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.
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!
We stopped by a coffee shop on the way to Wan Shou Shan. The entire shop was nestled in the forest; you can see a picture of it to the left.
It was a great trip and we hope to go hiking up monkey mountain before I leave Taiwan in July.
At Alishan, we also saw lots of gigantic trees. The picture to the left is a red cypress about 2,000 years old! When we went to Alishan, the weather was fantastic, clear skies and very warm. We hiked the trails up the mountain and then came back down on the train. Most people took the train up, but the line was too long at the bottom of the mountain so we decided to just walk up.
Be sure to check out photos here! There are lots of jumping photos of me and my host family.
From left, the family of my host mom's colleague (whose son also happens to be my student!), me, co-teacher Chia-Ling, and my host family
After we played with the swing, all of the ETAs, LETs, and host families went to make clay pottery. Last time I went to Meinung, I made a cup, remember? This time, I made a wall decoration (see picture below). I had my host family and co-teachers sign it. The top two holes are for stringing ribbon through so it will hang. The bottom hole is for me to hang a picture of my host family and co-teachers.
There are lots and lots of pictures of this trip here. Be sure to check it out!
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...
Above: The Pearl of Eternal Love (August)
There is a pearl for every single month. When we were at the Dragonfly Beads Art Studio, I decided to make the pearls pictured below for my family. I did not choose the pearls based on my family members' birth month, but instead chose the pearls based on aesthetics and meaning.
One of the artists helped me make the beads. She was part of the tribe, Paiwan, that specializes in making these glass beads. The population of the Paiwan is somewhat above 82,000. According to a brochure from the Bureau of Cultural, Park, Council of Indigenous Peoples, the Paiwan are the best at handicrafts. Apparently their expertise in handicrafts is a result of their heirarchical social structure; the nobles have a lot of time to refine their artistic skills because they do not participate in the daily-life productions. The Paiwan make a variety of objects, ranging from tools to architectural parts (i.e. wooden beams, pillars, etc.).
After making our beads, which took about 8 minutes to make and 40 minutes to cool, we headed to the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Culture Park. There, we saw the tribe members of Paiwan dance and light firecrackers. The costumes they wore were very beautiful and brightly colored. We took a bus to the indoor Naluwan Theater within the park and on the way, saw many beautiful scenic spots.
For more pictures of this cultural experience, please see this album: Taiwan Photo Set 19: Sandimen Village.
A few of us outside the arena stadium (see inflatable teletubby-look-alike behind us?)
Yep...flying teletubbies that seemed to only be held by their costumes
The National Athletic Event was a little bit like the Olympics because these teletubby-like things escorted the athletes into the stadium and then they all lined up in the middle like so:
And then, there were fireworks:
The Kaohsiung Arena Stadium
You can find more pictures in this album here. After the opening ceremony ended, all of us went to eat and dance at a Mexican restaurant in Taiwan.
All of us making dumplings
At the seaport, the control tower is shaped as the Chinese character "Gao" for Kaohsiung. After we visited the seaport, we went to a special place where you can watch the airplanes land & take-off while drinking beverages. I thought it was a bit strange at first, but once I saw what this special place was, I liked it very much. The special place is basically an outdoor cafe right beside an airplane landing strip.
It's very cool because they played music from the movie Cape No. 7 (see previous blog) while you were sitting outside sipping your mango sherbert drink or cafe latte. I never thought I'd be excited watching an airplane land & take-off, but it was pretty amazing. You can see pictures of the outdoor cafe in this album.
The crowds had organized cheers and would wave their little yellow horns/sticks that make noise. Taiwanese baseball games are pretty noisy, but I think that's a good thing because then people like me don't fall asleep! I enjoyed the cheers very much. There were a lot of cheers that involved saying "Chuan Lei Da!" for "Home Run!" In the end, the Elephant Brothers (Taipei Team) won by one point.
Outside the baseball stadium after the game
Kate, me, and Coach Pao
Kate, Selena (remember her from my previous posts? Her brother owns the Modern Toilet Restaurants), and me
You can find more pictures of the baseball game here.
You can find the photo album for this day, here. We walked around the shops, saw the beautifully painted umbrellas, and then...made our own pottery! You won't get to see the grand masterpiece that I made until the end of this month when they send it to me. So, sit tight, and I'll post again when my hand-crafted artifact comes in =D. After making pottery, we had lunch and picked lemons at Patty's lemon farm.
The seats at the restaurant
Taking a little shower in the restaurant =D
Hot Pot in a toilet bowl!
Rice curry, chicken, and cheese dish in a bathtub bowl!
Our drinks came in this
Kate getting napkins for Selena!
Dessert: ice cream in Taiwanese squatting toilets =D
And then...came the humongous dessert shaved ice with strawberry, strawberry syrup, fruit, and ice cream.
There are several "Modern Toilet" Restaurants in Taiwan, and they just opened up two restaurants in Hong Kong. We had a really great time at the restaurant. Food was good, atmosphere was great, and company was hilarious. We talked and laughed so much while we ate that the whole restaurant kept on turning their heads and either glared at us, or just stared at us. Good times!
The entire complex was very beautiful. We went with a tour guide and she told us all about the significance of the architecture and explained the placement of the plaques in honor of Confucius and his forefathers.
Since I wanted to buy my friends in America gifts, I bought two glass phone charms that glow in the dark at this stand. Right when I was about to leave, the glassblower stops me and says he wants to make me a gift. The other Fulbrighters and I watched in awe as he made me this:
An Angel! It was a very nice gift and now I have a glass angel watching over me while I'm in Taiwan.