Update on Vegetarian Poll


I know all of you are just dying to know what the vote is at for Rika to become an omnivore.

As of 3 minutes ago, Vegetarian is at 16, while EAT MEAT is at 28. I think the vegetarians need to step it up a level. But we have some passionate meat-lovers out there. The deadline in January 21, Chinese New Year.

Advantages of Eating Meat.

Advantages of Vegetarianism

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!


A very happy Christmas to all of you, where ever you are! We are back at work after taking Friday off in celebration of a lovely holiday. I have to say, as much as I've always hated the commercialism of the Christmas season in America, there has been a small piece of me that's craved a big line to see Santa in a crowded sweaty mall, emails begging me to remember the "true" meaning of Christmas, and cheesy dress-up parties and vintage grandma Christmas sweaters. Don't get me wrong, Taiwan definitely makes an attempt at gaining a hold of the commercialized spirit, but it just isn't quite up to the standards of the grandiose US of A.

Alright, I'll get off my little soapbox. We celebrated Christmas by celebrating America by making our favorite American food for breakfast: burritos. Mmmm...nothing says, I love my country like a big burrito filled with Costco salsa. I attempted to make cinnamon rolls but their mood like mine and went a little flat on Christmas day, but everyone still graciously ate them. We watched the Survivor finale and fought like family about whether Russell should have won or if Natalie really did woo people with her subtle social efforts.

And then we went to Ikea. I don't really want to talk about this. Let's just say, my curtains didn't quite fit, and Aaron and I aren't allowed to shop together at Ikea anymore. Our dinner was delicious. And now I have earned myself another trip to Ikea to take the curtains back. I'll say it, just for you Aaron-you were right, I should have measured first. Savor those words, man!

Happy Holidays to you all!


Rika and Aaron

The Great Dilemma


Hello everyone,

In recent weeks, I have been running into the same problem over and over. It's food. Every time Aaron and I hit the town for some food, we find that there are limited choices for me to eat as a vegetarian. And to be honest, my committment to my vegetarianism is waning because of the inconvenience of it. I am continuously taunted by the chicken satay, fishy sashimi rolls, and beef noodles. Go here for more info on local foods. At home, being a vegetarian is easy but when I tell locals this, they are surprised and confused since I'm not buddhist.

So. I thought I would make a blog, video and poll to see what you, our faithful readers, think and actually take you up on your advice. If you decide that i should embrace the culture and begin eating meat, then I will put up a video of my first chicken shishkabab. But if you believe that I should stick to my guns and stay a vegetarian, then I will eat a brick of tofu. It's all up to you! Cast your vote before Chinese New Year (February 1), and we will see what happens.

(just one stipulation-if the vote goes in the carnivorous direction, i will still adhere to the hebrew and new testament teachings about clean meat consumption-no piggies or bottom feeders, guys).

Cast your vote here!



(aaron's thoughts in parentheses)

I never knew myself to be especially sensitive to smells (I knew she was), or very skillful at sniffing out odors, but I tell you, my nostrils are on scent overload living here in Taiwan. In our apartment, after a couple of weeks, I began to detect this faint musty smell that no amount of window opening could defeat. All of our towels began to smell moldy and our closet had a hint of stinky to it.

Taiwan is extraordinarily humid-its subtropical location causes it to have high humidity year round. We discovered, after giving a moment’s thought, that opening our windows may not be the brightest idea, especially since it’s wetter outside than in. We placed small water absorbing containers around our closest after hearing horror stories about other English teachers losing favorite clothes and shoes to mildew. Within a few days, these containers were filled to the brim.

There has got to be another way, we thought, and began to scour local trading websites for a dehumidifier. Our co-worker, Travis just happened to have an old dusty dehumidifier, which he gave to us, free of charge! The only problem, is that when we plugged it in, hours later when we were fast asleep, it let off a horrible screech that we couldn’t ignore. We turned it off. Eventually (the next day, and again the next day and the day after that), Aaron did get the blasted thing fixed, by dousing the motor with grease, and our house was dry! Clothes no longer took 4 days to dry, but were crisp(crisp is right, we have to wrestle our ways into some of our clothes) in a day! My hair was easy to blow dry and stayed straight until I walked outside and heard a quiet *Pffff* as it puffed up into an afro, blindsided by humidity. (I feel compelled to tell all of you trusting readers that some facts in the story were exaggerated for the sake of good story telling, but for the most part they were accurate.)

Anyway, my point is, the humidity is only one of many sources of strange smells. We live in the Stinky Tofu capital of Taiwan, which smells like heated stale urine. It’s quite the unfortunate fragrance (But it tastes wonderful) aaron doesn't know what he's talking about-it's nasty. On the flipside though, our town is littered with mom and pop fruit stands and trucks and we are spoiled with incredible fresh fruit almost whenever we want, and it’s all of my favorites; juicy pineapple, guava, oranges, sweet grapefruit, kiwis, and passion fruit. Also, the dense vegetation gives this whole island delicious oxygen, which is especially nice after walking through Taipei, and getting blacklung from all the traffic.

I think one of the aspects of getting used to another culture is comparing seemingly mundane things, i.e., smells, with home. Or maybe that’s just me. I compare lots of other things too, but today I’ve had a mental checklist of smelly things that I experience throughout the day, probably because I’m weird, (I'm with Rika there are a lot of smelly things) but it makes walking through town even more interesting.

Dance Dance Revolution!


We are regularly inspired by people who can dance. They're everywhere! Here are 2 groups from our school who rocked our worlds this week. Unbelievable!

Speak Easy?


It's hard to believe we've already been here a month! Living in a foreign country is an extremely humbling experience, especially if it's a country with a crazy weird language like Mandarin. We really wanted to immerse ourselves in life here and hopefully pick up key phrases and eventually learn the language enough to get by. We were encouraged, before we left, by some who said, "Mandarin is easy! You'll learn it in no time!" However, we've also heard as i'm sure you have too, that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages in the world.

In learning, I can't really pin it on either extreme; it's extradordinarily complex and interesting, with a twisty combination of sing-song tones, odd sounds, and funky mouth shapes when speaking. I carry around a little yellow notebook and try to learn useful phrases that I can use in my routine. My personal favorite mini-conversation:

"Ni-how-ma?" --hi, how are you?
"ma ma hu hu" or "poo poo tung tung"--I am okay.

Love it! But you sing while you're talking, so it's like conversational karaoke.

A few months before we came to Taiwan, Aaron and I were on a city bus in Sacramento, CA, when a couple of older Chinese tourists were sitting across from us, looking confused and lost. They kept trying to ask the bus driver for directions, but couldn't speak a lick of English. The busy and preoccupied driver couldn't drive and try to help the couple, and a few people on the bus tried to tell them to sit down and be quiet. A couple guys even said, "Get off the bus and go back to your own country!" The older couple tried to hand over a cell phone with a translator on it to the bus driver, but he pulled over and told them to get out, muttering that he didn't have time for this. We were horrified and that experience continues to haunt us every day as we have become that couple.

Each day when we walk through our town and attempt to order food, ask questions, find directions, we are completely dumbfounded as to how to communicate and often resort to charades and hand motions to try to get our point across. It's actually pretty humorous to watch Aaron try to ask the hardware store man if he has a certain tool, using loud slow words and hands.

Here's the thing though; in all our attempts at talking to people, both in the country in and in the city, we have been so surprised and grateful at how helpful everyone is. If one person doesn't understand us or knows they can't help us, they will ask around and find someone who can. When I order coffee, the patient yet busy cashier will point to each and every drink on the menu until she comes to the one I want, and then apologize to me for not speaking English! I should be apologizing for living in their country and being so deficient, and yet they go out of their ways to make sure that we are taken care of.

America is not this tolerant. "Come to our country, and learn our language now, because we don't have time for you otherwise", is our motto for foreigners.

Our new school=


We came out to Taiwan originally to create a brand new school with a team of teachers. Although our school is not yet open, immigrant construction workers are building day and night to try to finish it in time for the opening the week before Christmas. If the project is not finished, then the grand opening may be pushed back until after Chinese New Year. We had a field trip to Kuolai, our school, and were absolutely memorized at the natural beauty of our new surroundings.

Have a look!
From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog

From Rikon Expedition Blog