Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sheng Dan Kuai Le!

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm writing this from Taipei, where I'm celebrating with some friends for the day (but have to teach classes tomorrow morning!)
This week has been full of Christmas parties and other fun events, keeping me rather busy. I've also been cooking a lot: kaluha cake, egg nog, and snickerdoodles.
Last night was the big church party/program which was held downtown across from the department store. I sang two songs with my classes from the church, which we'd been practicing for awhile, but actually I was much more involved in the program that I thought! I suppose after last year, I shouldn't be too suprised... anyways, they started singing a song near the beginning of the program and then stopped and said something along the lines of "Ok now we're going to sing it in English because we have a special friend with us tonight. Where is Charlotte?" Which triggered a series of events leading to me being pushed onto stage and handed a microphone to sing with them. Anyways.... as i was reflecting on this experience, it occurred to me that this is the kind of thing people actually have nightmares about. I love my life. lol. It wasn't so bad... Oh yeah, I was also mentioned in the sermon... it's really wierd to be listening to a sermon and then suddenly hear your name. I think the pastor was saying something good about me coming to Taiwan to teach English. Let's hope so!
Happy holidays and blessings to you this Christmas and always.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Observations #4

One of the things I've been teaching my students about this year is how it's our tradition to put Christmas presents under the tree.

In contrast, here is the giant Christmas card my favorite class gave me, with a pen at the bottom for scale.

This week and next I'm busier than I have been pretty much the whole semester. It's kind of nice. Lots of Christmas events to attend (or host as the case may be) in addition to my regular classes. Tonight (Thurs) is my Christmas party for my classes in the church, which will include snickerdoodles, egg nog, and kaluha cake. Tomorrow I'm planning to attend Yilan High School's sports day/anniversary celebrations. Saturday Ariel's coming and we have the big church program (which I'll be singing in with my students). Sunday I'm off to Taipei and then Monday it starts all over again with five classes. Whew. Merry Christmas to all of you! Hopefully I'll get in another update before then.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Observation #3

The gospel is a surprising message. God broke through the clutter of humanity's disjointed perceptions and skewed orientation to spring the most unexpected and most glittering of all surprises.

Through a baby born in a stable, through a man who evicted sickness and made waves stand still, God sprang out at us shouting: 'SURPRISE! I still love you!'

Quoted from here

Christmas Observations #2

Nativity Scene in Hong Kong

Sign beside nativity scene. Text reads:
The Maryknoll House Nativity collection shows how the Christmas story has been told in different cultures throughout the world. The story is about a child who was born in a manger, with his father and mother . Made of various materials, each culture has taken the basic theme of the story and wrapped it in the language of its own art.

Talk about glazing over the details... not even the details, the most important parts. Anyhow, this is an observation, not a rant, so I suppose I should stop there.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas observations #1

This Christmas tree is outside Miramar in Taipei. Bright, nicely decorated, very tall, very festive, or maybe not? The little blue decorations don't in fact say "Merry Christmas" rather, they say "Nokia." Hmmmm. Click on picture for larger view.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Losing my mind?

I went to eat teppanyaki last night - it's Japanese. Everyone sits facing a large grill where they stir-fry your food in front of you. As I went to pay, I discovered that my wallet was not among the myriad of other things residing in my purse! What do you do??? This happened to me once before in Yuli, but it was at a place I went a couple of times a week, so they didn't mind me coming back to pay later. But last night was only my second time visiting this place, who knows if they even rememberd me! Anyways, I tried to explain as best as I could - I don't know the word for wallet, so it went something like "Wo mei dai wo de..." gestures to purse "...chian" (I didn't bring my money). I offered to give them my cellphone number and then go to get it... to which they replied "There's no need, just pay next time you come here!" Would that happen in Canada? I don't know. Anyways, I thanked them and told them I'd be back immediately. I went home and found it sitting on my desk (now why did I leave it there??). Oh dear.

This morning I went for breakfast, as I normally do. That place is generally quite entertaining, and today the discussion was on how "li hai" (talented) I was because I was using chopsticks with my left hand. The businessman to my right proceeded to switch hands and try to pick up his egg with the chopsticks in his left hand, which actually looked quite amusing. They also commented on how beautiful my nose and eyes are (?) and how I should tutor their children... pretty typical first meeting conversation. Anyways, when I returned home, I discovered that I'd forgotten my room key inside my room, and had indeed locked myself out. Fortunately, the church office has master keys for every room, so I didn't have to wait long to get in..but man... I might be losing it!
What do you think? I'd like to open this up for discussion:


Is Charlotte losing her mind?
A. Yes
B. No

To vote, click on comments and type either "yes" or "no"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Year in Review

stolen from some other blogs... look at the title or first line (or both) of the first entry of each month in the last year, and you'll have your year in review. Here's mine:

2005 - A Year in Taiwan

January: confessions of a blog slacker.... HAPPY NEW YEARS!! Xin Nian Kuai Le! (January 5)
February: A fun-filled weekend. Our visit with Ada was loads of fun!
March: every day's the first day i'm not sure i have any really good excuse for my lack of updating last week....
April: What a life! Let's see, Wednesday was interesting... I had a good Elementary class, not so hot Jr. High class, and a no show teacher's class....
May: hualian and hualian wow, we spent a disproportionate amount of time in Hualian last week!
June: Sun, snorkeling, scooters, and seaweed ice cream Sunday morning, 5:30am, we woke up and quietly exited our friend Faith's apartment to get breakfast and wait for our taxi.
July: Happy Canada Day! San Min 7/8. My favorite Jr. High class. In honor of the holiday I saved the picture with students waving Canadian flags I gave them.
August: va-ca-tion I had a great time in Taipei. It was the longest I'd been away from Yuli since Chinese New Year (in Feb).
September: Typhoon. The adage of the calm before the storm rings eerily true as the day before the typhoon settles upon me.
October: Right now I am eating a very interesting dessert consisting of warm soft tofu in a hot syrup.
November: Xia Yu Tian can't stop us! Winter is coming. The temperature has dropped and last weekend it poured constantly.
December: Trip #1 - Southbound My south-island tour (not quite as exotic as it sounds LOL) was quite enjoyable.

What can we learn from all of this?

  • I need to start my entries in more interesting ways
  • I only mentioned my actual job 3 times... highlights of the year apparently were the weather (3 times), food (twice), and travelling/having fun (5 times)
  • It seems I'm having way too much fun - I really DO work! I promise!

Speaking of having too much fun... here's a picture of the awesome beach I went to yesterday with A-Hsiang:

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas is Coming!

I decided my blog needed a new look for winter, and needed to be a little brighter! Let me know if you encounter any problems with the new template - page not loading, things not showing up etc.
Not that there's snow in Taiwan, but hey, in less than a month, I'll have all the snow I ever wanted (and probably more). This week was cold and rainy, and I felt pretty yucky on Tuesday and Wednesday with a head cold. I even had to cancel some of my classes. Blah. I never get sick! I think it was partly from the HK/Taipei combination and a week of travel on trains/airplanes with artifical air (not to mention not enough sleep!) I'm pretty much over it now, but still a little stuffed up.
Anyways, after my Chinese class on Thursday, I wowed the kids there with my *amazing* paper snowflake making abilities. After I made about 5 or 6 snowflakes (to a chorus of wo ye yao! - I want one too!) they let me take some pictures of them! My Chinese teacher's third daughter is in the first picture, she is one of the most adorable kids ever!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Trip #2 Hong Kong

I returned to Yilan for about 24 hours to teach a class and repack my bag. Then I headed to Taipei on Thursday morning. Friday morning I headed to Hong Kong. Here's more detail than you ever wanted about my day:

  • 5:30am left the place where I was staying
  • 6:30am arrived at the airport
  • 7:50am boarded the plane to Hong Kong
  • 10:00am arrived in Hong Kong Airport
  • 11:00am got off the airport shuttle in Kowloon
  • 11:15am got lost outside shuttle station
  • 11:30am found main road and browsed the markets in the area, including the jade market
  • 12:30pm took the MRT to Causeway Bay
  • 1:15pm had an interesting lunch with 3 strangers... I entered the restaurant and they seated me at a round table that was already occupied by two ladies, and about 1o minutes later another lady joined us. The two ladies didn't give me a second glance as they chatted away in Cantonese.
  • 2:00pm went to Times Square
  • 3:00pm wandered through Jardine Market
  • 3:30pm went to Ikea!
  • 4:00pm rested in Victoria park
  • 4:30pm took the MRT to Central Station
  • 4:45pm got a toffee nut latte from Starbucks and went to check out the Christmas decorations in Statue Square
  • 5:30pm took the shuttle back to the airport, where I had dinner and waited for my plane
  • 8:15pm took off for Taipei
  • 11:00pm arrived back at Mel and Naomi's house and promptly went to bed!

Do you ever feel small? Posted by Picasa

A street in Kowloon. Posted by Picasa

One of the many markets I visited Posted by Picasa

2:05pm in Times Square. Posted by Picasa

Season's Greetings from Times Square Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

Hong Kong is making the most of the Christmas season. Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

5:00pm in Statue Square, just outside of Central Station. Posted by Picasa

Taking a break with the pigeons in Victoria Park

Between the city and airport. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Trip #1 - Southbound

My south-island tour (not quite as exotic as it sounds LOL) was quite enjoyable. A day shopping in Hualian, a day hanging out in Taitung, and then a couple of days trying to see as many people as possible in Yuli. Here are some highlights:

Taking part in Taiwanese election fun... as Faith and I were taking pictures somewhere this man slowed down to pose for a photo. I'm extremely thankful that weeks of parades, banners, politicians showing up anywhere and everywhere, and slow moving trucks such as this one blaring announcements and music is OVER!! Posted by Picasa

A really fun coffee house with a windmill.  Posted by Picasa

Faith catching a ride... Posted by Picasa

Hairwashes in Taitung. Posted by Picasa

Dr. Su enjoying chocolate and cheese fondue, known in Taiwan as chocolate or cheese "hot pot." He went a little overbord though, and started dipping the chicken into the chocolate one, insisting that he liked it better... Posted by Picasa

Peggy behind the counter of YH Cafe. Posted by Picasa

Pretty in Pink... Ariel, Michelle, Me Posted by Picasa