Wednesday, August 30, 2006


As my story “Taiwan in the new year” is mostly taking place in Panchiao, a suburb of Taipei City at the moment, I decided to make a short video to show what Panchiao looks like. I think this video conveys well the crowded, closed in, busy city feeling that Panchiao has.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taiwan night markets

Here is an interesting Podcast about shopping in night markets from What's up in Taiwan. It is interesting to listen to the atmosphere of the markets and to listen to Olivia Steyn (who the show is about) use some very basic Chinese to barter down the price of goods.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Taiwan In The New Year PART IV

Taiwan In The New Year

PART IV – Day 1 continued…

After paying for the taxi and booking into the hotel it was a great relief to finally be able to collapse on a bed and relax for a while. But unfortunately it wasn’t very long before I realise that what I really needed now more than anything else was a good strong coffee. Coffee, milk and sugar are not always supplied in hotel rooms in Taiwan, as the drink of choice for most people is Green Tea.

As I venture out alone to buy some coffee Julie suggested I get something we can have for breakfast as well.

I smiled at the two girls in reception as I went past, then as I walked out the front door the wall of noise outside hit me hard.

It doesn’t mater what city you are in, if you need supplies but don’t speak the language, then the best thing to do is head for the nearest convenience store. So I headed back the same way the taxi had brought us in from the main road, and it didn’t take long before I found a nearby 7-11.

As I entered I saw a lady using a pair of tongs to pluck some Tea Eggs out of a big pot near the counter. Almost every convenience store seems to have a pot of these black eggs on constant boil in a soup of green tea and soya sauce. Although I know they are delicious I’m not tempted to buy any. The longer I could last without getting an upset stomach on this trip the better. I chose a couple of nice big buns covered in bacon and cheese for breakfast, a couple of sweet buns and a couple of cups of instant noodles for dinner, and two hot cans of coffee from a small heated cabinet.

As I approached the counter I decide to try out my limited Chinese. But before I could say anything the guy behind the counter gave me an uncertain look and said in a thick Chinese accent “How are you?”
I replied “Good thanks.” Then having obviously exhausted his entire English repertoire I tried out my Chinese.

“Doa shao qian?” How much does this cost? I said.

He had no trouble understanding what I said, but his reply was far too fast for me to have any idea what he said. I quickly handed over a New Taiwan NT$50 note sure that it would be enough and pretended I did understand what he said.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

3 months to go

It is now exactly three months until my trip to Taiwan. Time for some serious head down Chinese learning.

Actually I have already learnt a lot in the last six months or so since I started to really study Chinese, but I still have a very long way to go. I wont be having any fluent conversations in Chinese when I go to Taiwan, but hopefully I'll know enough to just get by.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A new plan for learning characters.

Previously I said that I planned to learn Chinese characters by first learning the numbers followed by the radicals, then I was going to move onto learning some actual characters. I have again changed my mind and have a new modified plan.

I now think that learning the radicals like that before any characters would make the whole task much harder than is really necessary. I think it would be much easier to just jump in learn characters and pick up the radicals along the way.

So Here is my new Plan. I am going to learn all the characters for all the pinyin in my first flash card file. I will do this by first making a list of all the characters (not a small task), then I will organize them into smaller groups by radical and learn each radical group one at a time.

So far I have translated the pinyin from the first 2 lessons into characters.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Forbidden City Video

This is a good 3 minute video I found that someone made of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sorted Links

I have fixed up the web site a bit by adding links to all pages on all pages. Every page now has a menu on the left hand side just like the main page did before.

I've also added a link to each page in the Links section on the left hand side of this blog.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chinese Drummers

This is a video I found of some drummers at a Chinese Temple somewhere.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Animal Sounds

Did you know that animals in Chinese speaking countries sound different to animals in English speaking countries?

For one example, Chinese people say that dogs go Wang! Wang! Not Woof! Woof! or BowWow as they do for English speaking people. Also cows go Mou Mou not Moo, sheep go Mai Mai instead of Baa, ducks go Ga Ga instead of Quack, chickens go Ji Ji, and horses go Si Si instead of Neigh. Cats however do sound very similar to Meow, though it is spelt in pinyin as Miao.