Sunday, 13 April 2008

Jiali Global English School. Kaohsiung. Tucheng Temple.


If you're feeling vindictive you can forward these photos to the Taiwanese authorities and land me in a world of anal probing hurt.

sa500945.jpgThe blue sign is the entrance to Global English School in Jiali. The Chinese characters, light-blue sky and palm trees compel you to draw comparisons with Ashington High School in Northumberland.

Like any other East Asian town worth its salt, this street turns into a neon/laser disco festival during the hours of darkness.

sa500948.jpgA shot from my desk. Luckily, I don't have to wear the pink staff uniform. There are photocopiers, computers, guillotines and other office paraphernalia that can leave you feeling like an extra in 'The Office'.

sa500950.jpgYou can call me 'Sir'. These are a few of my students. I always ask them things like "Are you married? Do you have a boyfriend? Which boy do you like?" to try and embarrass them.

sa500949.jpgThat's Mandy the boss at the back. These kids are hard work. They are the youngest and sap more energy than older ones.

sa500951.jpgA sloth would be ashamed to have as little motivation as these lads.

I find the discipline a nightmare sometimes. Can you remember when we would get a real French teacher for French class? We would all go crazy for an hour and learn nothing. Well, I'm that French teacher now. As I'm not fluent in Chinese the kids can have a field day taking the piss. It doesn't bother me: "It's your own time your wasting!" Since I can't physically harm them, I retaliate with keeping the class behind longer at the end or giving them extra homework - the old methods are the best!

In some ways it's quite good being a teacher - I can say things like "It's your own time your wasting" which makes me chuckle inside.

Too much school?

On a serious note, I think Taiwanese education is over the top. The parents value their kid's education so much that the kids do little else with their young lives. So much pressure so young. You can sense parents' panic if their kids aren't constantly studying something. Worried that their progeny will be left behind in this mad World. They spend a lot of money to send their kids to these after school institutions. Much of it is wasted as most kids are knackered, disinterested and, let's face it, thick!

I shouldn't complain as I'm benefiting from this mad scramble to learn English. It's all the rage in Taiwan. If you can speak English here you're propelled higher up the social strata which invariably leads to better employment opportunities. However, you have to offset these perceived benefits against a childhood of being permanently stuck in a classroom. Personally I'd go for reduced opportunity later in life in favour of an enhanced childhood experience. You're only young once and, in my view, it should be a time of stress-free happiness - the 'time of your life'. You could always pursue studies later in life like I did. I could be wrong though. Nothing beats a bit of parental pressure does it?

Fortunately, this teaching lark is a temporary thing as I admit to not really being into it. I'm not a natural. Most other teachers I meet talk about their aspirations for the kids, how they can refine their teaching methods to maximise the kids' experience etc. while I'm thinking 'they dee ma heed in - spoilt little shits' most of the time!


sa500957.jpgBy the Love River in Kaohsiung. This was our day out in Taiwan's second city. What a contrast to the countryside where we live. This place is the most famous tourist spot but it was ominously dead while we were there.

We strolled along the riverbank and sat people watching. We watched kids playing in central park. We looked at an art show called 'Urban Spotlight'.

Kaohsiung has just built a new MRT system and we passed the brand new flagship station. It had a domed roof exquisitely engineered! Along with Japanese tourists we visited the LiuHe night market where I bought some sunglasses and shirts. We were lucky to catch the last bus back home after getting lost.


I was going to spend the entire weekend drinking in Kaohsiung but all the bars were closed during the day. It would be pretty boring to be here alone so I went home with Zi Ting. The beer's five times more expensive than the Philippines! I think I'll wait.

Yellow Fever

sa500966.jpgLike many men who end up in Asia I think I've contracted 'yellow fever'. White girls just don't do it for me anymore! It's a combination of a few things. The body stature is generally petite which I adore. Everything is well proportioned. Asian girl's eyes? They're simply beautiful. I love the shape, they ouse seduction. Their little cute noses. Long black silky hair. Wow.

The disposition of these women is magical. They behave more demurely than Western girls. I've not had one bad word with Zi Ting in six months! We both just live and let live. We don't make needless demands of eachother. In my experience, these women are the best in the World.

Remember when I was talking about obscene T-shirts? Well look at this one. This is what I mean. Imagine your young daughter coming home wearing this?


I recently repaired my Burmese tribal shirt after re-stitching the buttons. Together, the shirt with the army style shorts, colourful tribal bag and flip-flops cost:

Shirt - 4000kyat - Kalaw, Burma - £1

Shorts - a free gift from a Bangkok lass - £0

Flip-flops - 70baht - Mae Hong Son, Thailand - £1

Bag - 2000kyat - Mandalay, Burma - £0.50

Underpants - never where them anymore - £0

Total £2.50

Dressed like a twat? Priceless. For everything else there's mastercard!

My whole outfit is worth less than a beer in Newcastle! Denouncing materialism and taking poverty to extremes! Love it!

Burmese friend

Talking of Burma, did you hear how 50+ Burmese recently suffocated in a truck trying to escape? It reminded me of my Bangkok T-shirt seller mate who told me his escape story. It was frightening. He saved money for years with the help of his teacher Mother to pay traffickers for passage to Thailand. It involved dodging army patrols in the mountainous jungles of the Thai/Burma border. He says the risk was worth every penny as his life is far better in Bangkok.


sa500967.jpgLook at this scran. We have a selection of brains, intestines and testicles among other things. I forgot which animal they're from but you can choose any of it and have it cooked before your eyes. However, this vomit inducing display pales into insignificance when compared to China's.

In China I remember seeing a whole roasted dog, complete with head and paws, at the centerpiece of an awesome display of unidentifiable bodyparts from an array of animals. It's funny how you become used to all this.

sa500968.jpgThe woman in the black is giving the woman in the white some street side acupuncture therapy. On that anatomy diagram, one of the bodily points looks scarily close to where my dick would be!

sa500969.jpgSome more weird food. The furthest ones are chicken feet. The rest? No idea.

A little bit of a Kaohsiung/Newcastle link here. Like Newcastle used to be, Kaohsiung is a predominantly industrial city. From Kaohsiung harbour you can take a ferry to the Japanese island of Okinawa, hence the number of Japanese tourists here. As I surveyed the land to the south of the harbour I noticed many dockyard cranes dominating the skyline. Many of them are used for shipbuilding.

Interestingly, much of the shipbuilding that was previously done in places like Newcastle and Sunderland was transferred to places like Kaohsiung due to cheaper labour costs. It struck me: I originally come from a previous epicenter of shipbuilding and here I am standing in the place where some of that work went. That's globalisation for you!



tainan-weather.jpgmorpeth-weather.jpgA quick weather comparison to show that it doesn't only rain in England. Morpeth struggling to reach double figures while Tainan is always between 25-30. Lovely!

More mad food

sa501073.jpgsa501028.jpgSo what do you fancy then? This is mission impossible when you first arrive in Taiwan. You can't read anything and the food looks like it's from another planet.

Zi Ting

sa501038.jpgsa500984.jpgZi Ting at Bali fishing port near Taipei. 

Also near Taipei the sea has carved these rocks into mushrooms. There are many curiously shaped rocks here.

sa501109.jpgsa501095.jpgAye, it's a canny big bell like. Tucheng Temple not far from our house.

Is she trying to make an equilateral triangle?

sa501185.jpgsa501180.jpgA little beach near Tainan city. Can you see how the water reached her knees? Haha, pretty funny. She wasn't expecting that!

16-085.jpg16-041.jpgYanMingShan flower park near Taipei.

在这里有很多花 = A lot of flowers here at this time of year. In easier simplified Chinese characters.

16-202.jpg16-185.jpgKissing rocks.

Zi Ting and Louise posing in front of the mushroom rocks.


sa501088.jpgsa501078.jpgReady to go. Outside the house in Cigu. These sunglasses give me fly-vision which comes in handy when watching these puppet shows. Very psychedelic. Instead of drinking that magic mushroom milkshake in Laos, I should've saved it for here! The accompanying music sounded like someone trying to wash a cat while dropping bricks on a tin roof.

sa501091.jpgsa501090.jpgThe bell appears to be a focal point for reasons that remain a mystery to me. Like many other things here.

This was a wooden lion next to the bell. Like everything here, the detail is incredible on this sculpture. 

sa501119.jpgsa501112.jpgI fancy some of this wallpaper for my next house.

A bridge over troubled waters? This moat surrounds the temple.

sa501132.jpgsa501124.jpgPraying for a trophy next season.

You can see a couple of golden Buddhas through the smoke of the joss sticks.

sa501150.jpgsa501136.jpgThis is as close as I've ever been to a deity. It's a pretty surreal place. The atmosphere, the smell of joss sticks, the hushed calm and the contemplative ambience leave you a little spellbound.

Trying to get an impression of scale.

sa501199.jpgsa501167.jpgThe very front of the temple. The stone carving is exquisite. These things must take an awful lot of money and time to build.

Wahey! A gorilla supping a pint of beer! What is it with Taiwan and gorillas?

Betel nut beauties

sa501202.jpgsa501168.jpgA Taiwanese institution. The betel nut beauties. These lasses sell betel nuts from neon-lit roadside glass cabinets. This lass here is very modestly dressed as many of her counterparts wear bikinis and boots with 6 inch soles.

sa501205.jpgI've only seen this in Taiwan! Nowhere else in the World seems to do it. I love it but it must cause traffic accidents.

It looks like a one-woman disco.


  1. I remember you at school!!!

    "It's you're own time your wasting!!!" - Was that a Shuttleworth or Cunningham quote?

    "Hi Bert", "Hi Ernie", "Out!"

    Rearrange the following words-

    Black, kettle, calling, pot!!

  2. In Thailand is really a lot of interesting sights. I have been in this country several times. On my last trip, I stopped in Chiang Mai and went on tour for 4 days on motorcycle It was really cool. Especially, I liked the Chiang Dao Cave, there I made a lot of exciting photos!


Please be nice.