Back in the days when I blog-stalked the "old" teachers of Berhan, I could never understand why it was that they were still posting about their time in Taiwan a month (or more!) after they had gotten home. Umm.. Sorry guys. I understand now that I am one of you (that is so sad to think about, being an "old" teacher).
First, I woke up Early (actually, not really. I think I woke up at the same time as usual, I just GOT UP instead of laying there longer). After helping the secretaries move some things out of the storage room, it was time to go.
Saying good-bye to the beautiful Kailey
Dad was downstairs at the gate waiting for me. (It took me a while to make it down the stairs because I had my arms full of luggage.) We headed off to the train station to meet up with Fenny who took us to breakfast at this cute little breakfast restaurant that had delicious food. (Sorry, only took one picture and I think Dad would hunt me down and do something dreadful if I posted it online.) We decided we would meet up again when I came back through Feng Yuan to pick up my passport, so luckily it was not my last time seeing Fenny in Taiwan.
After breakfast, we all made our way back to the train station. In Taichung, Fenny helped us to get our tickets to the HSR and also helped us to use a computer at the train station so we could tell our friends in Kaohsiung about what time we would be arriving.
On the train to the HSR, I got talking to this nice Taiwanese man named Dennis. He said he would help us know when to get off the train. He was actually on his way to a wedding in Chunghua and his stop was relatively close to ours. Dennis's English was very good, and we had a nice discussion. He told me about Buddhism and actually knew a fair amount about the "Mormon" church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Well, there was a little bit of confusion and we missed our stop (and Dennis missed his too, oops!), but with his help, we were able to get turned around and found the HSR. This was my first time riding on the high-speed train. It was actually a really short train ride. When we got off in Kaohsiung, we were lucky enough that Alisa (friend) hadn't checked her email until later, and Allen (her husband) and just arrived at the train station. We found each other pretty quickly and were soon on our way to Gary's (Alisa's dad) apartment.
After a little lunch (peking duck pizza from Costco), Allen took Dad and I to the Lotus Lake which is also where the Dragon and Tiger pagodas are located. There is a temple across the street from that place, so actually we stopped off at the temple first so that Dad could see what the temples in Taiwan are like.
Then off to the pagodas and various sights around the lake.
Inside the pagodas there were some pretty intricate murals. I think they were telling some sort of story, but I don't know what it was...
But I'm guessing this lady is dying.
After the ward Christmas party that night (Gary was hosting it at his house), Allen and Alisa took Dad and I out to one of the night markets. It was really a pretty small market, but I found some cool things there to bring home.
Christmas day there was only Sacrament meeting for church, but we went with Alisa and her family. Everything was in Chinese, however Allen served his mission in Hong Kong, Mandarin speaking, so he was able to translate most of the meeting for the three of us (Alisa being included) lacking in Mandarin speaking skills. After a light lunch back at the apartment, Dad and I went out across the street to the Love River and just took a nice walk.
When we got back to the apartment, we found out that Santa had come while we were out! The Obas were very kind to get us Christmas presents.
I feel like this post is long enough, so I'm going to leave off for a week... Or two. Or three (hopefully not that long).
My last Wednesday. There probably won't be a whole lot of detailed description to this post simply because I don't want to think about the good-byes. I'm not ready for that yet.
Christina and I gave the AK kids their Christmas presents from us (we didn't do it the last day of class because Wednesday was Jack's last day).
I also attempted to take pictures of my 5Ga class. Yeah... didn't work so well.
My with Katie. She doesn't come on Friday's, so she was kind enough to take a picture with her teacher.
After class, Christina and I decided to take a present to the nice scooter people by the train station. It was... slightly awkward (no English on his part and very limited Chinese on our part. VERY limited). A few days later, when Dad and I were walking by, the other scooter guy came running out to me with a Christmas card and a present for us (Christina and I) of "wife cakes."
On our way home, we found this tree about a block away from the school. With Christmas lights. And garland. And ornaments! Behold:
Then, it was Friday. I woke up early (well, same time as usual, actually, I just actually got ready when I woke up) to pick Dad up at the Fengyuan train station. I had to wait for... a lot of time, but it was worth the wait. He spent the day with me and got to go to all my classes. Lucky Dad!
AK went... crazy. Since I was teaching PE anyway, though, I decided running around the playground would be just as good a work-out as anything I had planned, so we ended up going with that instead of most of our "exercises" for about 10-15 minutes. Then we went back inside and played a game of Cone Catch. The kids loved it that Dad played with us!
Then there was my 5Ga class. PARTY DAY! For about the first 20 minutes I had them clean a classroom that had already been cleaned at least 2 times. Then we played games, ate food, cleaned up all the crumbs, and watched the old cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. After whining that they didn't want to watch a Christmas movie and being obnoxious for the first 3 minutes of the film, they got sucked into it and loved it.
Sam and Johnny
Me, teaching Rosenna, Sam, and Johnny how to play LIFE.
Jacky, William, and Chris were playing Monopoly.
Me with Jacky. Let's just ignore what was going on in the background.
Amanda, Me, Anne, and Rosenna. Nini and Pamela were little stinks and didn't come to class. SAD FACE!
Johnny (standing as far away from me as he possibly can), me, Sam, William, Jacky, and Chris
Finally, writing class. We finished watching Hook and practiced communicating in English. I'm going to miss these two. I do miss these two. Thanks for saving my Friday's, Angel and Kevin!
Finally, before seeing Dad out for the night (he was staying at a hotel down the street by Night Market), I had Dad help me to take a picture with Frances.
And then I hunted Charlene down because I love her, and she sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" to us in Chinese! (There is videographic evidence of this somewhere on the internet, but I don't want to embarrass her too badly.)
So, I'm back in America. It's a bitter-sweet thing, and I'm trying hard to be glad that I'm back but, truth be told, there are many times throughout the day where I wish my time in Taiwan was not yet quite over. Jet lag may or may not have something to do with this.
I have... a lot of pictures and things to blog about. December was quite the month for picture taking. So, because I don't want to overload you too much, I'll be doing this in segments (however many it takes to get caught up).
First up, Christina and I attempted to take pictures with each of the little AK kids for Christmas. It took us three days to accomplish this, but I think it was worth it. Here are some of the little squirts that my heart is aching for:
Kevin getting the Teacher Look (but the tail end of it, so... doesn't look too intimidating here, does it?)
Group picture with Christina!
Group picture falling apart.
And Tim. How can you not miss this face? (Totally stole this shot from my partner in crime teaching)
Jay, trying to do a fish face. Perfect, because I'm the one that taught them that.
Now, the following three pictures tell a story. Kylie was trying to help us to take a class picture (unfortunately, not everyone was there, but you work with what you get in Taiwan). Nick was, well, being Nick. He was trying to cover his face, so I was holding his arms down.
Nick is now drooling. A lot. I haven't noticed. Yet:
I have now noticed the drool:
And declared picture time to be OVER!
Then there was Roommate Christmas (December 17). We had Christmas breakfast (pancakes and waffles), then opened presents. It was great fun. I'm going to let the pictures tell the story, though, because my brain is tired.
Immediately following Roommate Christmas, a few of us booked it to the bus station to make our way to Taichung for a Branch Christmas lunch (there was so much eating that day; I hate it when my whole day is centered around eating). For months I'd been wanting a good picture of one of the speaker trucks that drives by (usually advertising for the upcoming elections). How lucky was I when one not only drove by, but had a giant straw man on top? I'd say very lucky.
Christmas luncheon that turned out to be mostly the people I live with, but a few other dear friends from church as well.
Elias, Jenny, and the Listons
On the way home, Jenny wanted documentation of how crowded the bus can sometimes be. This isn't even close to the worst that I have experienced, but still is noteworthy.
Then there was the school Christmas Dinner. (Like I said. Nonstop eating All Day Long). There were these terribly delicious fruit mousse things, though, and I wish I could eat them always. They had strawberry (the flavor I chose) and mango (as pictured here, before Christina dived into it). SO FREAKING GOOD!
Kylie decided to sport a mustachustache for part of the evening, with a little help from Christina. Doesn't she look great?
Group picture with Kailey and Charlene. Man, I miss you guys! <3