Some of our teammates posing for a picture before we row (I'm in the first row, left)
Because not everyone showed up for practice, when I first sat down in the boat, I thought we were going to flip over because the boat was so close to the water. This was because we had never had such a heavy boat! Everyone finally showed up to row the dragon boat. While it was the day of the competition, at least everyone came!
Competing at night. All races were held at around 8pm
Although I forgot to bring my goggles the first day of racing, I definitely remembered to bring them the next day of competition.
Like I predicted in a previous post, we did not get first place. We did not get second or third, either. We got fourth place (out of four competitors) in our bracket. It was a lot of fun, despite how slow we were =). On Monday's race, our time was 4 minutes and 39 seconds. We were so close in beating the Oxford team. We were only two seconds behind. Oxford was also slow that day. But the next day, they were very quick and were not in a close race with us in grabbing last. All our competitors that second day of racing had a score of 3 minutes + something seconds. We were the only ones who had a score of 4 minutes and 18 seconds. Well, although they beat us in speed, we beat them in having the coolest name, "Hamburger Breakfast!"
Our logo for our T-shirts drawn by a Fulbrighter
Actually, our program coordinator was a little embarrassed to put down our name "Hamburger Breakfast" so they put down "Fulbright Hamburger Breakfast" as our name, which they ultimately shortened to "Fulbright."
Zhong Shan Da Xue (Zhong Shan University) took first place with Wen Zao taking second and Oxford taking third. All in all, it was a really fun experience and we all had a good time.
Check out some very cool pictures here.
Some of us in the hot springs
At Ruesuei, we stayed at a hot springs hotel where they had three outdoor springs at different temperatures--cold, warm, and hot. It was very soothing. Ruesuei is known for its "rustic" hot springs, as my guidebook tells me, so I'm glad we got to experience that. The hotel is nestled at the top of a mountain so it was quiet and secluded.
The next day, we got up early to go rafting in another part of Ruesuei. The rafting company we chose had rather old gear (old lifejackets, old rafting boats, old spongy helmets), but they saved us at least NT$300. We rafted for five hours, going over 23 rapids, and over a distance of 25 kilometers. A few of us fell out of the raft a couple of times, but nobody got hurt. We also had some pretty excellent water battles with neighboring rafts, where we used water buckets to throw water at each other. Of course, we're not supposed to do that, but it was still pretty fun because it turned into a battle between the Taiwanese and Americans; the Taiwanese would yell "Welcome to Taiwan!!" And then they would throw some water at us while we would yell back "No honor! You just said 'Peace'!!" It was a good time. This rafting trip would not have been possible without Gered & Rebekah, two of our Fulbright ETAs, organizing it, so a big shout out to both of you! Thank you for organizing the trip!
Click to enlarge the above pictures
After a day of rafting, we went to Tai-Dong in the evening by train. There, we stayed a night at the aboriginal culture hotel. We didn't do too much exploring in Tai-Dong because we arrived so late. The next morning, we went to Green Island (Ludao), an island off of Taiwan.
At the 'Little Great Wall' on Green Island (Ludao)
We took the ferry to go to Green Island and unfortunately, I threw up multiple times. I don't usually get seasick, but this ride was 40 minutes long and I already had a slight headache in the morning. So, the combination of those factors culminated in a not-so-pleasant experience. Anyway, I digress. When we finally arrived on Green Island, we realized that we couldn't take a tour with the glass-bottomed boat like we originally planned because it wasn't running on that day, which happened to be a Sunday. At that point, we had to decide if we wanted to ride golf carts around Green Island, which is only 6 sq miles, or 16 sq kilometers around, or rent a car for about $30 for three hours. We chose the latter.
Green Island was formed after a volcanic explosion. It is famous for many things including oddly shaped volcanic rocks, a prison for political dissidents (or that's what I hear), and lush green mountains. We saw all of that and much more in the span of three hours. We were very efficient with our two rented cars.
All in all, it was an excellent trip and I'm glad I got to see eastern Taiwan. You should check out more pictures in Taiwan Photo Set 35!
To form a team, you must have thirty people, twenty of which will be rowing, one will be steering the boat in the back, one will be drumming, and one will be sitting on top of the dragon's head to reach for the flag; the other six are backups in case one of us falls into the water during practice.
So, I'd like to say that we're a pretty serious competitor, but I'd be pulling your leg if I wrote that. Let me clarify our place in this competition:
1) Our team name is "Hamburger Breakfast." This name was chosen because so many Taiwanese think that foreigners love to eat hamburgers for breakfast. But in fact, more Taiwanese eat hamburgers for breakfast than foreigners. Instead of trying to dispel this myth, which we've tried, we've decided to embrace our "foreignness" and name ourselves after this misconception.
2) There are seven competitors in the foreign division of the race.
3) One of our competitors is the Kaohsiung World Games Dragon Boat Team.
4) Another one of our competitors has practiced for nearly twenty years.
5) We will practice three times for one hour each until the actual competition...
6) When we practice, we have three rowing strategies, Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Here is the pattern of drumming for each Plan:
7) At our first practice, nine out of twenty-four people showed up.
8) At our second practice, twelve out of twenty-four people showed up.
9) Maybe by our third practice, all of us will show up?
Now, when you're dragon boating, there a few things to keep in mind. First, you're rowing on Love River. In the past, people have said it used to smell so foul pedestrians would throw up walking near it. People did not love the Love River ten years ago. However, things have changed now and it's not nearly as stinky as it was ten years ago. I--sitting at the front of the Dragon Boat and splashing myself with water because I don't know how to row--have tasted the Love River and I'll tell ya right now, it's salty and stings the eyes if you're not wearing goggles. So, to prepare yourself for the race, we suggest you wear:
I hope this has given you a little picture into our experience dragon boating.
One more thing, one of the ETAs thought up of our slogan, "Your ass is dragon!" because it sounds like "Your ass is draggin' " as in "You're too slow!" We'll get T-shirts that say this so look out for pictures later!
Happy Rowing, Team! Go Hamburger Breakfast, Go!
The Girl's Team, #1 in all of Kaohsiung City (above)
The Boy's Team, #1 in all of Kaohsiung City (above)
You can find more pictures from today in this album: Taiwan Photo Set 30.
The kids were so excited, they blocked Dan!
Three other teachers joined us to play, Shang Ping Lao Shi, Teacher Watson, and Zhong Jian Lao Shi (I don't know all of their English names). I played against Shang Ping Lao Shi on the girls team and the two other teachers played against Dan on the boys team. It was a lot of fun and everyone wants to do it again. So, you'll see more of these posts later =D. You can find more photos here.
Fans sitting on the sidelines
The boys basketball team of Hua Shan Elementary School were the tournament champions! I was so excited to watch them play. They were ALL so good! The girls did pretty well, too; they took third place. Everybody could really move around the court quickly. These little boys and girls are so much better than I ever was at their age! This was the final tournament of the fall semester. There will be another tournament next spring, too.
The day began with all of us heading to the middle school track and field. My school booked the track and field because ours was too small. The kids walked from Hua Shan to the middle school. The line of kids snaked around the entire block. When the kids arrived at the track and field, I led them in the "Boom Chica Boom" cheer and then they did warm-up exercises.
When the exercises finished, the students got ready for their relay race. During the race, my co-MC, Mr. Sha, would loudly cheer "Jia Yo! Jia Yo!" which literally means "Add Gas, Add Gas!" There isn't a real English equivalent except for maybe "Go! Go! Go!" So, I started shouting loudly in the microphone, "Go! Go! Go!" It was pretty exciting. The kids usually sped up when they passed by the stage and heard us yell.
It was such a fun event. I got a pretty bad tan, though. The sun was facing me so I was pretty hot when I was MCing. There are more pictures of my teachers and administrators in this album.
I had a lot of fun because Hua Shan was basically the cheerleading squad for the China-Taipei Korfball Team. The China-Taipei team played the Russian Korfball team. We were very very loud. The Taiwanese love to use these little plastic horns to blow and to also hit. The cheers are so awesome because everyone is so coordinated. China-Taipei won by two points, which is a lot because other teams that we saw kept only a one point difference with the opposing team.
The kids cheers were pretty cute, too. I recently burned the basketball coach a CD of warm-up songs for tomorrow's field day at Hua Shan and one of the songs I put on there was "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by Baha Men. At the Korfball game, the 6th grade sports class started cheering, "Who Let the Dogs Out? Whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo!" They thought the "Whoo" sounded like "Boo" so they thought it was legitimate to cheer against the Russian team. It was so cute!
Fellow teachers and staff at the game (above), Hua Shan students and a teacher (below)
You can find more photos of korfball right here.
You can find more pictures of this event and the people I went with in this album. The Taipei Elephants Brother lost this time by one point.