Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

I had a nice Thanksgiving with my fellow teachers at Xin Hu this past Sunday. We ordered turkey, gravy, and stuffing from a local hotel. Everyone brought a dish to share: mashed potatoes, pies, cranberry sauce... It was pretty good. The week before I was smell-hallucinating about turkey and gravy.

After we gorged ourselves, we played charades and talked about what we were thankful for. :) So I helped me feel better about missing Thanksgiving at home.

(crescent rolls, green bean casserole!!!!!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Real Scoop on Taroko Gorge

Friday evening we took a High Speed Rail Train to Hualien City and checked into our hotel for the night. I got to feel my first earthquake ever in the shower. It was so small I thought I was just remembering what it felt like in the train.

Early the next morning we rented a scooter drove to Taroko gorge! It was raining since the day before so we wore ponchos and still got soaked. Here's the gate to the gorge:


Our first stop was the Eternal Springs Shrine, dedicated to the many people who lost their lives building the road through the gorge. It was really pretty (but small). A spring runs underneath it, and it's had to be rebuilt three times because of rockslides.


Then we headed to Bulowan, the aboriginal settlement in the gorge. It's all commercialized now, but the idea was still good.

The tribe is called Atayal and they're famous for their weaving techniques. We got to see an old woman weaving inside their museum. Out behind the lower village we went on the Swallow Grotto trail. It was gorgeous but tiring. Ick. I'm out of shape!


Next we stopped by the Nine Turns, supposedly the most beautiful part of the gorge. It's where the road goes in and out through a mountain. A section was closed off because of rockslides. Luckily we kept our scooter helmets on! ;)


In fact, there was a recent rockslide, from the looks of it. I stole a shard of rock as a souvenir!


Then we got to our destination: Tienxiang, the only town in the gorge. We stayed at the Grand Formosa Hotel (five stars!!!)

We tried for the Hsiang Te temple nearby because it had a pretty pagoda, but it was closed for the night. We checked out the famous Catholic hostel where Albert stayed a few times instead. Then we went for a swim, ate dinner, and got to see a performance of A-mei aboriginal dances. The guy group dances were hot to watch! They were very masculine and loud and looked like they were showing off hunting skills. The leader's dancing was really good, and he wasn't bad looking either. ;) They asked the audience to come up and learn a dance so we got up and I won a prize for the dance. ;) Then it was off to bed. I woke up the next morning to see a huge pile of sunflower seed shells on our porch!!! Haha!

Sunday was another early rise and we went back to the Catholic hostel to take pictures and hopefully meet the priest. Albert told me he was American and lived in Taiwan most of his life. I thought it would be really cool to meet him and see what he was like. It seemed like a really peaceful life living in the mountains like this with a small church to tend to. When we got there we saw three cats sitting on someone's scooter. It was very cute!


It was more of a chapel, than a church. It felt very peaceful, only three rows of pews...As we were leaving a man came out to talk and we found out the priest had died a few years ago, and that now a priest comes from out of town only once a week to give mass. It was very depressing to hear that. I almost wish I could have stayed and helped keep up the place...

We went to the Hsiang Te Temple next. One minute outside of Tienxiang. It's on a mini-mountain in the middle of the gorge. Two big buddhasavas (sp), a pagoda, and a temple. The gold Buddha is apparently at the highest altitude in the world.


Then we went on a couple of trails. First was Lushui trail. I pretty much snacked on sunflower seeds the whole way (I was starving!!!).


Then Baiyang trail... which was closed. So we went partway up the Meiyuan/Jhucun trail... at least up to the scary suspension bridge. You could seen through the planks to the bottom of the gorge. It was terrifying!!!!


Then we headed back to Hualien to grab some mochis (a popular dessert here) and start out return trip to Taipei. All in all, an awesome trip! I would definitely take my family there if they came to visit! ;) Hint hint.




Monday, November 15, 2010

Post Taroko Update

This weekend was awesome! Very relaxing. I'm just really tired from the traveling. I'll tell you all about it in a day or two! :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Raid Adventure

So today at my school there was a raid from the government, and, for some reason, it's illegal for foreigners to teach kindergarten in Taiwan. So everytime this happens, the teachers have to book it outside the back and wait until it's safe to come back inside. I didn't hear the announcement because I was in the bathroom so I come downstairs and someone gives me the hand motion that means-- go back upstairs there's a raid!!! So I hid in the bathroom for a while... and then I snuck over to an empty classroom and hid in the sliding cupboards where they have spare cots...and I took a nap. ;) Pretty crazy, huh? I love playing hide and seek.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pottery-making in Ying Ge

Two weekends ago (I know I'm late to update!!!) Albert and I went to Ying Ge, a small town that's famous for ceramics and pottery. We went to a workshop where we got to glaze cups and actually use a pottery wheel! It was AMAZING! I've always wanted to try it! I tried to make a bowl and it was good until I kept experimenting. So the teacher kinda redid it for me. I love some cool pictures I'll post later!!

The weather is really nice here right now. It's fall and it's cool but not cold. The rain's let up a little bit so I'm happy! This weekend we're going to Taroko Gorge (look it up on google!). It's really beautiful! Lots of hiking and nature. We've been meaning to go since mid-October so I'm glad we're finally getting there!

Gotta run! Chinese class!

Halloween at Hsin Hu School

So this past Halloween our school went ALL out to throw a party for the children and parents. We transformed each classroom into different acitvity rooms, such as eat a donut from a string, haunted house, DIY activites, etc. And the English teachers all had to dress up and dance to Michael Jackson's Thriller. It turned out pretty well I think! I'll upload the video once I get it finished. But for now, here are some pictures!!! Enjoy!
Teacher Ted, our host, as a pilot
Teacher Kate as a donut queen!
Me, as a candy girl
Me and my Chinese co-teachers
All of us after the show
Teacher Katannya as the mummy in the haunted house
Teacher Kate, Teacher Leanne (knigth in shining armor), and me
Teacher Catherine as a pirate (sorry I didn't get the orientation right!)
Teacher James as a sexy vampire, and Teacher Leanne