On the first day, we went to the Aquatic Marine Museum. There, we saw lots of beautiful fish, sharks, and we even got to see a beluga show! You'll see pictures in this album: Taiwan Photo Set 29. During the beluga show, if you answered questions about belugas correctly, you were given an opportunity to be kissed and professionally photographed with a beluga for free. Of course, I couldn't answer any of the questions in Chinese, but I was lucky enough to be given a free photo pass by an elderly women who answered a question correctly and was leaving the show early. Quite an experience! When I put on the life jacket and pet the beluga, the beluga felt squishy and soft. I was a bit nervous when the beluga came to kiss me on the cheek and I was hoping it couldn't tell I was nervous. Anyway, it was fun.
The mid-year conference was different from the orientation conference in September because we actually got two days to explore Taiwan instead of sitting in a conference room all day. During those two days, we hiked in Kending National Park and saw two caves, orchids, and several unique trees. Pictured in the photo above is a tree whose roots grow vertically--really amazing! We also saw a tree that was wrapped in vines. The vines knotted themselves to keep from squeezing the tree to death, according to our tour guide. You can find the picture of the tree in this album link.
The Fulbrighters took several group shots and I'll post two of them here. You may not recognize me because I'm wearing glasses. One of my contacts ripped and I had to take it out so I wore glasses the entire weekend. I thought I was so smart because I actually brought an extra pair of contacts with me to Kending. Unfortunately, when I opened up one of the new contact lens packets, it was empty! There was no contact in there...so much for my luck, eh?
In this picture, I'm in the middle, popping the peace sign...
In addition to going to the Marine Museum and Kending National Park, we visited a beach and observed egrets. On the last day, each grantee and group of ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) presented on their experience in Taiwan so far.
The stone marker at the most Southern tip of Taiwan (above)
When we were at the most Southern tip of Taiwan, two bikers stopped and gave Tai-shia beetlnut. In the picture to the left, you can see me chewing on beetlenut. Apparently you put a white powder on it and it tastes like cocaine. But, rest assured, beetlenut is legal in Taiwan and when you chew it and suck on the juice, you spit out this red colored pulp. It's rather yucky when you see a person's mouth all red, but lots of elderlypeople in Taiwan and some young people like to chew on beetlenut. After I stopped to try some of this beetlenut, which I found rather spicy, we headed back to Cesar Hotel with our bikes.
I was surprised, Scarlet was not tired at all! She rode with such vigor and enthusiasm =D. We rode for about 2 or 3 hours and it started to rain on our way back. But, the rain stopped and the sun came back out so we still had a great bike ride. Later, when we got back, we went to the private beach owned by the resort. It was absolutely beautiful! I was going to go for a swim in the ocean, but the waves were so strong the lifeguard did not allow anyone to go into the water. So, I swam in the swimming pool at the resort.
We also saw lots of very colorful insects and huge spiders on the hike. See this album. Afterwards, we went to Hengchun to visit famous film spots from the movie, Cape No. 7. I already went to many of them last Sunday, so we went to Chateaux, the hotel where the movie was filmed. It was absolutely beautiful! The view of the beach was spectacular.
Please check out all the photos in this album: Taiwan Photo Set 23.
All the teachers on the graduation field trip
The amusement park was awesome! There were so many spectacular, and scary, rides. I rode the ride pictured to the right, whose horizontal track turns vertical 180 degrees and then drops you straight down into lots of upside down turns. Chia-Ling and I rode it twice! You would think I would be scared, but I wasn't because of the following story I'm going to tell you:
The ride was so much fun. I'm sitting in the very front with Watson and we both have our hands up. It was exhilarating and we all got very wet. After the ride, we got out to get our stuff, but when I looked around, my backpack was missing!
We saw all sorts of creatures, but the white rhinosaurus was everywhere! The picture to the right is a pretty good shot of the white rhino. We had a lot of fun at the zoo and the class I toured with was pretty photogenic so we took lots of photos. So many photos in fact, that we were late in meeting back up with the rest of the school. Oh well. When the other classes were waiting for us, they enjoyed McFlurries from McDonald's while we took pictures =D
After we spent about an hour and a half at the zoo, we went to the harbor. On the way to the harbor, we visited the house of Dr. Mackey, a Canadian minister who was famous for establishing a hospital in Taiwan. He was also famous for something else...Chia-Ling will have to fill me in on the story again. In the photo to the left is a picture of me and a teacher in front of a Dr. Mackey statue head.
When we went to the harbor in Taipei, which is called Danshui, we headed to "Old Street." There they sold lots of "Pi-Dan," or what literally translates into "leather eggs." The eggs are black, small, and the outer layer is very thick and leathery, hence the name. It tasted, different. Anyway, those eggs were very popular amongst the students and teachers; everybody bought a bag. After visiting old street and eating some dessert, we took a a boat to a nearby island (again, the name is in Chinese and my Chinese isn't that advanced).
Check out one of my students enjoying the boat ride to the left. The boat was pretty neat and we all got sprayed by the water (See pictures here). When we got to the harbor, there was an amazing bridge called "Lover's Bridge" that was for pedestrians only. It was huge and beautiful! Check out the architecture in the picture below.
The 6th graders in the picture above is the class I toured with the entire three days. Chia-Ling, Tsui-Zhu (another teacher), and I walked the bridge. It curved so beautifully. Since coming to Taiwan, every single bridge I've been on (two in total so far, hehe), I've jumped on. So, here's a shot of me jumping (see below). The other bridge I jumped on was in Sandimen's aboriginal park. You'll have to look for that picture in one of the photo albums.
After walking the bridge and boardwalk, we headed to a five-star hotel in Taoyuan, the Howard Hotel. It was amazing. They had a swimming pool, game room, sauna/jacuzzi, beautiful view above a reservoir, workout room, game room complete with a mini golf course for children, ping pong tables, pool tables, a nice restaurant and lots of other stuff. I was so exhausted from the day that I headed straight to bed at 10:30pm. Once my head hit the table, I fell asleep.
Later, I also rode a camel with a fellow teacher who was just as daring as me! See picture below.
In the photo above, we were just about to head into the Western Cowboy and Indian themed park. There, Chia-Ling and I rode a roller coaster ride called the Screaming Condor. It was pretty crazy because the ride was very very high and it twisted. We also rode something like the Tower of Doom back in Denver, a normal vertical drop with no twists and spirals. Lots of fun, but only some of the teachers joined us because the others were too scared =D.
In the photos above (from left to right) you can see wax fruit (Lein Wu, my new favorite fruit), rice millet wine, and all sorts of duck/chicken eggs. Wax fruit tastes a bit like apple, except sweeter, juicer, and not as dense.
A map of all the film spots in Hengchun that was displayed outside of Aga's house
After visiting the film spots, we went to several scenic spots including Nanwan (pictured below).
We only spent one day in Kending, but I have over 200 pictures that you can view here. Just a warning, it's a long album...