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Monday, December 3, 2007

We're back 台湾に戻っていた

After two weeks in the United States, Amber, Pamela and I are now back "home" in Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原. It seems each time I leave Taiwan to go on a trip, be it to Japan or back home to the States, it gets harder and harder to bring myself to return here. There are the obvious reasons, of course - only getting to see my family two weeks out of the year is compounded by the realization that Amber is missing out on a lot of time she could be spending with her Nanny and Granddad, not to mention her Aunt Karen and Cousin James. Perhaps it's the nostalgia that comes with getting older, but I also find I miss a lot of the little things of daily American life that are non-existent in Taiwan. It appears alienation isn't reserved for youth. What follows are some pictorial highlights of the past two weeks. 見てください!

A lot of time was spent at the Kitsap Mall. "Black Friday", the day following Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, wasn't the nightmare I was expecting it to be. That was probably because we got there in the early afternoon. Considering that some stores opened before dawn to accommodate the expected hordes, apparently many people had already come, charged (VISA and MasterCard) and gone.

One thing that caught my eye was the popularity of Anime アニメ and Manga 漫画 among American youth:

A suggestion, if I may, to the Suncoast Motion Picture Company: 寿 means "longevity", and not "otaku" (which is お宅).

In addition to spending quality time with her grandparents, Amber also gave a lot of attention to my parents' two cats, Digby and Cleo. Though her intentions were good, I'm sure those two weren't sad to see Amber go.

We didn't have to go far to enjoy scenery. There are some nice homes in the neighborhood, and great views of the Olympic Mountains オリンピック山脈 from the street.

A visit to the local Safeway enabled Amber to try out the latest model in shopping cart transport for kids, while I seized the opportunity to get a box of Cap'N Crunch.

Despite the chilly temperatures at this time of year (close to freezing much of the time), Amber liked to explore my parents' backyard. On one occasion, the three of us drove down to the waterfront in Silverdale.

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, we went with my parents to the county fairgrounds to see an annual display of Christmas tree decorations. People can bid on the displays, with the proceeds going to charity.

The following day, the three of us traveled by ferry to Seattle for the day.

First stop was the Seattle Aquarium.

Then it was a long walk over to the International District, and Uwajiyama, a great Asian supermarket. Pamela stocked up on instant noodles, while I came away with bottles of Orion Beer オリオンビール (from Okinawa 沖縄) and Koshihikari Echigo Beer コシヒカリ越後麦酒 (from Niigata 新潟), plus a can of Calpis Water カルピスウォーター (called "Calpico" in the US market for obvious reasons, if you dwell on the name "Calpis"). There's also a branch of Books Kinokuniya 紀伊國屋書店 in the same building (with a fantastic selection of books on Asian subjects), plus a small Asian food court. Should we end up living in Seattle one day, this is one place where I think we would be spending a lot of time.

On another occasion, my Dad and I went for a drive to Olympia オリンピア, the capital of Washington state, crossing over the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge タコマナローズ橋 en route.

On our last full day in Washington, we drove with my parents to Port Townsend, where we met my sister and nephew for lunch. Port Townsend holds a special place for us, as it was here in the garden of a bed-and-breakfast on the bluff overlooking Puget Sound ピュージェット湾, that Pamela and I were married in the summer of 2002. With its many Victorian buildings, Port Townsend is an interesting place to walk around.

However, all good things must come to an end sooner or later.


On this trip to the States, we flew EVA Air エバー航空. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed with the airline. The service was fine, but the food was particularly bad, and the aircraft lacked any personal entertainment systems (meaning the in-flight movies could only be watched on small screens hanging from the cabin ceilings, as in the days of yore). The flight times were brutal (a 12:30 am departure from Taiwan, a 1:30 am departure from Seattle, meaning we arrived here before 6 in the morning on Sunday). Unlike China Airlines チャイナエアライン, however, the planes stayed in the sky!

After arriving back at the airport in Taoyuan 桃園 this morning, we went to the parking garage where we had entrusted our car two weeks ago. On the street in front of the lot was a car that had parked itself at an angle in the middle of the road. It seems that the driver had had too much to drink, and was passed out in his vehicle. A couple of police officers tried banging on the windows to wake him up, but to no avail. In the end, the car was lifted up by a crane onto a flatbed truck, with the driver presumably still sleeping things off inside, and taken away. Welcome back to Taiwan!

A year is a long time to wait...

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