The Ending of My Fantasy Life

One more eating day left, friends. ONE.

Irish Twins summed up her grief nicely: here she was, living in a land where her kids are eating new things, finally getting into Chinese, and she doesn’t have to cook or do anything and things are magically taken care of and obviously that is not sustainable for the long haul but OH, how nice it has been.

In fact, as of this writing, we are almost done with the day and I am taking one for the team by taking the kids to their favorite indoor playspace, Leo’s Playland.

Don’t worry. We ate a super yum lunch at Shin Yeh and I made sure I had their QQ almond jello. Then I sent the family home while I went to get Yu’s Almond Tofu shaved ice by myself. I ordered one to eat there and brought one home for later. I also might get another Mango ChaCha or a more generic shaved ice in the mall by our house to make sure I get some fenguo.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I LOVE Taiwanese shaved ice.

Given the choice, I’m willing to skip a meal for ice. Mmmmmm.

Anyhow, for nostalgia’s sake (and quite frankly, before I forget because – Oh, Shiny!), let me list all the things I will miss about Taiwan. And then, to help me ease back into the Reality of my life back home, all the things I will NOT miss. (You know, to be fair and balanced. Ah, FOX NEWS, what a crock.)

So, here thusly is my list of stuff I will miss:

1) Being able to walk everywhere. 

There is something particularly nice about easy access to public transportation and a walkable city. You feel less like a contributor to an isolated and wasteful community. Things are super convenient (like food, restaurants, food, whatever).

It’s awesome to never have to think about parking or car seats.

2) The ubiquity of 7-11. 

7-11 in Taiwan is a combo of post office, convenience store, and all sorts of awesome things. You can have packages delivered there. You can add money to your cel phone plan or MRT card. I’m sure you can even manage your stock portfolio there.

They have yummy hot and cold prepared meals. Drinks. Cold desserts. And most importantly, they are EVERYWHERE.

3) The people.

Short of some busybodies, most people are very polite and courteous – especially to folks who are elderly, pregnant, injured, or with children.

I know I complained a lot on Facebook of assholes (and trust me, there’s a post coming compiling all THEIR wonderful contributions), but overall, good people in Taiwan.

4) The food, obviously. 

Not just the convenience of it. The actual tastiness.

I will especially miss shaved ice. I love Taiwanese shaved ice. Oh. Right. I mentioned this already.

5) How I totally blend in. 

I feel like the majority. (Possibly because I am the majority.)

No worries of some asshole asking me where I’m from. No. Where I’m really from. No. Before that. No. Where my parents are from.

Fuck you. Is this a fucking credit check? No? Then STFU, you asshole.

Oh wait. Tangent.

But it’s nice to be unquestioned about why you belong somewhere. Of course, this usually lasts until someone sees Hapa Papa, but even then, unless something really cues someone that I might be a foreigner, (and for some reason, no one has really looked twice at my kids this summer – thank God for small mercies), I am treated always as if I belong.

It’s not that I am treated as if I don’t belong in the US. But there are definitely spaces where I feel unwelcome and am there only on the sufferance of its members.

6) Taxis. 

Now, we haven’t really taken any taxis the last week or so because I have stuck to places we can access via MRT. But I love taxis. Super convenient.

7) So many indoor play spaces!

Because it is so friggin’ hot here, there are so many indoor play spaces. Many are free or subsidized by the city government – but just as many are exorbitantly priced.

Truly, I really do not know how the majority of Taiwanese citizens can pay for these places. I find them expensive as an American ($30-60USD depending on time, day, etc.) but I just can’t deal with outside parks in the summer. The mosquitos and being hugely pregnant are the main deterrents.

The parks are great in winter months, though. They even have lights on at night so kids can still play despite the sun setting earlier.

Alright. Those are the things I can think of off the top of my head that I will miss.

Here then, are the things I will NOT miss:

1) Garbage. 

Now granted, Taiwan, for all its dense population and stuff is remarkably clean. However. Nothing is as gross to me as garbage. And Taiwan requires you to separate your garbage.

Whether you live in an apartment that has its own garbage center or you have to chase down the garbage truck every night, it’s a complete and utterly gross pain in the ass. You have to separate paper from plastic from food containers and possibly other items, too. I am always confused.

2) People insisting on giving you receipts. 

Perhaps it’s my RGS (Rich Girl Syndrome) showing, but I hate paper. And I really hate receipts. Especially for things that really don’t require receipts – like the shaved ice I am eating in front of the vendor.

Also, it’s confusing because I guess you can enter your receipts into some national lottery? Or donate them? And or pickup points? I don’t know. My cousins tried to explain but it might as well have been the derivatives market. My brain totally tuned them out.

3) Plastic bags and shrink-wrapped everything. 

For all its emphasis on recycling their garbage, it would probably be better off in not packing everything from every single food item or book or seriously ANYTHING in a tiny plastic bag or shrink-wrap.

In fact, every time I see it, I think of that giant Texas sized swirl of garbage and plastic in the ocean and how Taiwan is single-handedly doubling it every day.

4) The heat, obviously. 

Winter and early spring (November through April) are far more pleasant but then, no classes for my kids to enroll in. And therefore, I cannot handle it. I would take the heat over being with my children all day in Taiwan ANY DAY.

I find this ironic since I homeschool. But at home, they have classes and their stuff and I barely have to pay attention. In Taiwan, they are just obstacles to me enjoying food and happiness and book shopping.

This clearly says something about me and my shoddy parenting.

5) The people.

Now, wait a tic! Didn’t I just say that the people are so nice and polite and friendly?

Well, yes. But OMG THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE!

Granted, I understand theoretically that without the population density, the convenience factor of public transit and food and etc. would be diminished greatly.

But, OMG THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE!

Which isn’t really a problem when I go out and about during the normal work day since most people are in school or at work. But once the weekend or rush hour hits?

PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.

I think if I didn’t have to keep track of three semi-obedient (hahahahahahahahaha – I love the semi, as if that happened often enough to qualify as a semi) children in large crowds of people, I would not mind the crush as much.

But as I do have lots of small children who sometimes forget to hold hands or walk really slowly or demand to be carried, it stresses me out and I end up yelling at my kids a lot more. Well, not yell so much in public, but nag and cajole and scold.

Also, my goodness. THE TANTRUMS. Those are a lot worse in full view of every single human being who ever lived in Taiwan ever.

6) Lack of authentic non-Asian food.

Look. Taiwan has a lot of great food. And I thoroughly enjoyed eating it all. But at some point, I cannot eat six weeks of only Taiwanese or Asian food.

The raw vegan place I got conned into going to does not count. It was not delicious. (It was not disgusting, either. But whatever. That will wait for another post.)

So, as a result, I cannot wait to eat a large Chipotle steak burrito with extra guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. And maybe more sour cream. Because I MISS AMERICAN FAT like BUTTER and CREAM.

7) Doing laundry every or every other day.

Now, it’s not because we didn’t have enough clothing with us. It is more that the washing machines have a third of the capacity of mine at home – AND – I have to hang dry everything.

So, keep in mind, we had 4-5 people. (I was doing laundry every other day until Hapa Papa showed up.) One or two days worth of dirty, sweaty, dusty clothing pretty much filled the machine. Then, I had to dry the clothes – and really, I guess I could have washed more clothes, but I would run out of space to hang the clothes to dry.

This is also why clothing in Taiwan is often made of such cheap material and people buy so many clothes. You pretty much have to wash all your clothing after one wear because the weather is so abysmally hot and as a result, your clothing eventually disintegrates.

Anyhow, I will be more than eager to go back to the land of lots of clothes and washing machine capacity and DRYERS.

Praise the Everliving God for dryers.

8) Lack of privacy.

Unless you live in the super rich mountains/hills or in the country, you really live only in condos/apartments. And even in those, there is not a lot of square footage. That is not very much privacy – both within the home itself, and amongst your neighbors.

You pretty much hear everything.

I can’t wait to go back to my home where if I judiciously close the windows, my neighbors can’t hear me screaming at my kids at full blast. (Maybe just a muffled hint of me cussing them out.)

9) Lack of garbage disposals.

I think I discussed this on Facebook, but basically, very few garbage disposals exist in the Taiwan. (Apparently, this is a common thing in NYC, too.) This is due to incorrect data on old pipes being too old to deal with garbage disposals.

I’m sorry. This is disgusting. Rotting food in garbage cans is gross. Especially in a country that has HUGE cockroaches. No matter how clean you keep your apartment, ROTTING FOOD WILL ATTRACT COCKROACHES.

This thus leads to my first point of my hatred of separating garbage. Because that shit has to go SOMEWHERE.

10) False sense of luxury due to spending Monopoly money.

I mean, yes, I get the general gist of money conversion in my head due to memorizing some basic equivalencies. (eg: 30NT is ~$1USD; 100NT is ~$3USD; 300NT is ~$10USD; 1,000NT is ~$30USD; 10,000NT is ~$300USD)

But STILL. It’s not the currency of my life – so it STILL seems like it’s fake money and we’re not spending anything real. And since everything is in the hundreds already, I don’t register when something is actually expensive in the US.

11) Easy and cheap access to fruit.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Taiwan does have a lot of fruit. But it isn’t cheap. (And it just occurred to me that I forgot to eat any lychees or dragon eyes or their equivalences! FAIL!)

And in the fact that my children are picky assholes and will only eat certain types of expensive imported American fruit staples (like apples, bananas, strawberries, any berries, and grapes), it gets expensive. (I mean, let’s be real. My kids did not get ANY strawberries or berries in Taiwan because OMG!!!)

So, I am glad to be going back to California, where apparently every fruit known to man is grown and in season and fresh.

Alright. I really should sleep. I’m about 99% packed (except for our PJs and Gamera’s hair thingies), we’re set to go with our 3 large suitcases, 3 boxes of books, and 4 small carryons. I’m really worried about schlepping those boxes, but oh well. Only a problem for short spurts of time. But man, it will be a pain in the ass.

Wish us luck!

We will be coming back from the future and arrive before we left. MAGIC!

Tips for Your Taiwan Trip (With Kids)

Alright. Now that we only have 5 eating days left in Taiwan, I’ve been thinking about what I wish I had known (or remembered) prior to coming. (Seriously, I count down eating days because I do not care about touristy or sight-seeing things. I just want to shove as much yummy Taiwanese food in my fat belly as possible without squeezing the baby out.)

So, here are some of my tips for traveling to Taiwan with kids (and some even pertain to the actual camp/schooling process or bilingual support). Here they are in no discernible order:

1) Pack an extra huge, empty suitcase. 

If you’re like me and buy a lot of heavy books/dvds/stuff, you will need an extra suitcase. Or you will be comfortable in packing huge boxes and carrying those to the airport as luggage. It helps that I have so many people in my family that I can have 10 free checked in luggage.

Otherwise, you can always buy a cheapo suitcase at a local market.

2) Bring cereal. Or snacks you know your kids will eat.

American cereal is around $10 a box. I shit you not. I laughed at Guavarama when she suggested it to me in the States. Why would I do that when I can buy cereal or do without it?

Ah, karma. Always biting me in the ass.

I wish my kids weren’t culture shocked and food assholes, but they are and they were. So, I ended up buying $10/box fruity Cheerios because that’s what they wanted to eat.

3) The supermarkets in the fancy department stores are expensive.

If you are lazy, or an expat, or just like clean, bright and shiny supermarkets like they have in the US, you are welcome to go to your local Jason’s or City Super or whatever. But just know that you will pay $50USD for like four things.

I think that’s where half my money went. Buying at expensive supers because it was extra convenient and bright and shiny and I can see things I’m familiar with and not guess as much about ingredients.

But there is a price for all that shiny.

Go to local supers like Carrefour or Wellcome market. Even better, go to the super local markets off Alley 216 (Zhong Xiao Dun Hua MRT) or similar side alley markets that look sketchy but are way cheaper.

4) In fact, go to Costco the first week you’re there.

Obviously, this won’t work as well if you don’t have a Costco membership, but if you do, then know that your membership also works in Taiwan.

Irish Twins went to all FOUR Costcos within the Taipei area (Zhonghe, Neihu, Xizhi, and Beitou) and she says the Beitou one has the most books and DVD sets available.

Costco is a great option to buy a ton of book sets (just like in the US) for a reasonably cheap price (not the cheapest, but not shabby, either) as well as stock up on essentials your family might go through super fast.

For example: apples. For some reason (like importing), apples in Taiwan are mealy and yucky and if you want to pay about $360NT for TWO Fuji apples at the fancy expat supermarket, you should go to the Costco because for that SAME price, you can get 8 apples. I might not be a math genius but 8 >> 2.

In general, you’ll find that prices match US prices. So, if it cost $12USD to buy a product, it will cost $12USD in Taiwan. It’s not that great a deal in a Taiwanese sense, but it is a price that I’m willing to pay because it’s usually for stuff that would cost double elsewhere due to the product being imported.

Bulgogi bake

Bulgogi bake

The best part of Costco in Taiwan is that they have a Bulgogi Bake. It is delicious. I don’t know why they don’t have it in the US. It is YUM. They also have mango/lime smoothies (I think) and they are light and delicious. Also, they have mango shaved ice.

And, if you’re feeling a wee bit homesick, they have a hotdog for a smidge more than $1.50USD.

In fact, walking into Costco during our 3rd or 4th week here felt like walking into the US. A bit of home.

So comforting.

Oh, what was my point? Yes. Stock up on staples because otherwise, you will overspend on things at the local markets.

Of course, it will be a pricey trip because even if you took the bus or MRT to the Costco, you’ll likely need to cab back from the Costco.

5) If you want to buy books, don’t go to Eslite.

Well, GO to Eslite to riffle through all their books. (For some reason, all the bookstores – not just Eslite – like to shrink wrap individual books. I find it environmentally horrible. But they are good sports about opening the packaging for you. If you’re at Costco, just do it yourself.)

But don’t buy there. Eslite is hugely marked up. If you aren’t in a hurry or leaving right away, you can buy books from Kingstone or books.com.tw. If you don’t want to pay an exchange rate or they won’t take your US credit card, you can always have them deliver to your local 7-11 or Family Mart and pay COD. You’ll get a text message when your packages arrive and have about a week to pick up and pay.

Of course, they can also deliver straight to your home, but I don’t think they offer the COD option then.

6) There are also local bookstores from which you can buy.

You can go to Mollie for used books (they also have a location for used DVDs and CDs) and once again, you run into the problem of books being individually shrink wrapped. They will even deliver the books to your address the next day for $70NT (~$2USD).

Here’s my problem with going to any bookstore or CD/DVD store in Taipei: everything is in Chinese.

I mean, no fucking shit. Of course, everything is in Chinese. We’re fucking in Taiwan.

But as a functionally illiterate person in Taiwan, my brain just blanks and hits the overwhelmed button and all I see is that ALL CHINESE BOOKS LOOK THE SAME.

I think I wandered shell-shocked in the Mollie for about 2 hours while frantically texting Guavarama as she was on her two week camping/road trip adventure with Fleur and their combined 5 kids eight years old and under.

She told me to just sit down and look through all the titles and books and see what I liked. I was not about to open up hundreds of hermetically sealed books just to see if they looked interesting.

I felt ill.

I felt FOMO and fear of Buyer’s Remorse and all sorts of shit. Until finally, I gave up and just sat on the floor looking dejected.

(Incidentally, I have a few posts on Taiwanese bookstores so you can either look them up on Google for the addresses and hours – which obviously, they are more accurate – or you can search by my book categories or tags. Here’s the post where I mention a few of the bookstores I mention in this post.)

Eventually, I sacked up and looked at a few more books and ended up buying a set that came with audio CDs. I felt marginally better (that I didn’t end up wasting the whole trip), but it ultimately was very unsatisfying.

Obviously, YMMV. I’m a wuss and hate uncertainty. That’s why I make Guavarama buy everything for me. I just throw money at her. Everyone needs a Guavarama.

We also went to some local bookstores that Tiger Woo’s MIL and another of my friends recommended. They ended up at about 26% from retail price – which according to Guavarama is a really good deal since bookstores barely make a profit at that price point. (I think they break even around 60-70% retail.)

南門書局 (nan2 men2 shu ju2/Southern Gate Bookstore)
Physical Location: 台北市中正區羅斯福路一段南門書局

釆繪星球 (bian4 hui4 xing qiu2/Bookstar)
Physical Location: 
臺北市南昌路一段59巷7號1樓

Again, same problem of OMG IT HURTS US EVERYTHING IS IN FUCKING CHINESE BLERGH and my brain just shuts off.

But at least in these smaller bookstores, most of the stuff isn’t shrink wrapped, it’s super small businessy, and the staff are very friendly and can recommend a bunch of books.

Also, at Bookstar, they had lots of games for kids (and I bought a ton).

But FOMO and Buyer’s Remorse and lack of Guavarama on speed-text are still anxiety producing factors.

Perhaps that is just me.

7) Next year, I’m shortening our trip.

I think I forgot to take into account just how lazy I am in general. I hate doing touristy stuff – why would I think that being in a foreign country where navigating train websites, site websites, and everything being in CHINESE FFS – in addition to being 28 weeks pregnant and towing along three assholish children would change that at all?

I had lofty plans for this last week.

I was going to take the kids to see the crayon factory. Or to Tamsui. Or JiuFen. Or just take them to all sorts of play spaces.

I did not factor in the fact that Cookie Monster (and to a lesser extent, Glow Worm and Gamera) only wanted to get the fuck out of Dodge and would rather veg out in front of the iPad all day instead of leave the apartment.

We have gone to a few silly places for them to eat or do crafts, but for the most part, Hapa Papa has stayed in with the kids (because they are also REALLY FUCKING DONE WITH THE SUN) and I go out to meet Irish Twins and her 2 year old (while ditching my children – because other people’s children are always preferable to dealing with one’s own because you don’t have to keep them and there is a limited duration of suffering) to eat or shop or just be out of the house.

Wow. That sentence is nigh-incomprehensible.

I have no plans to fix it.

Anyhow, my point being, that you really should take an honest stock of who you are as a person before you pay for an extra week of Airbnb housing prices in Taipei.

Next year, (especially since I will have an 8 month old baby strapped to my sweaty chest and belly), I will likely still come about a week early for the kids to get used to the time change as well as play a little.

However, after school/camp ends, I will let them relax the weekend and do some last minute shopping, and then we will likely leave on Monday or Tuesday and go back home.

My kids will likely be just like me and not give a fuck about touristy shit and just go home. If ONLY they enjoyed food to a greater degree. Sigh.

8) I should have anticipated the kids getting a lot of stuff to take back.

I really don’t know why I didn’t expect the kids to bring back a ton of shit from school and camps. After all, two years ago, they brought back a lot of paper crafts and I took a few pics, kept a few items and then tossed the rest.

Call me an unsentimental bitch. Whatever.

This year, the stuff that they’re coming back with are actually interesting. Like fired and glazed pottery thingies or cool robots they made out of Kinex like thingies (I’m really killing the technical terms today) and honestly, they’re kinda keep-worthy.

Also, I paid for a lot of shitty and expensive crafts and I should really take those home, too.

9) Craft activities at the fancy department stores are really expensive.

The majority of these crafts seem awesome. Make super cool playdoh sculptures or shiny glittery boxes and jewelry boxes. They all seem awesome until you realize they’re like $50. EACH.

So, here’s how it works. Depending on the type of craft you want to make, the cost varies. The more complicated, obviously, the more expensive.

Each finished craft is displayed on a shelf and either has a sticker telling you how many 點 (dian3/points) it costs or it’s on a shelf with a sign telling you how many it costs. Then there is a chart that tells you how much each “point” costs.

The majority of places will cost around $500NT per point. (That’s ~$15USD.) Of course, the more you buy, the more you “save” and it’s tempting until you realize that somehow, you’re paying $50USD for a craft you could buy and do yourself at Michael’s for $5 in the US.

Of course, since the classes are taught in Chinese, and the kids were bored and I really wanted to make the kids happy, I told them they could choose only the crafts that cost 1 point.

They were happy enough. So in the end, over a period of a few days, I spent $3000NT (~$90USD) on six stupid crafts. But all my kids seemed happy about it so I guess it’s a win.

Here is a slideshow of the various crafts my kids did:

10) If you are used to living in a space larger than where you are renting in Taiwan, you WILL get on each other’s nerves.

I mean, it could be just that I’m an asshole and have bred asshole-ish children. But quite frankly, we are at the point where my kids are cooped up all day because they refuse to leave the house and I want to murder them all by dinner time.

I know. It’s not that different than when we are in the States.

But the problem is that there are just far fewer things for them to do in our Taiwan apartment – and SO MANY PEOPLE who can hear me yell at my shitty kids and cussing them out.

For instance, just now, I coldly told Cookie Monster to stop being an asshole. And in case he didn’t understand what that is since he is only 6.5 years old, I explained that an asshole is a butthole. And I really would like him to stop being something poo poo comes out of.

Win.

11) Essential oils are great but NOT FOR INSECT REPELLENT.

Hey. I love essential oils. In fact, they came in very handy for much of the barfing and coughing and heat rashes and heat strokes and mosquito bites. But what they were TERRIBLE at were actually PREVENTING bug bites.

Maybe they work great in the US.

But these Taiwanese mosquitoes are NOT fucking around.

I was eaten alive.

Use the insect repellent with as much DEET as possible without giving you or your children or your unborn fetus birth defects.

Hapa Papa's shoulder looking like raw meat after I gua sha'd. That's what happens when you walk over 50,000 steps in two days during the hottest parts of the day.

Hapa Papa’s shoulder looking like raw meat after I gua sha’d. That’s what happens when you walk over 50,000 steps in two days during the hottest parts of the day.

12) I will need to 刮痧 (gua sha) my kids almost every day or every other day next time.

I am very susceptible to heat stroke and heat rash. Apparently, so are my children.

In fact, almost Glow Worm’s entire body is covered in heat rash. It’s so sad. He also had an unexplained fever that would disappear and reappear for a period of 4-5 days. As soon as I used gua sha, his fever stopped.

So, I tried it on my other kids, and sure enough, the telltale signs of prickly heat showed up and I regret not using it earlier. Also, all my kids like it and find it comfy.

But definitely bring stuff for heat rash. Pretty much every single member of my household has some form of heat rash (with Glow Worm being the most serious).

This does not contribute to my kids enjoying Taiwan.

13) However much Benadryl I think I need, I should double it.

Due to everything being in Chinese and the fact that in Taiwan, people are not as familiar with food allergies and “forget” ingredients in food all the time, pretty much every child of mine, (even the kid with no known allergies whatsoever) has broken out in hives at least once.

But again, poor Glow Worm has suffered the most. He has pretty much needed to take Benadryl at least once or twice a week. First for food allergy reactions and then for the unbearable itchiness of heat rash.

14) I really need to pay attention to my limits.

I know I am stubborn. I know I am a ridiculous planner and want all these lofty things. But I really need to know my limits and pay attention to how I’m doing.

It’s tempting to think I’m invincible or to stick through something just to prove my mom or other people wrong or whatever.

But really, there is no prize for stupidity and or stubbornness. (Or at least, I don’t think there is.)

So, there really is no award for never taking a taxi (even if it would be physically better for me) or for forcing the kids on death marches (even if it kills me).

There is no prize for purposely choosing a more difficult path.

15) Eat only foods that make me happy.

Corollary: Do NOT waste a meal (or calories) in Taiwan.

So: kids didn’t finish their McDonald’s chicken nuggets? Fuck the nuggets. Go eat something you want like more shaved ice.

Leftover udon from a food court restaurant that you feel guilty leaving because hey it was not cheap? Fuck it. Your kids are not going to eat it again and it just takes up space in the fridge and then you have to figure out how to dispose of its rotting remains in a place that does not have garbage disposals.

Rotting food in the garbage smells about as appetizing as it sounds.

Already have shaved ice today? WHO CARES? Have it again.

Like something a lot? EAT MORE. Preferably soon.

If you don’t want a real meal and only want to eat dessert? DO IT. For instance: instead of having lunch today at Modern Toilet with the kids, I watched them eat mediocre fries and nuggets and then I had almond tofu shaved ice at Yu’s Almond Tofu and fried mochi (one dipped in black sesame sauce and one dipped in chocolate) at Okinawa Japanese Grilled Mochi.

Tonight, instead of having dinner, I am likely going to go buy these fried sesame balls with salty gooey egg yolk in the center from Kitchen Pucci and then have another shaved ice.

Why? Because I now have only FOUR eating days left in Taiwan and my kids are utter shits and I want them to go home ahead of me and if Cookie Monster pisses me (or Hapa Papa) off one more time today I swear he is not going to make it back home in one entire piece.

16) If you need to go to the bathroom in a public space, the cleanest bathrooms are in the MRT station.

I mean, sure you could use a restaurant bathroom or a mall bathroom. They’re not always horrible. But they are not always great, either (even if it’s a fancy place).

So, when in doubt and you can make it to the MRT station? USE THAT ONE.

This holds especially true at the Taipei Main Station. Are you in the HSR/train/bus station? Those bathrooms are disgusting. They’re not dirty or in disarray, but they FEEL gross. If you’re heading to the MRT station anyway, HOLD IT. Wait. Your entire body will thank you.

17) If you use a taxi to frequent a particular route, PAY ATTENTION if a driver happens to be WAY faster than other drivers.

Then ask him how he did it. Memorize it. Then from then on, TELL the other taxi drivers how to do it.

It will save you a lot of time and money.

18) Explore the smaller alleys and streets. 

Now, I’m totally not the type of person to wander small alleys and streets. I am definitely the person who sticks to major thoroughfares (the better to find my way back) as well as go to either places I have been before or a place that has been recommended and is locatable on Google Maps.

I HATE wandering aimlessly on side alleys. Especially with kids and in the heat.

But, if you can manage to set aside some time to do so at the beginning, you will find a lot of small hole in the wall places that likely, you’d enjoy very much.

Alright. This post turned out much longer than I anticipated. Whoops. But I hope I find it helpful next year when I’m remembering how to do this travel in Taiwan thing with the kids and a baby in an ergo.

Have a great day!

OMG, I’m PREGNANT!


I’m slow, ok? I’ve barely thought about this pregnancy since I got pregnant and other than the constant reminder when I’m on public transportation (only because kind people keep offering me a seat – which I usually assume is for the kids until I remember that I’m huge), I usually forget that I’m pregnant.

At least, since the second trimester started. I finally got my energy back and was no longer laying down exhausted on the couch every day.

Welp, it looks like that brief 2-3 month respite of energy and activity is almost over. These past two weeks, I’ve been exhausted.

I didn’t expect it.

But one morning, it took me over an hour to walk a distance that normally takes me 15 minutes max. Of course, I did do some shopping, but mostly, I was sitting down on a bench every few feet to rest and drink water.

I was confused and surprised.

After all, wasn’t I the picture of pregnancy efficiency just last week? Bustling around Taiwan with my three kids in tow and carrying 20 pounds of their crap and zipping from one place to another?

It’s all gone now.

Two days ago, I had to take two naps. One after breakfast and one after lunch. Because I ate too hard.

That is sad.

(Also, awesome in a perverse sort of way.)

Thank goodness Hapa Papa arrived on the scene for the last week of school to schlep all the kids’ stuff and to carry Glow Worm. Otherwise, it would have been a REALLY bad week.

At any rate, here are several TMI signs of how my blissful 2nd trimester has gone the way of the dodo and I am now likely back to permanent exhaustion. You know, just in time for homeschooling in the fall. (Although, given the choice between 1st or 3rd trimester in Taiwan, I’ll take the 2nd. Thanks.)

1) I can no longer bend over while sitting down. It is physically too painful to do so. I can kinda bend over while standing, but that is also uncomfortable.

2) I can no longer easily get up from a sitting position – especially if I’m sitting on the ground.

Good thing I have three semi-useful small children to fetch me things. But let’s be real. It’s mostly Hapa Papa doing the fetching. (Hey, he’s trying to get back in shape and up his daily steps. I’m just doing my part to help.)

3) This is a totally TMI entry. I mean, totally TMI.

Still here?

Ok. So, for the last week or so, it feels like my vagina is permanently stretched out and has something in it. Like a head or something.

You know, that feeling when you are about to poop, have kinda started pooping, but the poop isn’t out but has just started to stretch out your anus?

That feeling.

In my vag.

It is weird and discomfiting, to say the least. (Hmmm… I suppose that ship has sailed – for saying the least, I mean.)

4) I felt a weird body part from the baby yesterday. Like, super weird. It was all hard and lumpy and I could feel the outer edges of a limb or head or butt or whatever. And it didn’t move. It was solid. And uncomfortable. And I totally made all the kids and Hapa Papa feel it because COOL!

5) Braxton Hicks are back with a vengeance.

6) I’m feeling huge. I kinda look huge, too. I find it crazy that I will be even huger in three months.

(This point clearly channeled Trump. I apologize.)

7) I waddle.

8) Huge boobs, huge belly, and sweltering humid summer heat in Taiwan do not make for sexy times. My ENTIRE bra is sopping wet at the end of the day.

Like, the cups and EVERYTHING.

9) Another TMI point, here.

I can smell myself.

Sometimes it’s just my sweaty armpits. (I pretty much only stink when I’m pregnant.)

Sometimes, I can smell my own crotchtal area. (That makes me feel particularly awesome.)

Sometimes, I can smell both. At the same time.

It’s demoralizing.

10) At the end of the day, when I’m exhausted and know I should sleep, what do I do?

CHAT ALL NIGHT WITH MY LADIES AT HOME.

I blame pregnancy induced discomfort and insomnia. But we all know it’s FOMO.

Alright. That’s it for this edition of completely shallow and gross. You’re welcome. Now go back to your un-gross days. You bastards.