Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm Back!!!

What a whirlwind October has been! From traveling, preparing for my school’s Halloween program, to classroom observation by the Ministry of Education and recording for the TV program, October has definitely kept me on my toes. I have never anticipated the arrival of November more! Now that the hustle and bustle is out of the way, I’m finding a bit more breathing room, meaning it’s time I get around to updating this blog again. I do apologize for my month-long hiatus, but I will definitely try to catch back up with more updates on happenings around here.

First of all, I have to say that it was more than pleasant to have my parents around for a change. Not having them with me has definitely made me realize the many things I have taken for granted in our daily lives. On the other hand, it was nice to prove to them my capability and independence. 

Since my parents both speak the language here fluently, it was no problem for them to get around. Within one week of their arrival, they probably knew the town better than me. In fact, they ended up the being the ones helping me to buy things and get around. During the weekdays, while I was at school, they stayed around town, went to the market, helped me with chores around the house, and what I appreciate most of all, my dad cooked for me. I have forgotten how nice it felt to be coming home to a hot, home cooked meal!  My dad’s cooking is definitely one of the things I miss the most after moving to Taiwan. I’m sure I gained some weight during their stay here. 

Since they refused to do any long-distance traveling without me, I did my best to squeeze in any time I have to take them to as many places as possible, so their visit would be worthwhile. We had 3 full weekends in all, so we used them to explore Miaoli City, Sanyi and its old Shengxing train station, Taipei (that’s a must!), the historic mountain town of Jiufen, and for the last weekend, went to the east coast to Hualien to check out the infamous Taroko Gorge. We celebrated the Moon Festival and Taiwan's Independence Day together, and witnessed some very impressive festivities. I was also able to take some time off from work, so on those shorter days, we went to Hsinchu city, and also visited the local leisure farm: Flying Cow Ranch. We had a lot of fun and I felt rather proud of our little accomplishment, for within those 3 weekends, we managed to travel across almost half of Taiwan. I won’t spend time on our travel details, rather let my photos tell the story. Of course, knowing me, we took a plethora of photos, but I’ll spare you the torture and just include some.

 Being interviewed after a very special Moon Festival celebration at Taichimen. We felt like V.I.P's.
 10/10 Taiwan Independence Day Fireworks Festival
 A very elaborate dinner with my principal, co-teachers, and other school staffs

 Sanyi Shengxing train station
 We actually got to ride on a very old-school train, so much fun!

 Beautiful view from the train
 Sanyi Wood Carving Museum
 About to ride the Maokong Gondola in Taipei
 Hello Taipei (view from the gondola cable car)

 No trip to Taipei is complete without a visit to the Taipei 101 building

 Jiufen town by night
 View from our hostel balcony in Jiufen

 Old town Jiufen

 The Old Street is packed with tourists

 Tea house which inspired the setting for the anime Spirited Away

 Taroko Gorge adventure!

 Chishingtan beach in Hualien

 The waves were huge!

 Attacked by bunnies at the farm >.<
 Flying Cow Ranch

Overall, I think my parents have really enjoyed their stay here in Taiwan. They left October 20th, so I’m back to living solo once again. However, that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. The weekends after their departure were just as eventful as I ventured out with friends to explore more of Taipei, attended the Taichung Jazz Festival, and even experienced my first foot massage session in Taiwan with my co-teacher. 

 At Huashan 1914 Creative Park in Taipei

 Bustling Ximending District
 Promotion for a Halloween event
 Art & crafts market
 The Red House in Ximending
 Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

 Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

 Taipei City Hall
Foot massage in Miaoli City. So painful, but no pain no gain...

Nevertheless, with as much fun as I've had the past month, October was also the toughest and most exhausting month I've had in Taiwan so far, teaching-wise. For some reason, everything seemed to pile up all at once, with our Halloween performance, my MOE observation, and teaching demo all in the same week. Good news is, I miraculously pulled through successfully, with the help of my wonderful co-teachers, of course. It was a lot of work and planning, but we did it! And it's all over! Well, not all (work never ends), but at least November is giving me a bit of room to recuperate and get ready for the bustle of the next month that will be coming with Christmas on the way. 

 English Club kids performing Thriller for our Halloween program

 School-wide Halloween costumes parade

Classroom visit and observation from Ministry of Education representatives