Monthly Archives: January 2013

There and back again.

Konichiwa!

We just got back from Japan this morning!  Thankfully we did not get lost in the busy metropolis that is Tokyo, in fact, we only got on the wrong train once!!!  We realized it as the doors were closing, so we had to get off at the next stop, not too bad for our first solo trip in a foreign country. 🙂

We had a great time and got to see and do so much in the short time that we were there.  Here’s a quick overview of our trip; we’ll have more posts with more details and pictures in the posts to come.  We went to a zoo to see Giant Pandas (a life-long dream of mine), rode the rides at Tokyo DisneySea (multiple times), saw the final day of the Sumo tournament (some of those guys are huge!), went to the busiest crosswalk and Starbucks in the world at Shibuya station (there were so many people), saw Tokyo from above at an observatory (what a great view), walked the streets of Harajuku and Akihabara (electric town), saw snow, and basically had a blast.

Here’s a quick story to hold you over for the next post.

As you know, we’ve been living in Taiwan for almost 6 months now, so we’ve gotten used to saying 謝謝 and 對不起 (thank you and excuse me in Chinese).  When we arrived in Tokyo, Nick kept saying these things to people at the store.  We couldn’t stop laughing each time we realized he did this.  Also, when we got back to Taiwan, I was confused about what language to speak in (by speak, I mean say thank you and excuse me).  Traveling to different countries sure is tiring for the mind.

Another quick thing that interested us.  When we got back to Taiwan, we both thought, “Finally, we are somewhere familiar.”  We are still relatively new to Taiwan, yet we view it as our home and are pretty comfortable here.  I also thought, “Finally I can understand the language again,” which I can’t really, but I can pick out some words here and there.  All these things just made me think how interesting our brains are, and how at home we feel in Taiwan.

Here's a picture to leave you with.

Here’s a picture to leave you with- Tokyo city at night.

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Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Japan here we come!

Our school gets a four week winter vacation from January 18 to February 18, and Nick and I decided to spend some of that time in Tokyo, Japan.  We are so pumped!  We bought our plane tickets about a month ago and reserved a room at a hostel, and now we’re just planning our trip.  Normally we’re just fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants people, but for this trip, we are planning everything (for the most part).  We’ve gone to Taipei a couple of times and have very successfully and fairly easily navigated their metro rail system,  but the system in Tokyo is about 10 times as big, and Nick, our dedicated navigator, is feeling overwhelmed just looking at the map.  So, in order to not get lost in one of the busiest cities in the world, we are doing our research and planning carefully (including back up plans and back up plans for our back up plans).

Isn't it HUGE?!

Isn’t it HUGE?!

Some things on our to-see list are:
-Sumo Wrestling- we were lucky enough to plan our trip at the very end of a month-long tournament!  The tournaments only happen about 2-3 times a year.
-The Imperial Palace- while it’s difficult to get tickets into the palace, the east gardens are open to the public!
-Akibara AKA Electric Town- this place is full of every kind of electronic you could ever want.
-Shibuya- this is home to the biggest/busiest crossing in the world, so naturally, it’s a must see.
-Disney Land- need I say more?
-Ueno Zoo- the oldest zoo in Japan, and home to Giant (or maybe just great?) Pandas!!!

Those are the major attractions.  We’ll let you know what our favorite things were once we get back!  Wish us luck, and if you don’t hear from us soon after our trip, send a search party!

Do you have any suggestions for our trip?

Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Greetings 2013!!!

2012 was a great year full of adventures and blessings, friends and laughter, change and peace.  As you know (hopefully) we moved to Taiwan in August to start a year of teaching English on the fun little island of Penghu.  We had recently graduated college and wanted a chance to explore the world, do what we love, and get paid (what else could you want out of a job?) 🙂  God has been with us every step of the way!  He has orchestrated everything from our job search, to getting hired, to getting placed in a wonderful school with wonderful people, and we know He will continue to guide us in 2013.

With that said, lets get on to our New Year’s adventure! (Very smooth transition, right?)

When in Taiwan, there is no better place to ring in the new year than in Taipei.  For the last nine years, the city has put on a wonderful fireworks show at Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world, and our goal was to be there this year!  Like all good adventures, getting there was more than half the fun.

We left our house and hopped on a plane to Taipei with our friend and co-worker Anly early early early on Saturday morning (6:40 to be exact).  Okay, so maybe it’s not that early, but to us, anything before 8 o’clock is too early.  When we arrived in Taipei we bought tickets for a train to Sinchu where our friend was getting married later that day.  Since we bought our tickets the morning of our trip, we had to stand on the hour long train ride, but it was okay because we watched a movie, read, and talked.  We spent the rest of the day walking around Sinchu.  We found a big bookstore (the bookstore was big, not the books :P), ate frozen yogurt (a commodity not found in Penghu), and watched some University students performing in a park-like area.  When evening came, we quickly got dressed for the wedding and hurried over the the venue.  The wedding was beautiful and sweet.  Everything about it was personalized to fit the couple’s style and love story.  We had a great time celebrating their love and eating great food (there was soo much)!

The next morning we woke up and got on a train back to Taipei.  Lucky for us, Anly lived in Taipei for a year, so she knew where everything was!  We went all over the place!  Fisherman’s Wharf, Starbucks, Lover’s Tower (a tall lookout thingy), a really old church, The National Palace Museum (which we only got halfway through, it’s huge!!!), a really big shopping mall (we felt like small town people saying “Wow!  It’s soo big!”), Toys R Us (to get gifts for Anly’s niece and nephew, but we had fun shopping for them), Sun Yet Sen memorial hall, a park with a giant Christmas tree, and lots of places in between.  We, of course, ended our adventure with a viewing of the Taipei 101 fireworks on New Year’s Eve.  It was 188 seconds of firework beauty!

We have been thinking about what our favorite place in Taipei was, but we can’t really pinpoint a certain place.  The most fun was getting to explore the city together and enjoy each other’s company.  After being together for almost four full days, we didn’t want to kill each other (AMAZING)!  I have to admit, when we finally got back home, we were exhausted!  I think I slept a total of eleven hours that night, and it was sweet sweet bliss!

While in Taipei and during these first days of 2013, Nick and I have been reflecting on some goals for this year.  I am posting them in hopes of keeping ourselves accountable.

Here it goes:
1. Read a book every week- CRAZY I know, but we’re going to try.
2. Pray more- together and individually.
3. Learn to scuba dive.
4. Learn to surf.
5. Exercise more (we’ve heard exercising is good for your health or something, who knew???)
6. Explore 2 new counties in Taiwan.
7. Nick wants to write more.
8. Nick also wants to improve his French.
9. I want to improve my Chinese.
10. I also want to blog at least once a week.
11. Go to two new countries (we are starting with Japan).

So there you have it!

Categories: Friendship, New Year's, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas is my favorite Dr. Suess book!  The way the Grinch tries to steal Christmas but then realizes that Christmas came without all the presents, tress, and food just gets me every time.  More than just “getting to me”  it reminds me that Christmas is more than the gifts, decorations, delicious cookies, and fun Christmas carols, it’s about our Savior.  The gift of Christ is the greatest gift anyone has or will ever receive, and the fact that God sent His son to earth to forgive us of our mistakes, selfishness, and mean words, and die so that we can live for eternity in the paradise called heaven, that’s what really gets to me during Christmas.   Now I know Christmas has come and gone, but I come from the school of thought that says Christmas should be celebrated all year long, so here’s our Christmas story.

I was worried that Christmas this year would just go on by unnoticed, but I was so wrong.  Although Christmas isn’t as popular in Taiwan as it is in the US, it still gets some attention.  There are Christmas trees in the stores, lights all around, and Merry Christmas signs in 7-11.  We still have our Charlie Brown tree up in our house, and I’m not really sure when I’ll take it down, I’m sure Nick will make me do it soon. 🙂  Christmas day was not your traditional Christmas considering we had to work, but we spent this Christmas surrounded by good friends, and fellow believers, and that is what is really important.  Our church put on a Christmas play the Sunday before Christmas, and we spent Christmas with some fellow foreigners eating Turkey and all the yummy stuff that goes with it!  On Christmas day, we were also able to skype with our families back home, that was wonderful!

We even had a big Christmas Shebang at the school on Christmas day!  We decorated a Christmas tree and spent the day playing Christmas themed games and Christmas music.  We had a “snow ball” fight, made Snowflakes, decorated ornaments to hang on Christmas trees, and even had a small gift exchange for the older students.  It was a big hit with all the kids, (especially the snowball fight).  Our co-workers and us had a Secret Santa gift exchange, and we got some really fun and thoughtful stuff!  So even though we had to work on Christmas day, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Christmas this year!  We had Christ in our hearts, and that was what really mattered.

Like I said before, Christmas isn’t the big thing this time of year in Taiwan, instead, they celebrate Winter Solstice. Unfortunately we don’t get any time off of school, but we do get to learn about the traditions associated with it.  Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter in Taiwan, and they celebrate it by making rice balls and in Penghu, rice animals.  The ball is to symbolize safety in the coming year, and I’m not really sure what the animals are for, something about how the people in the old times couldn’t afford real animals, so they made them out of rice. Don’t quote me on that though.  Whatever the reason, making rice balls and animals is a lot of fun!  We spent December 19th (my birthday) making the rice balls and animals.  Although my rice elephant did not turn out they way I had imagined him, I had a blast!

Here are some photos from our Christmas adventures!

Our school Christmas tree

Our school Christmas tree

Snowflake fun!

Snowflake fun!

The snowball fight!

The snowball fight!

The man in the brown coat is our principal.  He's finally taking out all his anger. JK.

The man in the brown coat is our principal. He’s finally taking out all his anger. JK.

Making ornaments.

Making ornaments.

SAM_5315

Snowman!

Snowman!

My sad elephant.

My sad elephant.

rice animals

Categories: Education, Faith, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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