Race experience

Post race

I ran the PEI marathon yesterday and my fears of it being this years worst decision were exaggerated and unfounded. It went well, with the usual couple of incidents that always happen in any event I participate in that requires so much preparation.

My official time and pace are quite bit off from my watch due to what must have been the longest in the woods pit stop I’ve ever had – thank you middle age. Since I started the race under hydrated I have no idea how it happened but it did. Also, I developed some problems with my left hamstring. A huge cramp mid stride can send you to the pavement but luckily I caught it in time.

PEI is a lovely place to run. The North Shore, the fall foliage, and the guy who kept appearing on the side of the road fulfilling our desire for “more cowbell’ made for a great experience. It was very cold and I was very reluctant to get off the heated bus to run but I’ll take the cold over extreme heat any day.

I stuck to my plan and surprisingly accomplished my event goal. The lack of a more complete training regime means I’m pretty sore today and have been forced me to sit and rest. But I believe I have even longer and faster races ahead of me, my heart and lungs are never pushed to capacity. It’s a matter of getting stronger and somehow remaining active through the coming winter months.


A marathon in the making

A photo taken at the Xiamen Marathon expo in 2017. I had plans to run my way across China but life got in the way.

I just registered to run the PEI marathon on the 14th. This may go down as one the worst decisions I have made this year, as my running has been off, training pretty much non-existent, and my diet still on it’s summer on PEI mode.

Last year I was overcoming a couple injuries and so was motivated to workout 3-5 hours a day. I went to physio, yoga, lifted weights, did body weight training, stretched, and ran a training program. For an amateur I was somewhat obsessed and work was admittedly not my focus. Since I ran the race last February, their have been far too many more important distractions – moving your family around the world can have that effect and I haven’t been nearly as dedicated. I’ve put in the miles, somewhat following a 16 week program, but it’s been a struggle to lace up my shoes. My heart just hasn’t been in it. Luckily I have thus far remained injury free.

My last marathon was a complete success, I was slow by design, experienced none of the “bonk” that runners experience, and except for the last 5K, it felt easy.

This time I expect a great deal of discomfort and am participating to experience the great Island views, to feel tested, and to experience my twice yearly challenge. I’ll leave the PB’s and hopes for a Boston qualifying time for another race.


Work the algorithms

Emphasis mine

When has the CBC become like Buzzfeed and other purveyors of clickbait journalism? In what would otherwise sound like a great opportunity for anyone with writing and social ability, the CBC seems to illustrate it’s determination to join the ranks of Buzzfeed, Huffpost, Dailymail, et al. Why not just be open in their requirements – Write click worthy headlines to drive traffic to our website and A/B test outlandish copy to see which performs best. I expect more from a public funded organization such as this.

Social Editor/Presenter (English Services) – CHA00070


The different age demographics in Charlottetown

I’m not interested enough dig up data so this is just an observation after spending a couple months back in Charlottetown.

For the last number of years in Taiwan and China I was often the oldest in almost any social gathering or professional setting. Whether it was Chinese school, working in a tech company, or attending some kind of professional development, for the most part most people were very young. I often used to wonder where they put the middle age workforce out to pasture, as I seldom ran into a design professional my age. An oversimplified reason is that in the case of tech companies, many successful R&D talent retire early to start their on companies or try something new. The stress level in these companies is not for everyone.

In Charlottetown it’s interesting just how different the demographic is. Sure, the Start-up Zone and other incubators have their share of young people, and I would guess the small cluster of tech companies here have their share of young recent graduates, but by and large most of the people I have met or seen are well above their 30’s. Middle aged even. My observation could be totally off, perhaps only people my age have time for professional development here, and everyone else works to the wee hours. Or perhaps as I suspect, the young have long since left for Toronto and beyond. Either way, it does make for a far different dynamic than what I experienced living elsewhere.

No one treats me like their father here.


St. Peter’s Harbour Lighthouse Beach

Just up the coast from the more popular Lakeside Beach sits what must be one of the best beaches I have enjoyed in some time. What a gem. My kids prefer the beaches in Thailand, I think banana smoothies play a factor in their choice, but I think the beaches here are as good as any. And they are largely deserted, which plays a factor in my choice.

I’m not much of a fun at the beach person but spending time here is well worth it, especially when you factor in a short drive to Lin’s Take Out on Greenwich Rd. for some monstrous ice cream cones.


A guide for “non-newcomer” newcomers

There are so many unknowns when moving to a new place, everything from finding a place to live, to where to find certain foods, but also cultural norms, and the all important how to receive health care. Health care is of particular importance and the “uniqueness” of Prince Edward Island’s system has left me with many questions. Luckily the Prince Edward Island Association for Newcomers website answers this question and many others, but leaves with one. Why isn’t there a resource like this for people who don’t qualify for their program? I’d appreciate, maybe even pay for, a little handholding, or guidance, with all the issues involved with relocating a family to PEI. I’m sure others would benefit as well.


The pot calling the kettle black

The Kettle Black

Cafés that you want to sit in and spend time enjoying always seem to have this unplanned homemade look to them, unlike say Tim Hortons whose experience is all about speed of delivery. Starbucks has systemized this, so that I can have a similar experience in Charlottetown, Hsinchu, Fuzhou or anywhere else the Starbucks brand intrudes upon. But with any large system you tend to lose the uniqueness of the place, and water down the experience so it can be consistently replicated. Which is one reason why I prefer local independents, each one placing unique emphasis on some part of the experience – my favorite spot is Hollatte馥拏鉄 自烘咖啡, located in a small alley in Hsinchu Science Park. Even after moving their location it’s still just a small shop store with a couple Ikea Tables at the center. Their mix tends to be coffee expertise vs. experience of place. Ink café in Hsinchu is a more balanced mix of the 2.

Their are a number of decent cafés in Charlottetown’s downtown area. The Kettle Black pictured above is my current favorite.


Those blue skies

With everyday bringing skies like this it’s proving very difficult to get back into some semblance of a work grove. I keep staring out the window wishing I was outside doing just about anything. After a time, perhaps the novelty will wear off and I’ll get back to days full of productive clicking and typing.


ChaTime Charlottetown

With the excellent weather we had yesterday it didn’t seem right to stay inside moving furniture around or spend time working on ‘odds n sods’ in front of computer screen. Other than running I was at a loss as to what to do on PEI on a Sunday, at least until the rest of the family arrives.

Weekends in Hsinchu were not a time of rest. Saturdays the kids had swimming and yoga, my daughter had a 3 hour math class in the afternoon. I often would have work to finish, and my wife if not the same, was off doing all kinds of chores. Sundays were generally set aside for outside activities, long runs, hiking or biking, and the occasional movie.

So I found myself walking around the downtown, checking out the market set-up along the side of Queen Street. Luckily I had no cash, otherwise I would have come home with more homemade soap then could possibly be needed. It’s generally a show for the tourists but I did manage to meet some interesting people and find a source for possible weekly meat deliveries from Saoirse Farms. After that short walk I found myself yet again at The Kettle Black enjoying a latte. Then I kept walking through the haunts of old, circling back to Queen where I fell upon the newly opened Cha Time.

My kids will be excited to see this chain. Tea shops like this are ubiquitous in Taiwan, and my kids, like many, love visiting as much as we allow, or have time for. We didn’t visit this chain often when in Taiwan, but they did sponsor a race my wife and I participated in this past year.

I’m not a tea drinker nor a huge fan of 珍珠 (the balls in milk tea) but I ordered my favourite 芒果冰沙, which is translated inaccurately as a mango smoothie. Not bad, though still too sweet despite ordering with no added sugar.

The staff still seem to be getting their sea legs, but they seem excited, the environment very clean, and the drink selection great. I’ll be back with the kids in tow.


My conversation with Bell Aliant

Bell: Hello
Me: Is this Bell Aliant?
Bell: Who is calling?
Me: I’m Clark MacLeod and I am calling about the Fibre Installation that was scheduled for this evening
Bell: Give me your account number
Me: Let me look. #0000000
Bell: You’re calling from Nova Scotia?
Me: No, Prince Edward Island
Bell: Give me your postal code
Me: I can’t remember my postal code, I just moved in and it’s on the phone I am using to talk to you
Bell: Address?
Me: (I give address) Are you coming this evening to do an install?
Bell: I’m going to put you on hold for a minute
Me: Sigh Ok

A few minutes later.

Bell: They are working on it.
Me: What does that mean?
Bell: They will call you
Me: Thats all you can tell me?
Bell: Yes, they will call you
Me: Ummm, Thank you

I ordered Bell Fibre and was first told an install date of Tuesday evening, which after an evening phone call from a 877 number was asked to select another time. I selected the evening period over the “all day” period (who would select that?) and rushed home for 5pm in order to guarantee I was there to greet the technician. 3 1/2 hours later I made the above phone call.

There are two things that are guaranteed to make me upset, rudeness and wasting my time unpaid. Bell ticked those boxes. Not a smidgen of polite language did whoever I talked to on the phone use.

Certainly there is a better way than this. An automated system letting you know they aren’t going to be on time or a simple phone call. My previous interactions with the engineers that come to install have been good – they call just before they are about to arrive and generally stick to the promised schedule. Bell Alliant must be a different animal.

Hopefully today, or before the weekend, I can once again bask in the glow of high speed internet.


So what does 120 mean?

I’ve been doing fairly well with my cashless habits around Charlottetown as most places have some kind of creaky card terminal allowing me to pay via my bank card, not sure they support Unionpay which they should considering the amount of Chinese immigrants I see. Haven’t seen much in the way of mobile payments but it doesn’t seem to be as much a cultural fit here as it was in China.

One part of downtown that hasn’t yet joined the late 20th century are the parking meters. Yesterday out of coins, I quickly hiked up the street to my bank to stand in line for 10 minutes to get a handful of toonies before the dreaded “meter person” came and gave another ticket. I haven’t yet clued in that there are parking garages nearby.

I had received a ticket the day before because I thought 120 meant 120 minutes, but as I set my stop watch today I realized it actually means 1 hr and 20 minutes, hence my disbelief when I received a ticket yesterday AM.

I prefer the Taiwan system where someone drives around giving you a parking bill which you then later pay at a local convenience store.

The parking meters in Charlottetown are due for some kind of update. Perhaps the city could consider implementing the Smart Parking Eco-System that was presented to Parliament back in 2016.


Around Richmond

IMG_7413

Most nights of late have been spent sitting at Receivers Coffee on Richmond Street in Charlottetown utilizing their wifi and drinking their decaf expresso. They have a flourless brownie which is deceptively small, it’s so dense that it’s enough to share with 2 – 4. It’s a great place to spend the evening, if not a bit too noisy. I would guess the staff, after a long day, turns the music a little bit louder to help them get through the final couple hours of the night. Tonight Bell Aliant is coming to hook up fibre Internet to our place so my nights sitting here will be less frequent in the future. Which is a pity because the whole area is great for a short walk before heading home.

I didn’t notice it when I was home last spring but the downtown seems to have changed in many subtle ways over the years. Not just the demographics, which have changed a great deal – it’s wonderful to hear bits of Mandarin interspersed amongst the local version of English. There seem to be a flurry of apartment units and offices tucked tastefully into the neighborhood and an ever expanding choice of restaurants to choose from. I only wish the character of the streets around Richmond would continue for a few more blocks. And unlike in Hsinchu, no one tries to run you over with their car.

I don’t think it’s just the clear skies and fresh air influencing my belief that downtown Charlottetown is a great place to be and, for those lucky enough, live.


Data detox

I’ve been going through a forced internet detox of late — I procrastinated on signing up with a local mobile plan (sticker shock I think played a part) and Bell Alliant won’t be at our place until Tuesday to get our Fibre hook up and running.

Wifi access in these parts can be spotty it seems, except at Sobey’s, where I stand around the vegetable section pretending to make the hard decisions about carrots when in fact I am trying to reply to email and keep in touch with family in Taiwan.


Speed

In Hsinchu if you want an Uber or a taxi one comes seemingly instantly. Want furniture? It will be there tomorrow. Any item you need for your home, you can expect it the same day. Food is everywhere. Getting your car fixed doesn’t require an appointment and they come to collect your car. Movers can be found quickly and scheduled to your needs. That part of the world is far from some Jetson’s like utopia but services are built around peoples long working schedules. And it’s convenient and fast.

Here in the old country things work at an entirely different pace. Furniture and mattress shopping has taught me to in some cases to think in terms of months, not days. What people sit and sleep on in the interim is not clear to me. Trucks are available for rent 6 weeks from when you need it and Maritime Electric never answers their phone. The selection of goods locally necessitates buying online where your items “usually ship in 5 business days” and then arrive sometime later. Why it takes a business 5 days to put something in a box I don’t know.

One thing that does come quickly is mystery charges. A recent car inspection featured $24 for grease, they must be usually a lot of grease or it’s laced with titanium. Maritime electric charges a $40 “transfer fee” and because I am a stranger a $100 deposit. And I used to complain about ChungHwa Telecom in Taiwan with their foreigner deposit tax. Activating a SIM costs $30 and on and on.

Of course this change of pace also means a frequent dispensing of directness. In looking for some furniture the sales person first wanted to know all about me, what my last name was, who my father was, and what I had been up to these past 20 years. The conversation quickly reached the depths of discussing China’s socio-economic problems and his feelings about the recent wave of immigration. Its good for the furniture business apparently. This is a good thing, as relationships are important here, and it’s also entertaining. I think I have had more conversations with strangers here this past week than in a year in the new world. Thats a benefit of a slowing down.


The unknown restaurant at the Confederation Court Mall

I landed here in Charlottetown late Sunday night and luckily the trip was uneventful. I flew Taoyuan to Narita to Montreal and finally to Charlottetown.

Narita airport was a delight but suffers from a strange lack of snack buying options. There is a wonderful public lounge hidden away at the far end of the terminal that only compares unfavorably to the airline lounges in that you must bring your own refreshments. Montreal was a mess. The transfer to domestic process feels like a deliberate attempt at accessing your cognitive ability after a day of no sleep. It’s long, maze-like and involves picking up your luggage and lining up to put them back down on another conveyer belt. The terminal itself feels crowded, designed for another age I guess.

Charlottetown always feels timeless to me but my taxi driver insists that the past year has turned the Island upside down. Taxi drivers are a great source of information so I’ll take this for what it’s worth.

While I have been pretending that I am not suffering from a bad case of jet lag I have been enjoying the varied food options available here — primarily at a friends house but I’ve made a couple trips to a restaurant owned by a Chinese family in the Confederation Court Mall. Nice people and food that reminds me of what I might cook in Taiwan. I’ll keep returning I think.

Charlottetown would be better served if they gutted the malls interior and turned it into a green space or farmers market but I guess these kind of experiments are hard here. The place is depressing.


An update on our journey home

I shared a little over a month ago the difficulties we were having in finding a place to live in Prince Edward Island. It was something that we hadn’t planned for, nor experienced in the past.

To get past this roadblock we decided that we would simply buy instead of rent. We have long planned to have property on PEI of some sort, either for the summer or long term habitation, and this would simply push forward our plans a year or so. Of course thinking of buying a house and actually buying are widely disparate things.

So for the past month I have gone down a deep deep rabbit hole which is the home buying on a budget experience. Doing so from Taiwan made the process all the more difficult and expensive. Not being from the 1%, or the 10% for that matter, we need to secure a mortgage. Being away for so long meant we were treated as non-residents, which we were, despite my attempts this past year to the contrary. So we didn’t have access to programs and rates available to other Canadians.

It’s a funny thing how banks decide what kind of mortgage you qualify for. It’s always geared towards the maximum – you go through the process and they proclaim you can afford a huge home you don’t need. Even the bank’s online calculators are far too simplistic and don’t take into account how a heavy mortgage changes a person’s lifestyle. Luckily we were looking to downsize, and looking at a more sustainable long term living.

Most of the houses we found were of the fixer-upper type. I prefer older homes but not being “handy” I was getting concerned that my first year back on the Island was going to be primarily spent renovating or fixing whatever problems might occur. I had really hoped to focus on my work and getting the kids settled on their other Island adventure.

But as luck would have it, our house buying experience and my deep dive into home renovation how to videos, was for naught. Through a connection, everything seems to be through a connection on PEI, we heard there was an apartment available in the Charlottetown area. A few phone calls later, and after a relative went to have a viewing, I signed a lease and paid the fees to secure the apartment. It would appear we have a place to live.

What a relief.


Hello, is anybody there?

I start our move to Prince Edward Island in earnest at the end of this week, all of our planning has been long finished, and for reasons mentioned in “Difficulties in finding housing in Prince Edward Island” it’s going to be more of a challenge than I ever imagined. I’m actually concerned about moving forward.

My concern stems from a belief that if a business with established communication channels cannot bother replying to inquiries then they are not deserving of my business. If I send a business an email, essentially wanting to give them my money, and they don’t reply, what else should a person do but move on to another company.

But there are only so many companies on Prince Edward Island. I have already sent email to a range of banks and rental agencies in PEI. None have replied. If I continue and I get the same lack of response than I’ll have no one to do business with. It’s funny.

Perhaps this is simply a case of a clash between business styles, and not rude as I feel it is. PEI might be like the small Islands of Thailand, relaxed, slow, and informal.


Difficulties in finding housing in Prince Edward Island

This summer we are we are planning on relocating from Taiwan to Prince Edward Island, which feels more like emigrating than a simple move, and despite that day still more than 3 months out, and a year of planning, it’s proving to be far more “complex” than I ever imagined. I’m already losing sleep due to the uncertainty of what will come.

It’s a high risk move, a much larger challenge than when I left PEI, my birthplace, many years ago. Leaving Taiwan and China means leaving behind stable employment, good continued job prospects, a higher standard of living, and the comfort that comes from living in a region for almost 20 years. Ironically, one of the reasons I wanted to leave Taiwan, I left for this reason before but have returned, was due to work. In the tech. industry, salaries in Taiwan are the amongst the lowest in the developed world, work life balance is a problem, and industry growth stagnant. PEI doesn’t have a tech. industry to speak of and most similar job openings advertise salaries that are on par with what you might find here, less than in China, but with much higher taxation and a higher cost of living. Of course larger centers in Canada don’t suffer from lack of choice and low salaries, but Toronto isn’t home, PEI is.

The lack of employment opportunities in PEI came as no surprise, it’s known for its beauty and people, not for abundant industry. We are attempting to work around it by working remotely, starting a “wee size” business, and living apart for one year. One of us will stay behind in Taiwan to guarantee a stable income. Splitting the family takes some serious commitment.

What does come as a surprise is the complete lack of housing. The lack of housing is compounded by the fact that before we can register our children for school, we must provide a verified address, and schools are zoned aggressively, which if we are interested in our children attending a particular school, limits our choices even more. Our daughter taking the I.B. program at Colonel Gray or Charlottetown Rural, hangs in the balance.

When I first surveyed the rental market in the Charlottetown area many months ago I was primarily concerned with making a budget – I wanted to make sure we could actually afford to live there. What I found then was a grand total of 3 rentals that suited a family of 4! I thought it might have been an anomaly, but subsequent searches these past months have shown similar results. This morning when I looked across the whole Island the majority of ads on Kijiji were for people looking for places to live, not houses for rent, which while not remotely causal, might indicate that demand far far exceeds supply. Plea’s for help on social media also indicate difficulties in finding a place to live anywhere on the Island.

Buying is an option, but that market is difficult as well. And while I wouldn’t mind taking a risk on a cheap fixer-upper, these types of homes are rare in Charlottetown. Though the housing market is far more favorable than large centers in Canada, after your downpayment it’s cheaper to own on PEI than to rent, it’s still a significant investment and committment.

I can deal with some employment and business risk, we’ve embraced all kinds of risk over the years without any possibility of assistance. But the uncertainty of being able to have a roof over our heads is a whole new experience for me. Never in the past 30 years has there been any doubt we could find a place to live, until now.

While no plan survives first contact, hopefully this will all work out and the kids can start their new Island adventure in warm beds and a stable environment. I’ll just be sporting even more gray hair as a result.


PEI Gov. says: Need a tech job? Come to PEI

Upon reading the title from this short piece from the Government of Prince Edward Island I was naturally intrigued and interested in what new developments could be happening to the developing economy of the place of my youth. Especially so with our impending move there this summer. Unfortunately it’s a poorly formed success story of one remarkable individual, and not local industry looking for talent. The title is weak sauce at best.

So no, there isn’t a sudden demand for iOS devs, software engineers, interaction designers or user researchers that you see in demand elsewhere.

What they could have focused on, and what I would have liked to have read, is more detail into what advantages that the Island provides. There surely are many. I would love to read more about Emily Coffin and how she makes her life there, her story. What services are available for her and like minded individuals? What detailed advice does she have? How is Prince Edward Island a competitive location for remote workers, independent contractors, tech entrepreneurs and the like, over larger centers like Toronto or Montreal? Or why choose Charlottetown in the summer, over popular remote work locations like Chiang Mai? How about more detail about her work with Canada Learning Code, and how she is helping Islanders prepare themselves for the realities of work today, gaining new skills, or enabling them to start what Chris Guillebeau calls a Side Hustle. I’m sure this would be inspirational, important, and stand a far better chance of influencing more to invest in a move to the Island, than the current hollow piece.

Need a tech job? Come to PEI


A Tale of Two Cities

I prefer the number on the right.

I think Spring in Prince Edward Island has been cancelled this year and we might just slip into summer, if we are lucky. Meanwhile, it’s almost time to turn on the air conditioner in Hsinchu.

My wife laments the heat and mosquitos while running. I wonder if it’s possible to get frost bite (actually it’s too cold for me to run outside and I opt for a treadmill).


Training in PEI

Judging by the number of people running throughout the time I have been home here on the Island, I’m likely in the minority in thinking that training here is an exercise in frustration. Perhaps the years I have spent overseas have weakened my ability to withstand the cold.

The weather today called for high temperatures around 15C with the ever-present cloudy skies. As I step outside the door to go for a long run it’s raining and only 4.

The locals know that weather reports are at best entertainment, something to be talked about, but certainly nothing to count on. Hence the CBC weather man.

I came here 7 weeks ago for family reasons but hoped to keep my training schedule for a race in June. Running helps me concentrate, think and maintain focus. It’s helped me physically too, but I have problems with that scrawny runner body. After running there is little time for a weight room, little energy either.

Initially instead of opting for expensive running gear, and the risks in running in the near constant snow storms this past 7 weeks, I joined a gym for a month. Running in a gym takes most of the joy out of running, so I bought a couple articles of clothing, thinking that the weather is breaking. I didn’t buy rain gear. Getting wet in Taiwan is no fun on long runs either, in China my clothes might melt.

So I sit here looking at this blog and fuming that I have to spend a couple hours on a treadmill, while being forced to watch CNN or the food network on a screen right in front of me, while listening to some ugly loud music blaring from the overhead speakers. If we move back here, an investment in a treadmill will be necessary for all but a few months a year.


Prince Edward Island Reverse Culture Shock

The reverse culture shock W-curve was developed by John and Jeanne Gullahorn. Upon arrival in the “home” culture, the returnee experiences a “honeymoon” period where all that is grand about home seems to shine through. Visits with old friends and family are refreshing, and you may notice some exciting changes. The honeymoon period doesn’t last long, though, as cultural differences and the stresses of reentry continue to mount. For people not expecting reentry stress, the challenges can be even more severe, plunging repatriates into the pit of reverse culture shock. As returnees cope with the cultural differences of their home culture and manage the logistical tasks, they climb up the slope of re-adaptation and again regain their psychological stability. As with initial culture shock, the duration of this phenomenon varies from person to person, but the phenomenon itself is prevalent among returning members of the foreign affairs community.
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When working in China I’ve often looked forward to the time when I would leave, now that I back in Prince Edward Island I’ve been missing some of the differences that set the places apart.

I’ve been doing more than my far share of moaning, complaining and generally far too critical of all things local of late. Which is to say for the first time I am experiencing reverse culture shock. Over the past 18+ years the majority of my experience on *the Island* has been on holiday, always immersed in the honeymoon period, but now that I have returned to live the experience is naturally entirely different. Here are some of the differences I am adjusting to after almost 19 years in China and Taiwan:

  • No one seems to reply to email – of all the email I have sent to local businesses and government none have replied. I’ve often thought that email was broken, and I guess this proves it, as despite advising you to get in touch via email, the most I have gotten is an unrelated automated reply.
  • The weather makes training difficult. This is my first Canadian winter experience since I left. It’s cold. I opted for a membership at a local gym vs. the hefty investment in winter running gear required to survive running in -10 temperatures.
  • Sugar sugar sugar. I tend to make most meals myself and rely on whole unprocessed foods but in the few times I’ve tried a few treats I’ve almost gagged on the amount of sugar — even spicy Chinese style food hurts my teeth.
  • Mobile phone plans tend to emphasize voice and text messaging – I haven’t used either regularly in years. In fact the phone app isn’t even on my home screen. It’s a data device for me and most people I know; communication is via WeChat, iMessage, FaceTime and others. The plans themselves are easily twice as expensive as what I pay in Taiwan and China. Data speeds are ok.
  • At many places cash is still most convenient. In China I grew accustomed to never needing to take cash with me – everything was paid with my mobile. Even little fruit stalls in a market allows for payment via WeChat wallet. Here in PEI my pockets are flooded with change, it’s a never ending stream of metal, and this annoying nuisance even has resulted in huge innovative machines at the grocery store where it will sort and give you real money in exchange for a fee. Splitting a bill here also requires far more work than simply sending money via mobile.
  • Online shopping seems far less prevalent here. In China I would order everything via mobile and despite living in a rather remote location it would be arrive quickly; it was almost a nightly habit. In Taiwan, items would arrive within 24hrs. The few items I felt like ordering here all required 2 weeks to just prepare the order, then another length of time to arrive at my door. I understand that this is a big country but surely orders could arrive within a week. I ordered a razor 3 weeks ago and it’s still stuck in some clearing centre somewhere. Online grocery shopping doesn’t seem to exist.
  • Jobs. I always knew the job market was … difficult on PEI, otherwise so many wouldn’t leave, but I hadn’t really thought just how challenging an environment it is for design all over Canada. The economy here really is different and it takes a great deal of time to really understand the fact that there aren’t a seemingly unlimited number of companies “making things”.
  • Big box stores abound. I suppose that there are similar problems in Taiwan, but you soon get tired of dropping in to each and every big box store just to grab an item or two (and you can’t buy online). I really don’t see the attraction of all the big box stores, but I guess this just requires better planning skills. Taiwan’s convenience stores really are the best.

These are just little things – there are many habits that need to be changed and it’s just a matter of time. There are a whole host of other deeper cultural differences which I face, or observe, which will may never be adjusted to, but like arriving to a foreign country, I’m sure I will eventually accept or move on.