Today we began our journey around the southern portion of the island and it was just a bad start from the get go. We missed our 6:10am train and had to take the next one, Jacque’s iPod touch was stolen, and then there was the boat ride. I had read in lonely planet that this particular ride, specifically to Green Island, was the worst case of sea sickness the author had ever had. Knowing I’m prone to motion sickness, I had on 2 sea bands and took a Dramamine. Regardless, it was a 1 hour boat ride from hell and I’m not getting back on tomorrow! I would say that definitely 50% of the passengers were puking, possibly as high as 75%. There was no way to get away from it. Luckily there were barf bags everywhere you looked. Literally, everywhere….you know how you go to the grocery store and tear off a little plastic bag for your fruit and veggies? They had those at the end of every aisle as well as a bag at every seat. Not only did I have to listen to every kind of vomiting, gagging, and dry heaving imaginable, I was also a participant. It took a whole 15 minutes before I had to grab for my bag, and it didn’t stop until we got there. Awful, absolutely awful =(
Happy New Year! February 16, 2010
This past weekend was Chinese New Year. It is definitely the biggest Chinese Holiday and totally different from our New Year. Our New Year is all about 1 night of partying. Chinese New Year is a week+ of family dinners and fireworks. Saturday night was New Year’s Eve and I was invited to Jenny’s house, a 1st grade teacher at my school. I went with Jenny, her husband and their 2 kids to his parents house and his brother and sister-in-law were there as well. I learned that the eve of Chinese New Year is to be spent with the parents of the husband and the second day of Chinese New Year is to be spent with the parents of the wife. They also give red envelopes with money to the children and the elders. I also learned that the reason they shoot off fireworks is based on an old superstition. They believed that after dark-fall a monster, similar to a dragon, would come and get people who were alone and sleeping. So, they shoot off fireworks to scare off the monster and stay awake until midnight to watch over the family.
On Sunday evening I went to Doris’s house to have New Year’s dinner with her family. I had a lot of great traditional Chinese food and it was nice to spend the holiday with Taiwanese families.
Yesterday Chris went to go visit his mom at his brother’s house. He took his computer so that I could say hi to everyone on Skype and see Asher =) Asher was soo cute on Skype. He looked really confused about the person talking to him in the computer. I suppose it was like watching a movie on TV but the character is just waving and saying your name repeatedly haha I snapped a ton of pictures of Asher on Skype so I’ll post a few of the best ones.
SUPERBOWL! February 10, 2010
Superbowl Sunday snuck up on me. I’m not constantly bombarded with media of American sports and therefore didn’t realize the day was approaching. On Sunday I went to Taroko Gorge to meet up with Karin and her family who are here visiting from Chicago. Her brother asked if there was any place in Hualien to watch the game and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t even realize it was happening! As far as I know there is no such thing as a “sports bar” in Hualien, so when I got back home I did some internet research. Turns out there are a few well-known sports bars in Taipei that open at 6am with a breakfast buffet and broadcast the game live. CRAZY what we Americans will do for some football haha. Well it was too late for me to be in Taipei that early, but I did find out that a couple bars were re-showing the game in the evening for those who couldn’t make it that morning. So, around 1pm on Monday I decided to hop on a train with Karin and her family who were headed back to Taipei. I got in at 6pm, walked around in the area near the train station looking for some hostels, found one on the 22nd floor of some building and got a room for the night, then hopped on the MRT and met the Wissman’s at Brass Monkey for the 8:00 Superbowl party. We had so much fun (despite the loss for me)! Karin’s dad and I were the ONLY people in the bar rooting for Indy and it was sooo weird. I’ve always watched the games surrounded by fellow Colt’s fans with the occasional outsider rooting for the other team (eh hem, Megan…). So I felt like I had to cheer extra loud to make up for the lack of fans in the room =)
The next morning I woke up, got some breakfast and got a train ticket back to Hualien. It felt really great to be able to just go somewhere, do something fun for a night and then go home, all on my own. Of course I had Karin, her brother, and the rents who were great company at the bar, but other than that I did the whole experience on my own and I love that about being here. If I want to take the 3 hour train ride to the capital city, no big deal. All and all I’d say the 24hrs cost me…(I’m converting to the US dollar)…. $60 for train, room, and food. It was definitely worth it and I’m going to miss being able to do things like this for so cheap when I go back home.
Highway 11 February 3, 2010
Highway 11 runs along the Eastern Coast of Taiwan and is sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean. It’s incredible. You can’t imagine how scenic the drive is. Jacque, Brandi, Linda and I took our scooters out on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and cruised south through Hualien County. Oh and Jewel, Linda’s dog, she went too =) We took the hour and a half route to the Tropic of Cancer marker, stopping at a few beaches along the way. The drive was fantastic, but also a little scary. We all know how accident prone I am so I’m not always 100% comfortable while driving my scooter. So driving along curvy mountain roads at 80-90km/h made me a little nervous. BUT it was beautiful and worth the slight scariness (and the sore tushy after 5 hours on the scooter). The pictures don’t do it justice, I want to make the drive again in the spring on the back of someone’s scooter or in a car so that I can videotape the drive =)