Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Long Weekend!

I invited Ashley, a new coworker to join me for a weekend in Yilan. These pictures are from her camera. We had a good time, despite some rain.

We ate LOTS of mooncakes, starting on Friday... more than I've eaten any other year, though I'm still not the biggest fan.

On Sunday after church we went up to a village high in the mountains, about 3 hours from Yilan. The drive was a little harrowing, especially since it was raining and foggy.
But the view was great!

We stopped about halfway up....

.... to pick some vegetables for our dinner

and kept going until we reached this little village.

A wrong turn introduced us to some new friends, who were quite excited to see two foreigners in their village.

The areas main economy is fruit, and we saw tons of fruit trees including this kiwi tree, and persimmons growing (below) you must try this fruit if you ever get a chance, it's lovely.

We also saw Chinese pears and apples growing everywhere (and being sold everywhere for that matter)

In all about 25 people went up, but we didn't know all of them well. The next day we kept going even higher into the mountains.

And finally got above the rain clouds. The weather was great!

Stopped for lunch and a short walk at a scenic area where we saw a giant apple tree. There were 36 different varieties of apples growing on the same tree, they'd all been grafted on. There were also cherries growing on this tree!

We felt like we had left Taiwan and entered another country. The landscape was so different.

The best picture Ashley took! Just before the harrowing drive down (which rendered me a little uncomfortable) that took us past two rainbows and back into fog and rain. We were glad to have escaped the rain for two days though!

Tuesday was the last day of our vacation and it dawned sunny. We went to a beach I'd never been to before with one of my favorite families in Yilan. Despite putting on sunscreen before leaving the house and after arriving at the beach, I managed to get really burnt! Especially my shoulders and the backs of my knees. That made it quite painful to ride my bike back and forth to class today, but I'll survive.
More pictures coming soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Typhoon Day that Wasn't

On Monday I heard that there was a typhoon grazing Taiwan soon, but didn't think much of it, since it wasn't even raining. I asked my students if they thought they'd get the next day off and everyone agreed that it wasn't too likely. The teacher I talked to said, the wind has to be blowing a lot harder than this by now for us to get a typhoon day. I had my first English Bible class in the evening which went really well, and as class was coming to a close, there were murmurs of a day off the next day. I still doubted since I'd seen a lot more rain on a lot more occasions. But when I got home, tv, internet and a phone call confirmed it, no school on Tuesday! That evening had some really cool clouds, and around sunset time the sky was an eerie red/purple color.
I woke up on Tuesday morning to sunshine coming in my window.... it seemed the typhoon wasn't going to do much damage in Yilan. When I went out for breakfast I noticed that all the stores along my street were open... I guess the typhoon holiday only applied to schools and offices, but not retailers. Anyways, it rained off and on all day, often going from dry to downpour within a few moments. It didn't hamper me, or anyone else in town from going out though...
I like those kinds of typhoon days much better than the ones that rattle your windows and whip things off your balcony.
And for the record, it rained a lot more the NEXT day when I actually had to ride my bike to class..waah

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Felt Relieved! I also in!

I just wrote a post on my Chinese blog, and out of curiosity, decided to use Altavista Babelfish to translate it into English.... i'm not sure if my Chinese grammar is really messed up or if the site just doesn't do that good of a job... but here's what came out:

Felt relieved! I also in! Wrote for a year half only then to write 29 articles open, was few. . . This semester I each week must run Taibei to attend class, goes to work. Monday, two, three in Yilan, 45 in Taibei. Weekend as necessary goes back. Although has 1. to be tired but to think good I to the present. Rides the train to have 1. troubles, but I may use at that time to rest perhaps the preparation schoolwork. Teacher wants to say the schoolwork? I do not eliminate! Taibei's student English degree quite is high. Possible they to study English the opportunity quite to be many. Other advantage are may eat quite many western-style food, frequently uses my mother tongue to chat, weekend plays quite is all convenient. The question is too matches quite expensively! Therefore, I must be careful 1. do not have to spend too many money.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Please pray for Indonesia.
They've had 3 large earthquakes in less than 24 hours, and over 40 aftershocks. The death toll isn't that high, but many have lost their homes, or are living in tents because they are afraid another earthquake will collapse their houses. It really must feel like the world is ending for some of them. I have some relatives who used to be missionaries there, but are home now, and I just found out about an acquaintance who is there now. The country has just really been on my heart since I heard the news.

We had an earthquake here last week in the middle of the night. It was a 6.6 with the epicenter under the ocean, but we definitely felt it. The house was moving and doors and windows rattling. Kind of a scary way to wake up. We were all ok, don't worry. The biggest Indonesian quake was an 8.2 which I believe means it was almost 200 times stronger than the one that woke us up.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

on a lighter note..

Ranting really does work sometimes. I actually felt a lot better after writing about what happened, and it lifted my spirits to have so many people care enough to leave a note too. Thanks, friends. I also emailed my supervisors and tried to take steps to ensure things would go more smoothly with this school in the future, particularly this Wednesday when I have to go back to teach there again.

Other interesting moments this past week:
In chapel on Friday I actually understood about 80% of an amazing testimony a woman gave about her husband who passed away last year. It was really touching, since they were both musicians and she sang some songs for us that had her husband in the background vocals on the cd track. I can't even imagine how it must feel to do that.
On the other hand, I only understood about 60% of the sermon in church on Sunday, and tried not too look too distracted the rest of the time, though I couldn't hold a candle to the lady who was actually using a laptop in the pew all through the church service LOL

Celebrity sighing: when I went to Taipei 101 with friend last Thursday, Kobe Bryant was there signing autographs! Well actually he was just leaving as we got there and it was really hard to see him because of the crowd, but it was somewhat exciting nonetheless, it made me think of my classes at the boys' high school, where I typically have at least one Iverson, Michael, and Nash per class.

Beach day: we went to the beach on Saturday, only for it to start pouring shortly after we arrived! Kind of ruined the day, and ironically it has been perfectly sunny here for the rest of the week so far. The weather is cooling off though, just a few weeks ago, I was waking up in the middle of the night to turn the a/c on, and now i'm waking up to pull up the blanket!

Back to Taipei tomorrow, more updates from the flipside.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Do You Ever Just Want To Cry?

My day started with a phone call. Not the 'hey what's new' kind of phone call. The 'something is wrong' phone call. Or in my case, the 'you have class today that you didn't know about' kind of phone call.
My co-worker called to tell me about some new classes that one of my schools has decided at the last minute to sign up for. Every second Monday (1 hour in the morning before my 4 hours at a different school in the afternoon) and every second Wednesday (in the afternoon for 3 hours at the same school I already taught from 8-12). A little complicated yes, oh and by the way TODAY is the first day! Well it was a little shocking to hear that I was going to have class in less than 2 hours, and I was a little upset when my poor co-worker (who had to bear the brunt of my reaction over the phone) revealed that he'd known since Friday but didn't know how explain all that in English so waited until Monday, instead of A. emailing me in Chinese, B. asking someone else in our office of over 100 bilingual people to tell me, C. Calling me and telling me in Chinese, or D. at the very LEAST emailing me and saying "You have class on Monday morning" and explaining it all later....

So can we all agree that this is already a pretty frustrating situation?

SO now starts a very rushed preparation and searching for a lost flash disk (which I didn't find), and booting it over to the school. I got to the library where I got my first clue that things were amiss.... the librarian who is usually in charge of booking my classroom didn't have any idea I was coming, and my regular classroom was already booked. She helped set me up in another room and then I had about 5 minutes before 11... which came and went with no students.

After 10 minutes I found out that the class who so URGENTLY called our office saying we needed to start class today was in another class and had no inkling that I was there waiting to teach them... Well I kind of lost it at this point..... I started crying and the librarian told me she'd go find out what was going on. They decided to grab another class and get them to come up so I would have someone to teach. Their teacher came up shortly and offered to escort me to their classroom. Well I was already set up with my powerpoint in the library, and the classrooms don't have powerpoint. So he went to get the students. They arrived, 20 minutes into class at this point, and their teacher told me they didn't have the magazine yet (the material I'm supposed to be teaching out of) it took great self-restraint at this point to not throw my magazine across the room and storm out.
With a number of deep breaths I managed to calm myself down and salvage the rest of the class. But I felt like screaming. Finished that and biked home to have a quick lunch and head out to another 4 hours of class.
Call it disogranization, call it culture shock on my part, but this really takes the cake as far as "first day of class problems"go.

It was the morning from hell.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Expect the Unexpected...

This should be my mantra in Taiwan, though perhaps it is a typical part of any teacher's life. I went to the boys' high school today where I taught last year. No books had arrived, this is no longer a surprise to me, and I was already prepared to teach for 4 hours without them. If they still don't show up next week I might start to worry though. Anyways, last year I taught classes 201 and 101, and this year my assignment is the same. Last year's 101 class was my favorite of all my classes (I know, you're not supposed to have favorite) but they were great! I laughed a lot every class, and really had a lot of fun with them. So naturally, I was really looking forward to seeing them again after a two month break. My first class didn't get off to the best start, which made me even more excited about seeing familiar students that i've already established great rapport with...
Can you see where this is going yet? Any guesses?
Well if you guessed that the class was different, you'd be right... actually all but one of the students were new to my class (this is an optional class so they usually split the class in half).
As face after unfamiliar face filed in I felt like crying, I was really disappointed. Not to say they were a bad class at all, but I'll really miss the students from last year! Anyways, once I got over the initial shock, things went pretty well. The most interesting thing is that there is an exchange student from Brazil taking my class. It was quite surprising to see a blond boy walk into the room. His English is quite good actually, and he's relying mostly on it for now to communicate with his classmates until he can learn some more Chinese. I think he'll be better than the Canadian kid who got stuck in my class from time to time last year....

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A new semester is here!

I've already begun my semester, though a little unexpectedly. I found out last Tuesday that I'd have class on Thursday afternoon in Taipei. So I ended up starting a week earlier than originally thought, but it's all good. I went back to the girls' high school in Yilan yesterday and today and it's been nice to be back in a familiar place, with the familiar, expected first day problems haha. This year they were minimal (MS office not being installed on a new computer that I was to show a powerpoint on...) I saw a couple of my students from last year during a break and they literally shrieked when they saw me and came running over. I'm really looking forward to teaching this class again this year. So I've got one more day of classes here then I'll be off to Taipei again Wednesday night. It will take a bit to get into the new routine, but I'm trying to be adaptable and to appreciate the positive things about going to Taipei.

My English Bible study this year will be covering the book of Proverbs, so I've been preparing for that as well. Here are two great websites I've found useful. The first has examples and illustrations of over 100 English idioms. The other is which I just discovered provides not only multiple definitions but translations in over 10 languages! I'm so loving this... and yes, I am a nerd. But go check these sites out!!