I feel ashamed that the intervals between my posts are drifting further and further apart. Call it busy, laziness, lack of motivation, whatever you call it, it has definitely felt harder to keep up with this blog as much as I'd liked.
But, as promised to a friend, today a new post MUST come to existence!
So let's see, I have done so much here that it's becoming quite difficult to keep up with everything. Life is settling down. Everything has started to feel more routine here, where I'm starting to feel more like a resident rather than a tourist. That's a good thing, I guess. Yet in a way, I'm a little worried that once the novelty of a new country wears off, will my love for Taiwan wear off as well? But so far so good, I'm still keeping busy with teaching, and most definitely, still traveling around almost all my weekends and seeing new things.
It's rain season here, which means endless days of incessant rain, gloominess, and cold chills. Not the best motivation to get up in the morning to teach, or do anything else for that matter. The kids have been so dead this past week, barely giving me murmurs in class when I asked for their response. But I don't blame them, not when I want just as badly to be in bed and hidden under the cover. Let's hope this dreadful weather passes soon before all my students turn into "zombie students".
But asides from all the rainy weather, we were actually fortunate enough to enjoy an extremely nice perfect-weather weekend last week on Green Island, Taiwan. It was a 4-day weekend, since Thursday was Children's Day, and then Tomb Sweeping Day right after that. Tomb Sweeping day is a Taiwanese holiday in which the families gather together to visit and clean up the tombs of their ancestors. Taking advantage of this rare opportunity of a long weekend, a few foreign teachers and I decided to explore the Green Island of Taiwan. Green Island is a small island in Taitung County, on the east coast of Taiwan. We took the High Speed Rail to Kaohsiung, and rented a car for the 3.5 hour drive to Taitung, where we took a 1 hour ferry ride to Green Island. The drive was very pleasant, especially after having to rely on public transportation for so long, it was definitely a treat having our own car. We were accompanied by breathtaking scenery of winding mountain roads and blue ocean for most of the drive.
The next two days composed of some very nice relaxing activities on the island as we drove our rental scooters around the island (it's small enough to circle the island on a scooter within 1 hour) and taking in all its scenic sights. We went to the salt-water hot springs the first night (one of the only three salt-water hot springs in the world). Definitely a luxurious, relaxing experience to be bathing in hot springs under the starry night while listening to the ocean waves. Next day we got to go snorkeling, which was absolutely wonderful! It was my first time snorkeling, and I was a bit nervous at first (especially since I can't really swim), but we were safe under the watchful eyes of our snorkeling instructor. Excitement quickly took over as we opened our eyes to the amazing underwater world of colorful corals and fishes, a stunning sight which I have only seen on TV before. We even got to feed the fish with bread and feel them swirl around our bodies. It was such an amazing experience! For the rest of the day ,we drove around and explored some more before taking the dreaded ferry back.
We spent the night in Taitung and met up with another FET Eden, who teaches there, and also Kathleen, visiting from Hualien. So it was a nice little reunion for us. We went to a cute little pizza place, owned and operated by an American guy Pete, then checked out the local art district, where a weekend handicrafts market and outdoor concert was going on. Eden was our gracious tour guide the next day and took us to several really nice places around Taitung city, including a delicious Tex-Mex restaurant (surprisingly good for Taiwan). We headed back that Saturday afternoon, in the drizzling rain, but still extremely thankful for the much needed getaway and the perfect weather for all our outdoor activities.
I definitely miss the island and the warm temperature we last enjoyed there.
On a side note, while making small talk with one of my 6th graders the other day, he told me that his English had actually improved quite a bit since I came to the school because he gets to practice speaking to me. That, was all it took to fill my entire day with a special kind of warmth. That is exactly what brings me here, what keeps me going. I have been waiting to hear something like this for so long...Oh, how it warms the soul!