Lesson 10: At the Post Office

Hey guys, long time no see! I apologize for taking such a long hiatus fom blogging, but life has been chaotic of late! My wife and I have relocated to the USA and have been working very hard to get re-established here, and so I have had little time or motivation to blog. But I know you all would be lost without me, so I'm back!
The format for my blog is now going to be a little different from the way it was before. From now on, since I am no longer in Taiwan, I will not be writing as many posts on exploring the island. I already have a fair amount of content on the subject, and I am always willing to answer any of your questions, but for now I am shifting my focus to Chinese. My posts will now be mainly Chinese lessons, with anecdotes of my time in Taiwan strewn in when appropriate. Please let me know what you think of this format, and as always, thank you for reading!
So you're in the post office, waiting in line to send a care package back home. The guy in front of you is playing on his iPhone, and the guy behind you is stamping his feet, looking at his watch and visibly annoyed. He's obviously in a hurry and doesn't want to end up being held up by the foreigner taking forever to get walked through the process by the friendly, though somewhat lingually challenged clerk…or are you? Let's show that guy that he picked the wrong laowai!
Ten essential phrases:
1. Letter 一封信 yīfēngxìn
2. Stamp 郵票 yóupiào
3. Package 包裹 bāoguǒ
4. Express delivery 快遞 kuàidì
5. Registered 掛號 guàhào
6. Standard shipping 平信 píngxìn
7. mailbox 信箱 xìnxiāng
8. PO box 郵政信箱 yóuzhèng xìnxiāng
9. envelope 信封 xìnfēng
10. postage fee 郵資 yóuzī
In context:
1. I would like to send a package overseas. 
2. How much is express delivery? 
3. I want to send this letter as registered mail.
4. I would like to buy some stamps and envelopes.
5. When will my letter arrive?
That's it for today, practice and we'll see you next time!

10 Foods You Must Try in Taiwan

I love Taiwanese food, that's why I've stayed in Taiwan so long! Oh, and my lovely fiancé, Ruby, played a part in that too! As much as I love Taiwanese food, it is often difficult to talk about in English, and many of the English names below are just made-up approximations or descriptions. The following list is not in any particular order, and is by no-means complete. Taiwanese cuisine is incredibly diverse, and there is so much more out there for you to try! So, to start off, we have…

1. Marinated food lŭ wèi 滷味– I love this stuff, the sauce is amazing and you have tons of choices to choose from and create your own dish, so each time you can eat a new combination of foods. You pick everything out your self(usually) with a pair of tongs and place it in a basket for the cook, and they boil it all in a wonderfully flavored soup.

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2. Sausage with rice sausage wrap dà cháng bāo xiăo cháng 大腸包小腸– The English name I gave it sounds kinda weird, but a true translation would be stranger. "A big sausage wrapping a small sausage" sounds great in Chinese, but just weird in English, therefore I have jokingly dubbed these "Chinese hotdogs". Many stands offer lots of favors, such as wasabi, black pepper, garlic, and others. They are awesome, so go get one!

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3. Green-onion pancakes cōng zhuā bĭng 蔥抓餅– This was one of my go-to snacks when I first moved to Taiwan. They are great by themselves, but I personally always add an egg and usually corn, but other great toppings are cheese and bacon, even tuna!

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4. Red-bean popsicles hóng dòu bīng bàng 紅豆冰棒– Have I mentioned that Taiwanese people love red beans, and they are a big feature in their desserts? Try one and see if it's for you!

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5. Dumplings and fried-dumplings shuĭ jiăo 水餃 and guō tiē 鍋貼– I've eaten these regularly since I've been here, and I still love them! They are much better than anything you can get back home. An interesting side-note, fried-dumplings, which are usually called pot stickers, probably got this English name because in Chinese, means pot and means stick, go figure!

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6. Tofu pudding dòu huā 豆花豆花, which literally means "bean flower" is a great traditional dessert. Tofu is healthy, nutritious, and CHEAP, and that is why it is a big player in Chinese cuisine. I am constantly impressed with the ingenuity it took to make so many different dishes from one base ingredient! Bottom line, try it!

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7. Stinky tofu chòu dòu fŭ 臭豆腐– I hesitated to add this one, as I feel it's the most discussed Taiwanese food out there, but at the same time no list of Taiwanese culinary creations would be complete without it. 臭豆腐 is aged tofu and it stinks, literally! It comes in two forms, fried with a side of cabbage, or boiled with soup (my personal favorite), but they are both worth a try. So next time you are wandering through a night market and you venture into a pocket of stink, look around and find the stand responsible and steel your stomach!

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8. Hotpot huŏ guō 火鍋– This is my fiancé's personal favorite. The general idea is you take a ton of vegetables, and huŏ guō liào 火鍋料, ingredients especially made for hotpot, and you toss the, in boiling water and eat until you're about to explode! Served with fish, chicken, lamb, beef (meat is dipped into the boiling soup until it is cooked, then it is dipped into shā chá jiàng 沙茶醬 and eaten) and a variety of seafood fare, or even just vegetarian, served with your choice of rice, noodles, or dōng fĕn 冬粉 a type of thin noodle made from beans, hotpot makes for a great, and filling meal! Also, many restaurants include an nice selection of all you can eat ice cream!

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9. Seafood hăi xiān 海鮮– This should be a no-brainer. Taiwan is an island, and as such, you have access to higher quality, and cheaper priced seafood than you can get in the states, and it is awesome!


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10. Bubble milk tea zhēn zhū năi chá 珍珠奶茶– Also Translated more literally as "pearl milk tea", this is a Taiwanese invention that is so popular that it's hard to walk five feet down the street without passing half-a-dozen tea shops that sell the stuff. Some brands have even opened up stores in the USA, such as Come Buy. A word of warning though, it's really sweet and incredibly bad for you, so don't drink it every day!

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And, just because I'm nice, I've added an 11th food…..

*11. Mochi ma jí 嘛吉! This is probably my favorite food that I have discovered since I have lived in Taiwan, and it is definitely my favorite form of rice! 嘛吉 pronounced moa ji in Taiwanese, is a snack traditionally made by painstakingly squishing sticky rice in a big bowl with a wooden stick…it's a great form of exercise, I should know, I've done it! But nowadays, it is most-often machine-mashed. After the rice is smashed into a thick, sticky paste, it is rolled into balls and rolled around in peanut powder. There are lots of other modern flavors and styles (filling, no filling, served in a bamboo shoot, ice cream) but I love anything peanut flavored, and 嘛吉 is at the top of my list!

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So the you have it, eleven more reasons to make Taiwan your next travel destination. Enjoy!


Chinese phrases of the day:

滷味= a type of marinated food
大腸包小腸= sausage with rice sausage wrapping ("Chinese hotdogs")
蔥抓餅= green onion pancakes
紅豆冰棒= red bean popsicles
水餃= dumplings
鍋貼= fried dumplings(potstickers)
豆花= tofu pudding
臭豆腐= stinky tofu
火鍋= hotpot
火鍋料= hot pot ingredients
沙茶醬= hotpot dipping sauce
冬粉= thin noodles made from beans
海鮮= seafood
珍珠奶茶= bubble(pearl) milk tea
嘛吉= mochi


Lesson 2: Greetings

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How many times do you say hello to someone on any given day? Unless you're a hermit, or just plain rude, chances are a few times at the very least, and most likely more often than that. No matter where you are in the world, or what language is being spoken, people are saying hello to each other. They just might have different ways to do it. In the first part of this lesson, I will teach you several common Chinese greetings. Later on in part two you will be reading and listening to a dialogue in Mandarin and learning how to put these greetings into practical use. But first, let me see how much you remember from our last lesson. What is the correct English translation of 你好? A. Goodbye, B. See you later, C. Hello, D. Good luck. Everyone answered A. Goodbye, right?!? I certainly hope not. If you answered anything besides C. Hello, then you should practice lesson one for a few more days before proceeding. Have no fear! Rome wasn't built in a day (or at least that's what I hear, anyway) and Taipei 101 wasn't either!

Now let's get started!

Five Essential Greetings:

1. 早安 zăo ān = good morning
Note: 早安 is more often than not shorted to just 早, Taiwanese people especially like to cut out a lot of characters that are considered as understood in a sentence, though it's not a bad idea to practice the full phrases in the beginning.
2. 午安 wŭ ān= good afternoon
3. 吃飽了嗎? chī băo le ma?= Have you eaten?
Note: You can either answer 有, which means "have", but in this case means "yes", followed by 吃飽了(to show that you "have" eaten) or 還沒, "not yet".
4. 好久不見 hăo jiŭ bù jiàn= long time no see
5. 您好 nín hăo(formal version of 你好)= hello (formal)

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: Young Chen, hello!
xiăo chén nĭ hăo!

B: Hello Mrs. Wang. Have you eaten yet?
王太太, 你好。你吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài, nĭ hăo. nĭ chī băo le ma?

A:Not yet! I am going to buy dinner now.
hái méi a! wŏ xiàn zài qù măi wăn cān

B: Do you mind if I join you?
nà me wŏ gēn nĭ yī qĭ qù chī, hăo ma?

A: Of course!
dāng rán hăo a!

B: Awesome! In that case, what do you want to eat?
tài bàng le! nà me nĭ xiăng yào chī shén me ne?

A: I want to eat beef noodle soup.
wŏ yào chī niú ròu miàn.

B: Me too! Ahh!
wŏ yĕ shì! āi yō!

A: What's wrong?
zĕn me le?

B: I didn't bring money!
wŏ méi dài qián!

A: No problem, I'll treat you.
méi guān xi, wŏ lái qĭng kè.

B: Thank you! Next time it's my turn to treat!
謝謝你的! 下一次換我來請!
xiè xiè nĭ de! xià yī cì huàn wŏ lái qĭng!

Culture Note: in Chinese, nick names for younger people are often formed by adding 小 in front of a surname, i.e. 小陳 for small(or young) Chen.

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. 誰要去買晚餐?
shéi yào qù măi wăn cān?

2. 王太太吃飽了嗎?
wáng tài tài chī băo le ma?

3. 他們很喜歡吃牛肉麵嗎?
tā men hĕn xĭ huān chī niú ròu miàn ma?

4. 誰沒帶錢?
shéi méi dài qián?

5. 小陳要請客嗎?
xiăo chén yào qĭng 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. 還沒= not yet
2. 現在= now
3. 那麼= then/in that case
4. 跟你一起…= Do…with you
5. 好嗎?= Okay?
6. 當然= of course
7. 太棒了= Awesome!
8. 想要= want
9. 什麼?= what?
10. 我也是= me too
11. 怎麼了?= What's wrong?
12. 沒關係= no problem
13. 謝謝= thank you/thanks

Unconditional Love


That's what our animals give us, right? But how do we repay them? Recently, with rabies, or kuángquǎnbìng 狂犬病 as it is called in Mandarin, resurfacing in Taiwan, the media and government have blown things way out of proportion. When it was originally found in the ferret-badger, an animal that is eaten by the aboriginal people in the mountains, people went nuts.

Now, I can understand that people were worried. I mean, we are talking about a disease that hasn't been seen on the island in around 50 years, but the poor treatment of domestic animals like dogs and cats that followed was quite unnecessary. But I don't want to dwell on the negative side of the coin, because it's ugly and depressing, and if that's what you wanted to read about, you'd have just picked up a local newspaper or turned on the TV.

In the West, we have the idea that our pets are our family members, and while people in some places in the world may have, and are entitled to their own views on the role animals play in their culture, and some even view cats and dogs as food(something that i don't agree with, but this is not the issue here) I want to assure you that that's is ILLEGAL in Taiwan.

I feel that a growing percentage of Taiwanese people(my future wife and her family included) take the status of pets in the family to a whole new level! My girl cooks more meals for my dog and cat than she does for me!


(Here are the dogs eating their gourmet meal)

My fiancé's sister has saved multiple dogs and found them homes, most recently a cute poodle mix named Lulu, and we practically feed a family of cats and stray dogs in the neighborhood on a daily basis. Heck, our cat Pumpkin(what can I say, he's big round and orange!) was a poor whelp of a street cat when we found him while riding our bikes around near the Taipei City Hall, not far from the famed Taipei 101.

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(Left: Pumpkin shortly after we found him, Right: Pumpkin now, over a year later…That boy can eat!)

The pet industry is a booming business here as many pet-owners spend tons of money pampering their pooch with food, clothing, accessories, toys…and the list goes on and there are always new devices coming out. Pet salons are all over the place, and a self-wash pet grooming facility recently opened up over by the RT Mart in the Zhongyuan area in Zhongli City. Now, I know we've all heard of DIY car washes, but I thought this was a really awesome and unique idea!

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(Left: Our "children" traveling in style Right: Check out this giant standard poodle, now take a look at Popcorn!)

Heck, there are dog restaurants and hotels where they can go on vacation and get pampered! And if you have a sweet tooth, there is even a dog bakery along the side of all the pet stores at the Tonghua Night Market on Keelung Rd., not far from the Liuzhangli MRT station in Taipei.


(Popcorn's first birthday cake. They were out of 1s, but do you think she complained?)

Most large pet stores have vets, shòuyī 獸醫 in them and health care for your pets is readily available, and affordable. Check out a coming article on how to take your dog or cat to for a check-up with the vet in Taiwan, including what vocabulary you may need to be able to communicate with the staff and what to expect.

Every year there are also numerous pet shows and exhibitions, the most famous of which takes place in the Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei. We took our dog there a few times, and it was really fun.

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(They had a swimming pool at the pet exhibition…Popcorn went skinny-dipping!)

Some people may be uneducated, or uncompassionate towards animals, there are people like that everywhere and Taiwan is not an exception. But when you think about Taiwan (or any other place really) try to remember the good things first and foremost.

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Chinese phrases of the day:

kuángquǎnbìng 狂犬病= rabies

shòuyī 獸醫= Veterinarian



Hello everyone!

My name is Logan, and for the past four and a half years I have been living in Taiwan. Life as an expat is never dull, and is full of both challenges and rewarding life experiences. Over the years I have gained a lot of insight into Chinese culture and way of thought, as well an above average command of the language. But a lot of my knowledge has come  the hard way, though luckily for you, your's doesn't have to! I will be updating advice on how to get around in Taiwan, what to expect and how to cope with the cultural differences you will encounter…basically anything and everything that is Taiwan. I would love to hear from my readers, and encourage you to post any questions you may have and I will answer them as quickly as I can! Taiwan has changed my life in more ways than one, and I hope the same will happen for all of you.

Thank you for reading.