Sunday, January 27, 2008

Getting Lost

As some of you might or might not know Jessica has a tendency to get lost.  I believe that it is due that she is easily distracted by sparkly objects, though some might disagree. This weekend I again found me separated from the group. On this occasion I do not use the word lost, for I knew where I was the whole time, it was the group who lost me.  
This week had been a good one with the children, with only a few minor accidents. While playing POP! Goes the Weasel, which is very similar to Duck Duck Duck Goose, nay, identical.  Two children where running and one got tagged, and  slid into a chair and received two rather gross looking wounds on his head.  I sent him to get patched up by the very attentive secretaries who later asked me what happened.  As was trying to explain the game and what happened, I was cutoff and all she said was,"oh, accident", and left the room.  I had hoped that seeing one of there fellow class mates maimed by this game would have dissuaded the other children from wanting to play it, but on the contrary it only made them want to play it more.  My only explanation for this is that they are all adrenaline junkies, and Pop! Goes the Weasel  is the only way they can get their fix. Kids. Other then this minor injury, no other harm or accident has come to my children, yet.  The rest of the week was uneventful, but the weekend was chalk full of fun.  
On Saturday the whole apartment was woken up by the soothing sounds of 
jackhammering on the 1st floor of this concrete building I live in. 
The school had to redo on of the bathrooms and had to rip out everything. The floor vibrates and the 
sounds continued until we left to go clean the church in Taichung. Though when we got there 
everything was every done. We did have a opportunity to help our Branch President move, but
I and most of the rest of the group went shopping instead. We are the very symbols of
selflessness, aren't we. There was a large mall that we visited, but all I bought was food from 
the food court. We then wondered in the Night Market stalls that where jumbled together in
alleyways between buildings. As about 7 of us tried to stay together snaking though the rain
flooded gutters that were the walkway, it was only a matter of time before a found myself 
looking at bags, or hair clips and was lost. I, having had ample opportunities to be lost and
was not frightened in the least. I knew my way home and now I could take as long as I wanted 
looking at the things that surely the boys in our group would have no desire to linger and
look at. For about an half an hour I looked over the vendors goods, enjoying most of it. But 
just I was going to turn the corner on to a main street I came face to face with the group that that
had wondered on without me. Want to hear the saddest part of the tale, they didn't even know
I was gone. This shouldn't be surprise to many of you, as you might remember the story 
of Jessica being left at a house that her parents were looking at buying, and chilling for a 
45 min. until her parents realized that there where 4 girls in the car and not 5 and turned
around to collect her. This only one of the many and varied tales of her childhood abandonment.  
But to continue, we then separated into smaller groups, mine staying to shop
some more, as up to this point I had yet to buy anything in Taiwan that I did not later consume.
My group consisted of Whitney and Tammy.
Two wonderful girls at wanted to shop just as much as I did. At last I bought something that
I would not be consuming. A fab bag to fit all of my church crap in. And 4 moves, mostly old
musicals that I found out later I can only watch on my computer or on a special sckechy Taiwan
DVD player. Fortunately our apartment owns one such sckechy DVD player so all is not lost.
After this lovely day we ate at the one American restaurant in walking distance, TGI Fridays.
Don't judge me, it was wonderful. We all got some-sort of Mexican fare, and cold water which they
rarely serve here, for the most part its hot, or warm. After this meal I was completely content.
We then proceeded about a block to the bus stop. On the way I was practicing saying Fung Yuan,
the place I live, to I could ask the diver to make sure I was getting on the right bus. I then realized
that right now I was some strange white chick repeating a city name over and over. It was if I could
just hear someone repeating to themselves, Medford, MEDford, medFORD. I told the girls and we
thought it was so funny. Perhaps that the next time you hear someone muttering something to
themselves on a street corner you won't be to quick to judge, they could be just practicing their 
English.:) We got home and heard the adventures other girls they had that day.
If you want to hear them too you can click on the links, I think they are all working now. They are
all worth reading.
P.S. Pictures coming soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Graphic: Parental Discretion is Advised

This is a update for a  early blog in which I commented that I stubbed my toe to badly that I was sure it was going to fall, well it did.  And this is the photograph evidence to prove it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The Heavenly Costco Chicken bake
I love Marshmallows, for some reason it smells like home.
Me between classes, yes, this is how I look most of the time now.
Don't they look cute. I had actually told them not to bounce the balls. Kids!
This is why I'm here. To teach Znglish.
People hang laundry in public places. This is us walking to the train station.
Our Taxi driver.  I think that he looks like Jason Bourn, he kinda drives like him too.

Another week gone to the children has past, and the weekend has come. On this Saturday we journeyed to the Temple of Consumer Goods, aka, Costco. This by far is one of my favorite Temples that I have ventured to in my 3 weeks here( except for the LDS Temple). Many wonderful and strange thing I witnessed while I wondered within its walls.  
My pilgrimage started by buying train tickets with nothing but a pice of paper with my destination written on it and pointing and a bit of grunting. Our humble group proceeded to the train that deposited us within a taxi ride of our destination.  One of the locals, seeing us wondering aimlessly, helped us procure her husband's taxi.  Though we were grateful for the assistance we wondered, while strapped  in the back seat of a taxi, drove in and out a traffic  by mad man, if it would have been safer to have journeyed by some other means. But we did arrive safely to The Temple and began our exploration.
Upon arrival the first strange thing we encountered were extremely large carts lined  up outside.  In contrast to the economy of space that takes president here in Taiwan, these carts seemed strangely out of place.  I believe that these carts could have been a more spacious way of traveling for most families here, for here it is not a uncommon sight to see a family of four, their groceries, and a dog on a scooter.   As we journeyed in through utilitarian doors what we saw was a foreshadowing of what was to come.
In the throng of black hair we saw the rest of our group that had traveled to this house of consumerism on scooters. Though there where numberless concourses of people, the white and red hair helped us pin point their location rather easily.   Partaking of the traditional Costco delicacies reminded me that home is not such a long way off after all. After eating this manna we continued with our oversized cart, that could house a small Taiwanese family, up a magnetized ramped escalator.  It was as if the magic that held our cart in place energized us to seek out our American bulk items though the Christmas Eve like ferocity that swept in this unholy bulk foods warehouse. But unfortunately the excitement of this venture was lost on one of our traveling companions.  Our dear Steve had been afflicted with some  wickedeist of all  Taiwanese illnesses; the dreaded Taiwanese cough, and the heartache of someone that has been parted from a dear companion.
Steve, one of the two boys in our sorority, has been separated from the one and only other male. It seems that the estrogen, that had once been equally shared between him and the other, has taken a toll on  him. But soon these two friends will be reunited again, and his soul will lift with the knowledge that he now no longer will feel obliged to participate in the girl talk that often happens in our place of lodging.
Continuing with our exploration of Costco we wondered toward the wondrous world of bread. I, with a heartsick Steve, decided to indulge ourselves and buy the  chocolate Costco muffins that are ruffly the size of my head.  We then bought a trove of lusted after items that included, tortilla chips, triple chocolate cake mix in a 6 pack, and my beloved cheese. Though in my hast to sample this wonderful  mixture of aged milk and whey I might have offend the locals that were also in attendance this day. 
In the tradition of Costco there are samples of the fair that they are peddling.  I, have only been the Costcos of the West, failed notice the slight differences associated with the East. I pasted a display where they were offering a taste of my beloved Tilamook cheese. I, thinking myself fortunate, took the last pice of toast with the melted cheese on it.  It was only after devouring it did a member of my group pointed out that behind the women preparing the cheese toast was a line of a dozen or more.  I felt ignorant, and shamed by the brown faces that where obviously hating me inwardly.  After this hideous display we left on our homeward journey. 
Our journey home was uneventful, except when getting a taxi from Costco back to the train station. We hailed a cab easily enough but the communication was a bit more difficult. In our hast to leave I had forgotten to write down the word train station in Chinese, even with our sad attempts to imitate a train  by pumping our arms and making choo-choo noises, the words were obviously foreign to him. But in a stoke of luck he called one of his friends that translated for us.
 When we arrived home we all happily went about separating and freezing our large quantities of food. That will hopefully stay off the homesickness a bit longer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Poke out my eyes with a screwdriver

     Just another Friday night at Berhan Language School

In brief explanation of my Title, this was just one of the many quotes associated with me in this last week when after teaching for 7 hours I had to sit down and plan the next weeks lessons. This was the first full week of classes, and what a fun filled ride it was.  I don't have to work until 1:30 everyday so I enjoy  being  very lackadaisical in the mornings.  But the whole week in general was any thing but lax.  I work almost nonstop  form 1:30 to 8:50. But then after I can't speak English, it comes out in a jumbled mixture of verbs and nouns and conjunctions. 
 I have also taken to referring to my in the third person. It's almost imposable to escape it when working with the kids. But it transfers very nicely into general conversation. Such as; Jessica is hungry and wants to go to the bakery, dose any one want to come with Jessica.  Jessica has lost her ability to understand and converse with normal English speaking people, I'll be doing that talking from now on. Yes it dose sound like I have a split personality but perhaps that's just what happens to people put under stress, but one would one assume that it will only get better. But referring to my self in the third person is other issue completely, but one would assume that that too with fade.
One wonderful piece of news though came at the end classes on Friday. One of the wonderful Chinese Secretaries came into my class room and told me that since one of the other teachers bikes a wobbly wheel that they had harvested a good wheel from my bike and bought me a new one. Well, this did sound strange. Why would have they just put the new wheel on her bike. So after the classes I checked it out. I must a misunderstood her Chinglish, for there in the glow of the motion censored spot light lay a my new number 7 bike, I was so excited it think I hugged it. I have dubbed my new bike  Speeda the second.  
After the tedious movement of this week the weekend seamed not to have happened at all.  Friday night we went to a night market in Fung Yuan, where I proceed to examine all the local delicacies.  Fried chicken feet, and other misc. parts of the chicken boiled, breded, and fried and ready for consummation. There was everything that  one would ever want. It did remind me a bit of "Bedknob's and Broomsticks" were they where at Portebello Road, But perhaps a bit more well lit and less musical. Upon bypassing all the the local fare, I found some of the only food not from Taiwan, Hong Kong Waffles. Not scary in the least. So I enjoyed my semi Oriental fare.  The next day we continued are whirlwind weekend by going with our branch on a Temple Trip. 
It was wonderful. We hopped on our ultra fancy bus with curtains, reclining seats, television, and microphones for karaoke.  The two hour trip up to Taipei went on with out to much excitement.  But the ride up did remind me of Portland, everything was green and lush, it would have been like driving around in Oregon minus all the Chinese. On the way up we past the Empirical Hotel, fancy,  right behind it was where the country of Taiwan was dedicated to missionary service.  
We finally got  to the temple but before we went in we went to the visitor center. Which is set up like a stake center, it even had the basket ball court in the middle. But we made ourselves down to the distribution center.  They were playing Legacy in Mandarin, but I translated for the rest of the group as a almost have the whole movie memorized.  In the center they had a free section where you could take things that were cut of folded in someway, or that they  just feel that they shouldn't charge for. One of the items were stickers that are a red and blue houses that say, I think," No success  in the world can compensate for failure in the home."  I guess what members do with them is put them on the backs of their scooters, or  the bigger sticker on their taxis.  So picked up a few of these for most everyone, that you can have bit of Taiwan church culture too.
The Temple was wonderful and full the Spirit as always, but one of the new things was that you take your shoes off  before even entering the main part of the temple.  It reminds me of Moses  on Mt Sinai.  We were told that the only person that was allowed to keep his shoes on was President Hinkley, but one would think that he being a spiritual and respectful man would have taken off his shoes anyways. They give you plastic bags to hold your street shoes while you are in the temple, so it gives the temple a nice sound of crinkling plastic bags. Which I think you only really hear on the way in a out.
After the Temple we when to eat and window shop a Taipei 101 was is or was the tallest buildings in the world. The shopping was a amazing. Dior, Armani, Tiffany's, and every other designer label I could imagine. WOW. But the best part of the whole evening was the passion fruit ice cream that I bought with my change. Dairy is rather costly due to Taiwan being so Small and having such a large population, raising the cows is hard. And Ice cream is hard to come by  especially since it's winter, and in Taiwan your not suppose to eat cold things in the winter because its not healthy.  I imagine that particular view of health is associated with our... very sturdy health beds. But hey, I've gotten use to wakening up not able to feel one side of my body or another. 
After returning home we still had fun. I cut my roommates hair. It turned out fabulously. Hey Audrey you next!  And we did our nails while watching a movie. The only bad part of the night is when  I, wanting to see my roommates face while cutting her hair, stubbed my toe so bad that I was sure that the nail was going to fall off. It was bleeding and I was sitting on the floor crying out in pain and no one was concerned.  Yes, I am accident pron and I guess every one here is has gotten used to me hurting myself.
 Sunday was long. 45 min there and then we got on some random bus that took us a really random way back so that took even longer. But we got home safe, and refreshed to start a new week, with the children that I will grow to love, one day.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

School is Sarting

For the last few days we have been training for teaching english, and making our lesson plans for the next week. I get the afternoon kindergarden classes and the 2nd grade enrichment classes. The enrichment classes are for the kids that stared the program a little bit latter than  the rest, and need extra practice speaking.  So our first day of classes are on Friday and I'm still not sure what I'm doing.  But not all of it is work. We got to go to a outdoor shopping, alley, it was crazy.  But they have super trendy clothes and I love everything, it's just to bad that I'm, lets just say, super-sized compared to every-other Asian. But you do feel famous here. While walking thought the shopping alley this young girl was walking behind her mother and just turned around and starred at me. I smiled and said hi, and she just kept on looking at me. It was so funny that I couldn't stop looking at her. So we were just walking look at each other, mostly because the other was still looking.  After jostling though the shopping alley we stopped by the local Buddhist Temple.  It was so decretive and had all these lanterns hanging up in front. We wondered around for a while trying to figure out it all when this wonderful Taiwanese lady came up to us and asked if we had someone to help us, and proceeded to guide us though all the different Gods they pray to, and for what.  In this specific temple there was a God that you could pray to, for them to send you Mr. Wright. Our tour guide, Ellie, was educated in the UK and was going for her PhD in Education here in Taiwan and on this day was praying for the test results would be good. It was wonderful to know just a little bit more the people and there way of life. The next day was spent putting together our lesson plans, all day. We did a little more biking around the city and trying to find cheese, which is almost impossible to find here. And you know how much I like cheese.  But today was just more of the same, working on lessons and having a mini breakdown. But I'm ok I just hope that tomorrow goes ok. I mean, it will, and will not cry in front of these kids.... I hope. Pray for me.   PS if you want to see more pictures you can look on the other Taiwan blogs that I have links to. There the blogs of the other teachers I work with.