Monthly Archives: July 2013

Year one in Review: Our Adventures

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back!!  Sorry for the loong break, but we’ve been kinda busy this last month with being back in the USA and visiting family and friends.  We’re back in Taiwan now, and we’ll continue posting about the adventures and fun that we have.  And without further ado, here’s what you came for! 🙂

While just being in Taiwan was an adventure in itself, we have had many other opportunities for adventure throughout the year. Some of our adventures still need to be recorded on here, but here are just a few (stay tuned for more adventures including the rest of our trip to Hualien as well as our most recent trip to China).

1. Going to Taipei for New Year’s Eve. Taipei is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. The government shoots fireworks of off Taipei 101 which is currently the 3rd tallest building in the world. The show is quite spectacular and ends with the message Happy New Year in English and Chinese flashing on the side of the building.
2. Discovering how to use the squatty potty at school. As an American the idea of a squatty potty is intimidating and scary, but this year I have conquered my fear and faced the unknown adventure that is the squatty potty.
3. Our winter trip to Tokyo, Japan. Sumos, rickshaws, temples, and zoos. Read about some of our Japan travels here.
4. Dog sitting for our friend Sharon. While our friend went away for three months we dog sat one of her dogs named Bai. This being our first time taking care of a dog, we were a little nervous but we really fell in love with him and go to visit him and Sharon on a regular basis.

5. Taking scuba lessons. Scuba diving is something we’ve wanted to do since we moved to Taiwan, and it was such a great experience. I know I’ve said this before, but the world under the water is AMAZING! Scuba diving is something we will enjoy for years to come.

6. Going to Hualien and seeing Taroko Gorge. Taiwan is a country that is rich in natural beauty and culture. We have enjoyed exploring everything Taiwan has to offer and look forward to experiencing more next year!

7. Taking on the traditional markets in Penghu.  Being from America we were used to a one stop shop for all our cooking needs, but we have really fallen in love with the concept of going to the market on Saturday mornings and doing all our shopping for the week.

This year has been a testament to God’s love and faithfulness He has blessed us in so many ways. We have really had to trust God to take care of us this year while we were on this adventure. It has been a great lesson to remind us to trust in Him and remember that He is in control of our lives and that we must always stay close to Him.

Categories: Fun Stuff, New Year's, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Year one in review: what we’ve learned

Wow! Can you believe we’ve already lived in Taiwan for a year? It’s been a great year full of fun, adventures, new friends, and discoveries. God has really blessed us with this opportunity and we wouldn’t trade this year for anything!

We started this adventure knowing absolutely nothing about Taiwan, but we trusted God that He had a plan for us and would provide for us. And guess what, he did! Here are a few things we learned this year.

1. Taiwanese schools are completely different than American schools. (Not just in the language area). Read about it here.
2. There are many languages that are spoken in Taiwan. The main language is Chinese, or more specifically, Mandarin, but other languages include Taiwanese, Hakka, and other various aboriginal languages.
3. Taiwanese people are very nice! We have made so many new friends this year, and everyone we meet is very helpful. They’re not just nice, they’re also very trust worthy. Theft is almost unheard of here, especially in Penghu.
4. 7-11s are everywhere!!!!!! Seriously, they’re more common than Starbucks in America.
5. Authentic Chinese food is nothing like the Chinese food served at “Chinese” restaurants in the USA. Additionally, forks are a rarity in Taiwan. We had to learn to use chopsticks very quickly; now we’re pros! Aren’t you jealous?
6. Scooters are the main form of transportation. And you better watch out, cuz they drive anywhere they want to. Nick has easily adjusted to the Taiwanese style of driving, so I’m a little nervous about his driving in the States.

2013-07-10 Taiwan Trip 937 --- 7. According to a little American boy I met who was visiting his grandparents in Penghu, “the toilets here are weird.” He’s right. I’ve proudly learned how to use a squatty potty. I’ve even made up a slogan- you haven’t pottied ’til you’ve squattied.
8. Taiwan is a cheap place to live. Eating out here is almost cheaper than cooking food at home. This is really nice because Nick and I haven’t exactly gotten the whole meal planning thing down. (We’re still young). Internet is also super cheap here! Idk what American companies are thinking, but it shouldn’t be so expensive to have Internet at your house.
9. Bakeries are everywhere, and they’re delicious! Nick and I will eat something from a bakery almost every morning for breakfast. It makes me happy.

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10. Traditional markets sell fresh produce, fruits and meat as opposed to the grocery store.  This was really strange for us, but now we enjoy going to the traditional market on Saturday mornings.  Check out some of our market stories here, here, and here2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 411

Basically, so many things in Taiwan just make sense and we love it!

Stay tuned and in our next post, we’ll give a brief recap of some of our adventures from this year.

Categories: Education, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Wang An Adventures!

About two months ago, (I know it’s late, but late is better than never, right?) I went to the island of Wang An to teach English to the students there.  I had a great time teaching (you can read about that here), but the real fun started when Nick and Anly arrived!  As I’ve said before, Nick and I are always together, so being away from each other for a week was really strange; I felt very lonely while I was gone (so lonely that I read two books and watched three movies-I had a lot of free time.)  I was so excited to finally have people to spend some time with!  Friday night we went star gazing, and it was amazing!  I would show pictures, but cameras just can’t do that part of God’s creation justice.  We found the milky way and Orion’s Belt (the only two constellations I know), and saw some shooting stars, talked, and  just had fun enjoying the gift of the stars.

Saturday morning rolled around and we woke to the waves breaking on the shore.  I could live by the water for the rest of my life, it’s such a great sound.  We went for breakfast at a little shop that served traditional breakfast sandwiches with egg and meat.  The lady at the shop also gave us some fresh cooked local corn.  It was all really tasty!  After breakfast, we went to the port to meet Sharon (Sharon is Bai’s owner, and travel guide extraordinaire).  Sharon has done some work on Wang An before, so she offered to show us around for the day.  While waiting for Sharon, we had to get gas for the scooter.  Seeing white people is a rare thing in Wang-an, so of course the gas station attendants asked why were in Wang-An.  Anly (our wonderful friend and translator) told them we were teachers.  Once they found that out, they were our new best friends!  They showed us around the gas station which had some wonderful paintings done by one of the attendants (I guess it gets boring during the long windy winters).  He even treated us to ice cream, and of course posed for pictures! (It pays to be an English teacher in Taiwan).

The rest of the day Sharon showed us around the island.  Not only is Wang-An a nature reserve for sea turtles, it also has a village that is about 200 years old and still inhabited.  The houses are made out of coral taken from the sea, so they take a lot of time to build (up to several years).  Some of the houses have been renovated, but many of them still have all the original materials.  It was really interesting to learn about the history of the town and about the sea turtles that nest on the beaches of Wang-An.  Did you know that sea turtles return to the same beach they were born on to lay their nests?  Sea turtles used to nest all along the coast of Taiwan, but due to industrialization, many of those beaches have been destroyed or are too crowded, so Wang-An is the only place left in Taiwan for them to nest.

After seeing Sharon off, we went to snorkel for an hour or so.  There are so many beautiful things to see under the sea.  If you haven’t gone snorkeling or scuba diving in a while, you have to go NOW!

Unfortunately Sunday afternoon came all too quickly, and we had to go back home, but not before seeing a real life sea turtle nest!!!  If only we could see them hatch!!!

Categories: Nature, Taiwan, The Beach, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (or should I say scooters): our trip to Hualien

As mentioned a while back, Nick and I took a trip to Hualien at the end of June. This was our first trip out of Penghu since January, and needless to say, we were super excited about it! We took the last two days of school off and hopped on the plane to start our weekend of fun (does that make us bad teachers? I hope not, because we loved it).

Upon arriving at Hualien, we planned on taking a taxi to our hotel and then taking a bus to Taroko Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Taiwan.  However, the first taxi driver we stumbled upon just happened to know English, so we gladly accepted his offer to show us around Taroko first thing and then take us to the hotel later. He took us to all the popular sites around Taroko and told us valuable information – the main road is only open for ten minutes every two hours due to a rock slide that occurred two months ago. We had a great time, but were exhausted when we got back to the hotel, so exhausted that we fell asleep at 5:30 and didn’t wake up again until the next morning. Well except for Nick’s sleepy suggestion of getting dinner at 1am. 😛

Friday morning we woke up beautiful and refreshed from our long night of rest and decided to rent a scooter for the day to get a more up close and personal view of Taroko. After a short game of charades with the hotel staff, they finally understood that we wanted to rent a scooter for the day and they contacted a scooter company for us (It helps that Nick knows the chinese word for scooter- part of his limited vocabulary, and only because it is part of a Chinese insult). The company sent a car to pick us up, got us hooked up with a great scooter, and then showed us how to get to Taroko. Nick drove out onto the highway and we were off! (Apparently the scooter had lots of “get up and go”). I have to say that seeing Taroko on the back of a scooter was waaaay better than looking out of the taxi window-can you say beautiful?!

We had such a great day! Nick loved driving the scooter on the mountain roads, and I thoroughly enjoyed the view. If you’re ever in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is a must see!

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

Penghu Traditional Market: This Little Piggy Went to Market!

Hello there!  I am Nick’s sister – Emmelyn.  I’m visiting them in the HOT Taiwan, and decided to write a guest blog post for them :).  I had a little help to make sure my facts are correct!

On Saturday, Nick and Olivia took me to the traditional market in Magong.  There is a large building in the center of the market where the meat is sold (chicken, pork, beef).  Outside, vendors sell produce, fresh fish (some still flopping around), clothing, accessories, and more!

Some vendors are at tables, but others set up their goods on the ground for purchase.

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Often, you will see vendors preparing their goods for sale.  It’s amazing how fast they can peel a pineapple!

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There are many familiar fruits and vegetables like apples, pineapple, bananas, nectarines, and more.

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Nick buying some delicious dragon fruit!

But there are also many things that are not as common in the states, like dragon fruit, lychee, etc.

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All-in-all, a fun, but STRONG SMELLING experience!  I was glad Nick gave me some strong gum!

~Emmelyn from thisthatandcraft

Categories: Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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