Taiwanese Birthday

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Monday, July 7, 2008

Today, I turned the big 2-4.  It marked yet another birthday that was celebrated outside of home.  The long list of non-Franksville celebrated birthdays has now included the following:
a) Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1991
b) St. Louis, Missouri in 2000
c) Juarez, Mexico in 2002
d) Taichung, Taiwan in 2008

The day started off pretty good.  I walked into the office, made my traditional cup of "Mr. Brown" instant coffee,  and was greeted by everyone with a smile and a happy birthday.  The staff even gave me a card that was signed by all of the teachers, and told me that they wanted to go out to dinner for my birthday and to let them know what restaurant I wanted to go to by the end of the day.

What was really impressive was Bih Hua, the founder of the school, came into the office looking for me and presented me with a card and a $30 gift certificate to the local mall.  I was really humbled that she went out of her way to come up and find me to wish me a happy birthday.  It really made me feel pretty special.

However, after working at school and on my way home, things got a little rough.  On my way out the door, for the first time the whole trip, it started pouring outside.  What made things even worse was that I left my poncho at home!  So, I had to walk out to my moped and drive home in the rain (despite my attempts to kill time for an hour and a half by running some errands within the school in hopes the rain would die down).  Needless to say it was rather frustrating and not the birthday gift I had hoped for.

When I walked into the apartment building, soaking from head to toe, I walked past our security guard.  He yelled something at me in Chinese and I sort of let out a groan because I half expected to be scolded for being so wet.  However, the man was holding up two packages (clearly written in my Mom's perfect elementary school penmanship) that were addressed to me.  I smiled and wished him a "xiexie" (prounced: shey-a-shey, meaning "thank you") and took the packages up to the 19th floor apartment.  

I went to my room and opened them in private.  I cannot say how nice it was to receive items and e-mails from loved ones at home despite the fact that I have not even been here for one month.  My family (including both my grandparents) had written letters to me, my parents wrote letters, and even Vallary (our dog) wrote me a letter.

Some of the gifts I received included my Mom's homemade cookies (which were such a treat considering you can't find cookies anywhere in this country that are not Oreo-ish), some Harley-Davidson stickers for my moped, a Kit-Kat Bar from Grandpa's candy bar tree, and some other items I had requested from home.  It was such a great birthday present and really made me miss home.

When the staff asked what restaurant I was interested in going to for my birthday, I could only think of one place... The Modern Toilet.

The Modern Toilet is a restaurant that has, well, a particular theme to it (can you guess what it is?).  It is the most hilarious place you will ever see.  The sign in the front has the words "Modern Toilet" written in Chinese, with a huge toilet hanging next to it.  Guests are escorted to their tables (which consist of bathtubs with a clear tabletop) where they sit down in their seats (toilets with the seat down).  While they are waiting for their food, they can grab some reading material from their collection of magazines.  When the food arrives, it comes served steaming-hot in a small toilet, while the drinks are served in mini-urinals.  The wallpaper is themed with multicolored "poo" patterns.  They even serve chocolate ice cream in a squatter.  This restaurant is, essentially, a 13 year old's Chuck-E-Cheese.  It was fantastic!

After eating at such an exquisite restaurant, we went to a jazz/R&B bar where we played darts, shot pool, and listened to music.  It was a very nice and swanky place.  The band's lead singer even led the entire bar in a rousing rendition of, "Happy Birthday" while the waitresses shot min-fireworks into the air.  It was a great birthday and one that I definitely will never, ever forget.
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