Friday, April 27, 2007

A quarter century

So, today I turn 25! I've been pretty excited about this seemingly respectable age. The age that many people say is the "prime" of your life. Personally I hope every year is the prime of my life, and so far it seems like every year I've lived has been better than the last. By God's grace I'll have more birthdays to celebrate in the future. This is my third birthday in Taiwan by the way! So far we have 3 in Taiwan, one in Brazil and the other 21 in Canada. Not bad, not bad. Anyways, my original plan was not really anything because well, I have class all day. And I didn't really make plans to celebrate with anyone. But my dear friends here in Taiwan made sure that didn't happen! On Tuesday, Juliana surprised me by bringing a cake over before our regular dinner date. Then on Wednesday night in my class, my students brought me a cake which we ate in the middle of class. Coincidentally, that class had the highest student turn-out of the semester though most of the students didn't know we were celebrating my birthday.
Most impressive, I must say though, is my students from my class this morning. They made me a huge card and sang happy birthday to me. But I hadn't told them it was my birthday... I asked them how they knew, and they said "from your passport!" during our travel unit a couple of weeks ago, I'd brought my passport to class to show them, since most of them don't have passports yet. I was VERY impressed!
For tonight's class, I'll make a cake for my students, they don't have a choice but to help me celebrate lol.
P.S. it cracks me up that the 2 on the cake is backward in the looks like i'm 55 years old.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sunny Weekend

This Saturday the girls' high school I teach at had a little fair. Each class set up a stall where they were selling food, drinks, and handmade items. I went with my friend Juliana and we wandered around for a couple of hours. I saw students from this year, last year, and even from the other schools!

It was a really hot sunny day, and we both ended up a little sunburnt by the time we left. But it was fun to see the costumes and ideas my students came up with, as well as sampling blue sprite and deep fried ice cream.

There's another fair at the boys' high school this saturday, which I've been invited to, though I don't teach as many classes there. I'll probably stop by for a bit.

Right now Yilan is hosting its annual Green Expo, which includes a film festival. They started showing films on Saturday, and on Sunday, I went to two in one day! The first one was
An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Al Gore. It was really impacting and definitely a wake-up call. Visit for more information. Later, I went to a German movie called Yes I Am! and even got to stay for the Q and A with the director afterward. It was a documentary about racism in Germany, especially discrimination against blacks, and how a group of musicians started a campaign to raise awareness after a racial killing in east Germany. Their website is here. Or listen to the music here.

But the weekend wasn't over yet, as we were leaving the theater we ran into a missionary in Yilan who I hadn't met yet, but has a lot of connections with people I know. We ended up talking for a long time and he shared his vision for Yilan, bringing more unity to the churches and bringing Chinese culture back into the church. REALLY exciting stuff.

Next week I've been asked to translate for a youth event at the church.... translate from English to CHINESE. I tried to protest/say I couldn't do it, but they said it would be ok, it's a laidback time to hang out with the kids, so welll...... i guess we'll see how it goes. This is another big challenge for my Chinese!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

mmmmm mango

Mangoes are one great reason to stay in Taiwan. Finally they are in season, sweet, juicy, delightful, and only about one Canadian dollar each! Soon I'll be eating mango bing (shaved ice) to cool off a summer day. Interestingly enough the lady who sold my mango to me today asked if I was "allowed" to eat them yet. As you may recall from the banana incident, certain foods are forbidden in Chinese tradition when you have an injury. She hesitated and asked me if I still felt any pain, if so, I couldn't eat it. I told her I was fine and quickly grabbed my mango before she changed her mind about letting me have it!

8 more days

Your Birth Month is April

You are trustworthy and highly ethical in all facets of life.
Helpful and steady, you are able to solve any problem.

Your soul reflects: Bliss, playfulness, and curiosity

Your gemstone: Diamond

Your flower: Sweet Pea

Your colors: Yellow and red

Monday, April 16, 2007


Here she is, my lovely new computer! I'm quite enjoying using her, though I kinda got freaked out the other night because the tv was off, and there was NO noise at all in my apartment. My other computer has a noisy drone you can hear as soon as you walk in the door. Anyways, I had to turn the TV on because it was too quiet! It also has lots of cool little toys like a built in card reader, that I can just stick my memory card from my camera (or phone or whatnot) into and it automatically uploads the files. No more searching for the cable or not being able to do anything because I forgot to bring it. So quiet and fast and light and convenient and darn cute too.

ANYWAYS, I gave my two classes a test today, and I have a space on their test paper that says Class: ____________
for them to write their class NUMBER in case the papers get mixed up.
On one student's paper
Class: Ms. Oke's Class

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well my dad went and got a tattoo for his 4xrd birthday. Actually it was a surprise gift from my mom and sister. And I think it's really COOL! Also cool is the Chinese connection, he got a dragon, since he was born in the year of the dragon, and even got the Chinese character for dragon, 龍 long written on there.
As great as I think it is, I am not getting a tattoo anytime ever. You know how I feel about needles, and if you don't, well you probably don't know me very well.
Although Hope did suggest once that we get team tattoos after our first year in Yuli, I think we ended up getting necklaces instead.
It's been a busy week for me, I've been on the go since I got back from Taidong on Sunday. Fortunately I didn't have to stand on the train for too long. Otherwise I've been enjoying my new bike and computer! More this weekend!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

going again

I'm off this weekend to (hopefully) sunny Taidong! I'm going to visit Faith, who I haven't seen since November 2005! Yay for 4 day weekends, although it means I'll have to stand part of the way on the train b/c there are no available seats! At least I don't live in China.... the trip will only be a couple hours, not a couple days! Back Monday....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

with my own eyes

The rumors are true, seeing is believing, STARBUCKS is indeed coming to Yilan!!! I recently walked by the building site, conveniently located next to Barista, another big coffee shop, and felt joy deep inside my heart. The only thing that could be better is a Tim Horton's coming to Yilan. I can keep dreaming, can't I?

I boldly let my students use their computers and go on the internet today, a little worried that they'd all just surf whatever they wanted instead of doing the task assigned, but I'm happy to say I had 100% cooperation! From the back of the room I can easily see every student's screen. We were talking about toys and surfing the FAO Schwartz website. It's a lot of fun! Take a look if you get a chance.

I bought a bike yesterday!! Pictures to come soon. It's nice, but I was REALLY nervous riding though, and getting on and off is still really awkward....i need to work on that still.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

World, Here I Come!

I had a pretty fun weekend, filled with lots of going out. It was one of the first weekends in a long time that I've done so much. I feel free, I don't need crutches, wheelchair, or umbrella to go out. Though I have to rest if I walk to much and I still feel some discomfort. I finally feel like I can sort of get back to normal life! This will be further compounded tomorrow when I go to buy a bike!! I've been itching for more freedom of mobility, and not having to rely on taxis or else be limited to where I can go by how far I can walk. On Thursday, my doctor said there's just a little bit of bone that still needs to grow back and that I can ride a bike, as long as I go slow, and in his favorite phrase (he says it every time I go) "Just don't fall down."

Last night I went out for dinner with one of my adult students Pauline, who is just a couple of years older than me. After dinner she asked if I wanted to go to a market "just on the other side of the tunnel." By this she meant the tunnel that runs for 13 km on the way from Yilan to Taipei. The night was still young, so I decided sure, why not. We drove about 50 minutes but found the market was starting to close down for the night. We still got to see and try a couple of things, and had lots of time to chat in the meantime.

Today I went to church where I've been teaching on Wednesday nights. I really enjoy the people there, and in the afternoon some of us decided to go check out the aboriginal festival that was taking place in Yilan sports park. What was originally just going to take a look turned into 3 hours! It was fun, though hot! I think it got up to 30 or higher today!

The walkway around the park was lined with stands selling aboriginal food and handicrafts. At the end was a stage where groups from different tribes performed dances,

Su-Wan showing a beaded bracelet. Notice the vendor in the background displaying a large amount of her merchandise.
A stand selling pork and some kind of small game bird. The man was really friendly and gave me some free samples. He made me promise to go back to Canada and tell everyone how delicious his pork is. He also invited me behind the counter for a picture!
It's the year of the pig, and there are pet pigs everywhere! This poor little piggy got picked up by every third or fourth kid who passed by.

Fried flying fish. (Try saying that 5 times fast)

Click on the picture to enlarge. This is some kind of hen maybe. It looks like a miniature chicken.

And finally, a whole pig on a spit. For a few dollars, they will carve some meat off for you. I opted not to try this one. The open eye was a little too freaky.