Sunday, July 26, 2009
A year has already past since I first came out here. I have already celebrated two Fourth of July's out here in Taiwan. It honestly doesn't feel like a year. We get new teachers every six months with the changing semesters. But with each passing semester, I find myself losing that awe that first enveloped even the simplest activities out here. I find myself already becoming complacent in discovering hidden treasures around town. I have settled into somewhat of a routine...and I'm not sure if I like it.
Maybe it's because I'm trying to integrate more into the community. Maybe I'm starting to pass the point of being just a "visitor" and a "resident." I have never been this involved in any community I've lived in before. Right now, I'm taking Chinese Language Classes at Tunghai University (in another city, so I have to commute 45 minutes each way by scooter), Tae Kwon Do classes and Tai Chi classes, in addition to teaching. I love keeping busy. But, also by keeping busy, I don't have as much time to just explore the city and the country, to just to be in a place.
One of my favorite things to do here was, because I didn't have my time filled up, to try to discover things by myself. New hiking trails, biking trails, etc. Or just to bike around the city, observing every day life. But I rarely do that anymore. I stick to the hiking trails I know and the bike paths I'm used to because my time has to be more structured.
I need to rediscover the awe.
I am very happy I stayed out here this long. It helped me rediscover my passions, helped me discover new passions, helped me reorganize my goals in life, and to just enjoy life in general. I am glad to make plans after I leave here. Knowing that I am, in fact, leaving after these last six months has made me appreciate what Taiwan has to offer again. I'm starting to feel the same way as I did when I first came out here, because I know that my time here is limited.
It's been a good year.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Thailand was beautiful. We traveled around Chiang Mai and the southern islands in Thailand.
We went on a two day trek in Chiang Mai, going white water rafting, riding elephants, and spending the night with a Hill Tribe. The views from the village were amazing, especially since it's the rainy season in Thailand. We were able to see the rain clouds come in over the mountains, and since we didn't have electricity, we spent the night around a fire playing games with our trekking group.
We tried to do the entire country in a week...which was impossible. I honestly wished I had a month or so to really travel around Southeast Asia. We only had one week in between semesters, so we left on a Saturday, and returned on a Saturday. We spent about half the week in Northern Thailand, then the rest of the week in Southern Thailand.
We didn't care too much for Phuket (which felt more a place for young people at "Spring Break"), so we took a boat to a Phi Phi Island and the islands South of Thailand. It was beautiful. Absolutely breath-taking. The water was so clear you could see the fish below. On our last day there, we took a long boat around the islands and visited coves, beaches and went snorkling. It was one of the most peaceful places I've been to.
We didn't stay at any hostels that cost more than $9 USD a night. Most were around $5, and were very cute. I had to get used to the haggling process...it's a part of their culture, but since everything was so cheap anyways, I felt bad trying to get things for even cheaper.
Time is flying by. We are already two weeks into the new school semester here. I'm still the Kindergarten/Upper Elementary Head teacher, but currently not teaching any kindergarten classes. It's a good opportunity for me to learn new teaching skills, since now I teach children from 7-8 years old (1st grade), 11-13 years old (6th grade), and 16-17 year olds (My Writing/ Conversation Class). It's a wide spread, but I think it'll be ok. In the Fall, I'll take on Kindergarten class and drop my 1st grade class.
I recently got a yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do and hope to be able to continue taking classes. I still attend my Tai Chi class on Fridays, and just started my Chinese Language classes in the neighboring city.
After coming back from Thailand, I realized I think I'm done with traveling...at least for a while. This last year has been amazing. And tiring. In a way, I almost wish I didn't travel as much as I have, but then saved up money to be able to travel for a few months at the end of my teaching contract. It was just too hard to only be able to visit a country for 3-4 days at a time. But I wouldn't have traded any of this for anything.
I enjoy having a six month contract for the sole fact that it gives me enough time to enjoy where I'm at, but it's constant enough for me to reassess my goals and to make plans for the future. I still find it funny that I had to travel to a foreign country to heal my soul.
But this experience has also given me the traveling bug...I want to visit South America and Europe next...someday...when I have money ^_^ For now, I'm happy just living, teaching and learning here in Taiwan.