Musings of a Gaijin MD

Life in Japan as a Foreign Doctor

The Ihla Formosa May 30, 2012

Filed under: Sightseeing — GaijinMD @ 8:52 AM
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Given the strategic location for trading of Japan’s previous colony, Taiwan, or Ihla Formosa (beautiful island) as the Portuguese dubbed it, it has undergone a tumultuous history with the initial aboriginal inhabitants, then Chinese settlers/governing, then “discovered” by the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, a little bit of Spanish rule, back to Chinese, on to the Japanese for about 50 years, and now the present-day Taiwan, Republic of China, not to be confused with China, the People’s Republic of China.

While the Japanese occupation of Taiwan was harsh, it did help in modernizing the island with the development of infrastructure, such as highways, railways, hospitals, and schools.  The end of World War II in 1945 also brought an end to the Japanese occupation.  With less than 100 years since the occupation, one can still see much of the Japanese influence in Taiwan, such as the city layout, Japanese stores/restaurants, food, and the number of students studying the Japanese language.

Although the capital, Taipei, is a booming metropolis, it is surrounded by the lush greenery of its jungles and mountains.  Indeed, it’s also known for its tropical fruits, but the mangoes were not in season yet, unfortunately.

Overall, Taiwan has an abundance of inexpensive food and shopping (night markets galore) with friendly locals and plenty of “nature” to go around.  Next time: hope to see more mountains, visit during the “floating lanterns” festival, and eat more mangoes.

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That’s a Hairy Crab May 29, 2012

Filed under: Food — GaijinMD @ 10:19 AM
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On a recent trip to the local fish market (nice although nothing compared to the quintessential Tokyo fish market), my family and I tried the local steamed crabs.  In addition to the larger size in comparison to the standard US “large” crabs, it was also very hairy.  Yes, my friend, hairy.  If we weren’t so busy trying to dig out the meat, we probably would’ve been more disconcerted.  As it was, the crab was easily the best I’ve ever had.  The meat was so sweet and juicy that no sauce (not even butter) was needed to savor it.  Needless to say, the table was silent as we concentrated on our treasure hunt.

 

Kyoto May 28, 2012

Sorry for the lack of updates recently.  Anywho, I’ll try to update what I’ve been doing recently.

Two months ago, I was able to visit Kyoto for the 2nd time.  The first time, we were just 2 weeks too early for the sakura, or cherry blossoms; this time, we were 1 week too early.  *Le sigh*  One of these days, the timing will be right.

Instead of traversing our way through Kyoto by bus this time, we were able to maximize the most of our time by having a private taxi tour/guide, courtesy of my friend’s boss.  While quite pricey, it should be a consideration if you have at least 4 people to split the costs.  The guide does a good job of explaining things in English, and the biggest benefit is that one can save a lot of time by not having to take public transportation.  Unlike other Japanese cities, Kyoto’s many tourist attractions are usually mainly accessible by bus, instead of trains and subways.  We were, therefore, able to see 1.5-2x as many sites compared to using the bus.

Overall, it was a lovely time in Kyoto, despite only seeing 2 trees with sakura and some rain.  Kyoto really is the epitome of “Old Japan” with its numerous (thousands) of temples, shrines, castles, and Gion (was actually lucky enough to see a maiko, apprentice geisha, walking these streets).  Would love to visit again!