We spent the first day getting up really early in the morning to catch an 8 o'clock train from Kaohsiung to Hualien. It took about four and a half hours to get to Hualien. When we got there, we headed straight for Taroko Gorge National Park. It was lightly raining the first day and we were only able to finish about half the national park in half a day. So, we decided to finish the rest of the National Park the next day and head to the beach for the rest of the evening. You can find some amazing beach jumping pictures at the end of this blog entry.
View of Taroko Gorge from a bridge
On the second day, we got up around 8 o'clock to go hiking in Taroko National Park. we came across a beautiful bridge with lots of different looking lion heads. You can see the pictures in this photo album-- Taiwan Photo Set 43: Hualien Trip Day 2. After that, we went hiking along another trail and came across beautiful landscapes. There were clouds that floated amidst the mountains that made you feel so cool and calm. It was breathtaking and a worthwhile experience for anybody visiting Taiwan.
View of the gorge along one of the trails
There were many hiking trails in Taroko National Park and the trails were not too difficult either so you could enjoy the scenery and not be entirely focused on where next to put your feet. The views were spectacular as you'll find out in these photo albums:
Taiwan Photo Set 42: Hualien Trip Day 1
Taiwan Photo Set 43: Hualien Trip Day 2
Taiwan Photo Set 44: Hualien Trip Day 3
Scenic view from climbing to the pagoda
After hiking on many trails in Taroko Gorge National Park and visiting the Buddhist shrines and pagodas nestled in the mountains, we headed for Guan Shan and Taidong for the last two parts of our trip.
Biking in Guan Shan
When we got to Guan Shan by train, we used some bikes at the hotel we were staying at to bike around the town. It was nearing sunset so I got some beautiful pictures of the landscape. You may be wondering how I managed to take pictures on my bike. Well, I rode a two person bike and I was on the back so I didn't have to steer, but merely peddle.
When we finished the bike ride, it was merely the end of Day 2. we still had a whole Day 3 ahead of us.
Enjoying ice cream in Taidong, Taiwan
For Day 3, we headed to Taidong, Taiwan to visit a ranch where you can feed cows, ride horses, and eat/drink fresh yogurt or yogurt ice cream/milk. It was quite an adventure and it was a very relaxing way to finish our 3 day trip to eastern Taiwan.
Thank you Joyce for taking us on such a delightful trip! We had a really fun time and can't wait until our next adventure. This was a great final trip in Taiwan before I left for America.
Jumping pictures from our trip to the beach on the first day to Hualien
The participating countries this year included Russia, Turkey, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, and Taiwan. The two-day conference was filled with lots of activities. The students each gave 7-9 minute presentations on their region's natural disasters, participated in a video conference with other NDYS teams around the world, and visited Nantou & Jiji, the places struck by the September 21, 1999 earthquake (the picture to the left is a piece of the Earth's crust where distinct layers in the Chenglongpu fault line are visible). The students also discussed with each other their different cultures, lifestyles, and education systems. I think NDYS is a really rich experience for these students and I wish I could have had something like this back in the United States. Perhaps when I go back to the U.S., I can do something similar to NDYS.
The September 21, 1999 earthquake was one of the most devastating earthquakes to ever hit Taiwan. At 1:47 am that day, Nantou and JiJi in central Taiwan were hit by this 7.3 magnitude earthquake. According to the 9-21 Museum brochure, the earthquake killed 2,415 people, injured 11,305 and caused NT$300 billion dollars in property damage. To reflect on this event, to remember lost loved ones, and to educate people about earthquakes, the Taiwanese built the 921 Earthquake Museum in Nantou. We visited this museum on the second day of the conference. The museum is really interesting because it's built on the Chenglongpu fault line and there are many structures around the museum that reflect the devastation the earthquake caused. If you look at the pictures, an elementary school building that is a part of the museum has utterly collapsed except for a few columns.
The museum and the conference was a really memorable experience. To see such enthusiastic and passionate students engaging in discussions on how to live in harmony with nature was really refreshing.
You can find more pictures from today in this album: Taiwan Photo Set 30.
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.
Typhoon Jangmi (photo courtesy of Earth Snapshot)
Since coming to Taiwan, this is the third typhoon I've been in. Whenever we have a typhoon, our program coordinator sends us these emails:
For example, a post office where students can play with the environment and speak.
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistants created station games in addition to a dialog station at English Village to help the students practice more English. English Villages, or simulated environments, were built in many Kaohsiung Elementary Schools. However, we are only running three English Villages this semester. Fifth graders from all over Kaohsiung go to one English Village once a year. We prepared for English Village on Monday, but it does not officially start until Tuesday (Sept. 9). On Monday, I just finished up last minute touch-ups to the station games to get ready for Tuesday's opening ceremony and full run through of English Village. Though, every Monday I will spend the morning at Ling Zhou English Village. In the afternoon, I go to my school, Hua Shan Elementary School by walking from Ling Zhou Elementary school to the MRT, take the MRT to the last station on the red line (Xiao Gang), and then bike to my school for about 15 minutes, depending on traffic.
After the flag ceremony, I taught my three classes for the day. Just to give you a snapshot of the classes I co-teach, let me tell you which grades I co-teach and on what days. On Mondays, I co-teach one fifth grade class and two fourth grade classes. On Tuesdays, I co-teach two fifth grade classes and one sixth grade class. On Wednesday, I co-teach first graders, a sixth grade class, and a fifth grade class. On Thursday, I co-teach two fourth grade classes, a third grade class, and a sixth grade class. Finally, on Friday, I co-teach English Club with Ashley and co-teach second graders, and two sixth grade classes. It's a very busy week. But, if you think this is busy, just wait 'till next week when I add my Chinese classes on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. My schedule will be booked with Monday being the busiest where I travel to three different locations (Ling Zhou in the morning, Hua Shan in the afternoon, and San Min Elementary School in the evening for Chinese classes).
Look at how windy it was up on Pineapple Mountain!
Later that evening, we barbecued and ate lots of moon cakes. A fellow teacher at school told me that the reason why barbecuing now occurs in Taiwan is because a very popular television commercial showed people barbecuing with soy sauce and ever since then, people wanted to cook this special way on Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I don't know if this is true, but it's very interesting. I only stayed for some of the barbecue because it was a fellow English Teaching Assistant (ETA) and Local English Teacher (LET)'s birthday so I went to celebrate with them later that evening.
The next day, we rested and took a boat tour on the "Love River" and went to Qijin island. It was incredibly fun and I got to see much of Taiwan. On the boat tour, I saw the Hong Kong Navy (I'm not too sure why it was there), and an oil rig. When we arrived at Qijin, a group of us decided to hike to the top of the lighthouse on Qijin island. The lighthouse was closed, but the scenic overlooks were absolutely beautiful. I had yummy barbecued squid for dinner later that day at Qijin. There was also a Taiwanese boy band playing in the open space at Qijin island. You'll see in the pictures a group dancing and holding a boat on top of their heads.
During the next few days, we applied for our ARCs (Alien Resident Certificate) visited Xiziwan Beach, visited English Village (a place where 5th graders and other students can come practice prearranged English dialogs), and ate/shopped at the night markets (specifically Liuhe Yeshi and Zhong Xiao).