hejinglan: Abra dozing off. (Default)
[personal profile] hejinglan2011-11-21 01:52 am
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好久沒po~! [Long time no post!]

My sincerest apologies for the super-massive lack of updates. As it turns out, returning and adjusting to life back in the US has proven to be more troublesome than we imagined, surprise. Not to mention a consecutive barrage of busy-ness coupled with a few unfortunate events, which caused us to take a much-needed hiatus from blogging so we could manage everything. [personal profile] jingning and I have been busy with upcoming graduation and a more-than-fulltime course load respectively, as well as managing new translation jobs, moving to a new house, finishing scholarship projects, arranging language exchanges, exams, starting up a small side-business, and somehow finding time to sleep in between all of that.

I also experienced major harddrive failure on my last laptop, only weeks before returning to the US. Unfortunately I lost a lot of pictures and video that didn't get backed up on our external harddrive, so I am still bummed about that. So far any attempts to extract data from the fried drive is bleak, but I'm hanging on to it on the off-chance. I was hoping to compile all of my photos and post them on here at some point, but the feeling of loss of hundreds of unique photos/videos from Ludao 綠島 put me in a bit of a slump. However, I've promised myself to put up the remaining few eventually.

And since we're on the topic of bad news, I also managed to get hit by a pickup truck while riding my bike recently. I'm not hurt aside from a few scrapes and bruises, just a little bothered that the guy sped off without a word, nearly running over my head in the process. ._. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. But nobody was seriously hurt, so I'm chalking this one up as a success, in the endeavor of not dying, anyway.

Bad stuff aside, [personal profile] jingning and I are looking forward to cranking out some more posts come Winter break, when we will actually have some legitimate time on our hands for creativity. Luckily we have a large backlog of half-written entries and notes to refresh our memories of the events that happened throughout last year. We also plan on writing up some general guides based on our experiences in Taiwan, containing some helpful tips on useful words/phrases and the like while trying to not over-generalize as much as possible. If there is anything specific you would like to know, ask us of course and we can make a little write-up about it.

In any case, this blog is a part of my Gilman Scholarship project so I have until the beginning of next year to polish off this blog as best as I can, so a regular flow of posts should be coming in soon. That being said, your comments and input are greatly appreciated! Not only does it make my project look cooler (hahaha), it's always nice to know who is keeping up with this thing. As always, thanks to everyone for your support.
hejinglan: Abra dozing off. (Otose and Gintoki)
[personal profile] hejinglan2011-05-31 05:12 pm

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Building Bridges for Student Travelers

好久不見,ye olde Taiwanderland! My apologies for the long hiatus - things have been unexpectedly busy on the island for these past few months, but in good ways for the most part. In any case, I'm glad that my time is being taken up by exploring Taiwan (and beyond!) so I can excuse not having an abundance of time to focus on blog posts. That being said, more posts and pictures should be coming this way in the coming weeks as our semester (and exchange period as a whole) begins to wind down here. 時間過得很快! Time sure does fly.

But before I get into all of that, there's a post that I've been meaning to write for a long time in here that I've been trying to find the right words for, as it concerns a subject that affects my schooling and life, as well as the life of many other USAmerican students who share a similar situation as myself.

That would be - not too surprisingly - finances.

I wanted to write this post to share my past experiences regarding the issue of paying for college and studying abroad as a low-income student, as well as shed some light on some fantastic resources that I have discovered. This information pertains particularly to low-income students and the opportunities available to them when considering studying abroad - if this interests or applies to you, read on. However, if you are interested in study abroad at all regardless of background you may still find some of the information below helpful or illuminating to some extent, too.

First, some abridged background information about me and my family. )

I started researching study abroad options at my university before I was even accepted, the myriad of programs offered by my university being a major factor in my decision to apply. I noticed that the International Affairs office offered a "Study Abroad Advising Drop-In" time and quickly took advantage of that to learn more about my options - and most importantly for me, my financial options. My peer advisor alerted me to one scholarship in particular, aimed towards US students with limited financial resources to help fund an overseas education. It sounded almost too good to be true, so I took a flyer home and checked out their website as soon as I could. (The official Gilman website can be found by clicking here: http://www.iie.org/gilman The information I found sounded promising so I soon began compiling my application materials. The process was simple to follow and I was impressed by the creative reign the Follow-Up Project offered, which encourages students to explore new and different ways of sharing their experiences abroad and the impact the Gilman Scholarship has had on their journey. (I, for example, chose to start up and participate in this joint blog as part of my Follow-Up Project.)

I was surprised and elated to discover that I had been awarded $4500 for my year in Taiwan by the Gilman Scholarship not long after I submitted my application. To me, this is an immense amount of aid, and one that I found would be invaluable in helping with study abroad expenses. Even though I budgeted to the best of my ability in preparation for my time abroad, there were still many little surprise fees here and there that I was happy to have a buffer for. For example, National Taiwan University required all applicants to submit a chest x-ray as a prerequisite for registration, which set me back a bit in doctor fees, as well as the procedure itself. After that, I was asked to come back for a second x-ray exam without telling me the cause, only to find out afterward that it was to confirm that I had a mild kind of pectus excavatum, a relatively common condition and quite harmless in my case. Although slightly perturbed that I had been called in twice for something relatively harmless, I was also grateful it was not something more serious - and most importantly, glad that I had the Gilman to help offset these necessary but unexpected costs related to study abroad.

Originally I thought the hefty sum of $4500 was more than enough to last me a good while, but unexpected costs like these came up in more instances than I could have expected - transportation fees, being placed into a more expensive dormitory abroad because my other cheaper choices filled up first, a two-month deposit for said dormitory that I wasn't informed about beforehand, travel insurance that I somehow looked over, as well as books and supplies that would be necessary for my next ten months in a new country. Needless to say, I became more and more grateful for the Gilman Scholarship as time went on and these little surprises popped up. The peace of mind coming from being able to adequately support yourself in a foreign country far from home is priceless.

So if you are an undergraduate student planning on studying abroad, I strongly recommend checking out the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to see if you are eligible. The scholarship process is relatively simple and the staff at your local college or university are usually more than willing to help. Even if you aren't eligible for the Gilman, their website offers many other popular scholarship options for study abroad students that you are free to browse.


Additional options for offsetting the cost of study abroad:

+ As [personal profile] highways said, look into your host university for scholarship and grant options aimed towards incoming international students. You might be able to find special deals on housing, and even monthly stipends for overseas students are not unheard of.

+ Look into your home university for scholarships aimed towards students studying abroad. Many sponsors support the idea of an international education but a surprising amount of students do not take this opportunity. Indicating your intent to study abroad can be considered a bold move and might even give you an edge over other applicants in your university's scholarships.

+ As always, apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the equivalent for your country. Applying is free and there is a chance that you will qualify for grants that can be put toward college and/or study abroad, as well as improve your eligibility for other scholarships.


I suppose what I want to say is that being in a compromised financial position is not always the final answer and does not have to be a nail in the coffin preventing you from studying abroad. You may have to work harder than someone who is more privileged with abundant resources, but it could be more rewarding in the end knowing that you forged a path for yourself on your educational journey. It has certainly been that way for me.

If you have any questions about the Gilman scholarship, the FAFSA, or other forms of financial aid related to attending college or studying abroad, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
More posts to come soon (with photos this time) about our four-day trip to the scenic Eastern coast on scooter, the International Flora Expo, rescuing a puppy in Lion's Head Mountain Scenic Area, and more. In the meantime, we'll be updating our Tumblr microblog more frequently with small updates, miscellaneous photos from our travels, assorted cultural tidbits about Taiwan, as well as Chinese/Taiwanese jokes Sara finds on drink lids. ^_^

Best of luck in your adventures and in everything you do.

-- Lara / Jinglan

jingning: (Chihiro and Kohaku)
[personal profile] jingning2011-03-14 02:35 pm
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烏來與北投:溫泉仙境 -- Wulai & Beitou: Hot Spring Haven

Taiwan has a very distinct spring-soaking culture; people from all over Taiwan will dedicate entire vacations to enjoy soaking in the blue-green pools of scalding-hot mineral water. Soaking in these hot springs claim to bring many health benefits, so Lara and I had to check out these pools for ourselves.

The entire island is dotted with access to hot springs, ranging from the very posh weekend spas to very free public pools. However, the most notable of hot spring soaking areas closest to Taipei are located in small towns on opposite ends of New Taipei City (新北市), formerly Taipei County (台北縣).

Enter Wulai (烏來區). )

Enter Beitou (北投區). )


Happy Year of the Rabbit~!

There's nothing like friends from afar to make stories with and friends back home to read them. Thank you all for being in our lives -- looking forward to another great year and wishing you all the best~!

-- Sara

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jingning: (Simon and Nia)
[personal profile] jingning2011-03-12 03:20 pm
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Japan Hit By Huge Earthquake and Tsunami -- 在日本有大地震和海嘯

Just wanted to leave a quick update in light of the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan. The images from this disaster have really shocked us, especially since memories from our trip to Japan just two weeks ago are very fresh in our minds. While we weren't traveling in the areas that suffered the most damage from the quakes and tsunami, we cannot help but imagine the country in turmoil over its losses. Our hearts go out to Japan and all those affected by this tragedy.

Taiwan was put on the tsunami warning list shortly following the event, however, reports state that the East coast of Taiwan saw waves peaking at 50 cm, so we are very safe. While Taiwan made it out of the danger safely, there are many communities across the Pacific that are dealing with earthquake and tsunami damage, especially those in the Northeastern parts of Japan.

If you'd like to help the relief efforts through donation, please make sure to research the organizations you are interested in donating to beforehand, so as to not waste your contributions.


Blog updates: We apologize for another long gap of silence. We have been spending our winter break from school like no other, reuniting with our good friend in Hsinchu (新竹市) and traveling by scooter all throughout the northeastern and eastern coast of Taiwan, followed up by a thirteen day side trip to Japan (which will be featured in a separate blog in due time; please bookmark and subscribe in the meantime). We'll be chronicling all of our adventures here within the next month and sorting through thousands of photos, videos, and thoughts so please bear with us.

In the mean time, please check out our Tumblr microblog for a glimpse at some pictures that didn't fit in anywhere else and some Taiwanese cultural tidbits.

As always, thank you for your support~!

-- Sara

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jingning: (Ginko)
[personal profile] jingning2010-12-29 01:00 am
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救救我們的地球吧 -- Please Save Our Earth

About a month ago, after weeks of intense research, meticulous planning, and tense negotiation, I finally entered the world of apartment life in Taipei. My new place is a mere two blocks from my previous residence and a bit more expensive, but the privacy, convenience, and comfort of living in an apartment more than makes up for these slight drawbacks. As I would eventually come to discover, however, finding out how to pay the bills and work the quirky-shaped keys would be the least of my worries. It wasn't until two weeks later that I fully realized the significance of previously neglected facet of my daily life: taking out the trash.

Within two weeks, I had accumulated enough garbage from moving in, ordering out, and general laziness to fill two large bags, one for trash and one for recyclables. At one point, I ran out of room for garbage in the first bag, so it moved to a temporary home by the door, another bag covering the top so that the smell wouldn't flood the room. The bottles and containers threatened my living space in their own way, forming a toppling plastic mountain in the corner of my room. The drink boxes needed to be flattened and rinsed out to prevent a TetraPak mountain filled with mold spores and festering strawberry soy milk; those, in turn, came to fill a medium-sized paper bag. Needless to say, I needed a solid solution, and fast. Otherwise, that solution would have to be The Ghostbusters.

I ain't afraid of no ghosts )

-- Sara

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hejinglan: Abra dozing off. (gintoki reading manga)
[personal profile] hejinglan2010-11-07 06:29 pm

臺灣的COSPLAY - 可以拍個照嗎?-- Cosplay in Taiwan - Can I Have a Picture?

If you haven't guessed by now, you should know that Sara and I are both total 宅女 (also known as "otaku"). One of the geeky activities we like to participate in is Cosplay, in which one spends a ridiculous and unjustifiable amount of time and money dressing up as fictional characters from anime, manga, movies, and/or video games, all in the name of good fun. So when we heard that a comic exposition, dubbed Fancy Frontier, was being held at our doorstep, we couldn't help but check it out and catch a glimpse of the cosplay scene in Taiwan.
So, does Taiwan know cosplay?

I'll let these pictures speak for themselves. (Caution: image intense; has been known to eat slow connections.) )

In conclusion, I think the only words that can describe Taiwanese cosplayers are 厲害! If you get the chance, I would highly recommend going and seeing one for yourself, even if you aren't a huge fan of anime or manga. As far as I know, you don't need to pay to roam the outside area and take photos of cosplayers; you just need to pay if you want to check out the vendors' hall (and the price is usually nominal). For information on upcoming anime conventions in Taiwan, this site has it all: comic.com.tw (only in Chinese, but a translator can be used to get the gist of things if your Chinese is not up to par.)

Next up is the bigger ComicWorld Taiwan '26 on Dec. 11-12 at the same venue, the National Taiwan University gymnasium located on Roosevelt Rd. (臺灣大學體育館:臺北市羅斯福路四段一號) Check out those links for more information. Sara and I will be there taking photos and browsing the racks (unfortunately probably not in cosplay as our studies are keeping us too busy).

For those who can make it, hope to see you there!



***SPECIAL NOTE: THANK YOU EVERYONE! 感謝大家! To everyone who keeps up with our blog: thank you for your continued support! Please excuse the sparing updates as we are busy with schoolwork and it takes several hours to write one up. We appreciate your comments, feedback, and suggestions so we know our work is of some use or entertainment to someone out there. Let us know if you have any questions we might be able to answer, an experience to share, just some random nonsense that popped into your head, or if you want to see embarrassing, potentially incriminating and/or inappropriately shoopable outtake photos, like that one time I tried to eat a pear as large as my face and Sara released her deeply melancholic pop ballad Greatest Hits album. Nothing is too silly, too serious... or sacred).

More photos can be found on our Flickr. Until next time...
jingning: (Sazh and Dajh)
[personal profile] jingning2010-10-21 03:43 pm
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中秋節有緣的朋友見面(後篇) - Fated Friends Meet on the Moon Festival (Part Two)

The late afternoon sun broke out from between the clouds as Lara and I approached Joyce sitting on a bench outside of the main entrance to NTU, one day before the Moon Festival (中秋節: literally, Mid-Autumn Festival). The streets were very busy, as many people return to their homes and families during this time to celebrate the fullness of the moon as a representation of the wholeness of the family. We were lucky to get a glimpse into the life of a traditional Taiwanese family that night as well as have Joyce and her older sister guide us through the famous areas around Sansia (三峽).

家家戶戶都團團圓圓 - Every Family Reunites )


Sorry for the unusually long hiatus. We will be updating more regularly now that we have adjusted to moving into a new apartment and schoolwork/language exchange. We've done much exploration and documentation during our break from our blog so rest assured that there will be more to come~!

Also, Lara forgot to bring her camera during this journey, so we apologize for the lower quality of the photos and the lack of photos for some parts. We do plan a re-visit of the aforementioned areas and will post pictures in a later blog and on our online photo album. Thank you!


-- Sara

Disclaimer: Photography in this post done by Joyce and Joyce's sister. Thank you~!

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jingning: (Totoro Playing)
[personal profile] jingning2010-10-03 08:54 pm

中秋節有緣的朋友見面(前篇) - Fated Friends Meet on the Moon Festival (Part One)

The Moon Festival (中秋節) is a very important holiday in Chinese culture that signifies the reunion of good friends and family, in which people make their way back home to spend an evening eating delicious food and Moon Cakes (月餅), while enjoying the beauty of the full moon. The holiday is held every year on August 15 of the Lunar calendar, which usually ends up being near the end of September and the beginning of October. This year, the festival was on September 22. First, however, there was a need for some spontaneous exploration of downtown Taipei, graciously hosted by a Taiwanese friend of ours that we had met in the States.
Enter Joyce.

捷運台北車站 - MRT Taipei Main Station )


When you've lived on the other side of the world, you begin to feel an indescribable feeling welling up inside of you. It is a feeling that transcends all the feelings of doubt and worry, one that makes you feel like all of your troubles are ephemeral, that the world is vast, and that while you stay up late at night writing inane things in your travel blog, there is someone back at home getting ready for work in the morning, making breakfast out of last night's leftovers, or just starting to fall asleep from a long night of video games and energy drinks.

Indeed, the world is so vast I almost feel as if I will be consumed by it. However, being all the way over here while everything I have ever known is all the way over there is not swallowed up by loneliness. I feel that I have friends that are going about their lives all across the globe. And, even while I sleep, there are amazing things happening and amazing people thinking of me, of you... somewhere. There is always something in between the distance, connecting you to me.

我們一定有緣。 (We are definitely tied together by fate.)

Thank you all for being in my life.

-- Sara

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hejinglan: Abra dozing off. (Default)
[personal profile] hejinglan2010-09-29 10:44 pm
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Images of Taiwan - Taoyuan, Da-An, Shilin, and a Trip to Danshui

These past couple of weeks have been plagued by a passing sickness, general busyness (we are here for academic purposes after all... supposedly), as well as every video editing program out there trying to assassinate my patience, so my apologies for the long hiatus. Nevertheless, I present to you... Images of Taiwan*! (Again, lots of pictures and videos; modems beware.)

From Taoyuan to Taipei to Shilin to Danshui and Beyond! Read on... )

Bust through the heavens.


Since then, Sara and I have been struggling to overcome our respective colds while adjusting to our new life here in Taiwan. Although the initial "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME" phase has finally passed, we are continuing to seek out new experiences day by day. So far, our Chinese classes as well as our other NTU courses are progressing smoothly, and it seems we'll have plenty of time to devote to club activities or general shenanigans without having to spend too much time devoted to academia, which is nice.

So expect more posts from us as our adventures continue. Thanks for all of the comments and support up until now, everyone! 謝謝光臨!
jingning: (Lightning Melancholy)
[personal profile] jingning2010-09-28 11:55 pm

上台大 - Taking Classes at NTU

Sorry for the hiatus! I have been sick for the past couple of weeks, the first of which consisted of me lying in bed with a fever during my first typhoon in Taiwan. I am entering my third week of school here and my Chinese classes just started on Monday (September 26th), so I thought this would be a good time to sum up my class experiences.

I apologize for the relatively boring subject but I hope you will find some interest in how things are conducted here at NTU. Also, although I was not able to go out while the typhoon was at full force, I did get a taste of the amount of damage done to buildings, trees, and vehicles. I suspect I have yet to experience the worst of them...

「萬般皆下品,唯有讀書高」 - All Things Are Beneath Contempt, Only Learning Is Superior )

While Lara and I sort out our schedules and class workloads, we may post less frequently. However, we have a lot of ideas and adventures that we would like to share so please keep following us. 謝謝~! Thank you~!

Eating shaved ice at a place near the Taipei Main Station (MRT)
Yet to come: Eating a shaved ice dish (剉冰) with Lara and our Taiwanese friend from the States, Joyce, and other such escapades.

-- Sara

Disclaimer: "萬般皆下品,唯有讀書高 - All Things Are Beneath Contempt, Only Learning Is Superior" is from The Analects (論語), compiled by the disciples of Confucius (孔子)

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jingning: (Gintoki)
[personal profile] jingning2010-09-12 10:41 pm

If You Meet The Buddha, Kill Him

Delphine, Lara, and I walked among the many booths of over 100 NTU clubs during the clubs exhibition day. I was in a sea of sound, the only language being Chinese -- students shouting from all directions, advertising their clubs and their pamphlets. Dancers and martial artists filled the streets, calligraphers and musicians demonstrated their talents from within their tents. Every once in a while, a life raft carried by several shirtless men would parade through the crowd; there were two girls wearing swimsuits standing in the boat and holding signs advertising the NTU Lifeguard Club. Every single activity and hobby that one could hope to do was lined up and down the main street of 台大 (NTU), enthusiastically competing for new members and it was glorious.
The main street of NTU filled with tents for the NTU clubs exhibition.

If You Meet The Buddha, Kill Him )

-- Sara

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jingning: (Traveling Ginko)
[personal profile] jingning2010-09-09 04:38 pm

在台北的生活 - Life in Taipei

I think I will put my personal cultural/living notes in bold from now on. If I am mistaken about these notes, please feel free to leave a comment below with corrections/additions. 謝謝~!

新世界 A New World )

View of Taipei from the roof of the GuoQing dormitory at NTU.

-- Sara

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hejinglan: Kagura and Sadaharu from Gintama. (kagura and sadaharu)
[personal profile] hejinglan2010-09-12 01:36 pm
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我的第一天 ﹕ 文化衝擊!! - My First Days: Culture Shock!!

[Warning: This post contains a whole mess of photos. If you're still living in the Stone Age with a 56k modem, take heed.]

My apologies for the lateness - life has been speeding past me these last few days. Nevertheless...
...事情的經過是這樣的。...this is how it all went down. )


jingning: (Twilight Fills the Air)
[personal profile] jingning2010-09-07 07:11 pm
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第一天 Day One: 我永遠不會忘記的一段經歷 An Experience I Will Never Forget

I will not bore you with details of the 2-hour flight from Portland to Los Angeles, nor with the sleeping that was had on the 13.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Taipei.

Instead, I'll jump right into the thick of things, much like how I felt when I first arrived.

你好台北。 I hope we can be friends. <3 )

-- Sara

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hejinglan: Grey wolf kitty, lookin' at'chu. (fenrir)
[personal profile] hejinglan2010-08-16 03:09 am
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jingning: (Haruhi Rainbow)
[personal profile] jingning2010-07-01 10:19 am
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自我介紹: Sara (何靜寧)

Sara大家好!我是大四的學生,在美國西岸學習漢語和商學。除了這些科目之外,我還學過韓國話和東亞研究,然後我用日本動畫與漫畫學習日文。其他的愛好還包括寫作、素描、烹飪、縫紉、COSPLAY(用道具以及化妝來扮演ACG〔動畫,漫畫,電子遊戲〕中的角色或是一些日本視覺音樂及電影中的一些人物)、玩電子遊戲、打網球、攀岩、學習外語。 Hello Everyone! I am an undergraduate student in my 4th year studying Mandarin Chinese and business at a university on the West Coast of the U.S. In addition to these focuses, I have taken courses in Korean and East Asian Studies, and "studied" Japanese in my spare time via anime and manga. Some of my other hobbies include: writing, drawing, cooking, sewing, cosplay (dressing up as characters from visual music, movies, animation, comics, and/or video games using makeup, costumes, and/or props), playing video games, playing tennis, rock climbing, and learning foreign languages.

我生命中所受到的影響。 Influences on My Life )

TL;DR: I'm RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to study abroad in Taiwan!!!

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jingning: (Vanille and Fang)
[personal profile] jingning2010-06-21 10:54 am
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歡迎大家! -- Welcome Everyone!

~Welcome to our blog!~

Click the arrow for some general information )

All comments, suggestions, requests, etc. are greatly appreciated and you do not have to sign up for anything to do so. Our only request is to please respect the sensitivities of others. ^o^d

Whether you know us personally and/or enjoy reading about a different place in the world, please subscribe to our adventures!

~謝謝大家! Thank you everyone!~

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Disclaimer: All syndication icons and donation buttons copyright to their respective owners. All other images found on any part of this blog copyrighted to Taiwanderland (Sara and Lara) unless otherwise noted. Thank you.