Sunday, August 16, 2009

Toilets, Concerts, Buddhas & Miracles

It's been a busy week. A busy, fun week.

On Thursday, after classes, Erin and I took the HSR to Taipei to see Linkin Park, Hoobastank, and All American Rejects in concert. Even though the typhoon had passed, it was still somewhat rainy. Because we taught our classes until 4pm, and the concert started at 6pm -- with the travel time including two taxis, and the High Speed Rail -- we got there at 6:20pm...just making the end of the set for All American Rejects. But it was ok, since I wasn't that familiar with their music (I stopped listening to music in the 90s...). :P

Hoobastank was awesome. Linkin Park was amazing; I absolutely loved them. The energy from the crowd was palpable. They donated most of the money from their ticket sales to help the victims of the typhoon here. It was a great concert in all.Notice everyone is wearing ponchos...if it wasn't for the acid rain, I probably wouldn't care that it was a little wet.

On Friday, my friend Nathaniel and Michelle made it to Feng Yuan. Nathaniel and Michelle had been backpacking around the Philippines for a week, then they came out to Taiwan where they will spend a total of three weeks, then back to the Philippines for a few more days.

I would love to be able do that. But right now, I'm happy where I'm at. It was good to see Nathaniel again. I hadn't seen him in almost three years.
On Saturday, I took Nathaniel and Michelle to the pink temple and we attempted to find the 5 God Tree...we only made it to the temple. We decided to lock up our bikes and walk up the temple, which is pretty large. I'm always amazed at the view from up there...the temple is nestled into the hillside, which is overlooking the city. It's beautiful.

We went down, and when we got to our bikes, we realized I gave Michelle the wrong key to the bike Nathaniel took the locked bike on the back of his bike, and I took Michelle on the back of my bike. lol. My legs got quite a workout.

Then we, and Sarah, Lindsay, Wendy, Sunny (fellow teachers), Joanne, and Angus (Joanne's brother), decided to go to Lukang, the historical harbor town. I love how quaint it is, and I never get tired of walking down the old brick streets, stopping to read the plaques.

Sunny, Nathaniel, and Joanne looking at a street seller's goods.

After Lukang, we stopped in Taichung to eat at Modern Toilet. Ah, it never fails to make me laugh. Cute little poo everywhere.

Michelle and her toilet!

Sarah, washing her hands in the "sink." The chairs to the tables were made out of toilets too.

On Sunday after church, we went farther south to Chuanghua to see the large Buddha. I realize I travel very strangely. I usually have a vague idea where I’m going, then just figure out things as I go along. Most of the time, this process gets me lost. This time it worked out for me, as there were many maps at every major intersection.

The Buddha was pretty cool, not as large as the one in Hong Kong, but still pretty impressive. You could see him from a far distance, above the city, partially hidden in the mountainous trees.

Early Monday morning, at 7am, before classes, Wendy, Michelle, Nathaniel and I decided to try to find that elusive 5 God Tree again. The beginning of the journey was fine. I had previously asked Molly how to get there…but I think I misinterpreted the directions. We got a little lost, and it turned out to be just a really nice bike ride in the mountains. Then we decided to stop, and go along a path that was only about four feet wide, with brush on one side, and a drop-off on the other.

Leading the way, I decided (now in hindsight, stupidly), to try to bike up a particularly steep portion, when I realized I probably couldn’t make it, I second guessed myself, then tried to reach the ground by taking my feet off the petals, then not being able to because of my short, stubby legs….I could feel myself falling toward the edge. I knew if I tried to regain my balance, I would probably keep stumbling and fall off the edge. So I decided to aim for the ground instead.

My last thought was, “This is probably going to hurt.”

Luckily, it didn’t. I just got a few scratches. My bike somehow landed upside-down, and teetered on the very edge. Everything from my bike basket ended up on the ground near the river 10 feet below, but Nathaniel was able to retrieve them.

I honestly feel like it was a miracle I didn’t go over the edge. We went back to our bikes, and AGAIN realized we had the wrong keys to the wrong bike lock…so this time, Nathaniel carried Wendy on the back of his bike, and again, I took Michelle on the back of my bike. I believe someone wise once said that Experience is recognizing the same mistake you made before, as you are doing it I think it fit this situation. My legs will be pure muscle by the time their vacation is over.

Later, we used a scooter to go back into the mountains and, with the correct key (again, I’m really sorry Shannon for taking your bike and making you worry!) made it down safely. I made it in time to shower and get ready for my classes that day, too.

Tae Kwon Do class has been extremely fun lately. I was supposed to take a test today, but I wasn’t able to make it, since on Tuesdays I teach a writing class from 7pm to 9pm. But I feel that it was a good thing, since I don’t feel confident on my new material yet. I learned two new forms in the last week.

This week is also my last week for Summer Chinese classes. Fall semester starts in September, so I’ll get at least a week break. This Saturday, I’m heading over to Hualien where I’ll meet up with Nathaniel and Michelle as they continue their adventures in Taiwan. It will be nice to have a four-day break from classes. Hopefully, I’ll meet up with one of my old Writing Class student who is going to school now in Hualien. It should be a good week.

Last Sunday, with the typhoon winds still howling, I went to make dumplings with Joanne and her family. Her younger brother Angus was there, her dad, and her grandma. Her grandma speaks mainly Taiwanese, a little Chinese, and very little English. I speak no Taiwanese, barely any Chinese, and only was so much fun to be able to be a part of it.

Her house reminded me a little of our house in Kahului. It was very cozy, and even though the wind was howling and the rain was pouring outside, inside it felt very calm. We made a lot of dumplings, and ate a lot of dumplings. I felt bad, since I'm not a perfectionist, and there is a specific way to make the dumplings...well, at least fold it. My dumplings were the ugly ones.

I've decided I need to cook more. Every Sunday, I am going to try to make bulk, so during the week, I can just pull it out of the freezer, warm it up or cook it, and eat it. Yesterday, it was so nice to be able to just pull out the dumplings and boil them and eat them with some edemame and tofu.

Tonight, Erin and I had Tuna Tofu Miso burgers...and they were delicious. I definitely want to try out new recipies...but during the week, it's just so hard to find time between classes, teaching and other things I try to fit into the day.

No comments: