Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chinese New Year- Little Liouciou

Last week was Chinese New Year, and that meant a whole week off of work (and yes, I still got paid for that week of work). The new year is a big thing around here. A lot of stores and businesses are closed for the week and they spend time with all the family. Each night they do something a little different, but most of it involves eating a lot of food and setting off fireworks. Some of my roommates got to go to dinner with a family and experience it first hand.
We went to an island on the southwestern side of Taiwan, little Liouciou. It was beautiful. It was only about 5 km wide, but it was sunny and warm. We had to wake up early to catch a train down south and hop on a bus to get to a small town to catch a ferry to the island. Some of the most adventures come from transportation to your destinations. Let's just say if it was not for Lonely Planet and some nice people on the streets we would never have made it to Liouciou, but luckily we did. We got off the ferry and tried to rent scooters. Easy enough, right? Wrong! The street was crowded with tourists and we were in the way with 4 scooters. Brittany attempts to get out of the way of oncoming traffic, but does not know how to drive a scooter. She presses on the gas handle and goes, right into Carly, who was 5 ft away knocking her off the scooter. The people at the scooter place immediately grab Brittany, get her off the scooter and hand her back the money. Carly is still on the ground with a scooter on top of her and her humungous pack with sleeping bag and pillow attached to the outside. Luckily no one was hurt and we went on our way, heads a little bit down so no one could see the "stupid americans that do not know how to drive a scooter." At the time it was not funny for me. It would have been so nice to have a scooter to drive around the island, but alas, we could not. But it turned out to be okay. We walked to the campsite and got to enjoy a beautiful walking path along the coast that we would not have been able to see if we were on our scooters. The next day we went to a different scooter rental and rented 2 scooters, which Carly and Candice drove. Brittney and I took scooter driving lessons so when we were to Kenting we would not have a problem with renting scooters due to the fact that we did not know how to drive them.
The island is made up of mostly coral along the coast. It makes for beautiful images, but not so comfortable walks on the beach. It was nice to be one of the islands of our island and to see and smell the ocean. I forgot how much I love the ocean. Being in Utah did not allow me the chance to feel the breeze or feel the serenity that water brings me. A even now it is not very often that I get to be near the water. I now can appreciate it more, knowing that I do not get to have it near me all the time.

The campsite that we stayed at how a decent amount of people. In the morning before we left for our excursion of exploring the island I asked Carly to do my hair. She does some nice french braiding, which I take advantage of the fact that she has this skill. I sit down to have her do my hair and an Asian man comes over and motions that he would like to do my hair as well. So we say yes and he begins to braid the other half of my head. It was so funny, because his whole family came around to watch him braid the meigourens (americans) hair. I called him the asian hairdresser. His braid turned out very nice and lasted me all day and into the next.

Here are some pictures of Little Liouciou. I did not take any pictures and so all of these are from the internet.

This is the famous Vase Rock. This is the most famous thing about the island. It is just a chunk of coral that is shaped like that. It is kind of cool!

The joys of teaching

I am not very good at being authoritative. I am the youngest and never had the opportunity to boss around a younger sibling. I also hate confrontation and will do everything possible to avoid it. I do not like knowing I made someone feel bad. Well that personality does not always work when teaching. Sometimes you just have to put your fist down and scold the kids. Today was that type of day. My evening class, a class of 4 boys, was their usually rowdy obnoxious selves. I usually will play for the first bit of the class, but when I tell them to stop and it is time to be serious, I expect them to understand that. Today they did not want to listen. I told them to stand in line nicely and quietly. Did they do that? Of course not, they are boys! So what did I do? I took away gym for them. That is the ultimate punishment for these boys. They love gym! So when I take it away they know they did something bad. When we sat down in the classroom I just looked at each one of them and was silent. They didn't say anything or make a noise (which has never happened before). I asked them why they did not get to go to gym and no one would answer. It took a while before they would start to talk. I have never had to be so harsh, but they needed it. After our little talk we started to read a book. I turned to write something on the white board and got a huge grin on my face. I thought to myself, "That felt good." That might be a horrible thing to say, but after you tell them to do the same thing about 25 times each class for 2 months, you start to get sick of it! We will see how the kids are tomorrow. Hopefully they learned their lesson, but probably not!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My roommates

I have been without internet for most of the past week. It went out in our whole building, but then we put the internet cable in the wrong port and went an extra 2 days without internet. It is hard to be without internet, but when your only connection with anything outside of your town is through internet you start to feel a little stranded. Luckily I have some amazing roommates and the long hours at work made it not quite so hard to be without (and we have internet at the school).

I have told you briefly about some of my adventures. I have been on more since my last post. I went to Taipei last weekend. And I just got back from another trip to Taipei, which we went on daytrips to Wulai and Danshui. They were interesting towns. Wulai is an aboriginal village next to a river with waterfalls and hot springs. Danshui is a harbor town at the top of the island. More to come on that when I have my pictures.

I wanted to tell you a little about my everyday life, well to be specific my roommates. Imagine living with, working with, eating with, and traveling with the same 5 people for 6 months. Lucky for me, I have some awesome roommates that make things much more manageable. I was a little nervous when I came that I would not like my roommates. I can get along with anyone, but liking them is a different thing. I am so glad that I have the roommates that I like. There are many different dynamics within my apartment but it adds to the experience.

Let's start with Sam.
He is the only boy with 4 girls. He was living with all girls for 6 months before I got here. Poor guy. I don't know how he does it. He puts up with a lot. I do not know what I would do without him. He has helped me and my roommates out so much. He has shown us the ropes, communicated with many people because we do not know any Chinese. Basically, he is a life saver! I give him a lot of crap, but I truly appreciate everything that he has done for me.

Next, we have my fellow east coaster, Candice.
She is from Vermont and is my floor roommate. She is one of the reasons that I don't sleep very much! Well thats not completely true, but whenever I am close to going to bed I always end up talking to her for much longer than both of us should. She makes me laugh and has the best stories. The craziest things happen to her and we all benefit from it.

Here we have Brittney.
She is mellow and adventurous. She is the reason I have opened my eyes to so many new possibilities. We are both going to be here for a year and then travel together for a little bit afterwards. I plan on getting my open water diving license in the Philippines (thanks to her). She is very down to earth and great to talk to about anything. She is open to anything. She may be one of the few people that have been able to open me up to new things that I thought I would never do. So, thank you Brittney.

And last, but definitely not least, here is Carly.
Oh Carly! So is crazy, outgoing, a great listener and so much fun. And not to mention she says the darnest things. The comments that come out of her mouth shock you and you can't help but laugh. She loves sweets and will do anything to get them. And she bakes!!!!! I love her cookies :) She is a great conversationalist and very smart.

I am so excited to spend more time with them and get to know them more. We have our moments of tension, but they never last long. We banter like family, and let's face it... we are. There are not many foreigners, which means there are not many people to talk to. They are my social life and the people that I share all my amazing experiences with. I started to think about when they leave, it is not for 5 more months but I already am dreading that moment. I will be sad to see them gone and nervous for the next set to come in.

Thank you to my roommates for all the great experiences so far and many more to come!