Monday, February 21, 2005

A Sunday night art excursion... for your enjoyment Posted by Hello

break's over guys

welllll tomorrow is my first day of teaching in the semester, and what a day it will be! It will start at 8:00 where I am leading a Studio Classroom discussion with Dr. Su and Peggy (and Hope, though her English really is quite good) during our ministry meeting. I spent some time tonight planning what I would do, including a fun little activity I thought up... I must say, there is a much bigger scope of activities you can do with intermediate speakers than beginners. If I didn't have a translator in my elementary and jr. high classes things would be much different, though I'll save that topic for my master's thesis (The role of students' native langauge in the ESL classroom: I've had many ponderings on this topic since I've been here) LOL.
Anyways, tomorrow afternoon we'll be teaching at Zhuo Feng elementary, which is an aboriginal school 30-40 minutes away from here. We'll be arriving by 2:50 to have a tour and meet the staff and we teach until 4:40. But that's not the end, oh no. I found out tonight at approximately 8:00 that the reading centre I'll be teaching at (which incidentally I found out about on Friday) starts TOMORROW! So from 7:30-8:30 I'll be teaching at Yuli Church. This news was rather shocking and a little stressful... after murmuring to myself for a few minutes "my reading centre starts tomorrow" I got to work, pulling out old and current lessons and piecing together a first class that I hope will work. The good thing about this being second semester is that your first day of class generally doesn't have a ton of variation, once you find activities that work well. You can repeat and modify for your needs, but there are certain tasks that need to be accomplished on the first day, such as introducing yourself, learning basic information about your students, and trying to assess how much English they know. If one is really prepared they can also establish classroom routines, but in this case since I haven't actually decided what I'll be teaching yet, I'll be satisfied with accomlishing those first 3 goals. So yeah. The new semester is here.

Prior to all of this, I had a delightful day of receiving a fabulous package from Tammy et. al. and learning how to play Tennis. Now I am drinking some Chai Tea from said package (which they actually don't have here, they're all abot the green tea and oolong neither of which are my favourites...). In Chinese Chai is called "Indu Cha (India tea). Fascinating the things you learn. Tammy also sent me a tin of English Toffee Cappuccino from TIM HORTONS :D ahhh Timmy's *sniff*
hehehe it's all good, i learned how to say "caramel macchiato" in chinese ma chi duo YUM

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Makeover and conclusion

Now that I've been back nearly a week (hard to believe!) I can write the final installment in my journey. In the meantime you may have noticed a few changes around here lol... i must say, the orange was a passing fancy, it never could have lasted.... i guess i'm just not ready to make a long term commitment to one color at this stage in my life... hahaha
The sweet butterfly picture I stole from Jo's blog (as with the last picture)... what can I say, the girl's got style! Finally, I added a little sidebar thing in case anyone was really that curious about my current interests etc, all of the titles are links to sites about the things i'm reading, watching etc.
Oh and finally.... when I changed my template, I joyously discovered that all my old comments were restored!!!
I woke up this morning at approximately 4:22 to an earthquake! Which was, to date, the largest one I've felt. It actually lasted quite a while. We found out that the epicentre was in the ocean but almost directly parallel with Yuli... well that was fun.

Anyways, back to the trip, the last half wasn't quite as exciting as the first half, though still fun. I did have one bad day though, which included a sunburn, getting mud all over my khakis, falling down the stairs and meeting like three different sets of people, not necessarily in that order. In all it was very tiring, and I wasn't in the best of moods by the end of it. But things got better, as they always do. Taijong was fine, I don't think I'd want to live there though, but then we've already established that I'm not really a city person. Lugang was interesting, there were a lot of fun culture/history things to see and learn, but it was incredibly crowded. There are many really old structures in the town that are still standing and hundreds of temples in this small town. One of the more famous sites was this really narrow alley that used to be a road. Only one person can pass through it at a time. There was also a road that was a bit like walking through Yuli's night market, but with more people and better attractions, and every now and then an interest plaque to stop and read. I got to try this candy called "Dragon's beard" which was actually quite delicious. It is this stringy very light candy that is dipped in icing sugar and then some peanuts or sesame is put on top and rolled into a ball so it is in the centre. A whole barbequed squid on a stick was a really popular food as well (saw it everywhere, but wasn't especially inclined to try it). If it hadn't been so crowded (making it quite difficult to stop anywhere), I probably would have bought a lot of souvenirs/gifts.

The family we stayed with in Tainan was extremely rich, and had a huge house, with like 4 or 5 floors. Every bedroom I saw had an attached bathroom. The husband is a psychiatrist who has published a book (I got a signed copy). It's about speaking English to your baby in the first 6 months of life. Fascinating. The wife is a doctor of Chinese medicine, including acupuncture *shudder* Actually I was kind of interested bt her job, but I don't think acupuncture is on my list of things to experience while in Taiwan.

We rounded the island the next day and saw some more beautiful scenery as well as the Taiwan Strait. We avoided Kenting because of the traffic jams, and made it to the East coast in a few hours. Driving up to Taidong was just amazing! Again, we were travelling along the pacific coast. Taidong is a nice city, I hopefully will go back again sometime. The highlight was visiting the great museum they have there, even though the museum part was closed lol. But it's like an aboriginal museum, and at 5:00 they had something called the water dance, which was a series of fountains shooting up in different formations while music played. It was pretty entertaining. I got some video footage with my camera, though I haven't figured out how to share that yet. There was also a maze that was really great. It used walls of water to block of passages! It's pictured below:

So yeah, that's my trip in a little more than a nutshell... now it's back to work. Next week we start teaching about half our classes, and will pick up the rest the week after.

Oh yeah, Chinese trivia facts of the day: the names of each of the cities: Taipei, Taijong, Tainan, and Taidong actually refer to direction: Taipei (or bei) being north, jong is middle, nan is south, and dong is east. Fascinating. I don't know if there's a Taixi (xi = west) but the word for "thing" or "stuff" is dongxi meaning east-west (or anything in between)

A building on the campus of Taijong University Posted by Hello

One of the storefronts in Lu Gang.  Posted by Hello

This was a really beautiful place that I want to go back to sometime! Posted by Hello

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Outside the National Museum of Prehistory, Taidong Posted by Hello

This maze was so cool! Posted by Hello

This roughly traces our route around Taiwan.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

the festivities never end

A series of bangs and pops break the midnight silence, awakening me from my slumber. Is mainland China attacking?? Ah no, it's just some person celebrating chinese new year a week late.... i wonder how much they spend on those firecrackers, there seem to be a lot....
on further investigation, i guess this is a big spirit worship night in Yuli, many of our neighbours have candles lit in the entries of their homes, are burning incense and ghost money, and of course, setting off fireworks...

perhaps i shouldn't write in my current groggy (and slightly grumpy) state, i tend to get a little melodramatic.
anyways, it seems like my old comments may be gone forever, leaving a little void in my heart that may never be filled again....

Anyhow... the rest of my trip had its moments but was a lot of travelling, to Taijong where we visited the Taijong Metropolitan park, and rented bikes, to join the throngs of walkers and cyclists out enjoying the holiday. I got a little sunburnt though. Then we went to two different towns that were fairly nearby and met a bunch of people in Jack's family. I also got to see a very traditional community. Some of the houses had parts still standing that are over 100 years old. Many things have been build on and renovated, but you can still see parts of outer walls etc like this one:
Jack told me that this style of housing was very traditional with the family temple in the centre and homes branching off on either side. On both sides of the temple are small connected homes - one for each son in the family, the biggest one being for the oldest, and so on down the line. On the left side are the homes for the sons of the first wife, and on the right side for the sons of the second wife. If a man had more than two wives they'd build a set of houses behind those ones. It was a very fascinating history/culture lesson. To wrap this one up here is a picture of one of the homes I just described. As you can see they've been modernized in many ways, though it is kind of odd to see steel doors on the entrance of an ancient looking brick building.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

New Years in Taipei!

Before I go back to the narrative of my holiday, I changed my comments to haloscan, but i haven't decided if i will keep them yet... sadly i discovered when i did this that i erased all my old comments... i'm not sure if they'll come back if i change the setting back. In other blog upkeeping news, I have had more than 1000 visitors now!!! That number shocks and amazes me.

Anyways, overall, my first Chinese New Year was rather enjoyable. I learned to recognize a lot more Chinese phrases that are used all the time, especially "Ying wen shenme shuo" (how do you say _____ in English, which was being asked to other chinese people when those brave souls were trying to talk with me!) . In Taipei we stayed with Amy's mother and brother who were very nice. Amy's mother is a high school principal, who is retiring soon. I could definitely see the whole recripocal giving thing working with her.... I broke out the cookies (which were well received at each place) and she was immediately digging in her closet to find something to give me... amazingly she found this jacket that she'd brought back from America (she had a number of them apparently). Now I can't imagine why a small Taiwanese lady would buy any number of large men's jackets, but though a little big, it does fit ok, and you'll be able to see it in later pictures. Later when I gave her some Canada souvenirs she hurried to her room to prepare a "Hong Bao" for me. Giving gifts is a very important part of this culture, though not so much sentimental value is attached to them. I'd say it's more a way to gain face. The Yo's came with a van-full of gifts to give to the various people and received many more which occasionally would end up at the next house we visited, especially the large bags of fruit which were a popular item (more than the 5 of us could eat, that's for sure).
The firecrackers started fairly early in the morning on New Year's Eve, and continued right back here in Yuli, especially the first day I was back. For dinner we ate some special foods including jiaozi (boiled dumplings which are represent wealth and good luck becuase of their shape), turnip cakes, hot pot, and a whole fish, which we could only eat the middle of (not the head or tail which i wansn't too choked about) I was told it was because the word fish sounds like the word "more than enough" symbolizing that they will have more than enough in the coming year. They also eat a very long vegetable that is steamed and symbolizes long life. Another big favourite was chicken cooked in wine a dish which i believe actually translates literally as "drunken chicken." There were of course lots of sweets as well though some strange things like 'sweet fish jerky' and a few other things which were best avoided. Close to midnight we exchanged Hong Bao and the kids really enjoyed the Canadian money i gave them. Jack and Amy gave me one with NT$1000 all in 100 dollar bills (more lucky since they are red). This family really has been too good to me! Oh yeah, and then we sang "O Canada" hahaha this is not a traditional Chinese New Year practice, but I gave the family bookmarks with our national anthem on them, and they wanted to sing it. Jack and Joey sang Taiwan's flag song for me too. (Taiwan has a number of national songs, and this one they told me is the most upbeat).
The next day we braved the traffic jams to visit Ying Ge, a town with a huge pottery museum (which unfortunately was closed) and lots of pottery shops and opportunities to learn. It took us over an hour to get there (apparently the rest of Taipei had the same idea), but only 20 minutes to return! Thankfully that was the only traffic jam we hit the whole week, which is miraculous. So I had my first experience of making pottery, though I wouldn't say it was ideal conditions.... for one, I couldnt' really understand the directions the man was giving me! But anyways, something that looks like a vase came out of it... i'll be sure to post a picture when I get it in the mail two weeks from now. I really enjoyed making pottery though, and would love to take a class sometime... it is a hobby I hopefully can pursue sometime in the future. That day was Joey's turn to have a bad day.... he was making some amazing creations on that pottery wheel, but being the perfectionist he is, he would keep trying to tweak it until it would fall and he'd have to start over again.... but he was insistent on getting the perfect object.... time though, was not on his side... it came time to leave and he didn't have anything to show for it... he was pretty upset :( oh yeah, and after that when we were trying to turn around they got a really deep gash in their van... not a good day, but they handled it all quite well. When we were with Jack's family later in the week he was able to share those experiences and what God had taught him through them. It was really cool!
Ok I'm getting tired of writing for now... so here's a few pictures... i'll write the last installment tomorrow ok?
Going in reverse chronological order...

Making pottery

Annie and Joey making pottery

Amy's Family

Amy's mom giving me a Hong Bao

Taipei 101 sign

Taipei 101 from the ground

National Palace Museum

Some more beautiful sights along the Pacific coast of Taiwan on the way to Taipei

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Welcome to Taroko Gorge. This is the famous gate that stands at the entrance of the park. I hope you will enjoy this short tour. Remember, you can click on any picture to enlarge it. Posted by Hello

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Maybe you can get an idea from this picture of how high up we were. Though it doesn't capture just how brilliant the water in this pool was. This was one of the many wondrous sights as we walked the hiking path called "9 Turn Tunnel" probably my favourite place in the gorge. It's not a continuous tunnel, and I believe it used to be the main road through the gorge.  Posted by Hello

The tunnels ahead were lit as you can see in this somewhat blurry picture. Posted by Hello

Amy and Joey at the entrance of the 9 Turn Tunnel. Posted by Hello

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Stone lions guarded the entrance of this bridge Posted by Hello

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One of the many stops along the way. Posted by Hello

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