Saturday, May 26, 2007

Quips and Quirks

It is getting extremely HOT here, I heard that Taipei set records by reaching 37 degrees on Thursday. Here it's been a little cooler, around 33-35. It's also one of Yilan's rainy seasons (the other being winter) called "mei yu" spring rains, or plum blossom rains, which are supposed to last until Dragon Boat Festival coming up next month.
Last week it rained a lot but I tried to ride my bike to church quickly when I saw what I thought was a break in the weather. From a Canadian point of view, if it's raining, it will probably stop soon... it can't rain like that all day, right? Wrong! The rain got heavier and heavier as I made my way to church and by the time I got there I was rather damp. After a long service, some time playing with kids and lunch, it still showed no signs of letting up. But the people at my church are so wonderful! They found someone to drive me home AND dropped my bike off later on. So no slippery bike accidents OR getting soaked!
Speaking of bike riding, I've seen some interesting traffic anomalies lately, actually the alarming thing is that they're not that out of the ordinary, but I keep wishing I had my camera. The first was a man riding a large motorcycle with a baby, maybe two years old literally sitting on the front handle bars. While the child was I'm sure having the ride of her life, I couldn't help but wince not only at the position, but also the lack of helmet for either baby or daddy.
Later that day I saw an old couple riding a bicycle. Or maybe I should say a well dressed older woman whose hair and make-up were done to a T, riding side-saddle on the back of her slightly rickety husband's slightly rickety bike. Oh one more thing, she was holding a large umbrella to shield them both from the sun as they rode.
Anyways, I'm just going to and from classes these days, though I did kind of have an exciting moment "running" for the train the other day. I came at the last minute (due to parking my bike at a safer place that requires a longer walk) and had to run/hobble down and up the stairs to the second platform and then to the door as the train man was saying "kuai yi dian" or hurry up! So I discovered that my leg is improving, and I could run for my life if I had to, but my ankle was most certainly not happy with me after that escapade.
Finally, an "I love Taiwan" moment this week. See, I'm going to be a bridesmaid in Johanna' s wedding this August. She mailed the dress to me already to get altered, and I asked around for someone who could do it. My friend hooked me up, and I went prepared with about $2000NT (about $80.00) since I wasn't sure how much it would cost. I also went NOW because I wasn't sure how long it would take - the final verdict - 2 days and NT$150 (less than $5.00 Canadian)!!! I am a happy camper.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Creative Students

In a describing people role play:

A: Did you see the man who stole your purse?
B: Yes, he was tall, really tall.
A: What about his hair?
B: He had red curly hair.
A: Do you remember anything about his face?
B: Umm he had a big red mouth.
A: What was he wearing?
B: He was wearing yellow, with red and white stripes.
A: That's helpful, anything else?
B: Yes, his shoes were big and red!

Yes, this actually happened in my class. About half of the audience figured out who they were talking about and were giggling, while the rest were a little confused. Do you know who stole the purse?

Friday, May 18, 2007

God takes away and gives

Ok, lots has been happening with me. In the last two weeks I've been to Taipei twice and to Hualian twice (each an hour and a half away), so that's about 12 hours of train time...15 actually if you include my trip to Yuli (another hour and a half). And of course to get to the train station I've had to ride my bike. Once I get to the station I park it among a hundred other bikes, mostly belonging to students and other travelers. But for some reason on the last trip, I came back to discover my bike was nowhere to be found!! I looked up and down the parking lot with two bags and in sweltering heat, and wasn't able to find it. I ended up taking a taxi home.
I was frustrated to the point of tears. This is my second bike that has been stolen in Yilan. And it's just really inconvenient to have no transportation. I called someone to pick me up for my evening class and shared what had happened with them. At the end of the class, as I was thinking about one more train ride I'd need to take the next day, I said jokingly - "so if anyone here has an old bike they want to sell me, let me know -- the uglier the better! maybe that way it won't get stolen."
But the amazing thing is that one of my students suddenly piped up that actually he did have one! Since he has a car and a scooter he never rides a bicycle, and it was actually given to him by a former student of mine who'd had a heart attack (my evening classes are adult students in case you hadn't figured that out) and couldn't ride anymore. So after class we went over to check it out. Actually it's not ugly at all, it's a really nice bike! Hopefully I'll have a chance to take a picture of it before it gets stolen :P So in the course of 12 hours I lost and gained a bike.

And for the record it WAS locked. When I tell people my bike was stolen, they always say to me "You shoulda locked it." OF COURSE I locked it!! You'd have to be crazy not to lock your bike when parked at a busy train station overnight. Anyways, that's my bike story. Reminds me of a verse:
Don't store up treasures on earth where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven...

Monday, May 07, 2007


i finally splurged and did something i've been wanting to do for a long time: got my old glasses tinted. now i have prescription sunglasses woohoo!

too bad tinting was almost the same price as the glasses in the first place, though still incomparably cheaper than in Canada!

i won't be around much for the next week, but i'll update when i get the chance.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

More good times

Sometimes it seems like my life is simply a series of amusing events that I must somehow navigate. It usually helps to keep a sense of humor in any case. Here are the stories from the weekend:

SURPRISE!: On Friday night the church prepared birthday cake and fruit for my class, only forgot to tell me! They assumed I knew, and I didn't think anyone even knew it was my birthday. I stopped in at the office before my class and they didn't mention anything, and then when class was over, I was the last one to come down as usual and the guy who works on the first floor came looking for me. He asked where everyone was, and why we hadn't come down to eat cake. Uhhhh...what cake? Oh like the massive cake (that could have fed 50 people!) that he'd been asked by someone (it's a mystery to all) to go buy and cut. So here I was at 9:30pm with a giant cake on my hands... it all turned out ok, as I got to go around and bless the students doing their homework and the Sunday worship team who were still hanging around the church. Then I brought some to my good friend Lily who also happened to have guests.

TRANSLATION FIASCO: Saturday night, as you may recall I was supposed to be translating for a missionary team from the Doulos that was coming to one of my churches. I reluctantly agreed, and was really happy when I arrived and found that my friend Su-wan was already getting ready for it. One of the speakers had written out her testimony and I went over it with Su-wan so that she understood it all. She said all I had to do was sit beside her and help her if she was unsure of something. We did some introductions and then the first person got up to speak, so far so good. But somewhere in the middle, Su-wan decided that maybe she couldn't do it, and as they transitioned into introducing a video they were going to show, she abruptly handed me the microphone! Well I did my best, but there was one little thing I'd been worried about. You see there are a couple of sets of words in Chinese that I mix up often. One is chuan1 (to put on clothes), chuan2 (boat/ship), and chuang2 (bed). Being aware of this I tried to be careful, but in my slightly nervous state, I ended up telling a room full of teenagers that the video they were about to see shows what the missionaries do on the bed. Fortunately they all knew what I was trying to say, but it was quite bu hao yi se (embarrassing)! Later on another guy shared his life story which included words I haven't quite incorporated into my vocabulary for daily use, including empty, heroin, addicted, and rehabilitation center...

Clothes shopping: On Sunday night I was looking around some stores with A-hsiang and we found a cool store that had sales AND a plus-sized section. While I was trying on skirts I heard the following conversation from the change room:
Sales lady: Can you speak Chinese?
A: Yes
Sales: Oh your Chinese is so good! Are you Korean?
A: Uh no, I'm Taiwanese

This all reminds me of a quote by a fun but not so famous Christian band called Hocus Pick... it went something like this: God is serious, but everything else is HILARIOUS

BTW the above pics are from my visit to the actual Doulos, really cool, though waay too many people so I didn't buy anything. It was my first trip to Keelung, and I DID get rained on, and the strap of my bag broke, so that day wasn't quite so humorous...