For Dr. Wu's parting gift, the Kaohsiung Fulbright ETAs made him a calligraphy piece. Two of our Fulbrighters, Shana and Billy, took calligraphy classes this semester and painted a beautiful piece using Dr. Wu's name. My only contribution was my chop (the red stamp signature of my Chinese name). It was beautifully made and Dr. Wu appreciated it very much.
After the farewell party on Friday, I went to a glass museum called Tittot in Taipei. It's not really a glass museum but it has small sculptured made of a type of material that is a blend between glass and crystal. It's called Liu Li. It's beautiful and a little rough on the surface. It's characterized by it's illuminating colors. You'll see pictures of Liu Li in this photo album: Taiwan Photo Set 40.
As my Fulbright year comes to a close, I want to thank the Foundation for Scholarly Exchange, the Kaohsiung Bureau of Education, AIT Kaohsiung, AIT Taipei, and the U.S. government for supporting me to come here and teach English. This experience has been life changing and my gratitude extends to them and everyone else who has touched my life in Taiwan. I especially want to thank the people I have met in Taiwan. My close friends, the fellow ETAs, my co-teachers, my school, my students, my host family, Joyce's family, my students' families, and many many others. Thank you for giving me one of the memorable and meaningful experiences in Taiwan. Taiwan has, to follow the city motto, touched my heart.
When we got to Taipei, we walked around a lot because we got there super early. The outdoor concert started at 7pm; we got there at 6pm. It was also lightly raining in Taipei and it was much colder than Kaohsiung. The wind chill is not as awful as Iowa winter weather, but it was colder than the 70 degree weather in Kaohsiung. I borrowed Chia-Ling's coat because I didn't bring any real winter clothes because I thought this tiny little island wouldn't be cold. Well, I sure was proven wrong when I got a cold last month during the weather change. Anyway, thank you Chia-Ling for letting me borrow your coat; it kept me very warm =D.
When the concert started at 7pm, it was pretty cool because Kate, Chao-Wei, and I got pretty good spots considering we were so early. There were many famous singers at the concert, but I don't really remember their names. However, I did see S.H.E. sing several songs, this guy from Tainan who wore cool glasses (see pictures below), and I really wanted to see MayDay (Wu Yue Tian) sing, but they were last. We left our good spot in front of the concert early because we wanted to be near the MRT to beat the mad rush home after the fireworks. I was really grateful that did that because we got to where we were staying at 1:30am and not 2 or 3 am.
The Famous Singers at the Outdoor Concert (at least up until we left for a closer location near the MRT)...
Click to enlarge the pictures
The next day, I was very tired, but I had an excellent breakfast to start the New Year. Check it out:
We met up with some of Chao-Wei's friends in Taipei and we had lunch at Din Tai Feng. After lunch, we headed to the biggest night market in Taipei, Shi Lin Yie Shi. Lots of fun! You can see lots of photos in Taiwan Photo Set 27.
At the end of the concert, Lang Lang did TWO encores!! The audience was so surprised and we couldn't stop clapping. During the second encore, Scarlet and my host dad left to stand in line to get Lang Lang's signature. So, when Tai-Shia (my host mom) and I came out of the concert, Scarlet was already in line and I just took the place of my host dad. When we were waiting to get the signature, I realized I had nothing but a scrappy piece of paper for Lang Lang to sign. When I approached the signing table, Lang Lang looked at me funny and asked me what this was in Chinese and I told him I didn't have anything else. He looked at me funny again and signed it. When I got out of line with Scarlet, we were some of the first people he signed, I snapped a few pictures of Lang Lang, then got back in line. Why you ask? Because my host mom bought me a program booklet for Lang Lang to sign properly. This time, though, I was at the very end and I had to kindly ask the security guards to even let me back in line. So, I got Lang Lang's signature TWICE! The picture above is Lang Lang's signature in the program booklet. The scrappy piece of paper just didn't make the cut =D.
When we got back to the Evergreen Hotel after the Lang Lang concert, Scarlet decided that we would visit the Evergreen Maritime Museum the next day. What a good decision that was because when we went to the museum we learned so much about ships, their history, and their operation. The museum director even gave us a personal tour of the museum! (See picture below).
After that, all of us (Chia-Ling and my host family) went to Yang Ming Shan (Yang Ming Mountain) to hike. It was breathtaking and you can find pictures here in Taiwan Photo Set 26.
You'll find in the same photo album that I like to jump and take pictures a lot, especially if there's a bridge. Check out Scarlet and I jumping, teehee. Click to enlarge the photos.
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.
The reception was outdoors and the food was laid out buffet style. Many different restaurants came to exhibit their dishes including Din Tai Feng. The food was very good. At the reception a few us got silhouette portraits done for free. I've never had a silhouette picture of myself before and our whole apartment is going to hang them above our television for decoration =D.
The day after 10/10, a few of us went to the National Palace Museum and the National Taiwan University campus. I've already been to the National Palace Museum, but the last time I went I only had an hour or two in the museum. This time around, I spent more time in the exhibitions.
The HSR only takes about an hour and a half to get from Kaohsiung to Taipei. When I arrived, I checked into a hotel and later toured the Chang Kai Shek Memorial. You can find pictures here. The conference was a lot of fun and I met a lot of different researchers. Some were doing research on identity, China-Taiwan politics, mental illness, Buddhism and Chinese medicine. My hope is that when I travel around Taiwan, I can visit all the researchers and the researchers will visit me in Kaohsiung.