Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

It's already 2009 here. We met Melissa at a local mall for a BIG music presentation and fireworks. It was like a double 8th street filled solid with pedestrians, the FULL length of 8th!

The people density was amazing and at times frightening with the potential. It was like class change in the Arts bldg, but tripled or quadrupled! of course food stalls, vendors, a bit of free stuff.



Friday, December 26, 2008

Catch up time!

The morning of the 24th we caught the first MRT train and got to the airport to catch our 8 am flight to Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia. The 2 nights at the Crowne Plaza were our Christmas Present! We had wonderful breakfasts and evening hors d’ouevres. You may never see pictures of it because I left our camera in Kaohsiung! We got to the Petronas Twin Towers but there weren’t any of the 1,732 Skywalk tickets left (too bad).

We walked through Little India trying to avoid the street hawkers, China Town and The Central Market where I got the fish nibbling exfoliation on my feet while Colleen aand Melissa shopped. Hey, if Kathie Lee can do so can I, and I only paid 5 RM about $1.75 CDN for a 10 minute foot massage! Once I got past the first 2 minutes and the idea of what was happening, and the urge to pee my pants, it was very relaxing. That’s me in the upper right—top flavor at the time!

I read in the Air Malaysia magazine there are full body treatments by the fish……………….? Hmmm?
Our bus trip was pretty uneventful once we got the tickets! We got them a day early after a 24 RM taxi from the street by the hotel which was only 11RM this morning. Think we got taken? The seats are probably 30 inches wide and decently reclines which made the 5 hour trip nice except for the lack of a toilet. We did make 2 rest stops so it was managed by all 30 or so passengers. The best part was leaving the tollgate before the 13 km bridge with 8 lanes and within 500 meters get down to the 2 lanes of the bridge. Talk about moving slow! This evening we went to an open air food area right on the ocean where you ordered your food at the various vendors and they delivered it to your table (pay at the table when delivered).
Tomorrow brings batiking, butterfly garden, food, and we’ll see what else. Probably some shopping…..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursdays don't seem safe in Gangshan

Last Thursday and this I saw the aftermath of scooter accidents in Gangshan. Fortunately about half an hour before I got to the locations. Very good reminders of the risks and the need for caution. On my 25 minute ride home tonight there were 2 or 3 times I saw people riding scooters closer together than most of us sitting on a couch! AND THEY WERE GOING 40 KMH. I haven't seen very many people scoot together that fast on a couch!

Scooters are very common and it's easy to be jostling in the pack or safely moving along. It certainly challenges me to focus and relax. Tension results in me making almost all the wrong movements, including in my pants! Ok, not really.................

Well one more day of teaching and 2 days of Christmas parties then we are off to Kuala Lumpur for 2 days before joining Lana in Penang. We will certainly have some unique memories this Christmas.

Love to all

Monday, December 15, 2008

Medium sized update

I didn't want to say big in case someone thought there was BIG news which there isn't. Hmm, what did Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday hold.....well the reality is that teaching for 4 1/2 hours kind of makes me tired. Then add about 30 minutes travel on each end and I usually am ready to relax. But we have an easy morning and I head out around 1 pm. It's quite relaxing even if it is a flip flop of common schedules. I enjoy all the students although some antics are not so enjoyable but I think I am taking it a bit too seriously.

I rode the scooter, 150 cc, home from Gangshan Friday night so we rode the scooter to Melissa's and back Saturday. It only took Colleen half an hour to relax! Saturday afternoon Melissa had a meeting so we picked up McMuffins and took to her for breakfast and then did a few errands. I managed to ride back today without any wrong turns! I think it's easier than the train although it will be a bit cool at times, 20 degrees and 40km does feel a bit cool in shorts! I will wear a jacket on the way home at 7, tee hee.

Saturday evening we met with one of Melissa's former adult student's at Dream Mall, has a good article and for the more inclined but not much English! We had supper at the 7th floor half view restaurant. Some of the food was a challenging adventure but we could look out over a wide area however it gets dark here shortly after 6 almost year round so it's lights and more lights. And of course shopping at Daiso, a Japanese Dollarama type store and the grocery store Wellcome.

Sunday was church, lunch at church (some mystery food), some more minor things at Melissa's place and a wrap for another weekend! Oh we did get some things for Christmas baking and that gathering may be next Sunday evening. We have a wedding on Saturday early afternoon and one or two Christmas events Saturday evening. Melissa was going to have one but decided to wait until January, there's just too much on the go.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Winter in Kaohsiung

Right, only in a magic world, tee hee

Santa Claus is here

Ok not until the 22nd and 23rd. Hmm, how am I going to get the lessons done? Today I was asked to be Santa! The previous director was big and strong like me, yeah right! We'll see!

The school closes the 24th, 25th and 26th so the Monday and Tuesday we will have a Christmas party for each class time. 3 stations and then Santa presents gifts to the kids. Oh I just remembered there is a 7:15 -9:15 class so I guess extra hours those 2 days!

Our Christmas trip tickets and hotel are paid for so now it is just the actual money we spend while travelling to and in Malaysia. There are times when here is so ordinary and at the same instant surreal.

When I was getting off the train in Gangshan a guy said something that I guessed was is this train going to Tainan. I tried to motion yes from here to there, Tainan. He said good, thank you. I hope he got to where he wanted. I have ridden this train often enough to know the next stop so If he really wanted to get to Tainan, I successfully gave directions!

The street work in front of the apartment is progressing. Yesterday they put about 2 inches of concrete over the areas that had new conduits, this morning when I left there was rebar on top of it and when I came home more concrete was there...........puzzles me why or what comes next. I'll keep you informed.

Colleen and Melissa went for a girl's coffee this morning. A couple hours later I made my way to school. Next month Colleen hopes to get to the Ladies Coffee Meeting. Colleen's life is certainly different when I teach. Maybe someday I'll get her to post too.............

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Thinking of my calorie count, LAUGH IF YOU WISH

Walking home from the train station I reflected on the weekend's pleasures and consumption. Accuracy is open to correction..............

10 min. walk to train -100 calories
Colleen tripping, elevated heart rate -50 calories
First High Speed train ride -10 calories
car ride train to Morrison Campus in Taichung -15 calories (loading and balancing suitcases)
Turkey dinner and visiting +2000 calories
Second High Speed train ride -8 calories
Taipei MRT main station -200 calories (anxiety and suitcases)
walk 3 blocks to C&N apt -50 calories
taxi to the Diner -10 calories
Hamburger-delicious +1000 calories
walk & taxi back to C&N -20 calories ( only sat on one hip - narrow car)

Get the idea? Teaching days take out the high calorie meals and add a couple 3 minute scooter rides with a bit of excitement and fear.

Life is exciting!

Here's what Friday, Saturday,Sunday,Monday and Tuesday held

Hmm, what to say without simply spewing a list. The trip to Taichung and Taipei had a rough start. Colleen tripped on the way to the train station and it was not the light fantastic but the oof and thump. Today she is still hurting a LOT. The bruise on her lip is somewhat lighter and the swelling is pretty much gone. While we were out this afternoon we stopped at an opticians and got her glasses adjusted to fix the Saturday damage. I only teach from 5-7 on Tuesdays so the day was pretty relaxed, we met Melissa at a new to us place Timothy's Breakfast Workshop, a nice walk from each of our places.

The Saturday gathering in Taichung was organized by several Free Methodists some work at Morrison Academy in Taichung, others are working with Free Methodist churches in Taiwan and we even had 2 people from US FM headquarters in Indianapolis attend. It was neat to chat as the only Canadians and have several people know Krobers, Teals, Colleen Taylor, some of the Alexanders, Moose Jaw, Weyburn, Joe James. I figured this picture of food would be more interesting than the group shot.

The woman in red taught at Holy Light Seminary here in Kaohsiung for 30 years before retiring about 10 years ago! I had a great conversation with the woman behind her, in blue, as we rode from the High Speed Train to the dinner and then back to the HSR to go to Taipei. She reminded me of Carlotta McAlister.

Saturday night we stayed at Chris and Nevada's and went to a place called The Diner for supper. FANTASTIC HAMBURGERS, great seasoning. We had a nice sleep and then pancake breakfast before meeting Melissa's friend Beth for a late lunch. The rest of my week makes up for the calorie intake! Colleen and Melissa found a couple cute Birthday gifts for Gemma while I went through a computer expo. It is quite different when you don't comprehend much more than the brand name and pricing. THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN EXPOS! Especially ones as crowded as this one. Not for those faint of heart or needing lots of personal space!

Here's the gift opening, sorry about the framing Melissa and Nevada:

Then we went to The Pearl where Chris Co-pastors a small, vibrant, growing church. He was speaking that weekend so it blessed our hearts to see and hear the Word spoken by one of our own. This is the high school student who said "For me and my house, we will serve the Lord" after attending a Promisekeepers conference in Chicago several years back! Praise God!

Then it was catch the MRT back to the HSR and back to our place within 3 hours (about $100 cdn round trip). It used to be at least a 5 hour bus ride, mind you for a fair bit less money. Monday was relax and teach as was today. For that matter the rest of the week will be too.

Oh, we have our Christmas hotel booked for the 2 days in Kuala Lumpur before we go spend a few days with Lana Gummeson in Penang.

Christmas will be very different this year. No risk of frostbite, but sunscreen is recommended! I wonder what Christmas dinner at Hard Rock Cafe will be like?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Part of my Taiwan Dream Picture has come true

Melissa stopped and picked up dinner after teaching, stopped at our place for us to eat together then off to get things ready for a trip to Taichung and Taipei for the weekend. Ah, life is sweet! We are getting together with Free Methodists from a variety of cities tomorrow afternoon and then going to Taipei to visit Chris and Nevada, He's speaking on Sunday. Then back to Kaohsiung on the High Speed train for Monday teaching. WORK, WORK, WORK!

I get home from teaching about 8 and often Colleen and I will go out to the grocery store about 4 blocks away for a few things for the next day or so. Most of the snacks other than potato chips have just enough mystery to the flavour or contents we have not found a favourite yet. Only a few 'one timers'. Many staples and common items are available at prices similar to Saskatoon and quite a few are lower. I think I've mentioned before that western restaurant type food, TGIFriday's, Pizza Hut, McDonald's are similar and maybe slightly higher than in Canada.

On the way up the exit stairs at Gangshan on the way to school today I noticed "Emergency evacuation methodology" which is true but the typical NA English would translate a bit differently. Language nuances are so interesting. Yesterday one of the kids accused me of speaking Chinese because I could say the name of her city, Ciaotou, that sounded just like it does in Chinese. I've now had all of my classes at least twice and reconnected with a few from the other classes I subbed a couple weeks ago. I like it other than the STAIRS, mind you they aren't quite as demanding as they were the first week of subbing.

Well almost midnight again. Love and hugs to all, even if you might be one of those where a hug might seem borderline inappropriate!

PS I may have to wear long past this weekend! There is a cold front moving across the north part of the island and we may see overnight temps of 10! It was very brisk on the scooter at 18 degrees, short sleeves and shorts................I know cry you a river!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Life IS Good


I am REALLY enjoying the teaching! It is effort and a bit like work but after all the parents are paying for their child to be taught English it should be some work. Tonight as I walked from the train to the scooter in Gangshan I thought "why am I doing this?", I enjoy it! It pays well! It is interesting and I get lots of stairs for exercise.

Okay, the stairs are not a preference just a reality. I've done more stairs in the last 3 weeks than I've done in well, maybe the last 30 years! My classrooms are on the 4th floor, 2 flights per floor, some of the MRT stations have 4 or 5 flights of 16 steps [I counted] and then add in all the walking Colleen and I have done. I might be a lean machine by mid January, no, just leaner. Alright, less plump!

My teaching yesterday was a surprise fill in because the teacher I am subbing for was sick. So Colleen and I quickly changed our plans but still met Melissa at the Dragon beside Love River at 9:30. We could not do justice but this wikimedia photo sure does. We met just left of the dragon.

As we laid in bed this morning we talked about how the lifestyle is so comfortable for us. Easy mornings, afternoon and now early evenings teaching, Colleen getting some alone time and then doing things or relaxing until about midnight. Mind you we are expecting to have to endure 10 degrees overnight this weekend!

Well that's enough report and retort for today. Cheers to all!

Oh Hi to the Tea Ladies! And a fond hello to my University connections.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I'm going to stop taking the "let's explore" walks

The last 2 explorings have each generated a LOT of walking and about $2,500 expense! Fortunately Taiwan Dollars translate down to about 90 cdn ones.

Last night we explored the 4 or 5 blocks around our house and ended up with a new duvet, cover and pillows, good price and the one we had Melissa buy before getting here was too light for the cool nights. Since we were 'strolling' I only had my debit card so by the time I walked to the ATM, that wasn't working, and then back to the store to get my keys and walk back to the apartment the sweat was coming out almost every pore so cool nights weren't a concern.

Then, this afternoon we caught the bus that stops right in front of our apartment and rode....... We had a pretty good idea where we were most of the time but by the time we got to the far end of the route the driver was getting concerned we knew where we were going! Fortunately a lady got on just then who spoke enough English for him to know we were sight seeing. We now know a fairly easy way to get to the ferry to Cijin Island even though it loops through Old Zouying. We would probably take a taxi home rather than risk getting the right bus.

Costco was on our list so we got off at Central park, no not New York! We walked through the park and easily got the MRT from there to Costco. Life is getting better because 2 weeks ago we probably walked 2 km out of the way trying to get to this same MRT stop. Costco is one long block from the stop. Mind you after shopping there and getting a FEW things (felt like 50 KG!) it was a longer block back. And the walk though the park from our MRT stop to the apartment felt like a MILE! It was worth it. Colleen made a great stir fry for dinner and we have pork loin and chicken breasts for a few weeks, they're cheaper than ground beef.


I now have one free weekday until mid January except for our Christmas trip to Penang, Malaysia. The teaching will be fun, a bit tiring, a good guage for future years and will pay for most of our base expenses.

Hugs to all.