TaiwanTara's Blog

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Finally some exciting news to BLOG about! December 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — taiwantara @ 2:08 am

We had a MAJOR earthquake!  It was scary!  PRAISE JESUS I was not inside my 12th floor apt when it hit.  I would have been even more scared and probably sobbing.  Luckily I was outside, on the ground, with Cassandra and Jacque in the city.  We were just walking around where everyone hangs out at night when it hit.  It was a big one even for the Taiwanese.  Some people were screaming.  I found out it was a 6.8…aaahh!  It just kept going and going and getting scarier.  My mind was racing and I was like “we’re standing under this tree and that can’t be safe.  What do they do in movies?  Oh, they go stand in a door frame.”  So I walked to go stand in the closest thing and Jacque was like “what are you doing?  Get away from there!”  Turns out my “door frame” was the entrance to a small little outdoor seating shelter that probably would have come down before the tree would have, haha.  I was panicking though and didn’t know what to do.  The stone path we were walking on was broken after from the tree roots.  I am glad to know that even after an earthquake of that size everything in our apartment was okay.  Nothing huge fell over, just my pictures frames and books and stuff in my bathroom.  So now I know the bigger items in our apt can withstand a good-sized quake.

However, when Cassandra and I did arrive back at our place there were fire engines outside.  Some pulled up right as  I did and I was watching to see what they were doing.  They got off the truck and started looking up at the balconies.  I was like Oh My Gosh someone fell off the balcony!  But again, praise Jesus, that was not the case.  Long story short a guy on the first floor ran outside during the earthquake and heard something hit the ground, then he smelled gas.  It turned out to be an empty gas tank that fell off of someone’s balcony.  But all everyone kept hearing was gas leak and we had to stay down in the lobby for 30-40mins while the firemen got the whole thing sorted out.  (For those of you outside of Taiwan we have 2 gas tanks on our balcony, one for the stove and one for the water.  So it’s not an odd thing that an empty gas tank fell off of someone’s balcony)

I’m now up to 5 on the aftershock count which almost doubles the number of quakes I’ve felt since I got here.  I’m going to put pictures up tomorrow and check out the news websites to make sure it wasn’t worse than it seems but I don’t believe it was bad enough for buildings to be destroyed or casualties.  Still, very very…VERY scary!


So I have this boyfriend and he’s super cool… December 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — taiwantara @ 11:14 pm

and he’s coming to see me in 23 days!!!!   AH!  I’m so excited.  Aside from the fact that I miss him like crazy and cannot wait to see him, I’m super excited for someone from my life at home to witness my life here.  It’s strange but they’re such different worlds and I would love for every single person in my life at home to come here at some point but I know the plane ticket cost alone prevents most from being able to do that.  I keep talking to my friend Karin here about the culture shock we’re going to go through…when we go home.  When we got here, yes life was different, people spoke a different language, yada yada, but there are many of us here in the same situation.  We talk to each other all the time about what we’re going through and compare experiences.  When we get home, we have to merge our way back into our old life while at the same time feeling so different.  And no one will be there to understand.  As much as I can’t wait to be home and see everyone, I think it will be hard.  So having one of my favorite people here to see my city, my apartment, my schools, my favorite hang out spots… it’ll be really great.  =)

Plus, he’s never traveled out of the country before and I highly advise everyone to do it at some point in their life.  It’s just such an incredible experience and something I LOVE so if he could catch the travel bug too that would be groovy.

OK that’s all I wanted to say =D


I won the Taiwan lottery… December 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — taiwantara @ 11:20 am

well, I won the lowest prize but still =D

Okay so Taiwan has the lottery they created with receipts that you get at stores, restaurants, etc.  They were trying to find a way to encourage customers to demand a receipt so that the business had to be more accountable for their books.  So, being foreigners, we jumped on the lottery craze.  People kept telling us, “Oh it gets old after the first month, just donate your receipts.”  Well us three Hualien gals saved all of our receipts from August and waited for the July/August numbers (the numbers are drawn every 2 months).  We had a party one friday night, checking all of our receipts, BUT people were right, nothing.  Well, I’m fairly persistent so I continued to keep my receipts from September and October and once again, last week it was time for new numbers.  I needed something to do on the train ride to Taipei so I grabbed all of my receipts and jotted down the numbers.  There are 8 numbers on a receipt and you have to check them starting from the right.  You have to have the numbers consecutively and winners start at 3 numbers.  Well, I had one receipt that had three of the numbers!  It’s the lowest prize and only 200NT ($6.06), but that particular receipt was from buying a 10NT ($.30) newspaper so I’m excited =)

Also, I’ll use this post to get away from my yesterday grumps and write about the past week.  Last week I got to talk to Asher and Kate on Skype.  It was Asher’s first international video call and I was so excited haha  I can’t believe how much he’s changed since I was there to see him in person!  I love reading their blog to see how the Smola family is doing and Kate is much better than I am at updates =)

On Friday Cassandra and I left for Taipei.  We spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday going to completely new places thanks to our fantastic tour-guide Karin.  Friday night we went to Ximending, a really fun area of Taipei with shopping, art, and good food and drinks.  Saturday we went to the Jade Market.  It’s a HUGE market underneath the interstate.  The tables of jewelry made of Jade, Coral, Rose Stone, etc go on and on and on.  We walked up and down those rows for hours, did some bargaining, and found lots of great Christmas gifts.  After the Jade market we did some more shopping in the big shopping district with various clothing stores and the big department store.  Then we met up with some other friends for our “Thanksgiving” dinner at Chili’s!  I had been soo excited to go to Chili’s in Taipei because it’s one of my favorites at home.

On Sunday Cassandra and I changed our tickets to a later train so that we could go to the hot springs way up on the north side of Taipei.  It was really crowded there and I couldn’t help but think about how dirty the water was but it did feel good.  After the hot springs we got some good ol’ Italian food for lunch and then realized it was way too sunny and gorgeous to not be outside.  So we got a blanket and some cards and went to a park near Karin’s house.  Definitely an enjoyable afternoon even though Karin kicked my butt at Phase 10 (there were forces against me that I will not go into)  =)  Finally we went to the Taipei 101 area to go to the English bookstore, I got My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (both highly recommended by Karin).  Lastly, before getting on our train we went to the big grocery store with lots of American food so that I could get ingredients for Chili and mexican stuff.

It was a very enjoyable weekend as it always is with my Taipei tour guide Karin =D


Today was a cranky one December 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — taiwantara @ 11:53 pm

Haha, I can’t believe I’m writing a blog about being cranky but I said to myself I was going to try and update more often so here it is.

First of all I woke up at 7:27….my ride picks me up at 7:30, so right there I’m off on the wrong foot.  On top of that for some reason I have multiple aches and pains hitting me at once.  I’m used to the hamstring being sore (I injured it in April) and I’ve been getting used to my back being sore, but the headaches have been the most annoying.  Once I got to school though I wasn’t in a bad mood…yet.  My 6th graders were fine, we had some fun and I was looking forward to doing some venting during my break.  But then, that conversation didn’t turn out so well, and after, I had my 5th graders who were complete little pills.  I have four classes in a row before lunch and that usually wipes me out.  I had 2 more classes in the afternoon and then finally it was time to go home.  For some reason I just kept getting more and more cranky over the course of the day and I just couldn’t handle the guy driving me home.  I love the people here, I do, they go above and beyond for me and are always very concerned with my well-being but sometimes their form of “conversation” due to lack of English words becomes redundant and annoying.  I decided to ask the teacher who drove me home some Chinese instead of him trying his best at English and I asked him if beef was “ro” which I was already pretty sure it was but couldn’t remember if it was beef or meat in general.  He had no clue.  I’ve noticed here that some people get so freaked out about assuming they aren’t going to be able to understand your English that they don’t listen to your Chinese.  Sometimes at McDonald’s we’ll try to tell them the number we want in Chinese, or one time my roommate was telling them tea in chinese, and they get all twitchy and ask someone else to come over.  We’re speaking Chinese!  And I realize you’re thinking “you’re probably saying it wrong” and sometimes yes that’s the case, but other times they are very basic words that we’ve been saying for months now.  It’s just that they don’t take the time to listen and realize we’re speaking Chinese because they get so freaked out about not knowing English.  Anyway I guess that’s kind of what happened in the car because he said he didn’t know when I asked what the Chinese word was for “beef” and asked if it was “ro”.  I said “Chinese” in chinese, and then said “eat” and motioned eating….then “cow”…then I moo-ed.  Still, nothing.  I went as far as to give an example of a dish that I like “lou ro fan” which is minced pork rice but no.  When we got to my apartment he pointed to my building and tried to start telling me about getting “beef” at this restaurant and he said it like he was introducing me to a new place.  It’s in the bottom of my apartment building!!  I’m aware.  Well my patience was shot for the day and I said “I know that, I’ve lived here for 4 months.”  Hopefully his lack of English comprehension will mask my rudeness =X

So anyway, that’s a little insight into me not always being pleasant.  I do think this whole journey has been extremely good for my patience level in many different ways (which has always been a little low in certain areas).  Tomorrow is a new day AND it’s Wednesday which means I don’t teach any classes.  I have the whole day to plan and prepare for Christmas! =D