Thursday, April 28, 2005

Happy Happy Birthday, Let's Celebrate!

Wow! I'm so tired! But I know I need to update! I'll tell about our trip to Hualien in a later post, it was quite wonderful!
Anyways, as some of you may know, I celebrated my 23rd birthday today! I can honestly say it was one of the best birthdays I've had for at least a couple of years! Last year I was in Brazil, which was cool but it was our second day of travelling so we were more tired than anything else. This is my second birthday in a foreign country!
I woke up this morning and talked to my mom. Then I went for breakfast and went to get my hair done... I got something akin to "princess" hair done (sheng re de tou fa maybe) complete with a string of fake pearls in it! I prepared for my classes which were ok (well except for the one that was cancelled lol... we got to Yuli Jr. High and found out our first class was cancelled and so we went for coffee with our co-teachers... and i got my birthday Macchiato hehe). We invited some of our friends to come to our house tonight, and after class made a chocolate kaluha cake, it was sooo good! We went to Dr. Su's house for dinner and had a great dinner, including seafood (salmon, shrimp, and oysters) vegetables, chicken and rice. I think this was the first birthday meal I've eaten with chopsticks! Then we went upstairs to drink cinnamon tea and have cake. Peggy even found candles that were the shape of the numbers 2 and 3! I got my packages from Tammy and my mom and a card from Johnny, who I must say, has faithfully been giving me (or sending me) birthday cards since 1996!
I got a Shel Silverstein book of poetry from my mom which was absolutely great! The poems in it are hilarious! We shared a few of them, though they usually take a lot of explanation! Peggy gave me a beautiful shawl and a flower pin.
From 8:00 until about 11:00 we had people coming and going, eating cake and whatnot. It was great fun! We got to spend time with Selina and Catherine from Yuli Jr. High, our cool friend Esther Huang, and the teachers from the Cram school (plus Jen, the Canadian girl whose been here a couple months now). It was so special to be with all these new and wonderful friends when I am so far away from my old friends.
I am overflowing with thankfulness to my friends and to God today. I hope I won't forget how blessed I am.
Here's some pictures!

Here you go... THE birthday picture! 23 seems so much older than 22, maybe because you can reverse the numbers to be 32 instead of just 22 again.... heh.  Posted by Hello

My princess hair! Posted by Hello

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Hope making the cake!  Posted by Hello

My little pile of gifts, all sitting on top of the lovely shawl from Peggy (it's black and sparkly). Including a puzzle from Hope (we'd talked about doing one since we arrived), cards, slippers from Michelle and Jen, my box from Tammy (with one pack of TIM HORTON'S coffee out) and some other gifts that I'll give you closer look at. Posted by Hello

My cake at the Su's house.  Posted by Hello

This was made for me by Esther. It is a chop - a special stamp often bearing your name, the characters on this mean "Always Joyful" Posted by Hello

A closeup of the beautiful hair clip I got from Amy Jieh.  Posted by Hello

These are from Dan. A pair of chopsticks (decorative ones) and a traditional cooking tool that has the pattern of a turtle and the character for long life. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 24, 2005

a break from the ordinary

well first of all, I should say that singing went pretty well! It was fun... I really enjoyed having Pastor Zhang (possibly THE most energetic man in Taiwan) in the front row clapping, and beaming his little smile... i need some students like him! But actually it was encouraging to look out at the congregation and see so many familiar faces. Many of the people even participated when we sang in English! Anyways, I had a whim to make Lasagna tonight which I did with not too many difficulties... we haven't been able to find cottage cheese here, or ground beef for that matter (not normally my favorite thing, but it's quite useful in some dishes) so I made a chicken, spinach, and mushroom lasagna. The only problem was that I ran out of sauce at the end, so the top noodles didn't cook as well, and ended up a little crispy. We ate our lasagna with Shirley while watching Anne of Green Gables. Good fun!
Tomorrow we're going to Hualien for fun but unlike other days, we are staying overnight (in a hotel even). We will be joining some of our distant coworkers from Taipei in doing some school rallies! It will be an interesting experience. I think they're wanting us to do some school rallies in September or something. We'll be coming back late Tuesday night. From then on, it shall be a mad rush of classes, with three each on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Sunday isn't quite over and it feels like I'm almost in the next weekend!
G'night friends!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

just some thoughts

It's 11:45pm.... contrary to days of old, I want to go to bed soon but I'm waiting for my room to cool off a bit from a balmy 31 degrees.... the temperatures these days are like the end of June in Canada.
There was a mosquito in my room last night and I have a ton of bites now... I actually woke up at one point as I felt it biting me.. odd hey?
Tomorrow morning we're singing in church, two songs that are familiar and two that really aren't... we'll see how it goes... I think i'll be turning my microphone off for the one...it's really really fast... anyways, here's a line from one song that we're singing in chinese and english (possibly just Hope and I singing the english at first...since that seems to be their general idea of how things should work, regardless of the fact that we're singing Mandarin songs with them, therefore it makes complete sense that they sing the English song with us!). That was a really long aside...

Wo zhi dao wo de jio shu zhe yong yuan huo zhe
Wo xin bu zai you lu

Yo yao zai mei yi ge ri yeh zhong
Lin sho ta di feng cheng zhi ai

For I know my redeemer lives forever
My heart will not forget

He fills my every day and night
With abundance of his love.

So funny story... when Coco gave us the sheet earlier the word abundance was broken up into "a bun dance" which we found quite amusing... we explained that that roughly translates to "mian bao wu" and thus should be kept as one word.
I shall conclude with Hope's (mainly funny because of the late hour and my state of mind) recent hilarious remarks on her nemesis, the gecko:
"Geckos are so fast.... I don't even move that fast!"

Friday, April 22, 2005

Peace


a little corner of tranquility at Yon Feng Guo Xiao Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

a new week has already begun, and i have yet to share much about last week... it was kind of a rushed week, especially on account of our trip. Sunday was my actual 6 month anniversary in Taiwan... unbelievable!
Sunday morning we got to go to Grace church (which is different in many ways from Yuli church) and that was really great! We visited that church once in January, the week before the pastor and his wife were leaving to study in Canada for 3 months. Ever since then we have been eagerly anticipating their return!
On Saturday afternoon we were invited to one of our students' farms to pick mulberries. That was interesting.... they grow a number of interesting things, including grapes (to make wine), betel nut (eeeewwwww), and bamboo. Our hostess served us fresh papaya and red wine. I thought the wine was quite good but Hope couldn't drink it, so she cleverly distracted our hostess and then switched our cups... I had to struggle to keep a straight face... but anyways, by the end of the year we'll be pros I guess.
We were quite busy on Saturday, teaching classes in the morning and afternoon, and then going to our student's house and teaching again in the evening... we just had a half an hour to teach there, so we kept teaching the students "Give us clean hands" and then did a little quiz about world leaders and prayed for them. If anyone (besides Hope) can tell me what country King Jigme Singye Wangchuk is the ruler of, I'll take you out for ice cream when I get back to Canada (which, incidentally, was the prize we gave to the teens here)... p.s. thanks Hope for the clever idea ;)

On Friday night I had dinner with Esther while Hope was in Fuli, and we had a wonderful time. She's been talking about visiting Canada or America for awhile now, and her newest plan is to come with me in October lol. I think it would be fun, but I don't really know how serious she is about it.
Well it's been getting warmer here, it feels like a late Canadian June right now.... it rains pretty much every night though... yeah, other than that i've just been trying to plan all of my lessons... I could use some inspiration on how to work with my Jr. High students if anyone has any suggestions!
Well I have to go teach at Zhuo Feng soon, so much fun!
Remember: my birthday's coming up... cards and gifts can be sent to my address here in Taiwan lol... just kidding!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I ate frog....





...just thought you should know.

Friday, April 15, 2005

You Are Romans
You are Romans.


Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Jane
You're Jane! Smart and proper, you're always
learning new things, and work hard to preserve
the things special to you.

Which Disney Princess Are You?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

now that was a trip

Saturday morning
We taught English Club before heading off to Taipei. We were teaching emotions, and it was actually a lot of fun. One of the activities was acting out sentences using various emotions. The one we did as an example was "Is this your dog?" Hope played the dog, and bit me, got run over by my car, chased aroudn the room, and of course patted on the head. But then we got to the emotion "hungry" and both of us just cracked up at the though of hungrily asking a potential owner "is this your dog? (or can i eat it)"

Taipei
We had a long train ride and then a taxi ride to Amy's house. The cab driver on the way was a little odd. He asked us if we had babies. When we said no, he was like "why not??" and we were like uhhhh we're not married. His advice was to find a nice man in Hualien and have some babies... oh dear..

We went to Page One, an amazing bookstore in Taipei 101, and I bought Desiring God by John Piper and A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado. Those should keep me busy for awhile!
Later we met up with a bunch of wonderful people for dinner at Chilli's. It was so great to see friends again, no matter how briefly I had met them last time. We had a long wait to get into the restaurant and spent quite a long time in there. I got a chicken quesadilla mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

Hong Kong
Well this should make up the bulk of this post! We met at 6am to ride to the airport. Our flight was through Thai air. We waited in line to check in and took turns going to get our money changed into Hong Kong dollars, which looked very interesting... Their money is even more colorful than the new Canadian bills, and some of the coins are scalloped around the edges...




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As I was making my way back into line I had to duck under one of the dividers since Hope and Marcus had moved ahead, but I wasn't able to regain my balance quickly enough and ended up falling on my face... it wasn't even 7am.... anyways, things did get better from there, though I had a few more ditzy moments.
Here's a picture of Marcus and I on the plane... well half of me... sorry I'm a bad photographer! (or I just have short arms):




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The flight to Hong Kong took about an hour and a half, after arrival we went to buy our ticket for transportation to and from the airport, which was HK$100 almost 1/4 of the money I had changed over! I changed NT$ 1500 and got about 370 Hong Kong dollars, which is almost 60 dollars Canadian. Anyways, things did get cheaper after that, thankfully. We arrived in Hong Kong proper and using the guidebook purchased from Page One the night before, tried to find our way toward the main bus terminal. It was a little bit difficult to get around at first. Interesting to note that they drive on the opposite side of the road here (just like in England). This was important to remember when crossing the street and frightening at times when riding the bus. As we turned the corner I'd see a car careening toward us on the wrong side of the road! We got to ride a double decker bus, and of course sat in the top! The view was amazing, we went past Repulse Bay, a really beautiful beach area that is another famous landmark.

We went to Stanley, since everyone told us it was one of the best places to go, especially for shopping! Well we did do a lot of shopping there, and I found some great gifts as well as some fun things for myself... now i just have to make it to the post office.... there's not much room left in my closet for all the stuff I have to mail!!!! Stanley was quite crowded and there were a lot of foreigners there, more than I've seen in one place since I left Canada, I'm sure!
Here's a picture of the street and of Hope by the sign:

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We had dim sum for lunch which is like a Chinese appetizer platter. It was ok, though it is probably better somewhere else.

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We kinda ran out of time, so we didn't get to go up the Peak, but that will definitely be first on my list if I ever go back! Of course, if I ever go back, hopefully it will be for more than 1 day!! We went back to the main bus station and finally asked someone about a strange phenomenon we'd been observing...

As we walked around Hong Kong there were thousands of people just sitting everywhere, on mats, on pieces of plastic or cardboard. They sat in groups of 4-12 eating lunch, playing cards and doing a variety of other things. We couldn't imagine why so many tourists would do this, but didn't really understand why, if they lived in Hong Kong they wouldn't have these get-togethers in their homes.... seriously though, they were lining the sidewalks... finally Marcus asked someone what the deal was and she told us they were all workers (maybe mostly Thai, Filipino etc.) for whom Sunday was their only day off!

With our remaining time we just walked around a bit more and rode the famous Star Ferry.
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So we finally returned from Hong Kong around 10:00pm. Whew what a trip. I really liked Hong Kong, though I wouldn't want to live there. It's quite different from Taipei, there is more foreign awareness maybe and a large foreign community. We weren't stared at for a whole day! We heard all kinds of languages and accents. We tried to speak Mandarin to many of the shopkeepers and they didn't understand us...interesting eh? Well Cantonese (and not Mandarin) is the official language of Hong Kong, and also they were probably not expecting us (as non-Chinese people) to be speaking Mandarin, so they were trying to figure out what English word could possibly sound like what was coming out of our mouths....

Another interesting thing was that on the bus I was listening to the people behind me speaking in Mandarin and I could tell from the differences that they were from Mainland China and not Taiwan. There are a few differences in accent: in China they will add an "er" sound to the end of some words (I think this is especially if they end with -an or -o). Also in Taiwan, the retroflex (for the TESL nerds out there) sounds, or the sounds with the tongue rolled back are more relaxed which can cause some confusion: so instead of shi bu shi (is it or not) they say si bu si... the zhi becomes a z (hence our initial confusion over some of the last names zang vs. zhang) and four and ten (shi and si) are only distinguished by which tone you use... bad for foreigners who aren't totally listening for the tones yet! Anyways, I digress...

I'd give an inventory of what I bought but that would ruin all my suprises! I did get a couple of sarongs for myself. We were looking at chinese dresses but couldn't quite find the right sizes... we're thinking of getting some made... :D
Oh yes, before I conclude my stories of Hong Kong, I should relate the stupid moment of the day! We were quite tired, having returned to the airport after a long day of walking around in the humid climate of Hong Kong, and having gotten up so early (my excuses...) and were getting dinner at "Popeye's Chicken" or something like that that both Marcus and Hope have heard of (I'm not sure if Canada has this chain). We had talked about sharing the 8 piece meal, but then decided to just get our own things... I wanted to get chicken strips, but as I was ordering them there was some confusion... see apparently I ordered the 8 piece meal... though I have no recollection of saying those words... so I was really confused when the lady asked me what I wanted for the second drink... eventually Hope let me know that I had, indeed ordered 8 pieces of chicken... I hastily changed my order, though I still didn't end up with chicken strips... I got 3 pieces of chicken... it was ok.. too greasy for my liking though... ANYWAYS, we had a good laugh over that one.
Here's a couple more Hong Kong pictures for fun:
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And Home...
We caught the 6:45am train back to Yuli on Tuesday and then taught classes in the afternoon and evening... I was asleep before 9:30....
oooh yeah... and within 10 minutes of being back in Yuli, I crashed on my bike again!! :( It was my fault, but also the fault of the bike... see it hasn't really been the same since my last accident... the steering's a little off and the brakes aren't too great. I had my heavy bag stuffed in the basket which didn't help matters, and as I was turning the corner I kinda wiped out.. no blood this time, just a couple of big bruises and an unrideable bike.... the thing is... they didn't fix it that well last time... so i don't have two much faith in taking it back to be fixed.... at the moment I've borrowed and extra bike from someone... i think i'll ride that for awhile.... while I was walking to class today a man offered me a ride, which was really nice, but i don't normally take rides from strangers (i learned that in like, kindergarten~!), so I declined.

Shang Gang hen hao wan! which means Hong Kong is really fun!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fun in Taidong (aka Taitung)!

Whew, we just returned from our little vacation in Taidong! It was nice to get away from Yuli for a bit, and hang out with Faith and her roommate Rebecca! It was cool to be able to speak English and spend time with people of both shared faith and experiences. The pictures below actually tell about most of the fun. Hope and I decided that from now on, we have to take pictures any time we see an aboriginal statue.
Lets see, what did we do? Went shopping a bit, visited the ocean, got our hair washed, got sticky pics taken, watched a movie, walked around downtown Taidong, Ate pizza, pasta, nachos, and mcdonalds (sounds like a healthy trip eh?). Oooh yeah and Faith and I got to commiserate about Tim Horton's though she had some that she made for us mmmmmmm. well i used up all my creativity in posting the pictures below, so go look and leave me some comments people!

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We made some new friends in Taidong Posted by Hello

....however, some were not so friendly.... Posted by Hello

I swear, I only have 500 NT! Posted by Hello

gleaning wisdom from the ancients Posted by Hello

When in Rome... Posted by Hello

or Taiwan.... Posted by Hello

Hope got into a really deep discussion with some of the locals. Posted by Hello

We rode around Taidong on the back of a scooter and a motorcycle respectively... now THAT was interesting Posted by Hello