120. Can you imagine doing this for a living?

August 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Guards at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

No movement.  Not even an eye-blink.

But if you watch closely you see the inevitable sway of breath.


119. Hello again real world

August 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

Hi there, internet and virtual and societal world.  I’m back after a weeklong hiatus from you.

Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Just completed a temple stay/seminar/tour with Fo Guang Shan monastery in Southern Taiwan.  Many experiences.  Many people, many monks.  Many meals.  Quite busy.  Quite ridiculous – quite memorable.

There were many moments in which I thought “I can’t believe this is my life” or “I’ve got to be one of the luckiest girls in the world” or “Wtf did I get myself into this time?”  :)

And now, I’m ready to tread my next step.

My experiences during the past week add a nice finishing touch to my yearlong wanderings and ponderings.  They confirm the progress I have made, the progress I have yet to make, and the progress that comes next.

I could write pages and pages about the past couple of days – but I won’t.  Instead, I leave you with a quote that overarches my experiences:

“Where did you go? — Fo Guang Shan in Taiwan.

What did you do there?  — Attended a seminar on Life and Ch’an.

What have you gained? — I have not lost anything had I never went.

…So why did you go? — I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t go.”

-Venerable Hsing Yuen

 * * * * *

Except the thing is that I did gain moments and snippets of significance :)

Group #4 of the 2011 seminar on life and Ch’an.  An international group consisting of Korean-Americans, Caucasian-Americans, South Africans, Hong Kongese-Beligians, Malaysians, Guatemalans, French-Taiwanese, Filipino/as, Taiwanese-Australians, etc etc etc.   

* * * * *

And now I’m off one boat and heading straight toward another — I literally just checked into my guesthouse in Taipei where I’ll prepare for a job interview I’m having in six hours (@ 2AM here) via Skype.

Dear self, jia you.

@ Xiao Yehliu, Taiwan

…and one more pic.  Cute monastic:

118. Taroko-a-go-go

August 4, 2011 § 4 Comments

On my second day in Taiwan, I visited Taroko National Park, located near the city of Hualien and full of gorgeous gorges and beautifully powerful mountains and fine-tuned natural art and soulfully deep rivers and breezy quietly fresh caves.  I was so happy that my whole body was singing for joy.  I didn’t know that was even capable of happening.  Seriously.  The more I spend time in nature, the more I realize how much I am connected with it and adore it and am energized by it.

So much better than Disneyland.

…and take a look at this ridiculous pair of trees!  The skinnier one on the left completely wrapped itself all over and around the thicker one.  Is this what love is?  lol.  Click image to enlarge.

* * * * *

Ended the day with a beautiful bicycle ride along the beach of Taiwan’s eastern coast.

And uh…this is kind of embarrassing but I’ve had the following dinner for two days in a row now: a microwavable boxed meal of rice, chicken, tofu, egg, and pork from 7-11.  Honestly though, I think I enjoy it so much because it offers a kimchi-like spicy cabbage substance. I guess I need some time to wean myself off of Korean food…

Boxed Taiwanese meal from 7-11

And this is for you JShay: Hualien mua-gee!  Commonly known as ‘mochi’ to westerners, it is a soft and glutinous rice ball filled with deliciousness.  It’s like an Asian version of the Dunkin Donuts munchkin with filling.  I purchased two varieties: (1) sesame-filled and (2) red bean-filled.  For your viewing pleasure:

Hualien Mochi. Yums.

Another thing I love about Taiwan: endless varieties of bottled unsweetened teas.  YUM.

Bottles of unsweetened tea galore!

…that being said, I am also obsessed with the slightly sweeter milk tea here.

And, I’m a sucker for odd design so here’s some bottled coffee that looks like shampoo:

Post-meal beverage or hair product?

* * * * *

On a somewhat unrelated note…as predicted before (click here for link), I got past the initial screening for the latest job I applied for.  I have been working on the secondary application and am waiting to confirm a phone interview.  Yay?  Yikes?  I don’t know, no comment.  I’m trying not to be happy because I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.  Or is it eggs?

via animals.desktopnexus.com

* * * * *

Anyways, back to physical location.  Tomorrow I’ll be taking a 5-hour train to Kaohsiung, a city on the southern tip of Taiwan.  For the following couple of days I’ll be participating in a seminar on a mountaintop temple – internet availability is questionable so it might be a couple days until the next post.

Enjoy your today and have a pleasant tomorrow!


117. Hello Hualien! A fine start and an artsy mood

August 2, 2011 § 3 Comments


Got an upgrade to business class on my way to Taiwan.  Unnaturally, I wrote a hybrid poem-slash-rap about it. Enjoy.

Free upgrade to business class –

Got a plush seat under my ass;

Plenty of leg room I can do some

yoga up in here.

Champagne and orange juice in

fancy glasses always near.

Coat rack on the seats,

Good-looking flight attendants with

pitter-patter feet.

Girl next to me with duty-free galore is

flipping her hair and

flipping through magazines and

flipping through iphone tabs and

flipping tray tables and

flip flip flip flip flip.


Pitter-patter pitter-patter: “Excuse me miss,

would you care for some fine dime wine?” >:D

The seat-control panel for fancy people.  Wtf mate, does this make intuitive sense to anybody?

* * * * *

After my flight to Taipei I hopped on a train to Hualien, a coastal city located in northeastern Taiwan.  Three hours on the train and I didn’t feel sleepy, didn’t feel like reading or writing, and didn’t even feel like daydreaming!  I eventually found myself doodling  ^^

[edited: after reconsidering, I removed my last doodle because it was pushing the envelope for a completely public audience.  Thanks for understanding!  ^^]

* * * * *

Today was weird.  I was compelled to write poems and draw all day.  I almost felt possessed.  And I haven’t drawn in a long time so it was nice to see that I still had it within me :)

Anyways.  Here’s your first glimpse from Taiwan: a view of the eastern coast out into the Pacific Ocean.  The image does reality no justice at all because in reality the view is infinitely expansive and the gorgeous colors suck the life out of you and an automatic “WOW” escapes your lips as you start feeling all giddy inside.  It was a naturally-occurring larger-than-life-size Photoshop gradient with a million more fine-tuned colors illuminated by a shower of shimmering light.  ART IS NOTHING COMPARED TO NATURE.  NOTHING I SAY!!!!  :)

Okay people.  I’ve been commuting all day and my body is going to throw a fit if I sit still any longer.  Off I go to explore some more Connie/Jason/Julie-land.


Enjoy your day  :)

115. I am the boy who cried wolf

July 30, 2011 § 4 Comments

I am the boy who cried wolf – with a slight modification: I am the girl who cried ‘I’m going back to America!’

…because now I’ll be making a quick stop in Taiwan.

Lotus Lake in Kaohsiung, Taiwan (source: http://placepoint.files.wordpress.com)

I’ll be spending two weeks on the island also known as Formosa (‘beautiful’ in Portugese) to travel and attend a seminar on Ch’an.


…I think.

This trip was quite unexpected and last-minute — I’m still wrapping my head around the idea.  Honestly, I feel hesitant to spend more time doing yet again another trip/program that plays an unknown (if any) role in my career development and life goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite excited for this trip.  It’s not everyday that I get to visit a new country with half my expenses provided for, to learn about Ch’an, and to meet people from all over the world (special thanks to RT + 姐姐!).  In addition, many of my college friends have Taiwanese roots and I finally get to visit their land of historic origin!  I’m totally looking forward to walking around in the streets amongst hundreds of Julies Jasons Scotts Connies and Shars. :)

As much as I’m looking forward to Taiwan, I can’t help feeling a nagging pull of incredulousness.  Really, Song-I, again?  It’s been over a year since you graduated.  Aren’t you done with this ridiculous “soul-searching” of yours?  Aren’t you long overdue to join your peers who are already receiving promotions, salary raises, med school acceptances, and PhD candidacies?  Get practical Song-I.  Set specific goals.  Join reality.   Choose a fucking career already.

* * * * *

…Wow.  The f-bomb does add a touch of drama doesn’t it?

Seriously though.  I don’t know if my prolonged return to the ‘real world’ is a result of procrastination or comprehensive deliberation or last-minute decision-making or slow-and-steady musing.  Or maybe it’s a resistance to growing up or an insistence on staying young.  Or maybe I’m overly insecure or maybe I’m too self-confident.

…or maybe I just dislike cubicles.

* * * * *

But thanks to the past year, I’ve realized that the experiences you open yourself to shape your being.  I feel myself becoming a slightly different person with every positive experience I foster and negative experience I learn from.  Each person you meet, each experience you cultivate, molds you like the finger swipes of a skilled potter.

But the problem is that I don’t know what my mold looks like yet.  Right now, I’m just a bit more than a lump spinning around on the wheel, silently praying that my potter is skilled and that I turn out okay.

I hope my experiences are molding me into something decent and useful.  Maybe even beautiful.  And I hope that I am gaining a momentum that will carry me into the future with grace, passion, and lots of laughter along the way.

* * * * *

I’m determined to make this last trip before returning to the States a memorable and meaningful one that lots of good come out of.   And I’ll be munching on lots of bubble tea and mango shaved ice on the way.  Dear friends and acquaintances and non-lovers and anonymous readers, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I venture off into another wtf-where-is-this-leading situation :)

* * * * *

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