button, display the answer then you choose to click either the “I got it correct” button or the “I got it wrong” button. I have decided that instead I will make the program display the question and then the user must choose the correct answer from all possible answers to all the questions that have been added up to that time.

Also the program will add each new set of questions, or each new lesson as the user becomes proficient with the preceding lessons. Without the user having to make that decision themselves.

I have already planned how to code all this around a simple database file.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dancing dog

This is a funny video of a dancing dog from Taiwan. I think it is from a television show.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Travels in Taiwan

OK. I have decided I will write about my travels in Taiwan. I have a lot of material I can use. I thought I would write about the three weeks my then girlfriend and myself spent traveling around the island during the Chinese New Year period.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Flashcards updated

I have finished updating my flashcards as I said I was going to in this post. Actually it was good to stop and consolidate for a bit. I am now confident that I have all of my own flashcards memorized, though I am still having some trouble memorizing some of the ChinesePod stuff.

I'm not really sure why I am having a little more trouble with the ChinesePod stuff, but I suspect it may be because there is not really a lot of method to them. Each lesson's subject seems a bit random. Anyway I think I will do one more ChinesePod CD then I'll run through them all again and try to give my brain a chance to catch up.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Tone trouble

I have developed a new problem with my tones. I seem to have gotten into the bad habit of talking too fast in Chinese so that my tones run together. In English this is not a problem, but in Chinese if say something like "kangaroo" which in Chinese is "dai\ shu\/", and I say it too fast then it comes out something like "dai\ shu/\/". In other words when one tone ends on a low and the next starts on a high I have developed the bad habit of joining them together by adding a rising tone between them.

So now my speech has slowed down a lot. I have to be careful to pronounce each word or syllable individually one at a time.

Friday, May 19, 2006

4th ChinesePod CD

I have finished the fourth CD that I made from the ChinesePod lessons. This brings me up to lesson 23 (I could only fit 5 podcasts on this CD). Here are the new words and phrases from the lessons that I have added to my flashcard file.

hu2 jiao1 fen3 = Ground pepper.
bai2 ling3 = White-collar (worker)
lan2 ling3 = Blue-collar (worker)
tian1 = Sky
shi2 wu4 = Food
la4 jiao1 = Hot chilli
hen3 la4 = Very hot.
ma3 lu4 = road/street
guo4 ma3 lu4 = Cross the street.
gui4 xing4 = Honorable surname
dao4 = (to) arrive
shen2 me shi2 hou4 = What time (when) ?
hui2 lai2 = to come back
hui2 = to return
zao3 shang4 = morning
zao3 shang4 hao3 = Good morning.
zhong1 wu3 hao3 = Good noon time.
xia4 wu3 hao3 = Good afternoon.
wan3 shang4 hao3 = Good evening.

Mandarin Student on Pimsleur

Here is an interesting post by Chris on his "Mandarin Student" blog. I have been curious about Pimsleur for a while now because it seems to be very popular among the Chinese language students online. You can actually buy the first eight lessons in the iTunes audiobooks section for AU$18. You can also listen to a short 30 second piece of a lesson.

Chris has managed to get a loan of the Pimsleur course and gives his opinion of it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Taroko National Park

These pictures were taken in the mountains of Taiwan at the Taroko National Park visitors centre, just north of the city of Hualien.

In the second and third pictures can be seen a pagoda and just below that a statue in the mountain monastery at Taroko.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Planned Taiwan trip

I have been thinking about writing about my travels in Taiwan. It might be fun to re-live it all before setting of on the next journey.

Speaking of the next journey. I now have a rough time schedule. Unfortunately it will only be a short trip from about the middle of November to about a week or so into December. We are also playing with the idea of stopping off in Hong Kong for a few days as well, but that's yet to be decided.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gorges of north east Taiwan

This short one and a half minute video shows the mountains and gorges on the north east coast of Taiwan. This is just the edge of the mountains. From here they rise up to 4 km high.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What’s up in Taiwan

Here is an interesting web site called What's up in Taiwan. It is basically a blog updated weekly with a Podcast about the experiences foreign guests of the show have had while travelling or living in Taiwan, and how they feel about the place.

Some experiences are good and some are bad. Though most of the guests seem to like the experience of visiting Taiwan.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Flashcard file corrupted

My second flashcard file has somehow become corrupted. Fortunately I still have the copy I put on my website though, so I will just have to earn the pile distribution again. I don't want all the cards to come up on the same days, so I will learn each lesson as I add to them as mentioned in this post.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hualien Pictures

These pictures were taken from our hotel room window in the city of Hualien on the east coast of Taiwan. The street in the first picture had a great little noodle house restaurant the first time we were in Taiwan. They served the best noodle meal in Taiwan. Unfortunately when we came back this time they were gone.

The second picture shows the mountains behind the old Hualien train station. The gorge that can be seen in the mountains is just one of many along the coast in this part of Taiwan. The Taroko Gorge just to the north of Hualien has what many people say is some of the most spectacular scenery in Taiwan.

The third picture shows another view of the mountains behind the old Hualien train station.

The last picture is a view of the park in front of the old Hualien train station.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Embarrassing moments learning chinese, Part 4

Here is the fourth instalment of peoples most embarrassing moments while learning chinese. Taken from the Chinese-forums.

I went to a dumpling party that was being held by the Chinese English Language table at the University of Illinois and afterward I got a call from a Chinese friend of mine.

She asked about my day and I told her "I just got back from a biao3zi party".

She says "What???"

I reply, "Biao3zi - dumpling, right?"

"No, thats jiao3zi"


I later looked up biao3zi and realized why she was so suprised.


biao3zi actually means prostitute.

Stupidly enough I made this mistake again this week when somebody was talking about their father making stuffed buns I asked "You mean like biao3zi?" this time meaning "bao3zi". I realized right away, and she informed me I "knew too much Chinese".

I think I should avoid talking about Chinese food.

By kangkai

And my sister once told her friend that she was going to travel in YIN DAO! By the way, she meant to say INDIA (YIN DU), while "YIN DAO" means vag*na!

And one more unforgettable joke: Wo mingtian JIAN ni! (I see you tomorrow!)

Jian should be Jian4, but at that time I said "JIAN1", so it meant RAPE!

I rape you tomorrow!

By pazu


Thursday, May 11, 2006

Time to back track a bit

I have found that it is becoming a bit more difficult to memorize the new words in my flashcard files. I think there is a couple of reasons for this. Firstly I have two flashcard files going now, which means I am trying to memorize twice as many new words in the same amount of time as before. Secondly I changed the way jMemorize was set up when I started my second flashcard file.

I don't like the idea of slowing down the number of words I am learning, so I am going to go back to the way I was using the flashcards before, and just push on until I'm back on track.

What I changed with the flashcards was the number of cards. In my first file I had a pinyin card with an English back, and an English card with a pinyin back for each word or phrase. When I started the second file I dropped the second card and just set jMemorize to randomly show the flipside. Unfortunately I think the old system of learning each phrase both ways every time was much better. It is amazing how much harder a small difference like this can make the job.

I will now go back and add all the second cards to the file before I start on the next Lesson. I have already finished adding the extra cards to my ChinesePod flashcard file so I will continue with the next ChinesePod CD that I made as per usual.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Yenshui Festival of Fire

Ever wanted to get really, really close to a fireworks display.

Every year during the Chinese New Year period in the small town of Yenshui in the south of Taiwan they have a Festival of Fire, where everyone dresses up in as much protective clothing as they possibly can and then dance in the middle of thousands of exploding fireworks.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Toilet Restaurant

Sometimes Taiwan humor can be very unorthodox. Here is a write up of a story that was on the TV here last night. It's about a Toilet theme restaurant where you get to sit on the toilet while you eat your meal out of a small toilet bowl.

Somehow I don't think I would enjoy eating noodles in brown slush out of a little toilet bowl.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Chinese Movies as Listening practice

After reading this post and it's comments on ChinesePod I decided to have a Chinese movie night, so we went and hired a couple and watched them last night.

The first was a Hong Kong movie called "Breaking News". This was originally a Cantonese movie, however we watched the Mandarin dubbed version. Now this was a good movie, but of no use to me as far as listening practice is concerned. I find that people speak far too fast in Hong Kong movies for me to be able to keep up. I don't know if all Cantonese speaker are like this, but in Hong Kong they certainly speak at a very fast pace, and unfortunately the Mandarin dubbing has to be as fast as the original Cantonese.

I find that movies from Mainland China are much more understandable, but I think for clear speech and a reasonable speed of speaking Taiwan films are by far the best.

The second movie I watched last night was a Horror film from Taiwan called "The Heirloom". This film was much easier to follow and I noticed something about using a Chinese movie for listening practice that I hadn't noticed before.

My level of Chinese is still a long way from me being able to understand an entire movie unaided, but I have got to a point now where I am finding the English subtitles are actually adding to my confusion. The problem is the structure of a Chinese sentence is very different to the same sentence in English. I find that when I watch a Chinese movie I listen to the speech and if think I can understand what they are saying (or even if don't understand) I read the English subtitle to see if I am correct. However I don't actually listen to the whole sentence then read the English, I do these two things simultaneously.

For me to keep up with the conversation I need to listen in one language and simultaneously read in another when there may be no correlation at all in word order. In fact the sentence can be almost back to front in one language as compared to the other.

I am sure that once I get beyond this point it will mark a real milestone as far as my ability to listen and understand Chinese is concerned.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lesson 17 Going to the Zoo

I've finished the next lesson on my jMemorize flashcard file. This lesson about going to the zoo is the 3rd lesson on the second flashcard file and has the Chinese name of a few Australian animals, as well as elephants, monkeys, pandas and tigers.

The file can be downloaded from my flashcard page.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Finished 3rd ChinesePod CD

I have finished the 3rd CD that I made from the ChinesePod lessons. This takes me up to lesson 18. Here is a list of the words and phrases from the podcasts that I have added to my ChinesePod flashcard file.

guo3 zhi1 = Juice
jiu3 = alcohol
guo2 qing4 jie2 = National Day
xing1 qi2 = Week
xing1 qi2 tian1 = Sunday
ming2 pian4 = Name/business card
gao1 xing4 = Happy
ren4 shi1 = Know
shou3 ji1 = Mobile phone
hei1 se4 de1 = It's coloured black.
lan2 se4 de1 = It's coloured blue.
jie4 = Borrow
Wo3 neng2 jie4 ma = Could I (am I able to) borrow it?
wo3 ke3 yi3 = Can I?
mei2 wen4 ti2 = No problem.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Keelung markets

Here is a video of the night markets in Keelung that I mentioned in the previous post. These are not the biggest or most crowded of markets in Taiwan, but this short one minute video does give a good idea of the feeling of night markets.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Keelung Temple

I took this photo of a temple that is located in the middle of the night markets in the city of Keelung in the north of Taiwan. This place was very crowded and noisy, but very interesting to see as well.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


OK, I have decided that I will write my own software for learning Chinese.. I will tentatively call it MemChin (short for Memorise Chinese).

My first task is to plan exactly what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. Of course I already have some ideas because I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Peaceful Island video

This is a short two minute video I made of the same peaceful Island that I showed pictures of in this earlier post. The attraction of Peaceful Island is the unusual rock formations. It is located not far from the city of Keelung in the north of Taiwan.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Most embarrassing moments learning chinese Part 3

Here are yet more of peoples most embarrassing moments learning chinese from

oh, and one more was another friend (lucky this stuff never happens to me) who had this one Chinese guy convince him to use weige as his Chinese name. He thought it sounded cool, but whenever he introduced himself to girls they'd start laughing. A couple weeks later he found out he had been calling himself "Viagra".

By ChouDoufu


I've had plenty of embarrassing moments myself but one of the funniest happened to a friend of mine. We were newly arrived in Taiwan. He wanted to say to this Chinese man, "Wo3 xiang3 wen4 ni3. (I want to ask you...)", but it came out "Wo3 xiang3 wen2 ni3" which because of tone changes could be understood as "I want to kiss you." or "I want to smell you." However the Chinese fellow understood it, he sure had a funny look on his face.

By jwarriner

I really messed up one afternoon not long after I'd arrived in Bei Jing. I was walking in Beihai park one afternoon with relatives of a Chinese lady I knew back in the UK. They didn't speak English and my Chinese was rudimentary to say the least so our conversation was a bit stilted. In one last attempt, my friend's brother asked me ' zai zhongguo ni you nan peng you ma ?'

I was very happy as I thought that I had understood their question (for the first time that afternoon). Unfortunately I had understood ' ni you peng you' instead of 'ni you nan peng you', and launched into a long tirade to prove how great my Chinese was - approximately along the following lines :

" you, kending you hen duo, you yingguo de, zhongguo de, ye you meiguo he riben de (etc.)"

there was no reaction, so I carried on:

" you nu de, ye you nan de"

by this time I realised something was amiss judging by the exxpression on their faces. It was embarassing for me but at least it broke the ice.

By tigronne


What tigronne was actually asked was “Do you have a boyfriend in China?” She thought he had asked “Do you have a friend in China?” and replied, “I do, in Kending I have lots, also in Britain, and in China, and in America, and in Japan…etc”