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Published: January 15th 2010
Grace :Loves Chicken Feet
She just posed for this shot actually, but will eat chicken feet and heads.
While I was in Taiwan, I called Dan Conrad to wish him Happy Birthday and he asked: What did you eat for breakfast?
These kinds of simple questions aren't what I write about much, but I bet that some of you are interested, so here goes.
Well, I had to tell him that I ate some sliced and peeled apples and a bowl of Raisin Bran. That's not very interesting and not what Grace's family ate either. See the picture of Jean Fu reaching for rice for a more interesting meal. You can see how his breakfast was a 7-course feast. He starts with a bowl of rice and adds a spoon from some of the other dishes which were pork, squid, eggs, cabbage, mackerel or tofu. I bet only three of the dishes were freshly made by Amee - the Indonesian helper who takes care of Grace's mother. The other dishes were leftovers from previous meals. If we didn't finish the dish at an earlier meal, it was brought out for the next meal until it got eaten.
I have some other pictures of food posted too. Two of Grace's friends own several
Breakfast with Jean Fu
Grace's younger brother is scooping rice into his bowl for breakfast. The other dishes that he'll add to the bowl are (Clockwise from the top): stringy pork with white vegetable, greens with tofu, pork soup, ommellete, fried cabbage, mackeral, and octupus with green veggies. The three dishes to the right are fresh and the rest are leftovers.
Japanese restaurants. One is very successful and I took a picture of their curried pork with an egg on it. For my going away dinner, we ate at a really nice Japanese BBQ grill where you cook your own food. I also have a picture of some soup that had some nice mushrooms in it. We had that while we were camping in the Taiwan mountains with her friends.
Camping with Steven and Friends
Only a few of Grace's friends are fluent in English and one of them is Steven. I took a picture of him in the last blog post with Grace leading him to his bus. He's a very exceptional man and wasn't born blind either. He was a successful businessman and was the breadwinner for his family after his father passed away. His life mirrors my sister Karen's in that he has 4 sisters and no brothers, so he was surrounded by women while Karen was surrounded by men.
Anyway, he started dating some super-hot girl that he met and went out dancing with her. He was surprised when someone knocked on his door at 4am one morning. He opened the door and
Breakfast at the Tsai House
Here's a typical breakfast at the Tsai house - several small dishes that are served at any meal. Amee, the Indonesian helper makes a couple of dishes every meal and they eat leftovers from previous meals as well. The dishes start with stir-fried cabbage on top, then some greens, tomatoes with eggs, clams and finally the soup.
someone threw a bucket of industrial chemicals in his face that blinded him and melted the skin off of much of his body. Chemical or acid burns are one way to get revenge or make a statement in Chinese society ( I've never heard of western people doing it anyway). People speculate that the girl he was dating had something to do with the Hong Kong mafia and that this was their way of telling him to keep away. No one ever saw her again...
This didn't slow Steven down though. He has been the blind leading the blind since then. He's been running massage and reflexology centers for blind masseuses since then. He's gotten a national award for his leadership and has changed the lifes of many blind people. He told me how he'd left the blind massage company a few years ago to start his own massage company. The old massage company ran into financial problems though and they recently asked him to return to get the company financially sound again. They've seen sales jump 20% in the last year since his return.
We went camping with him and two of his sisters one weekend. Chou
We danced and listened to music for several hours on our first night of camping.
bought his electronic keyboard and was the main music maker, but Steven plays guitar and sings as well. Everybody sang and some of us danced -including Steven and me. He's married and has two lovely daughters - continuing his fate of being surrounded by women. He's the leader of the camping troupe and has gotten both of his sisters into going into the Taiwanese mountains at least once a month.
Taiwanese Real Estate
We've been looking into mountain real estate as an investment in Taiwan and it doesn't look good. The first place we looked was the most expensive. For an acre of orange trees on a hill, we'd have to spend about $200,000USD! You can see the location on the map where it is the point farthest to the northeast. We thought this might be expensive because it is fairly close to the freeway and Taipei. We went farther down the map though and found other properties for about $150,000/acre.
We thought we'd even get more remote and called an agent in some fairly remote mountains. The agent drove us up a windy, one-lane road until we got to the top of the mountain. The
Here we are on the top of the mountain above the campground. A road went all the way to the top where they had done logging and replanted cedars.
Jerry is on the left, then Skyler, U-Dong and I.
owner of the mountain had developed four half-acre lots of land and was selling them for about $90,000USD/each. This was some land up a ridiculously steep road that didn't have any modern conveniences within miles - and they still wanted a load of money for a flat lot.
I asked them who is paying for this land and they said wealthy tourists who want a place in the mountains. The word on the street is that many Chinese and Hong Kongese are buying land and driving the price of Taiwan real estate to unheard of prices. We thought we might be able to find some deals, but not while China's economy is glowing red hot.
Taiwanese entrepreneurs own over 70,000 factories in China, so many of the profits that come from China are actually being funneled back into Taiwan. One out of 7 Taiwanese owns a business, so they are extreme entrepreneurs. Taiwan had a per person GDP of about $33,000 in 2008. Considering that in 1962 they had a per capita GNP or about $170, you could say that they've done pretty well for themselves over the last 4 decades.
Taiwan was equivalent to the Congo
U-Dong is descending back down a trail of steps to our campsite.
in 1962 and now Taiwan is developing technology like the Droid cell phone, and the two largest semiconductor manufacturing plants in the world. Meanwhile, the Congo has almost doubled their standard of living to a GDP to $328 and is ravaged by war. An interesting comparison could be made between how two countries that have gone incredibly different ways in less than my lifetime.
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