Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I've got my new computer keyboard which I hope will be a help when it comes to learning to type Chinese characters. I bought it in an electrical shop here in Banchiao. I think I've said this before but electrical goods which I would have expected to be cheaper in Taiwan of all places all seem to be exactly the same price as back home. Food, clothing etc is all much cheaper, but not electrical goods. Also clothing is of a much better quality here than back in Australia. Australia is now overrun with Chinese clothing imports and to be honest it is all low quality rubbish sold for far more than it is worth.

For the first time yesterday I ventured out of Banchiao to have a look at another market in Taipei. I took the new Metro underground rail and found it is much easier to get around Taipei now. All the trains and buses now have both Chinese and English place names and the ticket machines are also labeled in English. Also once on a train all announcements are made in Mandarin, English, Taiwanese and Hakka. I have also noticed that all new signs have Banchiao spelt with a B which I think is the correct Pinyin spelling, previously it was always written as Panchiao with a P as can still be seen on older sign's like the Panchiao Night Markets.

I think that next time I come here it would be great to be able to read some of the signs. It would be good to be able to know which sign said Tea House and which sign said Restaurant. So I thought I would photograph a few signs to learn. So far I have a Steak House sign and a Hotel sign.

Friday, November 24, 2006


I have now been in Taiwan for six days and today for the first time since leaving the airport that I saw someone that wasn't Chinese. I saw some European looking guy crossing the road near the railway station and I was suddenly reminded just how much I stand out in this place. When I first arrived I was very aware of the way everyone everywhere turned to look at me. It's not that they have never seen a foreigner before, but I guess we are still unusual enough to stand out and catch peoples attention. After the first couple of days though I stopped paying attention to this myself and so didn't notice anymore.

If I speak a very small amount of Chinese then people straight away assume I can speak the language. As an example I went into a convenience store last night to buy a hot can of coffee, when I went to the counter I asked in Chinese "How much is this?", I understood the reply, gave her the money and said "Thank you". Then she said some long someting I couldn't understand a word of. I stood there for a moment, then just smilled stupidly, said "Goodbye" and left. I am finding though that all that study I did this year is paying off and is a lot of help. I can actually get through most situations here without too much trouble.

I am also thinking of buying a Chinese keyboard like the one I am using at the moment. I think it could be a lot of help for learning Chinese characters using a keyboard with radicals on it. It also has Bo Po Mo but I'm not sure if I should go down that road at the moment or not.

Monday, November 20, 2006


It's now my second night in Taiwan, but I thought I would say something about Singapore first.
My main observation on Singapore is that there is a lot of people speaking Mandarin there, but no need for a visitor to speak it because everyone can and does speak English. As you walk down the streets the locals are very often speaking Chinese to their friends or whoever they are with, but in shops, restaurants, hotels etc.. everyone speaks English.
There is also very few Chinese signs on Orchard Road the main street of Singapore, in the more touristy parts of the city or in the other parts that I passed through.
Apart from the language situation, Singapore is very hot, humid and very busy. Wandering down Orchard Road the last night there I saw American Indians playing pipe music, Clowns on stilts scaring children and lots of other street performers. The main road is already decorated with some very extravagant christmas decorations so the whole place is very colorful.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time has run out

I have no more time to learn anything. If I don't know it now then it will have to wait until I get back. The MP3 player is full of stuff to listen too and keep it all fresh in my mind until I get a chance to use it. I'm a bit worried that I'll get to Taiwan and be so swamped by Chinese I don't understand that I'll forget what I do know or more likely miss it when someone does say something I understand. At least I will get a lot of listening practice.
In the end I didn't have time to record the list of usefull phrases that I said I wanted to in the last post. I did go through the ChinesePod Elementary lessons though and did find a few usefull ones to edit for the trip.
So my next post will probably be from Taiwan. I don't think it's likely I'll get a chance to post from Singapore. But you never know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A couple of days to go

I really should have bought an MP3 player a long time ago. Up till now I have been listening to podcasts on my computer and burning them onto CD's to listen to in the car, but this is just so much more convenient.
So far I have gone through all the ChinesePod Newbie lessons, picked out any that I think could be helpfull for my trip and edited them down to only what I need to learn the phrases. I have also had an MP3 file made from the usefull phrases (http://blogwode.blogspot.com/2006/09/2-months-to-go.html) that I posted earlier. I have another list of usefull phrases I have built up that I want to get made into a MP3 file. I'm not sure if I will have time though with only two days left until I leave for Singapore.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MP3 Player

With just over a week until I'm going to be forced to communicate almost exclusively in Chinese, I am becomming desperate to improve my listening and comprehesion skills. So today I went and bought an MP3 player. I have been on the ChinesePod wiki (http://www.chinesepod.com/wiki), downloaded all the Newbie podcast remix's people have done, removed any English speech and loaded the new remix's into the Mp3 player.
Now I need to find as many pieces of Chinese speech close to my level of comprehension as I can.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Short of time for study

It is now less than two weeks until I leave for Taiwan and I'm finding it increasingly hard to find the spare time I need to study Chinese. Actually I have been very buisy for the last couple of months and I can't see the situation changing now until after I get back.
So for the next couple of weeks I intend to listen to and talk as much Chinese as I possibly can. I have noticed recently that words and phrases that I know 100% when testing myself with the flashcards still make me stop and think in real conversation. Not that my conversational skills are realy much good anyway.