Monday, May 08, 2006

Hanging out with the Anthro Guy

Sanchung near the new Ikea store.

Saturday after the Swenson's Breakfast Club meet-up I went to Sanchung and Luchou with Jeff Martin, a recent PhD grad of the U. of Chicago's anthropology department.

A recycler carries precious cargo home.

Jeff did his PhD research in Taipei County and knows every inch of the area. You could hardly ask for a more knowledgeable, interesting, and insightful guide.

Betel nut girls near Jeff's house.

Jeff took me for a stroll around the neighborhood.

Tedious, repetitive fine motor work. Scanty clothing or not, the betel nut industry would inevitably employ hordes of females.

Jeff poses with one of the neighbors. Easygoing and a great listener, Jeff is a big hit with the locals.

Construction on the new subway.

These pigeons live in a better house than I do.

It's election time again.

Jeff and I drove over to Luchou to hang out there. On the way I snapped a few pictures of the scenery.

Just can't afford helmets...I mean, the kids will grow out of them, right?

Like so many capital cities, Taipei is built in a basin that is essentially a swamp. Here massive concrete and soil dikes hold back the rivers that wind through the area, providing safety for the residents, and more importantly, construction projects for former ruling party cronies. The policy in recent years has been to give the river works funds to counties directly to spend as they please, with the result that less money is going to long-term river management projects. Consequently, flooding is on the rise in local areas across the island.

Jeff, who knows every alley in Taipei county, took us through a local market.

This large temple is the center of the local area. Jeff said that the local area was once combined with the township next door, but was divided administratively into two new townships centered on large old temples.

Jeff took us to a Taiwanese-style Japanese restaurant in the area, where we spent the afternoon eating and chatting.

Jeff looking devilish. Actually, you'd be hard-pressed to find a nicer guy than Jeff. He'd help little old ladies across the street and get kittens out of trees any day of the week -- if there were any trees about, and if the little old ladies didn't all drive scooters with a cigarette dangling out of one side of their mouth.

People often ask me why I stay in Taiwan. Truth: it's the cheap sashimi.

Taking the pet pig for a walk.

Neighborhood streets have always fascinated me, with their colorful energy and constant flow of traffic.

Not all betel nut sellers are babes wearing almost nothing.

After leaving Jeff I hit the bus station in downtown Taipei. Arriving early, I wandered into the area north of the bus station.

One of the interesting cultural logics of Chinese culture is the habit of retailers of a given product or industry all gathering in one place. Just up the street is an area of shop after shop crammed with trinkets and baubles no young femme should be without.

And of course, the day ended at the bus station.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, pal, but that first photo of betel girls are NOT betel girls. Those are not betel nut princesses, but mere betel nut obasans. get yer term n ology correct b4 u blog to the world. the other photo yes that is '''Binan Shishu'''.

Whoever took those photo has a good eye! MORE MORE.....

Someone needs to watch his weight. Remember that weight loss guy on USA TV long ago, Richard Simmons, something or other? He got serious about weight loss only when someone close to him told him it was time. I don't know you so I cannot say it's time. But it's time for everyone at some time.

Michael Turton said...

Hey, that there was a girl in the first betel girl pic! She was quite attractive, especially if you like girls with no front teeth.

Thanks about the eye! Plenty more great photos on this and on my Taiwan teaching website!

I AM serious about weight loss -- it's just that my body isn't. :)

Actually, I exercise regularly, but I eat gargantuan amounts of food. But I will definitely work harder. Now that summer is here, it will be too hot to eat, and thus, i should lose weight.


Unknown said...

How many people would take advice or take seriously these heckling comments of these one or two cowardly Mr. Anonymous? Not me, that's for sure. If I look at someone's website or blog, the mass or lack thereof is the last thing I think about, unless it is really the focus or most disturbing. I think I am more concerned with some people's mental health or insensitivity, selfishness, and thoughtlessness, than I am about people's weight.

Anonymous said...

"One of the interesting cultural logics of Chinese culture is the habit of retailers of a given product or industry all gathering in one place."

I wouldn't say this is a phenomenon that's unique to Chinese culture. You see this logic in many countries and cultures. I remember an example from high school human geography class where you have ice cream sellers on a beach. They can be spread out evenly, or grouped together in the middle. You get clusters of certain types of shops in the UK, such as tailors and jewellery shops, though it does depend on the town and how old/modern the place is.

Re: tubbiness. Tasty bakery products – out. Also don’t drink those fruit syrup-flavored teas. The calories from those delicious and refreshing drinks really add up unfortunately even if you ask for ‘half sugar’.

Anonymous said...

great set of photos!

it looks like jeff lives near me... i'm about 5 minutes from the new ikea

Jenn said...

Wow, that sashimi looks so good. I'd better take my lunch now... at 2:47 pm, what a healthy work life I am having.

MJ said...


actually, you are not looking at those scantly clad betel nut girls for free. The number of betel nuts you get in a box from them will be fewer than, say, if you get it from a betel obasan. Usually it will be two nuts less. why? use your imagination.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to use some of your excellent pictures in my own photo gallery for my friends and family to have a look (and possibly get a better idea of my life here). I'll mention you as the author (though i can't stick a link).
I am taking the rule of the fair use of copyright would apply here, please confirm.

Anonymous said...

wow! makes me feel like back to home!

Michael Turton said...

ed -- use what you like, just give me credit. But those pics might not display outside of blogger. My Taiwan website, Teaching English in Taiwan, has millions of photos you can use too.


Michael Turton said...

Usually it will be two nuts less. why? use your imagination.

Don't worry. I always use my imagination when looking at scantily-clad girls.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael!
(i save the picture and host them on my gallery system).