Thursday, April 19, 2012

maybe you can catch a wave

I totally forgot I took these pictures. Brace yourself, never know what could happen in two feet of water.

(I'm sure something is lost in translation, probably says stay out of the pond...but still)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

taiwan wedding pitctures phase 2

We have chosen. Dreams have been dashed and tears have been cried and credit cards have been swiped.

From 3-5 dress changes
One black one white suit/tux for the dude
18-26 touched up pictures
one time hair and makeup application
18" album
2 mini albums
24" poster

That's what you get for around a thousand dollars, ranging from the cheapest places to the more expensive ones.
Here's what is not included...that won't be mentioned unless you're savvy enough to ask.

Car Rental: from $3000-8000 NT (taiwan money) ranging from 4-8 hours
Yeah, you want pictures of the city scape, the beach, the mountains or anywhere that's not walking distance you have to rent the car for the photographer and all his crap. So if you want the pictures they showed you in the album, be sure to ask where they were and how long to get there and if you have to pay any entrance fee's (like a private garden) or tolls.

Hair/Makeup lady to come with you and touch you up while you're on the road: $3000-5000 NT
Yeah, I wouldn't want to spend 4 hours in a car with a bride and groom either. But the hell I'm getting to the beach 3 hours away and taking pictures looking like I just spent 3 hours in a car. That lady's not leaving my side. And for that much she's going to be fanning me with palm fronds to keep me looking good.

Dude's ultra classy looking suit: $2000-4000 PER SUIT
They almost got us with this one. In Chi's words the suits that the studio offered free of charge were all "gay." They did have superfluous amounts of shininess and embroidered crap on them but overshadowing the gayness would the lack of a big enough suit.So the stuio works with a tux rental place but for some reason was reluctant to let us go over there (this place was around the corner) and see the styles and even more disturbing the lady wouldn't tell us the exact price.

I'd ask a straightforward question. "How much to rent the nicer 3 piece suit?"

I'd get a kind of an answer, "These suits are free" and she'd show us the brochure with the crappy looking suits, and we went to see their smelly closet of one size doesn't fit all frilly suits that Chi wasn't impressed with.

"No, these suits don't fit. How much to rent the nicer 3 piece suit that fits?"

"$2000NT maybe"

"Maybe?  Is that for one suit or both?"

"Lets sign the paper and then we can call and ask"

Let me take another moment to yet again praise Maggie for her ever so polite yet insistant skills.

Here Maggie insisted she be clear, and go call and ask before we do anything else. And then I insisted. And Chi just sat there probably think 'gay, super gay' in his head. So she called and asked and came back with a number. $3000.

So here we insisted that we go over to the tux rental shop which is around the corner and see what we're getting. She wanted us to sign again. Ain't happening!

So we walk over to the tux rental place after much insisting and sit down and wait for awhile as the photo lady explains to the suit lady who we are and probably says something about how we're the people who have been making her life hell for the past four hours.

So Chi gets fitted and finds some more gay suits, then tries to explain the difference between a suit and a tuxedo and that he doesn't want to look like he works at a bank or like Jiminy Cricket. (They totally had one of those jackets too!)

Both ladies insist he try things on and then decide, again skirting the question of how much everything is going to cost. A few tux's later we finally get the price of $8000 for both.
That's not $2000, that's not even $2000 for one suit. By this time the lady we've been talking to had to go back to the studio and sent one of her dress fitter lackey's to finish up with us.

My jaw sufficiently dropped, Chi's eyes obviously rolled and Maggie so convincingly almost falling out of her seat we not so calmly explained that was out of our price range, not what was offered to us and our reasons for choosing this place were growing smaller and smaller.

After must discussion and whispering and Taiwanese (they started speaking Taiwanese after they found out Chi can speak Chinese) they finally lowered the price to $3500 for both tux's. Still more than what we were told but at least we hadn't signed our life away before we knew what we were getting into.

We have been assured that NOW there aren't any more hidden fee's or extra charges for nail polish or for gas or eyebrow tweezing or white shoes to go with the white tux.

We'll see, its all written down on paper now though.

Next to come, the fitting and dress selection.

Monday, April 9, 2012

taiwan wedding pictures phase 1

So fiancee Chi really wanted to get the Asian Pre Wedding pictures done here in Taiwan. Because there is no actual wedding ceremony just a big ass reception here couples will spend thousands of dollars on a photo studio to take them around and do hair, makeup, extreme photoshopping in total wedding gear.

I suppose since they don't pay for a wedding ceremony and ask for cash to cover the cost of the wedding banquet/reception thing, these photo's are like the other major expense.

So of course we have to do it. And we're going to do it on the cheap because I won't have a job at the end of this year and I still need to buy my plane ticket home.

This grueling process I like to call The Gauntlet.

There are several streets which feature wedding photo studios/dress rentals ranging from upscale Dunhua Rd ones to more moderate AiGuo Rd. Starting at the top of moderate road my fearless and unrelenting companion/translator/most awesome co-teacher ever Maggie and I made our way from studio to studio getting acquainted with hidden costs, dress selection and extra add-ons no one in their life would ever need.
Ok maybe some people need a 60" poster of themselves, but I'm not one of them.

These places might have some flashy shiny greasy sweaty looking person outside trying to sweet talk you into the store to take a look and have a heartwarming/irritating grasp of just enough English to establish when is your wedding date and you have to take a look because you're so pretty.

I'm pretty darn good at ignoring people I don't want to talk to, even when they're talking right to me. (Chi calls it being rude) But I had my skills tested walking down this road. It's one thing in Thailand where everyone's trying to sell you a cheap suit or a dvd or a curry dinner with a lap dance included but to be smiled at, asked your age, wedding date, where you're from, if you want romantic pictures or cute pictures, that they have dresses in AMERICAN SIZES (because yes I am a giant in a land of tiny people). It was almost too much.

old school drawings, not even messed up perspective can stop these dudes!
Don't be dissuaded by any amount of greasiness or sweat, walk straight up to the door because the people you want to talk with are sitting inside in the AC, polishing their ipad's and checking their breath because they're about to whisper in your ear about a special deal just for you only. Once they sit you down, shove some tea in a paper cup at you and set you up with a photo album to look through you get your game face on for the next part.

so he didn't really have a silver suit on, but it sure was shiny

This next part I shall call: Song and Dance

Like any good salesmen knows the time honored technique of 'have the potential client look at everything first and avoid answering questions like 'how much does that cost' until the person has looked at everything, has forgotten why they even came here and will hopefully sign whatever you put in front of them just so they can get up and use the bathroom because they've been drinking tea non stop since sitting down' is the preferred method of more established and pricey places.

I know enough Chinese to understand "Wait and we'll discuss price later" And enough to say "This is my budget, what can you give me" Most of the places we went to had packages that I would be able to afford the trick was getting a good deal on the amount of stuff I was going to get and to find all those little hidden extras. For this, you need a superhero Taiwanese person who isn't too nice to laugh in the salesperson's face at an offer so ludicrous. Enter Maggie.
Maggie is a bargaining wonder machine. Everything, no matter how much, was too expensive. Thus prompting managers to be called, extra crap I don't need shaved off, and prices dropped.

These Studios will offer banquet day dress rentals, hair and makeup, save the dates, thank you cards, bookmarks, t-shirts, mugs and all other souvenir for your apparently better than Disneyland wedding reception/banquet.

No thanks. I just need the big album, a couple of smaller ones for the family, ok maybe the poster sized picture just for fun and a full on beauty makeover that will include accompanying makeup artist to all photo locations. Not too much to ask for right?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Why me?

I have no idea what I ate or drank or what kind of bug I have contracted but I've been running to the bathroom every twenty mins since last night.

 Chi was a sweetheart and gave me some Asian herbal tummy problem pills

I don't know what these people are thinking, but apparently rabbit turds cure all kinds of digestive problems. 

 And then Chi tells me later that these little suckers actually have something in them like cigarette tar. So don't take too much. Hooray homeopathy.


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