Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wonderful Wu Lai

Last weekend we traveled about 30 miles south to a town in the mountains called Wulai.
Many years ago it was inhabited by an aboriginal tribe (the Tai Ya), but now it's a hot springs resort area. It's also famous for a beautiful waterfall:

It looks a bit thin - it hadn't rained (much) prior to our visit- but TODAY and yesterday too it poured - so it would be nice to go back SOON and see if it's a bit more full...

I spent a HEAVENLY three hours total in the ladies section of the hot spring baths at the hotel. There was a very large hot spring bath and other smaller tubs - one tub was filled with cold lemon scented water (there were actual lemons in a muslin bag) so the idea is to go back and forth between the hot and cold springs. I also hung out in the steam room (where I was told to rub my skin with salt - which is a great exfoliater!) and I also experienced for the first time this incredibly intense power jet shower - the woman who worked there encouraged me to do all sorts of stretching. Everything is all open - you walk around naked! woo hoo! I brought a bathing suit and the attendant LAUGHED! No no no.
No bathing suits required. Alright! I assumed (incorrectly) that things would be more modest here - but...no! Fine with me!
(I didn't take any pictures of the baths though, sorry guys!) ;)

On Sunday we took a cable car up to the top of a mountain to Nei-Dong Forest. It's a bit touristy -it's a "Theme Park" actually. We avoided the amusement park - but had a blast doing an obstacle course that included walking across small suspension bridges and swinging across the creek like a (whimpy) Tarzan - you'll see the very safe swing.

Here are pictures of how we spent our Sunday. (Sorry for the overexposures - it is usually always overcast...I need to learn how to shoot it correctly - maybe change the film speed? Anyone have any ideas about how to compensate for the bright light?).

Monday, April 14, 2008

I Love you! (I know) I LOVE YOU!!! ( I KNOW!!!!)

Those are actual lyrics by some CRAZY new wave 80s band - the name of the band escapes me though. Maybe Paul remembers!

My student Samuel now has his own before class ritual. Yup, as soon as he sees me, he runs to get a piece of construction paper and makes me an "I Love You" poster! I included last week's poster in this shot - you couldn't see the star he drew (that I won't go on about) so I shamelessly re-traced it for your viewing pleasure! (Be sure to click on it for the full effect, heh heh).

I want to share more pictures from our second trip to Taichung a few weeks back. We went to a town called Linnei to watch what was "billed"as being a phenomenal butterfly migration. Supposedly you can see 12,000 butterflies per MINUTE! Last year the government shut down a major highway during the migration period to save the butterflies! Aw...
Well, we only saw 500 butterflies per minute.It was a bit of a letdown but, still kinda cool nevertheless. There were volunteers catching and numbering them to track their voyage from southern to northern Taiwan.
The lifespan of a butterfly is only one month, so there are actually three generations of butterflies who migrate at this time every year. After they mark them they let the kids set them free, as you can see!

After we went to see the flutterbys, we went to a BEAUTIFUL (subtropical I guess you could say) forest called Chi-Tou Forest which is located in central Taiwan. Pictures (especially mine!) just can't do justice but here is a glimpse of this very special place.

Our friends Thomas and Alice and their daughter Joanne.

I look kinda like a Dr. Seuss character here! ( with a fern tree growing out of my head!)

Monday, April 07, 2008

"Finish yer lotus juice!"

Now THAT'S not something you hear everyday!

We went to central Taiwan over the weekend and visited this AMAZING forest (I promise to post pics soon...my battery died so I had to use our friends' camera and Sujoy forgot to bring home the pics today). Anyway, while exiting the forest we picked up some honey sweetened lotus juice extract (you just mix it with water). It's GOOOOOD! I am sure it's good for you too! Well, I hope it is.

So sorry to have let my blog go but....I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T GET UP!!!!

Seriously, I have been feeling SO blue/blah/blech for awhile now. Not sure why - it's a combination of many things. My face is healing, but it's not where I thought it would be.
I know it sounds shallow, but I miss my old face! Will she ever return? I dunno. I just want a normal smile and a non-droopy eye.

I don't know where Grateful Sue has gone. I hope she comes back soon. Whiny Sue who revels in pity parties IS NO FUN!

Other bummer inducing news is that Anjoli missed a TON of school due to TWO bad injuries, and now she keeps getting headaches due to allergies...so she missed school AGAIN today. We took her to an excellent doctor far from us and he told us about a clinic he has at National Taiwan University Hospital. She will get a blood test this Saturday there and they will be able to determine just what she is allergic to. We have to wait a month for the results though. We have Taiwanese NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE now though - so the FANTASTIC thing about that is that the test is FREE! Yipee! Oh but the treatment will suck though - she will probably have to get all kinds of allergy shots. Not fun, but it will be better than having massive headaches.

On a positive note, teaching is going really well. Only problem is we are down to only one "paying" student (I borrow kids from the day classes when I can!). One student had to drop out because he lives too far away. It's a long boring story.

Anyway, my one and ONLY REAL student is doing really well. He is one handful though, I gotta say. EXTREMELY HYPER. It's not his fault though - you see the Taiwanese don't really believe in very much free/recess time...so by the time he reaches MY class (one of three schools he attends on days when I teach him) he is just one mighty live wire. So, to channel his energy, I bought jump ropes and we take a break half way through and he jumps to jump rope rhymes and chants.

I found an excellent e book on-line - written by a British woman who teaches English in France. It's filled with hundreds of GAMES used to teach English. So I incorporate fun games into the class and he really enjoys them! He thinks we're PLAYING - and we are - but he is also learning English as well.

A few weeks back he drew this poster for me! (I bought him a funny book about dinosaurs and he was THRILLED - hence the poster). I sing a song every class about "getting to know someone" - it teaches kids how to start conversations. He knows I enjoy music so that's why he drew the musical notes.

Unfortunately, I had to correct his English though! (well I HAD to!). Then the following week he made me yet another poster but that time he wrote " I LOVE YOU!" with smiley stars that he said were pictures of me. Sujoy thought they were naked pictures of me and I had to point out that NO those aren't my boobs on the stars they're EYES! jeesh. Men.

One more CUTE thing - I am trying to teach him adjectives using flash cards - so I held up a picture of a mouse with glasses reading a book. I asked him to describe the mouse (maybe she's a teacher?) and he said: "Important!" then came up with this brilliant sentence:

"Miss Sue is IMPORTANT!"

Ah...from the mouths of babes...

We went to see the VERY FIRST CONCERT EVER in Taiwan by the fantastic London Symphony Orchestra a few weeks ago. Honestly, it was a bit LONG, but we really did enjoy it. The conductor was a young incredibly handsome Russian man...and the solo violinist was also Russian.

This was the program: Brahms: Violin Concerto in D major, Op.77/Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, "Pathetique"/Turnage: Lullaby for Hans/Henze: Seconda Sonata per achi (1995).

Turnage and Henze are both modern composers. I enjoyed the modern selections very much.

Here are a few pics of us at the National Concert Hall in Taipei.

Hope all is well with everyone!

Lots of love and a big hug,


P.S. I seriously was thinking of pulling the plug on my blog-o but...NAH!