Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My First Painting!

This is my first painting!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Surfing in Yilan

This is a surf beach in the north east called Yilan. My co-teacher Andy invited me for an early morning surf last Wednesday. He picked me up at the dorm at 6:30 am, we arrived in Yilan by 8:00 am and we were back by 2:30 pm to teach our classes at night, what an awesome day!

Surfing is such a difficult sport. I have had lessons before but every time I have forgotten how hard it is. You really need a lot of upper arm and core strength, two things I have always needed to work on. We rented our boards from an extremely tanned, 50 year old Taiwanese guy named 'Cool' (I have just decided on the name for Jack and Kyla's first child). It cost a little under $20 to rent them for the day. I had a hard time at first but 'Cool' took it upon himself to get me standing up by the end of the morning. Basically the only time I caught any waves was when 'Cool' stood behind my board and pushed me as I paddled as hard as I could. All morning he would just yell 'Jai-oh, Jai-oh' (go! go!) as he knew this was one of the few Chinese words I knew.
We ended the day with me getting stung by a small jelly fish, next eating some mystery meat from a beach side Taiwanese lunch box, then buying special, pink, hot spring tomatoes on the road side and finally napping in the car on the ride back. I am definetly looking forward to going again!

Andy and I teach together on Tuesday nights at a school in the south. He is my favourite co-teacher and is the most helpful. I have been meeting up with him for a half hour before our class to go over our lesson plan. Most Taiwanese are worried about 'saving face' so if you are doing something wrong they will usually not say it directly to you. I like that Andy is straight up with me and he will tell me whenever I am not doing things correctly. He is definetly improving my teaching skills.

We also went for hot pot together one night after class. This is a Taiwanese specialty where you put a bunch of food in a pot and cook it yourself (pretty self explanatory). The first time I went was with Steph and we had no idea what we were doing. We didn't realse you could turn down the tempearture on the broth so during our whole meal we had steaming hot broth boiling in our faces. As well, we completely overcooked all our food, boiled down our broth too fast and didn't even realise that the broth was unlimited so you could just ask for more.

When I went with Andy he got me to try some random squid balls, oysters and congealed pig's blood, mmm-mmm! It was actually not bad and I am eager to try hot pot again once mom and dad arrive.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Waterfall Weekend

I had the most amazing sunday. Nine of us went into the mountains on our scooters and hiked down to this awesome waterfall. A bunch of us Canadians were remiscing about what we usually do for the May long weekend so we decided to make one ourselves even though we only had one day off.

This was our scooter brigade. We tried to set off by 11 am but with this many people we didn't get going until nearly noon. Then about a block from the dorm we lost Dane and Katie, Dane's scooter had blown a tire so we had to double 3 of the scooters. The drive through the mountains was probably my favourite part of the day. It took about an hour and half and it finally made me realise how tropical Taiwan is. The forest is very moist and jungle-y.

When we first arrived there was a large Taiwanese family enjoying the swimming spot too. They were so friendly and I think they got a big kick out of all the foreigners drinking beers and acting boisterous. When we first arrived they gave each of us a large slice of watermelon and then kept feeding us their leftovers throughout the day. It was a true show of Taiwanese hospitality.

Josh and Katie. Josh is from Indiana and Katie is from North Carolina. They were friends from before. They both did a school exchange in Belgium. Josh is very musical and is always on his guitar. Katie went to school for graphic design and is an amazing artist. She is hleping me learn how to paint.

That is crazy Jon, trying to lick the girls legs.

This is how I spent the majority of my day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cherry Blossoms and Buddhist Temple

These are a few pictures from last Sunday. Megan, Allen, Alex, Dawn and our Chinese tutor, Bobo with her family went to a Buddhist temple in the mountains outside of Taipei.
Me with my fellow English teachers and Bobo with her husband Jack and daughters Jamie and Joyce. Her kids are two of the cutest Taiwanese girls you will ever meet.

At this time of year the cherry blossoms are in bloom and when a breeze hits the tree all the flowers drift to the ground. The Taiwanese call it white snow! I guess this is a popular time to go as it was crazy busy. The temple gives out a free Buddhist lunch. Men and women eat separately. We all had to sit on benches facing one direction and eat out of small metal bowls. The lunch comprised of rice, tofu with bamboo shoots, mashed squash with a mystery vegetable and some gai-lan. If you didnt finish every last morsel they put a ladle of water into your bowl, swished it around and then made you drink it! Thankfully I made sure to eat every last grain of rice to avoid this. It was a truly Taiwanese experience.

Me on the mountain walk. Bobo put the cherry blossoms in my hair. I let her kids decorate it further with some fern fronds.


On Sunday Danielle, Chris and I got up early and headed off to Yangmingshan http://www.ymsnp.gov.tw/HTML/ENG/INDEX.ASP for a gorgeous mountain hike. The hike was about an hour and a half long. We saw tree ferns, a lizard with an electric blue tail, Dr. Suess looking trees and some sulphur 'pits' or springs. The day was hot and humid so we all got really sweaty on the walk up. Thankfully Danielle and I had a change of clothes with us for the afternoon.

All day the 3 of us talked of the food we were missing from home. Guiness on tap, hummus and veggie burgers were on the top of our list. We decided to check out a Western style pub in Taipei called the Brass Monkey. We were all ecstatic to learn they had both Guiness and veggie burgers. Although, the 'veggie' burgers turned out to be deep fried mashed potato on a bun but the Guiness was sooo worth it. We also wanted to check if Angels & Demons was playing at the IMAX but decided just to head back to Taoyuan as the beers made us super lazy.