Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ocean Park

We enjoyed a day at Hualian Ocean Park with Amy and her kids. Zak and Joey hit it off right away. We watched some shows and went on rides. The only bad thing was that it was pretty cold and windy.

I even went on some rides! Crazy, you think? Perhaps. But it was fun.

Mom came on the merry-go-round with me.

Actually the hardest part was getting on and off the rides! Once I was strapped in, no problem!

Zak loved the roller coaster.

Lots of photo opportunities there.

Statues just before going into the aquarium.

They had dolphin, sea lion, and dance shows, all of which were fantastic! My favorite was the dolphins. I'm amazed at what they can get those animals to do!


I've been to Canada and back! Had some interesting times as I slowly weaned myself off crutches and renewed my appreciation for cold weather....
Actually, it was only cold for the first couple of days, then it was quite nice. I got over my fear of walking on ice and did some shopping. I went to the airport on Saturday to fly back to Taiwan and was informed that my flight actually wasn't until SUNDAY. Don't know how I missed that, but felt pretty foolish! I got an extra day with my family and on Sunday night began my uneventful trip back to Taiwan. Now I'm just here cleaning up my apartment (I never thought I'd be excited about being able to actually sweep my own floor!) and getting organized for next semesters classes, which for me, will begin on Monday.

Now back to regularly scheduled programming as we continue with the Oke's trip to Taiwan!

Friday, February 23, 2007

  • H eaded to our hotel once we got to Hualian, the beautiful Parkview. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone! Not too expensive and nice service, rooms, breakfast, grounds...
  • U npacked a little then headed to the beach - Ci xing tan, where we got a nice view of the ocean before it started to get dark
  • A riel and Richard joined us and we went to a night market for dinner, had an interesting variety of food, including instant noodles, oyster omelettes, and bbq kebabs
  • L ovely Taroko was our first stop the next day where we took pictures and my family did some little hikes, had a picnic lunch at the top
  • I ncidentally, at the place where I broke my leg...
  • A fter we came back down we went to the pine garden and the stone market before calling it a night
  • N ext day we went to the Ocean Park where we met some new friends...

The view from our hotel window, the beautiful grounds and swimming pool which was closed for winter.

The view at Ci Xing Tan beach.

Just before heading to the night market. Dad, Mom, Me, Ariel, A-Hsiang, Richard

Mom and Dad took a stroll around the hotel the next morning after breakfast.

At the front gate before entering into Taroko National Park.

Temple at the top of the hike dad and Zak took while we browsed the hotel gift shops.

Us having our picnic lunch!

Surprise dessert from A-hsiang, delicious tiramisu.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Showing the 'rents my town

On Sunday afternoon we headed to Yilan and my family was able to see where I work and live, as well as meeting many, many people. First stop was a church activity where a calligraphy master was creating spring couplets for people. It's tradition during Chinese New Year to put a spring couplet (a poem consisting of two lines, written vertically in Chinese script - two banners is one poem) on your door as a blessing for your household. Since my family members don't have Chinese names, we transcribed the sounds, and they were then written into poems.

So here are couplets for my family Tai-Rei (Terry), Xue-Lun (Sharon), Xia-Lu-Di (Charlotte), Sha-La (Sarah), Ri-Ke (Zeke) and Zha-Ke (Zak).

After that we went for dinner with most of the students in my Wednesday night class, and Zak made a friend: 6 year old Ben, son of Dr. Chen. His English was quite good, and after eating the two of them took off to play outside. We had a nice traditional Taiwanese dinner. My parents tried almost everything! Everyone was doing quite well with the chopsticks too.

The next day we headed to the Traditional Art Center, though we could have spent at least 2 more hours than we did there! Rebecca (8) and Deborah (4) some of my favorite little girls, accompanied us, and Rebecca declared herself our tour guide! Their mom had dropped us off, but had to go take care of their younger sister. We had fun browsing the shops and taking pictures with some of the props they have out for tourists.

Dad banging the gong.

Large replicas of puppets that are the stars of a soap-opera type tv show in Taiwan.

Sunny picked us up from there to show us around her village, the fishing village of Nan-Fang-Ao. We had fun touring, enjoying a lovely beach view, and driving up to a school at the top of the hill overlooking the harbor.

We were slated to head to Hualian the next day, but not before a delicious hot pot lunch buffet with Robert, an elder at one of the churches I go to. We were amazed by his hospitality! I hadn't met him until the week before my family came, but he'd found out they were coming and had free time, so offered to take us around. He drove me to physio, and toured us around Yilan (including the schools I teach at), and then treated us to lunch. Dad and Zak really enjoyed the hot pot, though it wasn't Mom's favorite. Zak discovered his favorite food ever is available even in hot pot - ramen noodles. He asked to eat Ichiban every meal after that, and even had a bowl from 7-11 a few days later.

Stay tuned for the next phase in our whirlwind tour!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

OK OK I have time to Update

Sorry if you've been checking my blog a lot (Carol) and waiting for more pics and stories. I guess I'll start after the Zoo. We went to Taipei 101, so we could see the city from its highest vantage point. Zak had told me he was scared of heights, and that the 101 building was the one place he DIDN'T want to go...but we figured he'd get over his fear, and we were right.

We took the elevator up to the observatory, and I got to relax a bit while my family did the audio tour. I've been up there a few times, so I didn't need to do it. I rested my tired feet, then bought Zak a t-shirt as his birthday gift. Finally, dad, Zak, and I decided to pay the extra $100 (about 3.oo Canadian) to go to the outdoor observatory. I got "special access" because of my crutches, and got to take an elevator up instead of the stairs. Then we made our way around the windy deck of the 91st floor. It was really neat to be so far up and to have a clear view unimpeded by the glass. Definitely worth it to do at least once.

Then we had dinner at Ruby Tuesday's which was close by, and chosen because my friend had given us a 20% off coupon and
recommended the place to us. We didn't read the fine print though, and found out after our meal that the offer didn't start until February 1. Zak's birthday - Jan 27. So we paid full price.....about as much as we would spend again on
meals for the next week.

My parents discovered that buying western things in Taiwan is much more costly. After we finished our meal, I tried to surprise Zak by asking the waiter to put a candle on the cake we'd ordered for him. Well I guess they were fresh out of birthday candles, because we got a rather large white candle that looked quite humorous in the cake! But at least Zak got someone to sing happy birthday to him! I hope he had a good birthday in Taiwan. I think it will be a memorable one. How many kids can say they spent their 13th birthday in a foreign country?

Here are a couple more pictures from the first two days:

1. Danshui harbor 2. CKS memorial gate 3. crossing the street under the road

Top Left: Taipei 101 from outside

Top Right and Bottom Left: wall murals before going up to the observatory at Taipei 101

Bottom Right: At Danshui harbor. One last picture before heading back to the hotel.

Happy New Year! Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Send this eCard !

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

On Arrival

Time to start the difficult task of blogging two weeks of a packed schedule and a good time. My family (Mom, Dad, and Zak) arrived in the Taipei airport around 6am, and we headed to the hotel I'd chosen. After an interesting breakfast (brave Zak decided to try the Chinese breakfast, only to find that congee with vegetables and tofu was a little too strange for a first meal in Taiwan), and getting settled we headed out to the CKS Memorial hall by MRT. I'd tried the MRT the night before and was sure I could do it without dying or getting slammed in the door or losing a crutch down the gap between the platform, but I still wasn't too sure about escalators. Though I did master them later in the day.

The memorial hall is flanked by two other buildings, all in traditional Chinese style. We had fun wandering through the gardens, snapping pictures, and my dad and Zak even raced to the top of the stairs at the monument. Mom and I stayed at the bottom. I'd had more than enough stairs by then, and that was only the first activity! Unfortunately, to get from our hotel to the MRT station you had to go down and up again under the major intersection we had to cross.

We had lunch and admired the cool architecture at the Living Mall, and brave Zak discovered he also didn't like duck. Poor kid didn't get much to eat that first day!

We all dozed off on the MRT to Danshui, and unfortunately weren't able to enjoy it fully because it was getting cold and rainy by the time we got there, but we got some Taiwan favorites: candied strawberries on a stick, and Zak played a darts game where he won a toy. We went back to the hotel early for a nap and then out for dinner with Cindy, one of my friends who lives in Taipei. I think we called it a night before 10 that day!

The next day was Zak's 13th birthday, and we celebrated with a McDonald's lunch of his choosing and then headed to the zoo. Thankfully they had wheelchairs there you could borrow, because I don't think I could have made it the whole afternoon walking around the zoo!

Lessons learned on the first day:

- keeping busy will fight off jet lag for awhile
- Chinese breakfast may not be as "cool" as it sounds
- it's ok to take a taxi when your legs are tired, and don't worry when your taxi driver puts on his glasses halfway through the journey
- don't give tired people too many options, or lunch at a food court could be slightly disastrous
- you can do a lot on crutches
- you don't have to squeeze to hard when pulling a candied strawberry off the stick, in fact, it's better that you don't
- don't be afraid to rest when you need to, or when it looks like they need to

Friday, February 09, 2007

On our Way

It is now February 9, and we're on our way to Taipei to take the plane TOMORROW. Just two more days of Taiwan fun, and then we'll be in chilly Canada. I'll be in Canada from Feb 10-25, and there will be lots of time to update and post pictures then! I saw the doctor yesterday and got the ok to walk around my house without crutches. When I go out I still need to use them for safety. The doctor said be careful getting on and off planes etc. advice which came a little late...but that's a whole other story.....

As you can see we've been having a good time and meeting tons of people. We just came back from our week in Hualian/Yuli/Kenting and I think my family feels a little overwhelmed at how much we've done in such a short time, not to mention how many people we've met. But I think they really understand now why I love the people here so much, because they have been amazing, and generous to the point of discomfort, haha. More from the other side of the Pacific.