Sunday, December 31, 2006

Taipei 101 postcard

This is the Taipei 101 postcard that I mentioned on this post. It shows just how much this building dominates the surrounding skyline much better than any picture I took.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Taipei 101

Here are some more photo's from my recent trip that I took from the Taipei 101 building. The first couple of photo's are views looking down from the observation deck at the top of the tower.

Next is the view looking towards Banchiao.

Looking down on the Sun Yatsen memorial.

The very top of the worlds tallest building.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Singapore Pictures

I figure it's about time I put some pictures from my recent trip on here. I don't realy have a lot to post, maybe 12 to 15 in all.

So here are the first four. The first two are the view from the hotel window in Singapore and next two were taken from the Sentosa Island cable car.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

New Chinese Keyboard

A few days ago I installed my new Chinese keyboard that I brought back from Taiwan. Since then I have spent all my spare time working out how to use the thing only to finally come to the conclusion that it is so much easier to just stick to the Pinyin input method. In Taiwan it looked so easy watching other people use these keyboards and everyone there kept saying that it is so much easier to type Chinese using the Zhuyin fuhao method. However I now think that if you grow up in a Chinese speaking country and learn Zhuyin fuhao from early school it would be easier, but if you grow up in an English speaking country and learn the Roman alphabet from early school then Pinyin is easier by a very long way.

For those who don't know Zhuyin fuhao also known as Bo Po Mo is a phonetic alphabet containing 37 symbols that represent the 21 consonants and 16 vowels of the Chinese language. These are the symbols on the top right of each key in the above picture. It is really only used in Taiwan now days, and then generally only as a teaching aid in the early years of school and as a method of typing Chinese characters. The only real advantage I can see in learning Zhuyin fuhao is in that I have sometimes seen it used to write a word when someone has forgotten the correct character, which can happen suprisingly often when using uncommon words.

There are also two other input methods that can be used with this keyboard. The symbols on the bottom right of each key are for a method called Dayi which means "Big one" or "big easy", though I haven't been able to work out how to use this one yet. The symbols on the bottom left of each key are for an input method called the Cangjie method which at first I thought showed a lot of promise as far as helping to learn and remember Chinese characters was concerned. Each symbol represents a small group of symilar character pieces and a complete character is created by typing in each piece. A simple example is the character for vehicle, chi1 or 車. It is made up from top to bottom of 3 symbols 十,田 and 十. So to write the character 車 you just type 十田十 and space. I do suspect that if someone knew this system well then they would probably be able to type Chinese characters very fast, unfortunately for myself however it would take some getting used to and would probably involve pasting tables of characters all over my computer monitor.

So in the end I'm back to using the pinyin method again.

Friday, December 15, 2006

What I've been doing

I haven't returned to Taiwan. If this post seems confusing then read the previous post.

I've been roaming the streets of Banchiao tonight photographing any sign's I think it would be good to be able to read next time I come here. I found a few good ones that I will post on here when I get back to Australia. Some I found were Barber, Convenience Store, Tea House, Hospital, Chemist and Beetle Nut Shop.

The last took me a while to work out what they were. I kept seeing these green fluorescent tubes spaced in the shape of a fan everywhere I went and eventually it got the better of me and I had to go and have a closer look at one, only to find it was a Beetle Nut Shop.

The only other exciting thing I have done since my last post was go to the tallest building in the world "Taipei 101". It is actually very difficult to take a photo that shows just how much this building dominates the city sky line, but I did buy a postcard that has a picture taken from the air that shows it very well.

Beginning to recover

I wish I had planned an extra day or so of sleep before going back to work. It has taken about a week to catch up and to get back into the old routine. I finally deleted the spam that has been arriving lately, got rid of adds at the bottom of most of the posts that I made while I was away, and replied to the comments.

As for what study I'll do now. If you have been reading my previous posts you will know that just before I left for Taiwan I had a major hard drive failure and lost all of my notes. So before I do anything else I will try to recreate the plan I had worked out before. Just doing this is a great learning exercise in itself. I will also keep up the revision and continue to listen to all the new ChinesePod Newbie lessons on my MP3 player.

The second last post that I made from Taiwan for some unknown reason never showed up on the blog. So I will repost it now, entitled "What I've been doing".

Friday, December 08, 2006

Last Day

I don't realy have anything to add except that tonight is the last night in Taiwan. I leave tomorrow afternoon and will arrive back in Australia in the early hours of Sunday morning. Then it's back to study as usual so that I can communicate better next time I come here. Hopefully that wont be too far in the future.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Lot's of listening practice

I have noticed since I got here that there are a few things that people don't say the same way that they are usually taught. The most obvious example is numbers. I am yet to hear someone say 24 as "er shi si" or 35 as "san shi wu" it is always "er si" and "san wu".

It takes very little thought to understand the price of things in the markets as well, because everything seems to be priced to end in 90 dollars. For example $190 which seems to be very popular for clothing items is said as "yi bai jiu shi kwai", and you very quickly get used to listening to the first part of the phrase only, the "bai jiu shi kwai" part becomes second nature.

I have also spent some time at restaurants and tea houses trying to follow the conversations of about a half dozen people all speaking Mandarin. I have found that I can actually work out the gist of the conversation much more often than I thought I would be able to. However I am also very aware that the possibility of my completely misunderstanding what the conversation is about is very very high. These situations though have given me a very good opportunity to gage what level my Chinese is at. At the moment I would guess that I know about 1/3 to 1/4 of what I need to know to comfortably participate in these conversations. I still have a log way to go, but this is actually very encouraging.

Every where I go here people assume, probably correctly, that foreigners can't speak the language and show some surprise and even amusement when you speak even the simplest phrase. I have even noticed that in some restaurants I am given a different menu than my Chinese companions. Some of these special English menu's can be amusing reading in themselves. One restaurant I was in yesterday server "Siced Pork, siced Beef, and siced lamb".