Lesson 6: Discussing Likes and Dislikes


Before continuing, make sure to review and practice the previous week's lesson here.

We all have something that we just love to do. Personally, I love nothing more than relaxing on the couch with a good book, going to the movies, or if the weather is nice, spending a day outdoors and going for a hike in the mountains. But I don't love everything. I'm not particularly fond of waiting in lines(kinda ironic, as I live in Taiwan) and I'm not the biggest fan of traffic jams, but then, who is? In today's lesson, you are going to be learning how to talk about your likes and dislikes in Mandarin Chinese.

Expressing likes: In Mandarin, we say "我喜歡…", which means "I like…", we can use this as a general phrase to talk about things we like, or we can use it to form more specific sentences. For example, I can say 我喜歡蘋果 I like apples, or I could be more specific and tell you that 我喜歡吃蘋果 I like to eat apples. So let's take a look at the following sentences, and repeat along with me to check your pronunciation.

1. I like to play basketball.
wŏ xĭ huān dă lán qiú.

2. I like to watch movies.
wŏ xĭ huān kàn diàn yĭng .

3. I like to go hiking.
wŏ xĭ huān pá shān.

4. I like reading novels.
wŏ xĭ huān kàn xiăo shuō.

5. I like listening to music.
wŏ xĭ huān tīng yīn yuè.

Watch the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.


Expressing dislikes: Okay, so now you have the basics down, let's talk about dislikes. To make a negative statement in Mandarin Chinese, we usually add a 不 in front of the firs verb in a statement. This is not always the case, the negative form of the word "to have" 有, is 沒有. Note that a 沒 has been added in front of 有, not a 不, so saying 不有 would be incorrect. Just as when we were talking about likes, we can express dislikes in a general or more specific manner. So let's take our earlier example with the apples, 我喜歡吃蘋果, we can make this into a negative statement by adding a 不 before 喜歡, to indicate that we "don't like…" and it would look like his 我不喜歡吃蘋果, I don't like to eat apples. So let's take a closer look at how this is applied.


1. I don't like waking up early.
wŏ bù xĭ huān zăo qĭ chuáng .

2. I don't like rainy weather.
wŏ bù xĭ huān xià yŭ tiān.

3. I don't like scary movies.
wŏ bù xĭ huān kŏng bù piàn.

4. I don't like traffic jams.
wŏ bù xĭ huān sāi chē .

5. I don't like to wait in lines.
wŏ bù xĭ huān pài duì.

Watch  the attached video file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.

Note, when answering a question, answers are are often cut short, as the topic of the sentence is understood. So, going back to our apple analogy, if someone asks you 你喜歡吃蘋果嗎?It's acceptable to answer 我喜歡吃 or 我不喜歡吃, or just simply say 喜歡(吃) or 不喜歡(吃), rather than a full statement 我喜歡吃蘋果 or 我不喜歡吃蘋果. Don't worry about remembering all of that now, the important point is that you realize Mandarin is a flexible language.

Dialogue: Read and listen to the following dialogue, then answer the questions below.

A: Sara! Where are going?
莎拉! 你去哪裡?
shā lā !nĭ qù nă lĭ ?

B: Oh, hi Thom! You scared me!
喔,你好湯拇 !你嚇我一跳!
ō, nĭ hăo tāng mŭ !nĭ xià wŏ yī tiào !

A: Sorry! I just saw you walking and wanted to see what you were doing.
對不起! 我剛看到你走路,想要知道你在幹嘛。
duì bù qĭ !wŏ gāng kàn dào nĭ zŏu lù, xiăng yào zhī dào nĭ zài gàn ma.

B: It's okay, I'm fine! I'm going hiking with some friends.
沒關係,我沒事! 我要跟一些朋友一起去爬山。
méi guān xì, wŏ méi shì !wŏ yào gēn yī xiē péng yŏu yī qĭ qù pá shān.

A: I can't stand hiking, it's exhausting!
wŏ shòu bù liǎo pá shān, tài lèi le!

B: I like it a lot! I think it's really fun!
我很喜歡! 我覺得很好玩!
wŏ hĕn xĭ huān !wŏ jué de hĕn hăo wán !

A: I like swimming! It feels great on a hot day like this!
我喜歡游泳! 天氣像今天怎麼熱,就很舒服!
wŏ xĭ huān yóu yŏng !tiān qì xiàng jīn tiān zĕn me rè, jiù hĕn shū fú !

B: I like swimming a lot too!
wŏ yĕ hĕn xĭ huān yóu yŏng !

A: Then let's go swimming together next weekend.
nà me, wŏ men xià gè zhōu mò yī qĭ qù yóu yŏng ba.

B: Only if you come hiking with us today!
jīn tiān gēn wŏ men yī qĭ lái, wŏ cái gēn nĭ qù a !

A: Okay okay, it's a deal!
hăo le hăo le, wŏ tóng yì le !

Notes: In Chinese, nouns have a special measure word. The most common one is 個, when in doubt just say 個 and you'll probably be right! I'll be introducing more of these to you in later lessons. Also, the character 了 is used to show a change of state or that something has taken place, such as past action. There are other ways to speak about the past in Chinese, and other ways to use 了, so more on this in the future. 吧 is usually used to indicate a suggestion.

Comprehension Questions: I'm not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it "homework".

1. 誰被嚇到了?
shéi bèi xià dào le?

2. 湯拇喜歡爬山嗎?

tāng mŭ xĭ huān pá shān ma?

3. 誰喜歡游泳?
shéi xĭ huān yóu yŏng?

4. 他們要一起去幹嘛?
tā men yào yī qĭ qù gàn ma?

5. 湯拇同意了嗎?
tāng mŭ  tóng yì le ma?

Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 你嚇我一跳= you scared me
2. 剛= just
3. 看到= see
4. 走路= walk
5. 知道= know
6. 在幹嘛= doing(what?)
7. 我沒事= I'm fine
8. 一些= a few
9. 朋友= friend(s)
10. 我受不了= I can't stand…
11. 太累了= tiring
12. 覺得= think
13. 游泳= swimming
14. 天氣= weather
15. 像= to be like (something)
16. 今天= today
17. 熱= hot
18. 就= in that case/then
19. 很= very
20. 舒服= comfortable
21. 我們= we/us
22. 下個周末= next weekend
23. 同意= agree


I Get Cranky if I Miss My Afternoon Tea…


…So I had to go get my fix, and it was FANTASTIC! In fact, I decided to film the experience and let you all take a glimpse at every-day life in Taiwan. Now I do love me a nice, hot cup of traditional, loose-leaf tea, but the stuff is expensive and much better to enjoy with family and friends. I decided to go the cheap and anti-social route today, so I headed over to the neighborhood Coco (dōu kĕ 都可 in Chinese, but everyone just calls it Coco).

(I need my tea!)
They are located near the Welcome dĭng hăo 頂好 down the street from the Puxin train station pŭ xīn huŏ chē zhàn 埔心火車站. Coco is my favorite of the millions of teashops chá diàn 茶店 you can find crowding the streets in Taipei, Kaoshiung, and pretty much everywhere else in Taiwan. The reasons are as follows:

1. The staff diàn yuán 店員 at the stores that I frequent have excellent attitudes and are friendly and very helpful.

2. Their prices are affordable, and they don't short you on tea by overfilling your cup with ice like they do at qīng xīn 清心, another popular chain of tea-stores from the south of Taiwan.

3. I prefer the way their sugar-free tea tastes over what they server at other stores. It has a bitter sè 澀 flavor to it and I love bitter tea, though I guess this may be an acquired taste. Don't worry though, because they have plenty of sweetened drinks for you to try!

4. Did I mention that it's cheap? This is seriously a driving factor for me, as I am currently a jobless bum living on savings!

So there you have it, try them out if you have a chance. And if you already have, what's your favorite drink to get there? Personally, I am a big fan of the yoghurt green tea yăng lè duō lù chá 養樂多錄茶!


(Thanks again to the awesome staff for being so helpful and putting up with my insanity!)

Please watch my video and comment on it if you have the time! The guy in the video was really nice to let me take this video. At one point he was surprised that I spoke a little Taiwanese, and I was too! Here I am, supposed to be teaching you guys Mandarin! I hope you enjoyed this article, and see you here next time!

Chinese phrases of the day:
都可= Coco (a chain of tea-stores in Taiwan)
頂好= Welcome (a Taiwanese grocery store)
埔心火車站= Puxin train station
茶店= Tea-store(shop)
店員= staff
清心= Qing Xin (another Taiwanese chain of tea-stores)
= bitter tasting
養樂多錄茶= yoghurt green tea (one of my favorites!)

Lesson 5: Languages


Languages: I saved this section for after we had gotten to be familiar with different countries of the world and their nationalities in Chinese, as it is a little more complex to form languages. Now don't go getting discouraged on me, you can do it, it just may take you a little more practice. The reason being, there are multiple ways to form the name of a language in Chinese. Just as we added 人 to 英國 to get 英國人, there are also several building blocks for "converting" a country to a language. The basic pieces are the country(minus the character 國 if present in the country's name), 文, 語 and 話. But they aren't one size fits all, unlike 人. For example, I could translate English as 英文 (note that the 國 gets cut off) or 英語, but I couldn't say 英國話.

To sum it up, the formula is:

country(-國) + 文/語 = language

Or, sometimes…

country + 話 = language

So lets take a look at the languages spoken in each of the countries we've learned, and the different ways we can say them. Lets also take this opportunity to practice making sentences with 講 jiǎng, which means to speak.

1. 美國人講英文。
2. 加拿大人講英語。
3. 墨西哥人講西班牙話。
4. 巴西人講葡萄牙文。
5. 英國人講英文。
6. 西班牙人講西班牙話。
7. 法國人講法文。
8. 義大利人講義大利文。
9. 德國人講德國話。
10. 希臘人講希臘話。
11. 俄羅斯人講俄語。
12. 土耳其人講土耳文。
13. 菲律賓人講講菲語。
14. 印度人講印度話。
15. 馬來西亞人講馬來西亞文。
16. 日本人講日語。
17. 泰國人講泰語。
18. 新加坡人講中文。
19. 中國人講中國話。
20. 台(臺)灣人講華語。

Story: Now read along with and listen to the following story. Use the vocabulary along with the grammar you just learned to answer the "homework" questions below.

Last year, William went traveling in China. He met a lot of friendly Chinese people and ate a lot of Chinese food…he even learned how
to use chopsticks! He also met people from many different countries. He made a Japanese friend named Takashi. Takashi couldn't speak English, so they used Chinese to communicate! William had fun in China, but he's glad to be back in America with his family.

去年,威廉去中國旅行. 他有認識很多好的中國人和吃了很多中國菜。。。甚至他學會用筷子!他有認識過一位日本的朋友叫Takashi。Takashi不會講英文,所以他們用中文溝通了!威廉在中國的時候過的很快樂,但是他現在很開心回來美國跟他家人在一起。

qù nián wēi lián qù zhōng guó lǚ xíng. tā yŏu rèn shí hĕn duō hăo de zhōng guó rén hé chī le hĕn duō zhōng guó cài…shèn zhì tā xué huì yòng kuài zi!tā yŏu rèn shí guò yī wèi rì bĕn de péng yŏu jiào Takashi. Takashi bù huì jiăng yīng wén suŏ yĭ tā men yòng zhōng wén gōu tōng le!wēi lián zài zhōng guó de shí hòu guò de hĕn kuài lè dàn shì tā xiàn zài hĕn kāi xīn huí lái mĕi guó gēn tā jiā rén zài yī qĭ.

Comprehension Questions:

1. 威廉現在在中國嗎?
wēi lián xiàn zài zài zhōng guó ma?

2. 威廉有吃了很多日本的菜嗎?
wēi lián yŏu chī le hĕn duō rì bĕn de cài ma?

3. Takashi 是德國人嗎?
Takashi shì dé guó rén ma?

4. Takashi 會講英文嗎?
Takashi huì jiăng yīng wén ma?

5. 威廉現在為什麼快樂?
wēi lián xiàn zài wéi shén me kuài lè?


Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1. 去年= last year

2. 旅行= travel

3. 很多= many

4. 認識= meet/know someone

5. 中國菜= Chinese food

6. 甚至= even

7. 學會= learn to do something

8. 朋友= friend

9. 所以= so

10. 用= use

11. 但是= but

12. 也= also

13. 時候= a point in time

14. 回來= return

15. 跟…在一起= be with (someone)

No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 3 獅頭山

If you missed it, check out the first two posts in this three-part series here and here! And now, for the grand finale…
On Sunday I went with a group of friends to go exploring in shī tóu shān 獅頭山, Lion-Head Mountain. The mountain park is huge and borders both Xinzhu and Miaoli Counties. Just as any good adventure, we went in with only a vague idea of what we were doing and where we would end up, and as usual, Taiwan did not disappoint.
The most challenging part of the day was getting to 獅頭山, which isn't easy if you don't have a car, but it is manageable. We took a shuttle-bus from Zhongli to the Taoyuan HSR station and bought our tickets. Honestly, this was part of the fun of the trip in itself, as I had never been on the HSR (High-speed rail) in all of my time in Taiwan. We didn't get seats, and surprisingly had to stand, which I would have thought was not allowed, but I'm not going to complain as it was just a ten minute train ride to the Xinzhu HSR station(the normal train is around an hour). From the HSR station, we went and hopped on a shuttle-bus to the 獅頭山 visitors' center. The tickets ran us 100NT a person and included round-trip fare(though be careful, the last bus back is at 6pm).
Once in the park, we visited the visitors' and got maps of the local attractions, then we hit the trails!
(Check in at the visitors' center to get a map)
It was a surprisingly hot day, but luckily I had sunscreen this time. The hike up the main trail was not very difficult, though it was pretty steep. It took us well under an hour to climb. Along the way were tons of smaller side-trails and temples, but we didn't check them out this time, as we had thought we would see them on the way back, but plans have a way of changing. More to explore next time!
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(on the way up)
At one point at the top of the trail, you have an awesome view of the mountains and a giant Buddha in the distance. And then you head down a trail, into the jungle and towards the mountain's main attraction.
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(You can just make out the giant Buddha in the distance…grab a hiking stick if you need one, you're not there yet!)
\"IMG_7092\" \"IMG_7094\"
(Descend through the jungle, and you will be well rewarded!)
After hiking through the peaceful forest trail, you come out into a clearing where you find yourself dwarfed by the area's huge temple, which is carved out of the face of a cliff. This place has such an incredible view of the surrounding mountains, and it's unreal to think about the manpower and dedication that went into building it.
 \"IMG_7107\" \"IMG_7105\"\"IMG_7104\"\"IMG_7111\"
(Go ahead, soak-up the view!)
We rested at the top and enjoyed the view for a bit, then we went into the temple and burned incense and I explained some of the traditional religious practices to my friends before we left.
We headed down to the lower levels and were pleasantly surprised to see a group of musicians playing traditional music in a pagoda by the cliff-edge, as well as a store selling many traditional items, such as paper money for burnt-offerings and intricately detailed folded-paper dragons and boats for the same purpose.
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\"IMG_7157\" \"IMG_7156\"
(A good chance to take a look at the traditional side of Chinese culture)
By this time we were hungry, so we followed the signs to the temple's restaurant. The meal was delicious and inexpensive, only costing us 600NT for five people. And the food was vegetarian, naturally, as we were in a temple! There are also rooms available for travelers who want to stay the night and watch the sunset in the majestic mountains.
\"IMG_7176\" \"IMG_7179\"
(You'll be hungry when you make it up here!)
Wile we were up-top, we spotted a giant Buddha statue in the distance and decided that we wanted to get a closer look.
We hiked down to the road level and found a bus to the 獅頭山 visitors' center, then took two other buses to get to Emei Lake é méi hú 峨眉湖, the home of the giant Maitreya Buddha.
(A view of the temple from down below, the bus stop is down here)
It was difficult getting there without a car, and in hindsight I think that a cab ride would have been far more practical, but that's what made it an adventure!
\"IMG_7196\" \"IMG_7193\"
(Nice country roads the bus will take you down as you go to Emei Lake)
Unfortunately you are not allowed to go into the enclosure where the Buddha stands unless in a tour group, and there weren't any when we were there. The Buddha easily dwarfs the nearby building, which is massive in its own right, and there are lots of other impressive sculptures in the surrounding area, but they pale in comparison.
\"IMG_7205\"  \"IMG_7218\"
(That's one big Buddha!)
\"IMG_7223\" \"IMG_7235\"
(The sign above the entrance says "the world is one family"…that includes pigs too!)
The area surrounding the Buddha was originally built as a reservoir, though it is no longer used as such, and there is a nice trail which you can follow around the lake and across a suspension bridge, though it was under renovation when we were there so we couldn't take a closer look. Still, it was worth the trip to see a Buddha statue that is taller than the Statue of Liberty!
(The world is in the palm of his hand)
Check out the rest of the pictures here!
How To Get There:
Lion-Head Mountain- The easiest way to get here is by car, but you can also take a bus from the Xinzhu HSR station directly.
Emei Lake- It's tricky getting here without transportation, I suggest taking a bus from the Lion-Head Mountain visitors' center and then switching buses, or take a taxi
Chinese phrases of the day:
獅頭山= Lion-Head Mountain
峨眉湖= Emei Lake




Lesson 4: Countries and Nationalities


Where are you from? Where are going? Where would you like to visit? These are all questions you need to be able to answer! So today's lesson is going to focus on introducing you to a base of countries you can speak about in Chinese. Of course this list is not exhaustive(I don't even know EVERY country in the world's English name for crying out loud!), but this is a good place to start. If you are interested in learning the names of any specific countries that aren't in the list (not because I don't like them, just because my fingers hurt from all the typing, lol!), then please feel free to send me an email and I'll add it to the list right away, boss! It is also helpful to know what people from different countries are called and what languages they speak, so I will teach you each respective country on the list below's nationality in this lesson. Check out the next lesson in this series to learn about talking about languages in Mandarin. Remember to review last week's lesson if you haven't already.

It's easy, and I know you will get it down fast. So without further delay…
1. America 美國 mĕi guó
2. Canada 加拿大 jiā ná dà
3. Mexico 墨西哥 mòxīgē
4. Brazil 巴西 bāxī
5. England 英國 yīng guó
6. Spain 西班牙 xī bān yá
7. France 法國 fă guó
8. Italy 義大利 yì dà lì
9. Germany 德國 dé guó
10. Greece 希臘 xī là
11. Russia 俄羅斯 é luó sī
12. Turkey 土耳其 tǔ' ěr qí
13. The Philippines 菲律賓 fēi lǜ bīn
14. India 印度 yìn dù
15. Malaysia 馬來西亞 mǎ lái xī yà
16. Japan 日本 rìběn
17. Thailand 泰國 tài guó
18. Singapore 新加坡 xīn jiā pō
19. China 中國 zhōng guó
20. Taiwan 台(臺)灣 tái wān
Practice the above list until you are fairly familiar with it, then proceed to the next part.
Nationalities: if you know the above list of countries, then you practically already know the nationalities too! Good job! See? It's easy to learn a new language! And doesn't it feel good? Now all you need is one additional word to fit into the "equation"…and the missing piece to the puzzle is the word 人 rén, which means person or people(Mandarin Chinese doesn't differentiate between singular and plural noun forms, instead the number is determined by context…but we're getting ahead of ourselves, so back up a step!). So all you do intake one of the countries from the list above and add 人 behind it. So, I am American would be: 我是美國人
To sum it up, the formula is:

country + 人 = nationality

So let's practice saying the nationalities together (this will really help to reinforce your previous learning).
1. American 美國人
2. Canadian 加拿大人
3. Mexican  墨西哥人
4. BrazilIan 巴西人
5. English 英國人
6. Spanish 西班牙人
7. French 法國人
8. Italian 義大利人
9. German 德國人
10. Greek 希臘人
11. Russian 俄羅斯人
12. Turkish 土耳其人
13. Filipino 菲律賓人
14. Indian 印度人
15. Malaysian 馬來西亞人
16. Japanese 日本人
17. Thai 泰國人
18. Singaporean 新加坡人
19. Chinese 中國人
20. Taiwanese 台(臺)灣人
Review: This is a cumulative review of lessons 1-4.  For questions 1-5, please listen to the audio file and answer the questions correctly in Chinese. For questions 6-10 please translate the English phrases into the correct Chinese phrases. As usual, please feel free to make a recording and submit it for "grading". This should be easy for you guys!
1. 你叫什麼名字?
2. 你是從哪裡來的?
3. 你幾歲?
4. 你吃飽了嗎?
5. 你是哪國人?
6. Good morning
7. Long time no see
8. Not yet
9. Immediately
10. Goodbye
Make sure you are familiar with the above vocabulary before proceeding to the next lesson, because, while the next portion builds on the last few sections, it is also more complicated. You want to Learn Chinese, right? So get to it!

Double Down! 雙十節


Last Thursday  was guó qìng jié 國慶節 Taiwan's Independence Day, also known as shuāng shí jié 雙十節 Double Ten Day because it is celebrated on October tenth, 10/10. Besides the holiday though, there is another reason that this was a special day for Ruby and I. It was our four-year anniversary nián jì niàn 年紀念! She's the love of my life; she's beautiful and she can put-up with my terrible jokes and childish antics. What more could a guy ask for?


(She's my pride and joy!)

So, to celebrate we did something we haven't done in a while and we decided to take a day trip to one of the island's many scenic mountain areas…Nanzhuang.

To get there we took a train to Zhunan and then took a shuttle bus over to the Nanzhuang old street in the mountains of Miaoli county. The bus station is directly across the street from the train station and opposite from the 7-11. The tickets ran us 100NT per person and gave us day passes to take the bus to three destinations: nán zhuāng lăo jiē 南庄老街 Nanzhuang old street, xiàng tiān hú 向天湖 Xiangtian lake, and xiān shān 仙山 Xian Mountain. What a bargain!
(Here I am, at the Zhunan train station)
The bus ride to Nanzhuang took about 40 minutes, and when we got there we checked out the visitors' center which had a lot of information on the surrounding tourist spots, as well as a little about the local aboriginal tribes yuán zhù míng de bù luò 原著名的部落 and their history. We chatted with the staff to find our next bus, which was just out front, and we headed out to the aboriginal village and culture center at Xiantian lake.
(This is where the bus drops you off, it's also where you can catch a bus to the local attractions, or back to Zhunan station)
(Here's a map of the bus route and the local sights, but also make sure to grab a copy from the information center)
The bus ride to the village was worth the trip alone to catch a glimpse of the scenery as we slowly snaked our way up the mountain road. It was like we were in another country, or world.
(It is just amazing up there in the mountains!)
When you enter the village there are several stands where you can get some aboriginal snacks, such as wild-boar sausage and mă gào dàn 馬告蛋, eggs marinated in mă gào 馬告, a really fragrant type of seeds that the local sài xià zú 賽夏族 Saisiyat tribe uses for seasoning many of their dishes.
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(This stuff tastes so good, I had to learn the secret recipe!)
(And here it is! 馬告!)
I have a feeling that they don't get many foreign visitors, as one young aboriginal girl kept marveling over my hair, asking me why it wasn't black and if I had dyed it. I am used to this kind of stuff, especially as I live in a county area, though not to this extreme.  This just multiplied the feeling that, even though people were speaking Mandarin and there were plenty of Taiwanese tourists around us, we were no longer in Taiwan!
Another thing that the aboriginal people in this area are famous for is honey, and you could see lots of beehives with swarms of bees, placated by the strongly scented smoke that was burning by their homes.
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(There were lots of bee-keepers and people selling honey in the village)
As we went through the village and looked through the different stalls, we eventually came to the lake which this place was named after. It was a beautiful lake, and there was a tree-shrouded path that led around it. It was a relaxing hike, and any direction that you looked you had beautiful scenery popping out at you, be it the lake itself, the flowers and trees, or the gorgeous mountain backdrop that overshadowed it all. It was fantastic!
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(The walk around the lake is a great escape)
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(Just taking in the natural beauty)
When we had made our way around the lake, we came to an aboriginal culture center which displayed a lot of beautiful handmade artifacts that the Saisiyat people had used to do anything from carrying children to farming. Practically everything was woven from grass or made from bamboo, and the craftsmanship was impressive. There was even a traditional bamboo house with many artifacts on display for viewing, though, unfortunately, taking photographs was not allowed in the museum.
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(The aboriginal culture center is definitely worth a visit)
One interesting display described the tribes origins, and the myth surrounding how their people came to be in that area.
After finishing up I'm the village, we waited for the bus and headed to the nearby Donghe suspension bridge dōng hé diào qiáo 東河吊橋. The bridge is massive and it is quite thrilling(and a little scary) when it wobbles and springs up and down as you cross. The view of the river below was just awesome from the middle, and on the other side was the head of a promising hiking trail.
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(You're not supposed to run on these things, but I was too excited to see the view!)
After hiking a ways up, however, we realized it just led to some lucky people's homes. Though I bet there is a trail if you continue on back there,  we chose to turn back and catch the bus back into Nanzhuang.
While we waited for the bus, we walked around the area and took a look at a few interesting pieces of aboriginal art, and perused a gift shop where the local people sold their handmade bamboo crafts. The homes in the area were beautiful and the people were very friendly, and I really envy them their beautiful mountain home, but it was time for us to head back into the hubbub of modern civilization.
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(We didn't get to take photos in the museum, but there was plenty to photo here!)
By the time we got back to the old street, we were starving and immediately got in line at the first stand we saw.
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(They sell the best huā shēng bīng qí lín juăn bĭng 花生冰淇淋捲餅 I have ever had!)
The entrance to the old street is really narrow, but it opens up a bit as you get further inside. Besides the usual snacks, there was one particularly famous stand selling the local specialty, guì huā fĕn yuán bīng 桂花粉圓冰.
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(The local specialty. Make sure to bring home a jar of 桂花 jam to spread on your toast!)
After refueling we found ourselves at the back of the old street, where there was a gigantic temple and a 100 year old post office from the Japanese occupation period. There was also an old school (the sign said 100 years old, though it looks like its been rebuilt) and a 100 year old stone pathway leading down to the street below. This place is old!
(Taking a break on the temple's steps)
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(Here we are at the 100 year old post office!)
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(Here's the old school…)
(And an even older tree!)
(This path is over a hundred years old too!)
Unfortunately it was getting dark, so we didn't have time to go out to Xian Mountain, but I don't mind. It just gives us a reason to go back! Before heading back, we checked out one last suspension bridge in the surrounding area, and then used our day passes to head back to the train station. It was a great day, and I slept like a baby on the way home. Who knew having fun took so much energy?
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(Taking one last photo in front of the visitors' center before leaving)
Check out the rest of the photos here!
How To Get There:
Nanzhuang old street: To get there take a train to Zhunan and then take a shuttle bus over to the Nanzhuang old street. From there you can use your day pass to take busses to the various local attractions. Also, If you stay in a hostel in Nanzhuang, your day pass can be validated for a second day.
Chinese phrases of the day:
國慶節= National Day
雙十節= Double Ten Day
年紀念= anniversary
南庄老街= Nanzhuang old street
向天湖= Xiangtian lake
仙山= Xian Mountain
原著名的部落= Aboriginal tribe(s)
馬告= a seed that the Saisiyat people use for seasoning their food
賽夏族= the Saisiyat tribe
東河吊橋= Donghe suspension bridge
桂花粉圓冰= an iced desert consisting of chevy balls of cooked flour and covered with osmanthus jelly
花生冰淇淋捲餅= a ice cream wrap with peanut powder

Filing Taxes in Taiwan


Okay, since most of you who will be coming to Taiwan will probably be teaching ESL or doing some other kind of work, I figured I'd outline the tax filing bào shuì 報稅 process for you, since I filed mine the day before  yesterday, for the second time this year.

Taxes are filed  in May, and the process is generally really easy, though not all schools will tell you how to handle it, even if it's your first year in Taiwan.  All you have to do is take your W2(the Taiwanese equivalent at least), your passport and ARC down to your local tax office and pull a number and wait in line at the counter that handles alien taxation (no, not aliens like the ones that built the pyramids, alien as in foreigner!).
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I have filed taxes in 4 different cities here, and I find that the quality of service varies (one guy made me do all of the counting, and one guy seemed like he couldn't count himself!) but I have found that overall the tax clerks have been very helpful. You may even end up working for a school that handles your taxes(not ideal, in my opinion), in which case you may never have to see the inside of a tax office.


There is also an e-filing service, though I would not recommend using it (it was really buggy when I tried to use it a few years ago, and I ended up having to go into the office anyway!).
Other than all of that, I'll leave you with a few pros and cons to chew on.


1. Foreigners can file their taxes a few months early and get their tax returns faster than locals.
2. It is really easy to file taxes in Taiwan, and the tax office clerks usually help you with all of the hard parts, and will tell you about things you can deduct (such as rent, depending on your income).
3. You can get your return even faster if you use direct deposit


1. The e-filing service is not very user friendly.
2. Foreigners cannot file by mail, though Taiwanese can.
3. If you are leaving Taiwan, you will be able to file for a return, though you will not be able to use direct deposit (you will need to sign a waiver to allow a friend to pick up the return for you).
Chinese phrases of the day:
報稅= file/declare taxes

No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 2 七星山


This past Thursday, I went to Yangming Mountain Park with a few friends. This place is huge, the air is fresh and the scenery is beautiful. There are tons of hiking trails, hot springs and scenery to take in, and it's also a famous place to go to see Taiwan's national flower, the beautiful plum-blossom méi huā 梅花, and many others when they bloom in the spring.


(Ruby and I with some beautiful plum blossoms…not at Yangming Mountain Park though!)

But we didn't wake-up at 5AM to take the train from Zhongli to Taipei just to see a bunch of flowers! Our mission was hiking to the tallest peak in the park, qī xīng shān 七星山 Seven-Star Mountain.


(A shot of the train station in the early morning)


We took the hóng 紅15 bus from MRT Jiantan Station which goes directly to the trail head. On my previous visit, I had taken bus number 260 from Taipei Main Station and switched busses at the Yangming Mountain Park visitors' center. Either way will work fine, depending on your plans.


This was my first time taking a bus directly to 七星山 though, and like any good adventure, it was a little chaotic. When we got off the bus, the sky looked really gloomy, and before we had figured out where the trail was, it started raining heavily. Luckily we were right next to a free wēn quán 溫泉 hot spring, and we were faced with a choice. We could either climb-up into the mountains in the pouring rain and freeze our butts off, or we could soak in the hot spring for a bit and wait the weather out. Easy choice, only there was an unexpected surprise…
(The hot spring from out front)
(The hot spring is on the other side…a naked hot spring. I had no idea it was going to be this kind of party!)
After relaxing in the hot spring, we decided to figure out where to go and asked around a bit. Eventually we took a bus back to the visitors center and got on another bus to take us to the trail head. We got off at the deceptively named 七星山 stop, which was nowhere near the mountain, and we had to walk for a bit before coming to the trail.
I had done this hike a few years earlier in the hottest part of the summer with my fiancé, Ruby, but it was a totally different animal this time. Hiking in the summer's heat made it a lot more difficult and exhausting, but this time it felt rather easy and it only took about an hour-and-a-half up and down, whereas it had probably taken around three hours total the last time. As you climb up, you can see tons of sulfur deposits and it feels like you've traveled to another planet.
(This sign talks about the volcanoes in the area which we owe the hotsprings to!)
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(A few pictures of the misty mountain)


I had wanted to make this hike again because the last time I was there, my camera's batteries died when I got to the peak, and I was hoping to take a few pictures of the scenery from the top this time. Nature was conspiring against me, however, as the higher we went the foggier it got. we could barely see anything. And after a while the wind picked up and I felt like I was going to be blown away!
(They were building a new rest area and had left all of the tools out. This is when the wind picked up!)
(Here I am at the top. Couldn't really see much that day)


After hanging out at the top for a bit, we made our way back down the other side of the mountain and checked out the other peak. The scenery was spectacular and it was a fairly easy hike down. Embarrassingly, the trail ended just by the Lengshuikeng hot spring where we had started off at!
(Soaking our feet in the hot spring water)  


Unfortunately the hot spring was closed for cleaning, though we soaked our feet in a natural hot spring pool just out front. It was cold, windy and we were hungry, but it was another amazing day in Taiwan.
Check out the rest of the pictures here!
How To Get There:
Yangming Mountain Park- Take bus number 260 from Taipei Main Station (outside the South exit)
七星山– Take the bus at the Yangming Mountain Park visitor's center, or alternatively take the 紅15 from MRT Jiantan station
Chinese phrases of the day:
梅花= plum blossom(s)
七星山= Seven-Star Mountain
溫泉= hot spring(s)
= red




Lesson 3: Saying goodbye


Adios, arrivederci, bon voyage, good bye, so long, goodnight. ..what do these phrases have in common? They are all ways to say goodbye, in one way or another. In fact you could assemble another list entirely out of negative ways to express the same idea, such as: beat it, shove off, get lost, hit the road and of course @&$? Off! In this lesson you are going to learn some of the most common parting phrases in Mandarin Chinese. This list is not exhaustive, and many things may depend on the situation, but this should get you started exploring the idea.

Remember to review last week's lesson if you haven't already.

Now get to it!

Saying Goodbye:

1. 再見 zài jiàn= goodbye
2. 等一下見 dĕng yī xià jiàn= see you soon
3. 明天見 míng tiān jiàn= see you tomorrow
4. 下一次見 xià yī cì jiàn= see you next time
5. 有空再來 yŏu kōng zài lái= come again when you have time

Listen to the attached audio file and practice repeating each phrase until you feel confident enough to move on to the next part.

Dialogue: Read and listen to the following dialogue, then answer the questions below.

A: Edward, hurry up and get downstairs. Now!
ài dé huá găn kuài xià lái. mă shàng!

B: I'm coming Mom!
hăo mā mā, wŏ yào lái le!

A: Well, come quicker! You're almost late!
nà kuài yī diăn lái! nĭ kuài yào chí dào le!

B: Can I at least eat some breakfast first?
wŏ zhì shăo kĕ yĭ xiān chī diăn zăo cān ma?

A: There's some toast and a glass of milk on the table.
zhuō zi shàng yŏu tŭ sī hé yī bēi niú năi.

B: Thanks Mom!
xiè la mā mā!

A: Now out the door you go!
hăo le. nĭ găn kuài chū mén la!

B: Okay Mom! Geeez!
哎呀! 好了媽媽!
āi yā! hăo le mā mā!

A: I'll see you tonight. Be good at school.
wăn shàng jiàn. nĭ guāi guāi shàng kè

B: I will Mom. Bye!
wŏ huì mā mā. zài jiàn!

Comprehension Questions: I'm not going to give you an English translation for the following questions, I want to see how much you can intuitively figure out from what we have already learned. Take a minute to email me you answers and I will let you know how you did! Consider it "homework".

1. 媽媽快要遲到了嗎?
mā mā kuài yào chí dào le ma?

2. 桌子上有土司嗎?
zhuō zi shàng yŏu tŭ sī ma?

3. 桌子上還有什麼?
zhuō zi shàng hái yŏu shén me?

4. 誰說晚上見?
shéi shuō wăn shàng jiàn?

5. 愛徳華會乖乖上課嗎?
ài dé huá huì guāi guāi shàng kè ma?

Essential Vocabulary: Here's a list of some of the most useful phrases that we learned in this lesson. Practice them and record yourself and compare your pronunciation to mine.

1.趕快= quickly
2.下來= come down(stairs)
3.馬上= at once/immediately
4.我要來了= I'm coming
5.快一點來= hurry up
6.你快要遲到了= you're almost late
7.至少= at least
8.可以= can/able
9….上有…= there's…on the…
10.乖乖上課= behave in school

No Hitching, Just Hiking: Part 1

This past week was action-packed, with pirates and buried treasure around every corner…not really, but I got to go hike some awesome trails, some that I have been to before and others that were totally new to me. Now, first on the list in this three-part series is….

Wuliaojian wŭ liáo jiān 五寮尖

On Tuesday I went to Wuliaojian 五寮尖, which is in the mountains between Sanxia and Wulai in xīn bĕi shì 新北市 New Taipei City. The best way to get here is by car or scooter, but there is public transportation as well. You can take a bus to Sanxia and then transfer number 807 from Sanxia.



The path starts at hé zuò qiáo 合作橋 along the side of Highway 7. Just as a lot of the best hikes in Taiwan, the trail starts at an unassuming and utterly random stone-stairway sticking out of the side of the mountain. If you didn't know it was there, you would drive by without even noticing it. Well, now you know, so what's your excuse?










(That's a view of the ridge we were just on from the top)

There are lots of paths around the mountain that all end up eventually taking you to the same destination, though the level of difficulty varies. Either way, allow at least 3-4 hours to finish the hike and bring plenty of water (foolishly, I only brought one tiny bottle and was getting thirsty towards the end). And if you're a pale-skinned freak-of-nature like I am, do yourself a favor and bring sunscreen! I forgot to, and I am as red as a Maine lobster as I am typing this! Plus if you plan to go swimming, a swimsuit and a change of clothes wouldn't go amiss, though I didn't have either.



(We had to scale down this huge cliff wall)


(Now you see me…)

(Now you don't!)




(Just check out the view from the top! This is Taiwan!)


(Who wouldn't want to take a dip after a long, sweaty hike? The water was cold and refreshing!)

All of that aside, you're in for a challenging hike which you'll be rewarded for with a ton of gorgeous scenery and an experience you won't soon forget, but I wouldn't advise beginners to try it until they get a little experience under their belts, and it's a good idea to go with a friend regardless of your skill level.


(Have fun and stay safe out there!)

Check out the rest of my photos here!

How To Get There:

Wuliaojian 五寮尖– It's difficult to get here if you don't have a scooter or a car, but it's doable. First take a bus to Sanxia and then transfer to bus number 807. Tell the driver where you are going and he should tell you when to get off. The bus stop is called Hezuo Bridge 合作橋.

The swimming spot- It's just a few minutes down the road from the trail head on the left. Go slow, it's easy to miss. You can get down into the river from the other side of the bridge by taking the stairs next to the temple.

五寮尖= Wuliaojian hiking trail
新北市= New Taipei City
合作橋= Hezuo Bridge…"Cooperation Bridge" is a true translation, but that sounds better in Chinese, right?