107276183675523546 Monday, Dec 29 2003 

Greetings from Hoi An. We arrived this morning after doing an overnight trip on the train. Very interesting, but a good experience. Hoi An is a town of about 79,000 and is quite a bit smaller than Nha Trang where we spent the last two days. It was a great time with Dan and Kathie, Josh and Melissa, and Matt and Jesika – but we left them behind in Nha Trang last night.

We had a great time in Nha Trang. Yesterday we did the tour of the islands which was an all day affair, which included snorkeling and swimming, of which I did none, but the rest of them did. Dan, Jesika, Jerry and Matt all did parasailing, which was absolutely fantastic. You go up in a parasail attached to a boat and you sail into the air overlooking everything beneath. It was amazing to watch and it was amazing to be experienced – so they all said.

We have been going and going, so I am hoping that we will have some that is not quite as hurried. Jerry is not feeling the best, so is having a little nap. Sleeping on the train is an experience in itself. However, I was so tired I fell asleep before anybody else went to bed. We had a sleeper compartment for 4 which turned out fine as the 4th person was a Professor of Economics in the UK, so we had some very interesting conversations this morning. Jerry was up early and, of course, was talking to everyone in our coach.

Today we will be hitting the tailor shops. Tamara has already ordered a jacket, which should be extremely attractive. The price is right, so will see if I will get anything made. To stay in Vietnam is very, very cheap – both for food, lodging and transportation. I cannot believe what a Canadian dollar will purchase. See all kinds of people, both the rich and the very poor. Will probably assimilate all I have seen once I am back home and have time to ponder another part of the world.

This will do for now. I have had trouble posting, but hopefully this will post. It is December 30th here in Hai An.

Will post again soon. Miss you all!

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107262152406824840 Sunday, Dec 28 2003 

Just a short note to let everyone know that we are fine and alive. I did a post yesterday but it did not publish. We are having a great time in Vietnam. So much to see and experience and so little time. We are heading to Hoi An tomorrow night taking the overnight train from Hna Trang. That should be interesting. Tomorrow will be our last day with Matt and Jesika. It does not seem possible that this part of our trip is over. The days have literally flown by. Trust all is fine with everyone out there on the other side of the globe. Do not know when I will publish again. Happy New Year!

107253181348219241 Saturday, Dec 27 2003 

Greetings from NHA TRANG, Vietnam. We have not dropped off the end of the world. We have been experiencing things we never thought we would ever see, hear or feel. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh on December 20th after some fun with changing planes in Taipei. We arrived at our hotel without a scratch, which was quite a feat.

The driving in Vietnam is something I have and probably will never experience again. Matt and Jesika arrived the morning we arrived, but surprised us by jumping out of a closet into the room where we were visiting with Dan and Kathie. Josh and Melissa, Josh is Jesika’s brother, arrived the next day so we have all been together since then.

We spent Christmas at a beautiful resort with wonderful sun and fantastic waves. Our time there was just amazing. We have seen and experienced a different way of life and culture. We will never be the same.

I have been writing everything down in my journal and Jerry has been taking lots of pictures. It is impossible to write down in one small excerpt all we have experienced.

We just wanted to let you know that we are alive and kicking. Computer access was very limited prior to this point. We are sunburned and getting rounder with all the wonderful bakery goods and ice cream we have been dipping into. The beaches and ocean are fantastic and we are enjoying them to the fullest.

Trust you all had a wonderful Christmas season. We have been thinking lots about you and wondering what the weather is like.

We will be here for a couple of days and then Jerry, Tamara and I are heading up to Hoi An where we hope to get some tailoring done and do some excursions as well.

We wish you all a marvelous Christmas and New Year Season.

107182503038811987 Friday, Dec 19 2003 

It’s 4 o’oclock in the afternoon on Friday 19th, Gloria woke up with a migrane(just what I needed); now I have to type my own dictation. Yesterday was another awesome(small ‘a’ Libby) day. Went out for supper with Tamara after walking for miles trying to find an Indian restaurant she knew about only to find out from a local english speaking gent that it had moved. Anyway he recommended a Chinese-Japanese restaurant called, I think Tokyo City: two chicken, shrimp, vegatable, and fried rice dishes later we were back on the packed streets of Kaohsuing loaded with vendors of all kinds. Since Tamara had to back to work, Gloria and I went to the heart of downtown were the old and the new stand next to one another. The oppulence in the newer mega stores is incredable. Every designer and cosmetics name you can think of is located there. Most of the names I can’t pronounce and they’re not Chinese. Went up to the 17th floor of the Mega Building (owned by the Warner Bros.) to the outdoor patio to look at all the lights of the city. Smog was so thick that it felt like I was smoking a Cuban cigar. Every retail outlet that we entered we were subjected to SARS skin temperature tests. Good way to check to see if the chick next to you is ‘hot’. Gloria will like that; I may have to post this before she reads it. Then at ten in the evening we(Gloria, Tamara and friends and I) went to the premier showing of The Lord of Rings 3. Not bad. Three or three and a half hours later we screaming down the city streets with “Mario Andretti” to see if we could get back to the apartment by two in the morning. Are these drivers afraid that their taxis are going turn to orange at two? Sure don’t have to worry about being constipated. When we got out of the theater the place was packed for the next showing at two. What a life some of these people lead.
Gloria just poked her head around the corner; sure doesn’t look like the same chick I was out with last night. Need some prayer for that woman because we’ve got about 7 to 8 hours of flying tomorrow.

Scooter Story – I’ve only been here a few days but have accumulated enough scooter stories to do “soap” series. Not sure what I’d call it maybe THE RED SCOOTER. Anyway, we’ve have a fair bit of dirty laundry piling up so it’s off to the laundry lady to do my washing. I’m following Tom who is on another scooter and each of us have laundry piled in big 60 liter costco bags in front of us at our feet. Well, my 50cc scooter is no match for Tom’s 125cc, so I’m doing my best to keep up. The problem is that my knees keep hitting the handle bars where my hands are located. So every now and then my knee hits the throttle, generally when I’m in a turn. I’m making my two point turn(if you don’t know what that is – comment and I’ll reply), I end up accelerating and braking at the same time and go into this graceful slide into second base. After picking up my laundry, ego and myself I’m off with herd of people down another street. ASIDE: I haven’t told my chick about this. I’ve always been currious whether she reads her own blog. Back to the story. Now two of us dropped off the laundry but only one of us is going to pick it up. Now this is were THE RED SCOOTER part 2 would come in. However I won’t make you wait because I may not see another computor till we’re home. Off I go to pick up the laundry thinking I should make two trips not just one. The gracious non-english speaking chinese laundry lady(nescll) saw my predicament and helped me pack the front of the scooter up to my chest. I guess you’ve gathered that this will only be one trip. Now if I could only find a place to put my feet. I’m packed in so tight, my knees are sticking a way out into the traffic. The Lord saw some humour in this. What should pass me but a local scooter with two 4 foot long 6×6 posts sitting across his bike. That guy must be an idiot. Made it home safely. Sure is fun.

107172573693216010 Wednesday, Dec 17 2003 

It appears that I am an unique feature in this Asian culture! I would like to think that the local people revere me as a movie star, but I know that isn’t true. I am the only one that is blond haired, 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds. I am indeed an oddity and many of the kids take a look at me and then poke their mothers and then they look as well so I can imagine what they have told their mothers and it reminded me of being in the Arctic 35 years ago where the people saw blond hair for the first time or what they called “yellow hay”. But what I have found yet in general the people are very accepting, kind and friendly. Great environment to be around! Looking forward to moving on to the next culture and hopefully more scooters!!!

10717253417240145 Wednesday, Dec 17 2003 

Jerry’s blog

Most of you know that I hate charades! But visiting Kaohsiung is like a game of charades! Most people don’t understand English and I can’t speak Chinese so everything is communicated by pointing and acting out our requests. All acknowledgements are communicated by the nod of the head or a smile – the smile is most effective. It is good to know the simple Chinese phrases like “shie-shie”; “ching”; “dwee”; “nee-hao” which are “thank you”; “please”; “yes”; and “hello”.

Scooter Story

Oh for the scooter story – Tamara’s 50CC scooter is probably just good enough for someone who is 200 pounds or less, but when you put an inexperienced driver plus a passenger you have now exceeded what it was created for! Plus the fact the traffic lights are on the opposite of the intersections that I am accustomed to and because it is legal to drive in any direction if you see a hole in the traffic, you can see has the ingredients of potential disaster. Tamara and I found ourselves in the middle of 50 scooters all heading in the same direction through a narrow tunnel which requires the drivers to funnel from the width of 12 feet to a width of about 6 feet. The only way I could see through it was to “floor it”!! The idea is to anticipate the change in the light so that you can get a step ahead of the person beside you and then quickly cut him off, only to find that at the next intersection the person you cut off is “cussing” you in Chinese. I think he said “stupid Mennonite”!!! But it is a blast! Not many 56 year olds would venture out into such ordered chaos.

Purchasing

Electronic equipment doesn’t appear to be a huge saving. The City is divided off into retail sections – you’ll have a whole street or area selling nothing but electronic equipment and in another area you may find nothing but mechanical repairs. Therefore, if a person wanted to, he could go from retail outlet to retail outlet and try to find the best price. However, not being able to speak the language it is pretty hard to barter. Anyway did manage to purchase a spare battery for my camera so that when we get to Vietnam I will not run out of power. Tamara picked up a small MP3 Player and we both managed to get what we needed without the need of someone to speak English to us.

Hair wash

Had my hair done today – it seemed like the “redneck” thing to do. The Chinese girls do not speak any English but we know that they really appreciated Gloria, Tamara and I coming down and have our hair washed and our heads, shoulders and necks “kneaded”. What a great feeling! Coop I would love to see you in there having your hair washed!!!!!

We are going to the premiere showing of The Lord of the Rings III tonight. I hope it is in English!!!! However, I had trouble understanding what was said in The Lord of the Rings II, so it won’t make much difference.

Yesterday, Wednesday, was our down day – needed to get caught up on our sleep and energy. Life in Kaohsiung only starts about 10:00 in the morning and then runs to all hours of the night. For an early morning person, this is not good. So on occasion I have been noted to catch a nap, even if it happens at a church service! Gloria and I went for a walk to a local bakery and we proceeded to sample 4 different kinds of baking. The texture and softness of the pastry is hard to describe. What I do know they use a significant amount of “olive oil”. Flavour of all the pastry is distinctively different and hard to describe, though I would not have a problem getting used to it.

Last night Gloria and I met Tamara after she finished work and then went for supper with Melissa Wriston. The restaurant is typically what you probably would have seen in setting in some small Asian town in a movie. It is a bar type setting with the restaurant located on the sidewalk outside the building with awnings, heaters, but with satellite TV. The game between Vancouver and Pittsburgh was televised. They served sort of Western style food with a distinctive Asian flavouring – I am not sure what spice they used.

107162779438373939 Tuesday, Dec 16 2003 

Taiwanese Hospitality

Tamara’s good friend Jesse had us out last night to her parent’s restaurant. Now there is a huge harbour at Kaohsiung and some of the world’s biggest container ships come into the harbour. Well this restaurant is right on the water on the channel that brings these big ships into the harbour. Jesse’s parent are Taiwanese and we sat on the deck of the restaurant to enjoy an amazing meal and watch the huge ships come into harbour.

Tamara warned me ahead of time that this would be the kind of meal that the Taiwanese people eat, so to be ready for all the seafood. Well it was amazing. We all went to the front of the restaurant to pick out the live fish we wanted to have cooked and served. I had decided before I went that I would try everything and that I would only eat with the chopsticks and no fork. Very interesting! This is how our meal went: first course fried rice full of every kind of vegetable you could imagine – Tamara’s favorite. Then came the shrimp – eyes and all – and Jesse broke mine out of the shell and then we dipped them in the most delicious ginger sauce I have ever eaten. Then rice noodles with pumpkin; greens; cabbage; oysters (only thing I couldn’t put into my mouth – tried many times, but chickened out in the end); mussels; barbacued fish (forgot the name, Jerry will know); deep fried squid; crab – which we also had to shell; all delicious and over the top. We ate the whole meal with our chopsticks and by the end of the meal, Jerry and I nearly had to have a shower. That was not an easy meal to eat for us amateur chopstick users!! The meal was ended off with cut up yam pieces in a delicious sugar sauce – you picked up a piece of the yam and then dipped it into ice water so the sugar sauce hardened around the piece of yam – delicious.

It was a great evening that we enjoyed with Tamara’s friends, Shannon, Ellie, Jesse, Amy, Terry and Jerry and I.

Taxi ride home

It was around 12:40 am when we decided to leave. We needed a taxi so we called for one and he arrived with fervour. By the time we got into the taxi it was aboaut 12:50 am and Tamara’s friend Jesse told him the address to go to. He nodded that he knew, but in reality, as he started driving we realized he didn’t have a clue. Tamara was trying in her very limited Chinese to tell him where to go, but to no avail. I always keep a copy of Tamara’s address written in Chinese in my purse, so we gave this to him and off we went. Well, I have never experienced a taxi ride like that in my life. He had it to the floor going on the wrong side of the road, flying through red lights, careening down narrow streets and going around corners like you wouldn’t believe. I kept my eyes straight ahead on the road so I didn’t lose the wonderful meal I had just eaten. Tamara figured he must be off work at 1:00 am so wanted to get rid of us as fast as possible. We arrived at our apartment at 12:59 am. The taxi stopped and Jerry said “Thank you Lord”.

Another day in the Reimers life in Kaohsiung. I think Jerry and I will rest a little today. Yesterday morning Jerry and Tom went to Monkey Mountain and Jerry ran up about 1500 steps. He was pretty tired yesterday, but both he and Tom are gone this morning – I am wondering if Jerry is trying to prove again that he is only 25……

107155814123159529 Tuesday, Dec 16 2003 

Hair Wash Experience

We slept in this morning as we went to the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean” last night after going to the night market here in Kaohsiung and didn’t get home until 1:15 am – there were all of 6 of us in the movies theatre and we could bring our own food in to eat and drink!

Went for a coffee at Starbucks this morning and then proceeded back to our apartment building where Jerry, Tamara and I had a hair wash. Now that was a new experience! You sit down in the chair before the mirror and they proceed to massage your shoulders, neck and the top of your arms – awesome. Then they move to your head – they soap your hair at the chair and then proceed to massage your head and neck – something else. This goes on for about 45 minutes and then they take you to the sink to rinse your hair and do a little more massage. You are then taken back to the chair and they blow dry your hair and style it. I think I am going to do that every morning while here as the salon is on the bottom floor of our apartment building. The cost of this hour of personal treatment was $5.00 – yes five bucks!!!! Pretty cool, eh!!!

107148145109204992 Monday, Dec 15 2003 

This blog is from Jerry: I should have brought Gloria’s car; the only car similar in Taiwan that I have seen was a burnt brown Le Baron. But Gloria’s car would fit in perfectly in Kaohsiung. It’s unique, it’s yellow, and the only other yellow cars in Kaohsiung are taxis; because the streets are bumper to bumper with cars there is no requirement to exceed 50 km/hr.

I have seen many scooters that have had 3 and 4 people on them including what looked like all their worldly belongings, but nothing could have matched the sight of Chester and myself going down a crowded narrow street at 70 km/hr – can you imagine what that splat would look like!!!!

Everyone says that when I come back I’ll never be the same. That’s right. What I have learned already is that I’ll never again use my middle index finger, honk my horn, or accelerate when someone is trying to pass me when I am traveling on Circle Drive. What we see here is organized chaos but without egotistical malicious drivers. When’s the last time you’ve seen hundreds of scooters cutting between cars without so much as a honk of horn or an upraised finger in Saskatoon – but then again when have you seen scooters in Saskatoon!!!

107148062460153565 Monday, Dec 15 2003 

Tamara’s Taiwanese friend, Vivian, hooked up with us for our last afternoon in Taipei. She had us riding the bus, which was an experience, and we went to the Night Market. There is no words to capture the sights and smells of the night market. The tofu they eat smells like “smelly socks” that have laid around for a few days and are a little moldy. There were hundreds of booths of every kind of food and merchandise you could want. Alot of the time while walking by some booths I tried not to breathe. The sights of jellied duck blood, duck heads, and other parts were quite something. I did not have the stomach to try some of that stuff. We tried candied strawberries which were delicious; ginger tea which stung your throat when you drank it – it was pretty good; tried some deep fried bread which was wrapped around some ground pork and covered with chives and spices – took a couple of bites – but couldn’t finish it.

At this night market you are shoulder to shoulder with people. You walk along with the crowd and when they stop, you stop. Jerry was the biggest guy around so everybody was looking at him – again we were the only foreigners. Very interesting! It was great to have Vivian with us as she explained everything and knew what to take and what not to take. Jerry had a glass of watermelon juice – very good. They are really into health products of all kinds – drinking grass tea for your liver – to certain fruit juices which affect certain organs of your body.

All in all, this was a very good experiential day. We have been enjoying ourselves immensely.

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