Xie Xie Taipei 

What is bubble tea?

I am glad you asked. It is one of those must try items in Taipei and we we’re not going to leave without tasting it.  So, Thursday before our flight we went to seek this drink out.

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink invented  in the 1980s- of course the 80’s.  Most bubble tea recipes contain a tea base mixed/shaken with fruit or milk, to which chewy tapioca balls and fruit jelly are often added.

The first sip was quite the surprise when those jelly-tapioca-chewy-thingys hit your mouth. It was a nice send off for us as we depart on our 20+ hour trip to Chicago.

What is next for Chris? The team has a game against Czech Republic on Friday and South Korea on Saturday and then the final games where they will compete for a medal. There is a great explanation here.

It was truly an honor to be here for the first week of the games rooting on the Hawkeyes and the whole Team USA.  Tapei could not have been a more gracious host.  And, to experience this with my wonderfully, beautiful, and amazing cousin was priceless. We both leave with a new found respect and admiration for the country, its culture and most importantly its people.

 Xie Xie Taipei

A Day of Unexpected Adventures. 

During the game on Tuesday night, a women wearing a Cubs tshirt came in to watch the game and sat in our section. Well, you can guess who jumped up to meet her (Mar is from Chicago and a high fan).  Turns out she and her husband are from a suburb of Chicago and now live in Taipei. They left their careers in the states to experience teaching abroad and now both teach at the Taipei American School.

She invited us for a tour of the school the next morning which just happened to be a few blocks from the stadium where Iowa was playing Japan.  What an amazing facility.  They have 2300 students K-12. It is an American-based education but as they describe it with a global perspective where the best of east and west is presented.  Well, you can guess who jumped up to ask questions about the opportunity to teach abroad (that would be me).

USA 5, Japan 11

We did not get the win but because we won the first two games we still advance to the medal round. The games are live here in Taipei but are not being streamed to USA for what we have been told-political reasons.

Celebrity Moms

After the game we headed up to the athletes village to meet the boys and take them out to dinner. While waiting, folks would come up and ask for their picture taken with the Baseball Moms!  They were even interviewed on local TV.

We all met up and enjoyed a wonderful dinner together hearing all about their experiences as the athletes.

It was such a great day filled with unexpected adventures making it a bit hard to think about heading home.

USA 13 Russia 3

The morning we spent navigating other venues and events. (There is a great story of our adventure that we decided not to make public for our self pride sake-but get a glass or two of wine in is and we will tell you the whole story).

The game on Tuesday was a night game starting at 630pm. We were thrilled and anticipated the coolness of the night. Did I tell you how freakin hot it is here??? Ok, to be fair it did drop to under 90.  The game was at a different stadium which we brilliantly navigated ourselves to-we are so proud how we mastered the MRT and a little help from Uber!

The Iowa alumni was out in full force to root on the boys to their victory.  When it comes to sports, it really doesn’t matter what country you are from- there is respect shown for the dedication and effort.

After each game we go and wait for the boys to get on the bus. There are 3 Moms, a cousin and an Aunt here so at least three boys get warm hugs, encouragement from family.

But we aren’t their only biggest fans. The ex-pats and locals come to meet the boys and show their support, ask for autographs and take pictures. So, so cute and a thrill for the boys.

Taipei 101

No, this is not a quick lesson on all things Taipei. Though if you would like one here is a link. The Taipei 101 is the name of the tallest building in Taipei. It was actually the tallest in world until 2010!

It used to have the fastest elevator in the world, traveling at 60.6 km/h and got us from the 5th to 89th floor in 37 seconds.

You can see the stadium where we were for opening ceremonies!

Most of the city is located in the Taipei Basin, an ancient lakebed. Chris had Monday off and the team was going to site seeing so we decided to catch up with them. We were able to have lunch with him at where else:

We decided to check out one of the famous night markets.

Shilin Night Market

This is one of the biggest and most famous of the many night markets in Taiwan. It was filled with stalls of food, clothing and more cell phone cover shops then you could count. It is where most of the locals will do their shopping with the typical malls that we know of filled with high end designer stores.

MaryEllen and I being the adventurous foodies fell in love with this snack so much that we are bringing some home for all to try. You won’t be disappointed.

Ok, kidding of course.

Did we tell you how hot it is yet?

Second longest and hottest consecutive days over 90. Plus, 100% Humidity makes it feel over 100. We sometimes go into stores just to stand in front of their fans.  We had a beautiful Ice Angel take pity on us in a store and offered us ice for our drinks.


Heto came in at the south end and brought a much needed breeze to us in the north. Chris has had two night games where it dipped to a low low of 83…….and of course with the humidity.  It is a sweating palooza!

Mastering the MRT and the First Big Win

Sunday we decided to master the mass transit system to take in some culture on our own. BUT,  first a stop at our favorite International Buffet to see what the serve for lunch. Oh, my, my, my…..I think you get the essence.

Ok-back to mastering the MRT.

It is probably the cleanest, easiest system we both have tackled outside the US-and quite frankly inside as well!  It reminded us more like an airport shuttle system, but complete with lovely music and free WIFI! (And no urine smell, garbage or people begging for money)

We were also “schooled” on how to properly queue up-I am sure this would work in the NYC subways.



Only when the cold season comes, then we know the pine tree and the cypress are the last to lose there leaves.

Guess who says that?

Confucius Temple
This temple was the largest and most ancient of China’s Confucius temples. It is located at the original site of Confucius residence, it has grown over the course for some 2,000 years and serves as a blueprint for Confucius temples in every province of China.

Play Ball!

The first game was played against Hola! Mexico at  the Taipei Tianmu Baseball Stadium. 

Chr​is led off the game as the first at bat, with


a local alumni crowd cheering him on.

At the end it was a W!!!!!!!

Opening Ceremonies- Olympic Style!

Wow, what an amazing event. The games are the largest sporting event ever hosted in Taiwan and they certainly kicked it off in Olympic style. The sold out Taipei Stadium is a 23,000 seat venue and was walking distance from our hotel.

After navigating through the crowds to find will call we found our seats and we’re thrilled to find a present at our seats.

Inside was a bottle of water, cookie, flags, postcards and a program. The atmosphere was truly electric and we were surrounded by parents and fans from all over the world. Though, as a westerner we stand out and we find ourselves looking for others or anyone that we can communicate with. On the street we saw a couple go by and MaryEllen yells out “Hey, English speaking people! Can you help us with directions?”

The flag was raised, anthems song accompanied by the Taipei orchestra.  The venue erupted with the first march of the athletes

Just before Canada was to be announced we received a txt from Chris saying that there is a riot outside and they are not going to let the rest of the athletes march. We looked up and all we saw were flags coming in.

There was a protest going outside and the decision was made not to put the athletes in any danger. We were so sad and upset but grateful for the care they had for our boys and girls. Less then 15 minutes later we got another txt saying they are going to let them march.

And to see a birds eye view from the athletes perspective they captured the moment. Guess who was front and center.   Take a look at this video:


Our Chris is the one yelling “Whoo”!

“Sometimes the best things are worth waiting for,” FISU president Oleg Matytsin said in his official speech. “No one can stop our students.”

The show told the story of how the island of Taipei was formed through its ancient history and up to modern day-all through song and dance.  One of the highlights was when a Taiwanese professional baseball player Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒) lit the Universiade flame.  The games have officially begun.  Go USA!


Taipei in 5 hours- Go!

On Friday, the USA delegation put together a tour of Taipei which was a whirl-wind highlight tour of the city but gave us a great sense of the city, culture and history.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hal

This memorial hall was originally established to commemorate Chiang Kai-Shek and host promotiona activities.  Going through the hall we wished we paid more attention to world history! He truly impacted what this region is today!

In addition to the CKS Memorial Hall, the National Opera House, and the National Concert Hall were built on the same site. We were impressed to hear that when a major Broadway musical or opera is playing inside the venue, they put screens outside so that the citizens who cannot afford a ticket could experience it.

National Palace Museum

The National Palace Museum has a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts and artworks, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. The collection encompasses 8,000 years of history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age to the modern. the collection were moved to Taiwan to prevent their desecration during and after the Chinese Civil War.

History of Buddhism engraved on back

It was amazing to see the artwork and sculptures of these artifacts dating 4000 BC – yes, 4000 BC. Our tour guide said that he had a job that was to take someone back and forth every day to the museum for a month so he could go through the museum in its entirity. So, you can see we only saw the highlights given the 2 hours we were there – but it was enough time to truly be inspired by the depth of this countries spiritualism, artistry,  knowledge, and craftsmanship.

Maokong Gondola

We took a gondola to visit the Zhinan Temple high in the mountains. It was a temple centred around the idea of “three religions and five houses for life guidance” to create five key themes on the grounds.

It conveys the unique blend of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism found in local culture through the five houses of parents, children, siblings, spouses and fortune and virtue.  

The culture is very tolerant of various religions often sharing places of worship.  Our guide explained that the top theee religions are Toaism, Buddhism, and Christianity.

In the evening we went to the opening ceremonies, but just had to dedicate a separate entry to it.

Welcome to Taiwan!

It was a flight to Chicago, a 4 ½ hour flight to Vancouver and then a 12-hour flight to Taiwan. I traveled here with my cousin MaryEllen to support her son and my secon cousin Chris Whelan and the Iowa Hawkeyes in The 29th Summer Universiade

The Universiade is an international sporting and cultural event which is staged every two years in a different city. It is only second to the Olympic Games. More than 9,000 student-athletes and officials from over 170 countries. I did not even know this existed and not even sure what to expect – but expect this to be another amazing journey of inspiration.

We are staying at the Westin Taipei and experienced our first taste of the hospitality of Taipei when we arrived – a not towel and orange juice when we arrived.

We picked the Westin because the USA delegation is headquartered here. There is someone here throughout the day to help with directions, tickets, food choices and to explain the importance of 7-Eleven. You can do anything there-pick up your tickets, buy an MRT card, pay your water bill and tuition – but no slurpies!

First night of beef noodle soup – a must eat in Taipei. Beef and noodles in broth — how much can it mean to a city? For Taipei, so much that it has an annual festival of its own devoted to the dish.

We struggled to stay awake past 8pm – but wanted to try and get on schedule, of course we both were up around 3am chatting and doing email.

OH – and we found out that breakfast was included – and not just a bagel and instant coffee, but an international buffet, filled with many recognizable and not so recognizable dishes. But, oh so good.