Friday, January 28, 2005

The Durian and other tales

Tonight at supper Sabrina told us that she had purchased a fruit that smelled bad but tasted good. I vaguely remember hearing about this fruit before, and Hope knew about it. This fruit is called the Durian, and I would describe its smell as something similar to gasoline. The taste, while definitely better than the smell, could not be separated... I hope I never have opportunity to try it again! It's hard to describe, but the smell permeated the whole house as soon as we entered, and it was quite fascinating to see some of our friends eating large portions of this fruit with flourish! The following is an excerpt from an article I found on the internet about the durian.

Individual fruits are divided into five compartments, each containing a large
brown seed covered by a sac of thick, creamy, yellow pulp with an aroma that's
legendary. You could publish a small book full of analogies that have been used
to try to pin down this odor. Some of the more common comparisons include
overripe cheese, fermented onions, rotten fish, and unwashed socks. (The bad
smell, of course, performs a very important function: It attracts jungle animals
to the fruit to facilitate seed dispersal.)
Combine the unpleasant odor with the fruit's rich, almond-sweet flavor and puddinglike texture, and you have a culinary experience that's been described in one respected book on tropical crops—written, wouldn't you know, by a Westerner—as "French custard passed through a sewer." But it's an experience that many people in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia appreciate and crave.
One of the funniest things I read was that this fruit has actually been banned from hotels and airports in Asia, especially Singapore. Wow. Anyways, it was an experience, that's for sure....

The next few days promise to be quite exciting... on top of all the work I need to finish up, we have someone coming to visit us for the weekend, and then on Wednesday I get to go see PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!!!!!! I am quite excited!
Our friends the Su's are leaving for Africa tomorrow! Craziness hey? The people who aren't visiting family over Chinese New Year are often travelling the world! Hope's going to Malaysia, maybe she'll encounter more durian...

Looks so inviting... Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Promised Land 15km

What have I been up to since my last update? Tuesday was a beautiful day and I actually put on shorts and worked out on my balcony for awhile! Of course the Taiwanese are still in heavy jackets lol
Yesterday I had a fun-filled day in Hualien. I went with Amy Jieh and her two children and we visited all kind of exciting places. Her son had a violin lesson and English class, and then the children were flying to Taipei to meet their grandparents. On the way there Annie (6 years old) put in this English cd with songs for kids, so we sang such classics as "I'm a little tea pot" "Hokey Pokey" (made considerably more difficult when you're in a car) and "The farmer in the Dell" (the cheese stands alone). We visited the really beautiful campus of this biggest college in Hualien, and walked around for awhile, and then went to this great Japanese restaurant for lunch and had many delicious things mmmmmmmmmmm. We visited the oceanfront and some other visitors places. Man this coutry is so beautiful! When we were standing by the ocean if I turned and looked around I could see mountains quite close by... We went to some stores that I'll definitely have to remember how to find, including an art store (I wanted to buy everything in it), and some stores where I found, among other things, pancake syrup, cake mixes, salsa, and bagels. As we were coming out of one store, there happened to be a KFC across the street that was advertising these tarts made with Canadian maple syrup mmmmmm. We bought some. We ended up getting invited to Joey's teacher's house for supper, and she and her family were really fun to meet! Her name is Lisa, and she gave me her phone number so we can get together another time I come to Hualien. After that we went to drop the kids off at the airport, and Annie was feeling quite anxious (it was her first time flying without her mom, since just her and her big brother (11) were going on the 40 minute flight). We weren't sure if she was going to change her mind about going, but they proceeded with the check in, and who should be in line behind them but a doctor friend of theirs that both the kids knew! After that she was ok and didn't even cry as she left. This is the family, by the way, that I'll be joining for Chinese New Years, I'm really excited, they are such wonderful people! On the way back Amy was telling me about the Chinese New Years traditions that her family has. Also on the way back a saw a sign that amused me, which is mentioned in the title of this entry: Promised Land 15km well, I thought to myself, that is a pretty serious claim to make lol... but anyways, it's a resort of some sort I suppose...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

my big debut...

... as a karaoke singer.....
Yesterday we went for lunch with our friend from Yuli Jr. High and who should happen to show up at the same restaurant but Shio Li and the rest of her coworkers for a staff lunch! That's definitely one of the benefits of small town life: everywhere you go, you'll run into someone you know, and before long you know everyone, the people at the coffee shops and restaurants we go to regularly know us. Anyways, I had heard that Karaoke was a really popular thing here, but had yet to experience the phenomenon. Our favourite restaurant (the Thai place) has karaoke and 4 microphones. When they started the machine up, we 'slyly' nominated Shio Li to sing! Her co-workers thought that was a great idea, though somehow when all was said and done, it was us who ended up singing, and not her at all! Of course the book only had a few English selections to choose from, and we'd never heard of most of them! We finally settled on "My Girl" but soon discovered that we really only knew the chorus. Well that was fun... If there ever is a next time i'll definitely choose a song I know better....
We had a fun supper and took a little wander through the night market, and then popped in a movie while I braided Hope's hair (all into little braids). I wonder how many requests I'll get now lol. Well, as Hope put it... just when you didn't think you could attract any more attention to yourself.... I personally think it looks rather cute! Wanna see?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"all of the sudden i was on the ground, underneath my bike"

I forgot to tell the funny story of the week. It happened among other events on Sunday: I fell off my bike. Now this wasn't a bicycle accident, more of a "single vehicle mishap." I wasn't actually riding my bike at the time. We had stopped and were chatting with Dan about where to go for lunch, and I was standing up, balancing my bike when it started falling to one side. Since my legs were on either side of the bike I couldn't easily extract myself, and somehow I ended up on the ground with said bicycle on top of me. I must say the pain of embarrassment was greater than the pain of falling off my bike (or my bike falling on me, however you want to view the event). Those of you who remember the "precipice" incident my first year of college may not find this story too shocking....
Anyways, I AM ok though today when the chain fell off (as i was riding it) I took it to the bike shop and the Lao Ban (store owner or boss) said I had to get the gears on my bike replaced... perhaps related to the recent topple? I guess we'll never know.
Here's some random pictures for you, in reverse order: the view off my balcony, my wall decorations (the middle is a gift from my San Min students) and the newest addition to my family (such as it is)

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

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My baking class!

L-R Sherly, Linda, Phoebe, Anna, Joy: My great students! Posted by Hello

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This morning we had time between church and lunch, so we invited our friends over to play with the puppies. This is Ariel and her fiance Richard who lives in Hualien and comes to visit frequently on the weekends. Around 4:00 I had a little baking class, which was pretty fun! It's Sherly's birthday tomorrow and so she asked if I would show her how to make cookies so she can bring some to work. I agreed and suddenly there were all kinds of people signing up! It was kinda crazy, but we had fun. Eva's daughter, her name is Anna I believe, was a big help, and actually did a lot of the work, because the other ladies kind of got tired of it after the first few tray. Anyways, at some point they got the idea to start making shapes and then words out of the dough, which actually baked better than I thought. From there I had to run because we had made plans to go to a turkey dinner hosted by Chris, one of the Yuli Jr. High teachers. About 6:00 we left for what we thought was going to be a party for the English teachers at Yuli Jr. High... so you can imagine our shock when we discovered it was being held in the building where the Mormons meet, and, in fact most of the people there were Mormons including our host......... there was one other teacher from Yuli Jr. high there, but yeah... it was definitely not what i had expected..... needless to say we felt a little uncomfortable, looking at their propaganda on the walls, making small talk with the foreign "missionaries" and wondering if there was going to be some kind of service... there was but we didn't have to attend, though i was sad to see how many adherents they had... pray that God will prevent people from being drawn to the false teachings of this cult and that those who are within it will be motivated to seek truth, that they can hear the TRUTH of Jesus Christ and distinguish it from deception.

Friday, January 14, 2005

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The puppies!! They are so cute! Soon we'll only have the brown one left, who we have named Frosty (Jeff said we could name her). Her Chinese name is Bing Kafe lol she's a bilingual puppy ;) In case you're wondering, I got my digital camera today!! I bought it off the internet and had it sent home and i just received it in the mail. More random pictures to come... because I can... Posted by Hello

Looks good anywhere! Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 13, 2005


snickerdoodle indeed, who came up with that name anyways? it is a fun one to try explaining to people! this all came about due to the fact that i baked snickerdoodles last night mmmmm

anyways, on a completely unrelated topic, i had my last class today for the semester! my students weren't that good considering, lol but that's ok, i got a few cards and notes from my students, which makes it all worth it... just when you think they don't care they say "I love you teacher" and your heart melts. One of my girls gave me this adorable picture frame with a picture of her inside! at the end of my second class one of my students gave me a hug and then she started crying!! i almost cried then too.... awww I don't know what i'm going to do when i leave for real
anyways, next semester we'll be teaching at the same three schools plus two elementary schools and all kinds of other places...
this weekend the ORTV people are coming here and we get to do a big kid's rally! i think it will be a lot of fun! We get to help with the songs and the crafts :D it will be fun to see our friends too.

Mission Statement

Live in Holiness
"Then the nations will know that I am the Lord...when I show myself holy through you before their eyes." Ezekiel 36:23b

Live in Awareness
"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live." John 5:25

Live in Victory and Sincerity
"But thanks be to God who always leads us in truimph in Christ and through us spreads the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
... Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God." 2 Corinthians 2:14, 17

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

another sunny afternoon

at present I am eating this odd jello-like substance that Sherly gave us. It comes in a little plastic container not unlike an ice cube tray, and tastes a little like coffee. We had our meeting with Dr. Su today and got to pitch our idea for giving a talk to the Young Holistic group about missions/world awareness. It will be fun I think! We probably won't be doing that until March though. We played with the puppies for awhile and even took one out for a bike ride in my basket!! It was cute, though she wasn't too excited about it... lol more confused at the change of scenery. This week hasn't been extremely exciting thus far, I teach tomorrow and Thursday.
Yesterday I did this crazy craft thing i got for Christmas from one of the families here, and let me tell you, it was hard! It's these two little chinese people, and it comes in a kit with all the materials that you have to put together. Unfortunately, the instructions are only in Chinese, so I did the best I could going by the pictures! They're not too bad from far away. I should mail some of those home, and see how the kids (or adults for that matter) do with them!
I got a card today from Carmen and Drake! It was exciting, I've actually been getting about 1 piece of mail a week, so if you're one of the people who's sent me mail, thank you! It's really encouraging! I'm sure it will slow down now that Christmas is over, but yeah, I've received mail from people I never expected to!
I was browsing through my old entries the other day, and I can see that the newness of this place has worn off... sorry for the lack of descriptions, though I suppose it is good that I got used to living here so quickly. I guess it's one of those things that you can't ponder too much (the fact that you live thousands of KM away from everything familiar), you just have to accept it, or else your ability to cope will be seriously hindered. You can read a hundred stories on ESL Cafe or other message boards about people who had bad experiences, or feel quite resentful toward the country they are living in. I wonder if with a bit more maturity and a willingness to cope, some of these issues would disappear. Culture shock is simply when the stress of circumstances that are alien or contradictory to your existing world view or values begins to manifest itself in negative ways. When you work and live in another culture, you are constantly under stress, it requires physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy to understand, adapt or simply endure.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

here at the end of many (but not all) things

LOTR fans will catch my veiled reference... so i'm a nerd... i can live with that... i've been through less than half the special features so far including one commentary...
The end of this week was kind of strange because it was both my last class at Yu Dong and our last English Club until next semester. It's so odd for things to be wrapping up in this way when it feels like they've just started. But this next month is kind of going to be like the deep breath before the plunge (ok, ok i'll stop now) since i have to try to get as much pre-planning done as i can for my fairly hectic upcoming schedule! It actually worked out really well for me earlier; i sat down and planned some sample lessons for the articles i wanted to use, and brainstormed activities and kind of put them in order so they could potentially be a lesson (though not fully developed) so when the week came, i already had an idea of what i wanted to do, and my lessons were as a result pretty easy to put together.
Anyways, we met with Faith today who used to work at ORTV, and is now living in Yuli where her husband is a pastor of a small church. We're visiting their church tomorrow, it should be fun! Unfortunately (for us, not them) they're going to Toronto for 3 months in a couple of weeks! We've got plans to get together when they come back!
Oh it's also gotten much warmer here again :) People stare in shock and amazement as we (especially Hope, who's been wearing t-shirts) walk around not bundled up as if we were facing a blizzard!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

What kind of teacher forgets she has class???

So yesterday was a mixed up day all around.... our Chinese class got changed from Thursday to Wednesday, but our school classes didn't.... now you have to remember, before i relay this shameful event that not only was our day mixed up, but every other day we teach, we teach from 3-5pm. IN ADDITION, we have not taught at Yuli Jr. High for 3 weeks... thus making it easy to forget that we maybe had class from 2-4 on Wednesdays instead of 3-5.... at least it was easy for Hope and I. So here I was sitting in my room at 2:20, thinking I had lots of time to get my photocopying done for class when Hope came in after her teacher called her and we realized in shock and horror that we had missed our first class!!!! We got to the school in time for our second classes, but felt really bad for our poor students!! So anyways, Peggy also admitted that she had forgotten that detail, and laughed about the situation. The worst thing though is that our classes at that school might get cancelled next week too because they might have to study for exams during that time. Our poor students!

In other news, I again went through the ordeal of mailing things at the post office.... since my parcel hasn't arrived home yet, I am beginning to wonder if they just threw it out from the sheer annoyance of all the trouble i was... that would be really sad! I noticed that some of the workers got really busy/took lunch breaks right about the time i walked in, but there was only one open teller for most of the lengthy process, creating a rather large line behind me.... I hope you all like your postcards ;) Maybe I should bring someone with me next time I try to send mail...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

confessions of a blog slacker....

HAPPY NEW YEARS!! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

It's hard to believe it's really 2005, I've been here 2.5 months, and in Yuli over 2 months now!
2004 was quite an interesting year, I set foot on the soil (or concrete as it is) of 4 different countries (counting Canada and the U.S. of course), but hey that's the most in one year for me ;)
It was a year of accomplishments, changes, and huge steps of faith.

So here I am, beginning the year in Taiwan. And what a beginning it was! On Saturday, I spent most of the afternoon cooking (it was fun!) for the party we had! I made eggnog, which to my shock and amazement actually tasted like eggnog. I made two different kinds, one of which was cooked. I also baked cookies (and though that was the worst that recipe has ever turned out for me, our friends managed to eat them ALL, i'm talking 4 dozen for 8 people lol!) and made spaghetti. They also brought over food, snacks and drinks. Ariel made this Thai shrimp soup and some chicken prepared in a traditional Taiwanese way. After dinner we played Phase 10, which lasted forever! They had all been planning to leave around 9, but ended up staying until they game was over at 11! They liked it so much that when we saw them the next day, they asked if we could play again! So on Sunday evening we played in this coffee shop with Dan and Michelle.
After church on Sunday we invited some of the kids we know to come play with our puppies! It was a lot of fun, and we even found a home for one of them!!! Awww the cutest little girl Ming Ting, holding a little puppy, it was really an adorable sight. After the first group left, the daughters of the buxiban owner came over for an hour. They are 4 and 8 and their names are Echo and April. They were really sweet with amazing English (I guess that's to be expected) and were really polite. The younger one was a little afraid of the puppies even... so cute. Anyways, the puppies were pretty tired after all that company, so they all went to sleep, but we still had these girls for a half an hour! So we gave them hot chocolate and played "Old Maid" with them. Yay for all the little card games I bought when I was at home!

On Monday, we decided spur-of-the moment (like an hour before the train left) to go to Hualien! It was a fun trip, and we didn't get ripped of by any of the cab drivers we tried to speak chinese with! The highlight of the trip may have been this little boy we befriended in the food court where there were all these little arcade games that took tokens. We decided to play a game of air hockey, and he was brave enough to come over and watch us, so we let him play the next game, and then played a few other games with him, it was fun! Not to be forgotten, our trip home was quite interesting. We bought open tickets for the way back, and on the train we were on, there wer no seats left. We had to perch ourselves on this divider thing in the middle of the car, alternately supported by the wall and each other. I'm sure we made quite a spectacle of ourselves, especially when we began to play phase 10, which was frequently interrupted by people walking through. It's a little difficult to describe, but suffice it to say, it was rather amusing! OH the other exciting thing is that I found the ROTK Extended Version in Hualien!!!!!
I bought it of course, though it is a region 3 dvd so it won't work when i go back home.... at least i can enjoy it here, and i have been thus far!! sooooooo good.... so between that and my social weekend, well, you no longer need to be mystified by my lack of updating...