Most of us still have cankles. I'm wondering how long this will last? It makes wearing most of my shoes kind of difficult because not only are my ankles swollen, but my feet are, too.
Moving on, there is super good news! The air conditioner in our bedroom is now working! It actually feels super pleasant to be in here right now. There's a girl party going on on the other side of my armoire, but I am getting tired, so I've retired back to my bed, which is just slightly more comfortable than the little wooden chairs that we have. Also, my eye keeps twitching, so I think I need to get some sleep. First, though, I wanted to share a few adventures from the rest of my day!
This afternoon, Gerald trained us a little more on the culture here in Taiwan. I don't know, I haven't found anything really shocking yet. Of course, I have only been here for 2 days and haven't had a whole lot of interaction with the Taiwanese people, so this may change. The fact that I am here doesn't really seem real to me yet. It feels kind of like I am visiting China Town in San Francisco or something, except it goes as far as the eye can see and you don't feel like your life is in danger if you're not in the touristy part of town.
Side note: I pet a cat today. I think it belongs to the people who own the bing sha (it's like a smoothie, kind of) place down the street, because I saw it behind the counter yesterday when we stopped by. It was a very sweet cat, except the fur was super short! I have never seen a cat with fur so short. Texture was very different from Drawly's fur. Now most everyone knows I have this strange obsession for cats, and I'm totally OK with that. (This picture of me and Drawly was clearly taken before I left the States. Cutest cat ever!)
After some cultural training, Gerald took us around a bit again. We stopped at this memorial park that was pretty cool. The park has a statue in honor of Chiang Kai-shek, and while we were there Gerald told us a little about the history of Taiwan's struggle for independence. The park was super green (like all the landscape in Taiwan) and pretty serene. It is near the "mountain" and apparently close to some hiking/biking trails. There is also this giant koi pond. Apparently, it is the thing to do to go to this park and just watch the fish swim around when you need to relax. They even have food you can buy to feed the fish! Of course they do.
Statue of Chiang Kai-shek
Part of the park
Two of the giant koi
Next we stopped at a Taoist/Buddhist temple. Apparently they like combining religions here in Taiwan. Gerald was explaining that if you want help with a certain thing, you have to pray to a certain god, and if you want help with something else, then you have to pray to a different god. For me, that sounds way too complicated, and I am grateful that my God lets me pray to Him about anything and everything and finds way to bring me peace about even the silliest concerns (story later). But it was still a really cool looking place. One of the temple volunteers seemed pretty enthusiastic when Gerald asked him if it was OK for us to take photographs. I did feel kind of weird taking pictures inside of a temple, but I guess it was not a whole lot different from taking pictures at/in the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork. I ended up taking quite a few pictures, actually, so I'll share them with you.
Part of the courtyard outside
The front of the temple. Can you tell which Chinese zodiac year it is?
The red lanterns at the front of the temple
This guy actually looks like some of the statues at the Hare Krishna temple
Part of a really detailed and elaborate wall panel thingy (I know. I am so descriptive!)
I don't even know, but there were flowers in a plate to the left of it (her?) that smelled really nice.
Another wall thingy
Ok. This is pretty cool. Some of the rooms in the temple had these pillars that glow orange I have no idea what their purpose is or anything, really, but when you get close to it, this is what you see. The next pictures is of the pillars at a little bit more of a distance.
I figure the little guy to the left is one of this god's minions.
The offering table
A god/guardian at the entrance of the temple wearing a giant poncho. Why? I have no idea.
These rabbits are adorable and huge. I am pretty sure they light up at night, too!
After we got back home, we all decided to walk down to this new bakery (you can tell it is new because they have these red pineapple things hanging outside of new businesses) for dinner. It was super busy and kind of adorable! Inside they have all kinds of pastries and breads. It was pretty amazing. I have no idea what more than half of the stuff is, but I found a few items that looked pretty promising. When I got up to the counter to pay for my things, the girl packaging my foods pointed to one of my items and starting asking me something (I can, at least, usually tell when they are asking me questions here; I just don't always understand what the question is). I just looked at her with a "huh?" expression, and she picked up my pastry, pointed to the bottom of it, and asked me the question again, except this time I heard her say "chocolate." I thought, "Girl, I have no idea what you are saying to me, but I think it involves you offering to somehow include chocolate with this thing, and I am totally OK with that." Out loud I said, "Chocolate? Yao!" (There was a guy next to her that also worked there that she kept looking at. I think he knew some English, but he wasn't sure what words to use.) After paying, we went outside to eat at the tables. Turns out that pastry? It's like a giant cream puff filled with chocolate! SO GOOD! The outside is flaky and buttery like a croissant, but inside it's all chocolate. I think there were other flavors that she was probably offering me, but I'm sure when she said "chocolate" she saw this light bulb go off in my head and probably a little excitement too. I think most, if not all, of us intend to frequent that place.
The bakery is called "Hahu." I may have to name my next electronic after it (if you know anything about the names I've given most of my electronics, this will make sense, otherwise don't worry about it).
After visiting the bakery, Jessica really wanted to go for a bike ride. No one else would go with her, so I told her I would. I am super glad that I did! It was a lot if fun! We decided to take Circle Street (it's not really called that, but the teachers call it that because it circles around most of the city) to try to find the LDS chapel again (Gerald pointed it out to us yesterday). We will probably not be attending church in this chapel, though, because they only have the Chinese wards here; the English branch is a little south in Taichung. We got to the chapel safe and in one piece. Inside I saw a few guys get into an elevator, so we decided to park our bikes and see if we couldn't go inside to look around. The front door was locked, but a side door was open, so we went in. We were walking around the second floor (where the Stake offices seem to be) when we could suddenly hear someone watching "Finding Faith in Christ" or something like that. Suddenly, the missionaries pop out of this room and start talking to us. It was kind of awkward. They asked us if we were English teachers, did we have a map of Fengyuan, were we members.... Then they also told us where we could find a really nice map. We thanked them and made our awkward way back outside to our bicycles. As we were about to cross the street about half a block away, we heard people yelling and whistling, trying to get our attention, and it was the elders again, beckoning us to come back, so we did. They asked us if we wanted the sister missionaries phone number, just in case we had any questions, and then they gave us their phone number, too, just in case we needed something the sisters couldn't help us with. I was actually really grateful for this, because I've been wondering what I would do if I suddenly needed a blessing. Prayer answered!
I'm sure most if not all of you are only "reading" my blog for the pictures. Hopefully this one included enough to spark some of your interest. So far, I am having a blast out here. I haven't really experienced any jet-lag yet, and I'm hoping that I just... you know, don't. I am, however, pretty tired by the time 8 pm rolls around. It also starts getting dark here pretty early compared to Utah in the summer, and I imagine that is part of why I start thinking I need to go to bed. Of course, now it is a little after 10 pm and I am still up, so apparently me being tired doesn't really affect how late I stay awake!
Monday, Mom, Dad, and I flew up to Salt Lake on the first flight out. I honestly don't remember anything about that flight because I was asleep before we even left the runway (something about going to bed at 1:30 and waking up at 4 am). When we got to Salt Lake, we went ahead and checked me in for my flight to Taiwan so that we could just check my bags in and not have to lug them around with us all day. Good call. After picking up our "Pregnant Roller-skate" (that's what Dad kept calling our rental car), we went downtown to Temple Square and walked around for a bit before going to the 10 am endowment session.
Can I just tell you how amazing that was? I'd never been to a live session before, and I loved it! My grandpa was able to come to the session, to, and it was just so nice being with him and my parents in the Celestial room. I think that was the best way possible for me to start out my new adventure.
Well, after going to the temple, we went to P.F. Chang's and had lunch with Chillylint and some of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. Thank you to everyone who came! There were a lot more people that showed up then I expected, and it was just really nice. The food was also wonderful, even if it was overloaded with garlic.
After taking a much needed nap at Grandpa's, the parents and I made our way back to the airport. We got through security only to find out that my flight had been delayed for 2 hours, which meant that Mom and Dad would actually be leaving for home before I left for Taiwan. I met up with 5 of the other teachers there at the gate before we boarded; it was good to get a little more acquainted with them.
The flight to LAX was as uneventful as ever. I decided not to let my self sleep so that I could hopefully fall asleep better and sleep longer on the flight to Taipei, so I ended up watching Up! instead (but had to finish it on my next flight because the movie was longer than the flight to LA).
When we got to LA, we had two hours until our next flight was supposed to take off. To get to the international terminal, though, we had to leave the secure area, go outside and walk for a million miles, and enter in at another security checkpoint where they checked our passports and whatever else. Then we booked it to our gate where we met up with one more teacher. She told us that they had been paging our names since she had gotten there, so we went up to the counter. The girl working at the desk got on the radio and said something like "It's OK! They're here now!" I am not real sure why they were so concerned? No idea. We got our seat assignments and were practically the white people to be seen.
That was the longest flight of my life! There was not a lot of legroom, so it was kind of hard to get comfortable. They served dinner towards the beginning of the flight; by the time they got to us (I was sitting next to Kylie, another teacher, and a bunch of Asians), they only had the fish left. The rice was... um. I've had better rice, and the fish (which I did try) was not good. I ate the roll and about half of the "dessert" (some type of gelatin or pudding- it wasn't bad, just not really super good, either), and then I finished watching Up! and one other movie. It was my goal to stay awake until I knew it would be close to night-time in Taiwan. I think I went to sleep around 5 pm Taiwan time, but it wasn't a very restful sleep and I kept waking up. I probably slept for about 4-5 hours total on that flight; the rest of the time was spent trying to sleep and failing, for the most part. Around 3 am (Taiwan time, again), they served us breakfast. I had sausage and egg with fruit and orange juice. I ate about half of the eggs (there was some weird sauce on them that was like gravy or something, and the sausage was disgusting), the fruit, and drank my orange juice. Oh, there was another roll, too, which I also ate. My legs were really sore, so I stood in the aisle for a while, trying to get the circulation going again. I had been moving my feet as much as possible when I was sitting, so I was hoping that would keep me from swelling up like a balloon, but it didn't. (The swelling is finally starting to go down. I don't know what it is, but every time I go somewhere humid, I swell up, so the humidity hasn't helped matters any.)
At the airport after passing through customs (don't judge me by my appearance; I just spent 18+ hours traveling)
Getting through Immigration was a breeze for me, once I got the little paper all filled out. One of the other girls, though, had accidentally put down her visa number from when she went to China down instead of her Taiwan visa number. The guy got a little upset with her, then he looked at her passport and said. "Utah. Mormon. No wonder." He was very nice to me, though.
They had several of these cute/weird statue things outside of customs. I didn't take a picture of my favorite one, though (it had a sign that said "Welcome to Taiwan"), because it felt like too much effort at the time.
Getting our bus tickets was interesting. I still don't know what happened because we couldn't communicate very well with the people at the counter, but there was some sort of problem that was worked out. That's all I know. When we were getting on the first bus, there was a little... incident with the luggage. Somehow I lost my balance, and now I have a beautiful, swollen knee! I am not sure how well you can see it in this picture, but it's a pretty good-sized lump. Add that to the other swelling, and I have some really fat legs! I hope it goes down, because they make me sad. At least I know all the other teachers are dealing with swollen ankles, too.
On our second bus, there were some communication issues again. We stopped at this place called Discovery World that seems to be some sort of amusement park, and the bus driver seemed a little confused about why we weren't getting off. He asked us (in Chinese) where we were going and something else that I couldn't understand. We showed him our ticket stubs, and then someone else showed him our travel instructions from the school and we got it all figured out. Thankfully, Francis and Gerald were already at the train station to pick us up when we got there.
At the school, we brought all of our luggage upstairs (4th floor- no elevators), went and ate some lunch down the street (fried rice for me; everything was loaded with scallions. Melissa, never come visit because you won't be able to eat anything), but it tasted OK. Jessica (another teacher, also one of my roommates) got some dumplings and let me have one. It was pretty good, but, again, too many onions!
After lunch, we took a little tour of the school, and then Gerald also took us around the city. We got out and walked around the park at one of our stops. It was such a cool park!
waterfall with lots and lots of koi
a really colorful pillar
There's this monument thing at the park that is very intricately carved. Other than that, I have no idea what it is all about.
This is Jessica by the entrance to the basketball courts
Kendra rolling the stone in the lion(?)'s mouth
Very interesting exercise equipment
Heather and Jessica on the ... whatever it is.
We also stopped at a department store downtown. I need to figure out how to get there again, because it was amazing! There were at least 3 floors of all ladies clothing. While we were walking around, we got accosted by a salesperson that wanted to spray our faces with this stuff. I still don't really know what it was, but I think it was some kind of refresher? After dinner (chicken sandwich that I did not love, but it was OK), we came back home and started moving in to our rooms finally. My room is very large; there are four of us in here. Unfortunately, the AC doesn't work, so we're just suffering through the super humid air. The beds are only marginally softer than the tile floor, but there is plenty of storage space. We went to sleep around 10 pm.
I woke up just before 6, and the sun was already completely up. Before breakfast, we filled out our work visa applications and some other paperwork for our medical exam that we are having tomorrow. Breakfast was at another place down the street. This I liked. French toast with strawberry jam. The jam tasted like candy!
Soon we are off to do some more things. I don't actually know what all is planned for the rest of the day. We have received our bikes, keys, and bike locks and gone grocery shopping. There I found something resembling cocoa puffs and honey and bread, as well as a few other small things.
Anyway, better be off! Hope all is well with everyone in the States. I'd love to hear from you!
I'm running off about 7 hours of sleep in the last 72 hours, so you'll forgive me if I don't really give you any details at all about my first day in Taiwan. Just wanted to let you all know that I made it safely and we are getting settled in. Also, the air conditioner is broke in my* room and my room only, so that's awesome, what with it being 100% humidity here.
I realized today that I've hardly blogged in the past two weeks or so. My excuse is that I've been pretty busy. I mean, hello. Moving 10,000 miles here, thank you.
This past weekend, the defecta came out to visit me, and it was a Trifecta reunion! Sometimes it was hard thinking of new things to do in the STG, but my hair dresser suggested Red Cliffs (which has natural water slides and pools to swim in), and I like to think that this was a win idea! Less winning was when I thought one member of the Trifecta was about to drown and die (I won't mention any names here so as not to cause embarrassment to the guilty party). Also less winning was the sunburn I got (major fry on my shoulders; I don't even remember the last time I burned (I used to never burn! Ever!), so sunscreen wasn't something I even thought of until it was way too late), but that has gone away for the most part by now. Just in time for me to go again this Saturday (and hopefully not fry; I will wear the sunscreen this time)!
What else has been going on... Well, a lot of freaking out has been happening, but that's to be expected, I think. Dad also recently got an iPad, so we've been playing with the Photobooth app that is on there. And, because I love you all and think you deserve a good laugh (also because I am pretty confident and don't mind people laughing at me), I give you the following. If you don't laugh, then chances are you'll either have nightmares or you have no soul. (There are much funnier pictures, but I am not quite that confident in myself that I am going to post them for the whole world to see!)
Sometime very soon I need to actually pack my bags, but I'm waiting to do that until after I go to Costco tomorrow (everyone loves Costco, right? I mean, granted, it's my first time actually shopping there, and only my 4th time going in a Costco, but, it'll be fine, right?).
Anyway. I'm still alive! Chances are good there won't be much of any real updates again until after I get to Taiwan, so hopefully this can tide you over.
Also, hey, Skype me if you're not a stranger and we think of each other as friends. That would be good.
You may recall thatin February, shortly after I quit my job, I went up to Provo and played dress-up at Nicoke's place of employment. Well, I basically got to spend all except for one day of last week with my Nicoke (I promise this is more related than that), and it was wonderful! By the time she showed up at my house on Sunday (day before Memorial Day), my fever had finally gone away and I was feeling back to my old self again. Anyway, long story short, Nicoke left for Provo again on Tuesday, and then I showed up in Provo Thursday evening. On Friday, after training, I went to her work and got to play dress-up again. What girl doesn't love putting on pretty dresses (ok, actually, I know a few who don't)?
"I think I know how it is to be grown up; it's when you feel how someone feels that isn't you." -Frances Griffiths