Saturday, March 10, 2012

Time Flies...

You know what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun." It also flies when you're so busy you can't see straight. And when you're both at the same time, well... whiplash becomes a distinct possibility. But enough with the idioms. The point is, I realize that I have been a very bad blogger lately. Even my 93 year old grandfather has noticed and voiced his displeasure. So enough with the guilt trips, everyone (cough*mom*cough). I'm back.

A lot's happened over the last few months. For starters, I officially survived my first semester as a teacher!    I also turned 23 and, as most of you already know, my family came to visit me for Christmas. It was pretty much the best Christmas present anyone's ever given me and it was really fun to get to share a bit of my life here with them!

So, without further ado, here's a (really quick and abbreviated) recap of what I've been up to lately so I can get back to my regularly scheduled blogging:

1.  Siena and I took some of our wonderful 4th graders on a field trip to the Houtong Cat Village to thank them for all the hard work they put into our weekly English sentence skits.
(For more information about the Cat Village and a lot of pictures of cats, go here:
Siena was very popular with the cats in the cat village (this particular cat
flat out refused to get out of her lap)
Only in Taiwan: you can buy cans of wet cat food and feed the cats with chop sticks

2.  I took a ride on the Maokong Gondola with my host family and had lunch at a lovely teahouse.
With Candy on the Gondola
Traditional Taiwanese tea set

3.  My family visited me for Christmas! We spent about a week with my awesome host family in Luodong and another week traveling around Taiwan.
With Pei Cheng's preschool class after teaching a lesson about Christmas. Immediately after
this picture was taken, the kids mobbed my dad, who they decided was actually Santa.
My two families at our beautiful hotel in Wuling (right by Sheipa national park)
Mom enjoying the bounty of the Kaoshiung night market: strawberry shaved ice and fried mushrooms

Getting dirty at the Guanziling mud springs 
We were rather surprised when we discovered that the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village
at Sun Moon Lake is actually more like One Piece World (One Piece is a very popular anime)

And, to make our vacation even better, one of my friends invited us to their New Years Eve party, which culminated with us fireworks display at Taipei 101 from their roof! This is why it was awesome:

4.  I turned 23! I had an early celebration with my family and my Taiwanese friends before my family went home. On my actual birthday, I headed to Beitou to check out the hot springs, beautiful Japanese architecture, and hell valley (a thermal vent that releases 70 degree Celsius water, so hot that the area is constantly shrouded in an etherial mist).
Celebrating at a delicious Peking duck restaurant 
In Hell Valley with Stephanie

5.  I attended the Fulbright midyear conference in beautiful Xitou Leader Hotel (right near Sun Moon Lake). I got to learn a little bit about all of the awesome research being done this year in Taiwan and "reconnect with nature."
A boat ride on Sun Moon Lake 
On the Sky-Walk, part of one of the many nature trails surrounding our hotel in Xitou

6.  Since the midyear conference took us all the way to the middle of Taiwan, Christine and I decided to stay in the area for a few extra days and explore the towns of Lugang, Changhua, and Taichung.
Mazu Temple in downtown Lugang
Lugang's narrowest (and most famous) alley is called "Breast Touching Lane" because it is impossible for two people to pass each other going in opposite directions without their breasts touching

Rowing around on Taichung lake
The Baguashan Giant Buddha in Changhua

*Whew* I think that's enough for one post. Up next, I'll tell you about my wonderful winter break trip to Japan and Pingxi's awesome lantern festival! 

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