Monthly Archives: September 2013

Hualien 2.0

When Nick’s dad came to visit us at the end of August, I knew we would have to take him to Hualien.  The beautiful scenery and hiking trails of Taroko Gorge would be right down his ally.  Since we had been to Taroko before, we believed we would be the perfect tour guides (going once makes you an expert, right?).

After meeting Mike [that’s Nick’s dad’s name (lots of ‘s there)] in Taipei, we all got on the plane for the short ride to Hualien where I made Nick sit next to a stinky guy. 🙂  Once we arrived, we got a taxi to our hotel, which was conveniently located near the train station where we could rent scooters!  I was really excited because last time we toured Taroko Gorge, we took a taxi the first day, and the second day Nick drove us around on our scooter, but this time, I would be driving myself!!!  After convincing the lady at the scooter shop that I did in fact know how to drive a scooter, we were off!  After taking the Hualien off the beaten path tour, which was totally planned, 😉 we found on our way onto the highway that would take us to Taroko Gorge.  I just have to tell you again how beautiful Taroko Gorge is!  It’s one of those slap-in-the-face reminders that our Creator is an artist and has created this world to be a testament to who He is and for our enjoyment.

We really enjoyed seeing the Gorge and doing some hiking through a waterfall, but my real thrill was driving through Taroko on scooter.  I felt like someone in a spy movie  with all the twists and turns and ups and downs of the Gorge.  I could just imagine that I was on a chase while trying to stop a terrorist from ending the world as we know it.  Just call me 008! I know, I’m a nerd, but it can’t be helped. 😀  Life’s more fun that way!

Join us next time for Hualien 2.0 the final chapter: white water rafting!

Categories: Family, Nature, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

What’s in a name?

Shakespeare says that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and although he’s right about that, I think it would lose some of its appeal if it was called an ox, or a fork, or a seat.  It’s just not doing it for me.  Wake up and smell the forks.  See what I mean?  Names are important.

In our job, Nick and I have had the privilege of picking English names for some of our students.  This is a fun part of our job, but it also carries some pressure, I mean some of these kids will use these English names for the rest of their lives.  Other kids will change their names five times in the course of their school years alone.  Take Eagle for instance.  Last year his name was Summer, he comes back for school and says his name is now Eagle (even though he can’t spell it).  We think he got tired of hearing “Summer!” from the teachers.  Unfortunately, the name change did not help change his behavior, and next year he’ll be tired of hearing “Eagle!” and change his name yet again.

Picking English names is kinda fun.  We try not to just pick names willy-nilly, but instead try to find something that sounds like their Chinese name.  So we’ll listen to their Chinese name a few times and then pick something that has a similar sound in it.  This way it’s easier for them to remember and say (which is helpful for students who don’t know English very well).  Of course, every once in a while we’ll come across a name like Cake, Ocean, Pink, Boots, Wacy, or Doraemon, and those get us giggling each time.

It’s the same way with us.  For our banking and other important things, we need Chinese names.  Our co-workers picked names that sound like our English names.  It’s quite fun and I feel special having a Chinese name.  I’m sure you’re wondering what they are, so I’ll be kind and share them with you!  Olivia- 孫麗薇 (Sun Li wei) Nick- 孫尼克 (Sun Nicka)


We are currently teaching an evening class of adult postal workers.  We also had the privilege of giving some of them English names.  We suggested Vincent to one man, and he seemed to like it until another man brought up Vincent Van Gogh and the fact that he was crazy and cut off his ear.  Needless to say, Vincent is now Paul. 🙂

Categories: Education, Fun Stuff, FYI, Taiwan | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Moon Festival 中秋節

Hey there folks!

It’s Moon Festival time here in Taiwan (and a lot of other countries as well), so I thought I would share some Chinese culture with you! Moon Festival, also known as Mid-Autumn Festival, is always on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar calendar, and which is always a full moon. That means that it can be in September or October depending upon the moon. I just want you to know that I am impressed that Taiwanese people can keep track of time using the Lunar calendar or the Gregorian calendar (that’s the “normal” calendar the rest of us simple folks use). It’s hard enough for me to keep my days straight using just one calendar!

The Moon Festival is very important to Taiwanese people. It is a time for families to come together and give thanks (kinda like Thanksgiving without the Turkey). Most Taiwanese families will Barbecue outside on these tiny grills and look at the beautiful full moon. Read more about our Taiwan bbq adventures here.

Another tradition during the Moon Festival is the giving of mooncakes. Every bakery we go to is overflowing with mooncakes! Moon cakes are round and filled with various fillings such as Taro, egg, mochi, or in more recent years jelly or even ice cream! Each Asian country has it’s own traditional moon cake. In Chinese culture the round shape symbolizes completeness or unity, so it is popular for families to give mooncakes to their family members to symbolize that the family is complete and whole. To read more about mooncakes, Wikipedia is a much better authority than I am! If you are interested in trying some mooncakes for yourself, I hear that you can buy mooncakes in the States. Check out myhongkonghusband for some more info about buying or making mooncakes in the states.

Happy Moon Festival!

Categories: Cooking, Family, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

I think I’m Gonna Fall

One of the things I love about living in Penghu, Taiwan is the many opportunities Nick and I get to try things that we probably would never have tried before.  One of these experiences was windsurfing.  Another, scuba diving, and the most recent, stand up paddle board.

Being two of the twenty or so foreigners in Penghu means that we know all the other foreigners in Penghu, and lucky for us, some of the other foreigners do some cool things on the island.  One of the guys trains the best windsurfer in Taiwan (they’re currently training for the Olympics), and because of that, owns lots of water activity equipment.  On Sunday he let everyone try stand up paddle board at the beach.  It was a lot of fun even though I spent more time in the water than actually on the board (let’s blame my wonderful balancing skills).  The constant refrain in my head was, “I think I’m gonna fall. I think I’m gonna fall…” Just think little engine that could, but without as much confidence.  Nick, however, didn’t fall once!  We even brought Bai!  While he didn’t spend any time in the water (he doesn’t like it, the crazy dog!)  we had fun playing with him on the sand.  So without further rambling…PICTURES!!!

Categories: Humor, Taiwan, The Beach | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Why I love my job

I love my job.  There are many people in the world who go to work everyday and hate every minute of it, and I am thankful that I’m not one of them!  On my way to work the other day I was making a mental list of all the things I love about my job and there were a lot of things.

1. Feeling like a rock star every time I walk into a classroom.  The kids here love me!  It may be because of my charming personality or maybe because I’m a great teacher, but it’s probably because I’m white.  But whatever the reason, I love having adoring fans and I’m just like


2.  Having great co-workers.  My co-workers are wonderful.  I know not all y’all can say that, but I guess I’m one of the lucky few.  My co-workers help me out so much!  My limited knowledge of Chinese is probably part of the reason they help me out so much, but the main reason is that they’re just so awesome and caring!

3.  Getting to travel to beautiful tropical islands.  That’s right, I get paid to go to the beach (teaching there is just a side note).

4.  Getting to wear jeans to work.  Now this may seem like a minor thing, but getting stress pimples over picking out what to wear is just not something I need in my life.

aint nobody

5.  Can anyone say 5 minute commute? On a scooter no less.  I feel like this speaks for itself, but just in case you’re a tad bit slow, it’s AWESOME! I mean, what better way to air out your sweaty pits from getting ready without a/c?

6.  Getting to teach whatever I want.  While this is great, this whole freedom thing does take a little getting used to.  At first Nick and I were like


but then we were like


7.  Having great students.  My students are wonderful.  It’s not just that they treat me like a rock star (although that’s part of it).  They are sweet and funny and have names like Cake and Boots. What’s not to love?

8. Getting to leave after work and know that I don’t have any work to take home.  This may be my absolute favorite thing!  It’s gonna be hard to teach in the States again after this paperwork free job!  Because, once again,

aint nobody

9. Getting to work next to my best friend all day.  Like I’ve said before, Nick and I love spending pretty much every minute of everyday together.  We laugh, we tease, we help, we encourage, and we go home and do it all over again. What more could a girl ask for?

10. Nap time!  I don’t know why everybody doesn’t stop and take a nap in the middle of the day.  It’s great!  I’m a strong advocate of naps, because who doesn’t need a little refresher in the middle of the day.  It just makes sense!  For those of you who don’t share my love of napping, you’re missing out!

Did you see Taiwan on that info-graphic!!!! 😀

Soooooo that’s why I love my job!  Why do you love your job?

P.S. This is my first post using gifs and stuff.  I hope you like it, cuz I was really excited about it!

Categories: Education, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Up Up and Away!

Hot Air Balloons.  Who doesn’t love them? Only weirdos I’m sure.  It’s on my bucket list to take a hot air balloon ride, and I thought my chance had come while we were in Hualien, but unfortunately, our butterfly hike took too long and we were late for the line. Shucks!  But, I’m looking on the bright side.  I’m only 23 and have my whole life to take that magical hot air balloon ride!  Although my dream of riding on a hot air balloon did not come to fruition, we did sit and watch the balloons go up and down for about an hour.  Is there anything better in life?

While watching the hot air balloons, we learned something very life changing.  Wait for itttt….Girls like to take pictures of themselves.  (SURPRISE!)  There were some girls who, instead of enjoying the magic that is the hot air balloon, spent the WHOLE TIME trying to take selfies or making their poor boyfriends take millions (I’m not exaggerating here) of pictures of them jumping up in front of the hot air balloons.  It was ridiculous!  I contemplated throwing my french fries at them, but I didn’t want to waste the deliciousness of the fried food I was stuffing into my mouth.


Okay, enough with that rant.  Despite the picture girls, seeing the hot air balloons was wonderful (so were the french fries)!

After we had seen enough of the hot air balloons, we made our way to an aboriginal restaurant for their famous fish soup.  There are still many aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.  The aboriginal people are the first people who were in Taiwan, sort of like the Native Americans (minus the Trail of Tears).  They try very hard to keep their culture alive by living in more traditional ways and sometimes will put on shows for tourists, or in this case, open a restaurant.  To make the soup, they will first heat some rocks up to 1,000 degrees Celsius (that’s REALLY hot), and then make a bowl out of some leaves and put in the fish, some broth and vegetables.  When the soup is ready to cook, they will take the rocks out of the fire and put them in the soup.  The soup cooks very quickly because of the temperatures of the rocks.  I have to say I was a little nervous when I was first trying this soup (I mean, rocks, really?), but it turned out to be really yummy!  Nick even liked it and he doesn’t really like fish!

Categories: Cooking, Nature, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

And Finally…Hualien: Part Two

I know this has been a long time coming, Nick has been urging me to blog for about a month now, and I haven’t done it because there were actual people around that I wanted to spend time with.  I know you are all wondering about our month back at home, what we did, who we saw, what we ate etc.  but just calm down, I’ll get to that (eventually).  For now, you’ll have to settle for the rest of our trip to Hualien.  If you don’t remember that we went to Hualien, or what we did, you can refresh your memory here.

So, for our third day in Hualien county we had made plans to visit another FET who lived about an hour away from where we were staying, the only way for us to get there was by taking the train.  We had never taken a train by ourselves in Taiwan before (or anywhere for that matter-which brings me to another thought, why doesn’t the USA have an affordable cross-country train system? It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?)  Despite our nerves, the train ride was uneventful, we just stood and read our nooks (there were no seats left for us).  We even managed to get off at the right stop even though we couldn’t hear any English announcements. 🙂 Go Us!

Our friend was at the train station waiting with open arms and lots of smiles!  She first took us to an old sugar factory where we had some delicious ice cream!  After we were hyped up on sugar, we had a quick lunch (backwards, I know) and went to the Butterfly Valley Resort to do some hiking and look at the butterflies of course, but not before putting on sun block and bug spray (we’re responsible adults after all :P).  Our hike started in a butterfly valley (but you already guessed that, huh?) and from there we hiked up a hill mountain.  In the butterfly valley, there were some butterflies that would not leave Nick alone!  They would sit on his arm for like 20 minutes!  I was starting to get a bit jealous, he’s MY man! 😛 Eventually they got the picture and moved on, but not before I made him give me a butterfly and snap a picture.

Once we made it past the butterflies, it was onward and upward!  Nick and I think we’re pretty spry, so we thought we were up for this little hiking adventure, but we were in for a steep climb!  We felt like we were going up FOREVER!  Thankfully they had benches every so often so we could rest for a minute, or ten.  When we finally made it to the top of the hill mountain, we crossed over a suspension bridge and started back down the other side.  By this time we were drenched in sweat and probably smelling pretty rank, so of course we run into people that wanted to talk with us, and of course the lady is looking perfect with her perfectly curled hair and not a drop of sweat in sight (some people).  They turned out to be really nice Taiwanese people, they even offered to show us around if we ever came to their part of Taiwan!  When they found out we were from Texas, they asked us if we rode horses!  I was floored, I had never actually been asked that in seriousness.  It was hilarious!  I, of course, told them we did and that my horse was named Betsy and that she was a dapple gray. (Not Really!)  We finally made it down the mountain, and into the gift shop for some much needed air conditioning and water!

After that, we headed to the Hot Air Balloon Festival, but I’ll save that story for next time!

Categories: Friendship, Nature, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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