Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ringing in the year of the dog

Happy Chinese New Year!!

I'm not really celebrating it this year since I'm in Canada for the event, but I thought my blog deserved a little post in honor of this holiday. Gong xi fa cai!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Alberta Adventures

I'm writing from Saskatchewan now after almost a week of travels, where I stayed in 4 different houses, saw most of my extended family, and showed my pictures at least 10 times. It was nice to see everyone, especially my little cousins who, of course, have grown SO much since I saw them last. I gave some of them little Chinese outfits that looked adorable (though a little big..) I'll post some pics when I get my laptop hooked into the internet.
In Calgary I stayed with my brother for a couple of days and met up with some old friends. It's kind of too bad that I don't have a longer time with everyone, but that's life. It was good to reconnect with some people who I'd sort of lost touch with too.
After that I took another exciting Greyhound trip to Saskatchewan to see Adam and Erin and their beautiful daughter, Mattea. She's almost 1 and this was the first time I got to meet her. We had a little Castlegar reunion last night.
Now I'm in Caronport, where I went to school for 4 years. Some things have changed, but some haven't. It's a little strange to be here, especially with so many unfamiliar faces around. I'm looking forward to settling for a couple of days before I continue on in my travels.

Friday, January 20, 2006


After a few low-key days at my parents' house, I took the bus to Castlegar, which was a 9-hour trip. It wasn't too bad, I dozed off for awhile and read a couple books, including The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis (the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I found it more bearable than the plane ride since you actually get to get off and walk around in the fresh air every now and then. My sister kindly agreed to pick me up in Salmo to save me another hour on the bus. I spent most of the weekend with her and Carol, my aunt, both of whom took Monday and Tuesday off work for me... I feel special :) In between I was able to connect with a couple of people from high school and go to my church.
We shopped, we chatted, I got to hear all about the wedding I unfortunately had to miss last April, and on Tuesday went to the Ainsworth hot springs which was sooo relaxing. Being a Tuesday in January, we practically had the whole place to ourselves. Here's some pictures:

The cold pool Posted by Picasa

Ainsworth hot springs. Posted by Picasa

The caves - so fun! Posted by Picasa

Carol and Sarah ouside the hot springs. Posted by Picasa

mmm Timmies.... my second visit to this Tim Hortons was with Theresa.  Posted by Picasa

Sarah's hedgehog Posted by Picasa

Carol and Chris enjoying some ice cream (sherbet actually) on a lovely winter evening.  Posted by Picasa

Auntie Carol Posted by Picasa

sisters! Posted by Picasa

What's that white stuff again? Posted by Picasa

Fun in the snow Posted by Picasa

Pretty mountains in Castlegar Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Made it!

After some lengthy travelling, I've been hanging out at my parents' house for the last few days. My 9 hour flight from Taipei to Vancouver wasn't as dreadful as I'd feared, though I only slept about 3 hours total. The movies were decent (despite the fact that I was almost directly underneath the movie screen). When we arrived in Vancouver we had to wait to get off the plane for what seemed like AGES. I went through customs and checked in for my next flight and then went in search of Tim Horton's. I also had to get myself some Canadian money, which looks so strange! The coins are so tiny. The strangest thing about wandering around the airport was that everyone I saw somehow seemed familiar...
I arrived in Calgary at 11:20 on Friday (interestingly, 35 minutes before I left Taipei). Since then I've just been shopping, hanging out with my family, going through all the stuff I left here, and trying to get over jet lag. This weekend will be the first of my many trips around western Canada. Here are some pics of me and my family:

lots of hugs from Zak Posted by Picasa

mom and dad  Posted by Picasa

He really is that tall... Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 06, 2006

Here I go!

Happy New Year! The above picture was taken on Dec. 31. From beach to blizzard in one week, wow! Actually, the weather's rather mild now in Calgary, where I'll be landing in less than 24 hours! Here I am, spending my last afternoon in Taiwan somehow stuffing more things into my suitcase and sending text messages to all my friends here. I'm planning to go for a relaxing hairwash soon and generally just wasting time until I have to head to the airport. I don't think it's really sunk into me that I'm going home. I wonder what it will be like? What wonderful and irritating things will I rediscover about Canadian life and culture? Will I realize that I like Canada more and don't want to come back? Or that I like Taiwan more and want to stay there? Well maybe both of those are a little drastic. Anyways, here are some things I'm looking forward to about going home:
  • Of course seeing friends and family
  • Hugs
  • Tim Horton's
  • Snow (if we get any)
  • Being able to read and order anything off any menu
  • Greek, Mexican etc.
  • Being able to speak English all the time
  • Being able to speak English without worrying about talking to fast, or using unfamiliar words/idioms
  • Being able to cook anything I want
  • English church and worship
  • No daily near-death experiences in traffic
  • Not being the only white person in the room, on the train, etc...

Of course, I'll miss a month of:

  • My dear friends here
  • Night markets
  • Speaking Chinese
  • Convenient transportation
  • Mild weather and proximity to the ocean
  • My favorite Chinese snacks
  • Teaching?? well i guess so... I do like my job.. most days!

Off I go... wish me luck and sanity for my 12+ hour flight! I've got some music and Narnia books to keep me busy. Next update from home!


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Christmas party at the church

Students from my two conversation classes at the church at our Christmas party. This is as we were practicing the songs we sang on Christmas Eve. Posted by Picasa

My contributions to the party - egg nog, cake, and a little Christmas tree. Posted by Picasa

Judy and Amy from my beginner class. Posted by Picasa

Carla and Amy. Posted by Picasa

Teresa, my assistant and two students from the church, Daisy and Vivi. Posted by Picasa

Sharon and Minerva, university students. Posted by Picasa

Winnie and Alice, who is having a baby next month! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Party at the Boys' High School

mini-update: I'm in Taipei for 3 days before I go back home and FINALLY have time to update on my various activities around Christmas. On Dec 23, I attended the anniversary celebration at Yilan Boys' High School, which included an opening ceremony where each class performed a dance/song/skit not unlike this one we observed shortly after we arrived in Yuli last year. It was quite entertaining to see the crazy things the students came up with, most of which I couldn't imagine high school students in Canada doing. Afterward I got to hang out with my students from the 4 classes I teach there, which was really enjoyable. I joined my 2 girls' classes (yes, more than half of my students at the boys' high school are girls) for lunch and their gift exchange. I'm looking forward to going back to this school next semester.

Some students from the girls' class, they rented these costumes for their dance.  Posted by Picasa

One of my Monday classes at the boys' high school. Posted by Picasa