Monthly Archives: February 2014

9.5 Flights in 14 Days

As our Chinese New Year break from teaching is winding to a close, I figure it’s a good time to recount some of our travels over our time off.  Last year we went to Japan.  It was cold and busy and a lot of fun, but this year, we decided that it might be nice to take a break from the winter cold (you would too after reading this), so we went to the Philippines!  And, as you can assume by the title of this post, many flights were involved (Don’t worry, Olivia will cover some of our adventures in the Philippines in a later post).  First up was our flight to Taipei.  Our home is on a small island of Taiwan, so any time we want to go anywhere, we have to fly (usually to Taipei) first.  This time, we had a dog in tow!

Usually, our friend Sharon takes care of Bai when we’re not around, but she was spending time in Taipei with her family for the New Year celebrations, so why not bring him to her!  We also wanted Bai to get some experience flying in an airplane, as he’ll be joining Olivia and I for the long haul back to America later this year.  Some of our American readers might think we’re crazy flying him to Taipei just for 12 days, but airlines are a little easier to work with here for this sort of thing.  So, a lot of wrestling (Bai hasn’t learned to like his crate yet) and $12 later, we were aboard and Taipei bound!  Thankfully we didn’t see a streak of white running around on the runway. 😉

The next leg of our journey left the international airport from Taipei after midnight, so we got a bite to eat, met some friends, and hung around till catching the last bus from the domestic airport to the international one.  Four hours later, we were enjoying the warm weather at the Manila airport (at 4AM- those people never sleep!  You would have thought it was the middle of the day)!  Now, for this trip of ours, we had no intentions staying in a big, crowded city (living in Penghu has made us small town folK).  So we slept for a few hours, ate a much needed Cinnabon, and then started our next flight (number 3) at about 7:30, a 50 minute flight to Legazpi. We were cruising nicely and had started our decent when the announcement was made: there was a problem with the plane and we couldn’t land there because the runway was too short (confused? Us too).  The plane returned to Manila, where we were finally able to land on a longer runway, and thus- the “.5” from the title, back-tracking nearly an hour to get another plane.

Three hours and a very grouchy Olivia later, it was time for try number two (flight 4.5).  We landed without any issues (yay!) and had some fun for the couple of days we were there.

The next leg of our journey came when we left Legazpi for Coron.  Being two small cities, no direct flights were available, so we had to fly back to Manila and then on to Coron in one afternoon (5.5 and 6.5).  After five or six days there, (more on that to come) we found ourselves Taipei-bound, again flying through Manila first and then on to Taipei ((7.5 and 8.5)!  And of course, Taipei wouldn’t be our last stop before reaching home in Penghu.  We spent a few days bumming around the city and having fun, even though most places were closed because of the Chinese New Year.  Finally, with the dog in tow, we made the last flight to Penghu and landed with a rainy, windy scooter ride to the house (ponchos were involved for everyone).

We made it back home safe and sound, had a wonderful trip, and made nine and a half flights in 14 days. Are you tired now?

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Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

America the Beautiful

Living in Taiwan means that we miss many American holidays and traditions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Super Bowl.  While neither of us are football fans, we enjoy watching the Super Bowl for the snacks and commercials.  In the age of social media, even living in a different country really doesn’t mean we’re completely out of the loop.  We get to read everyone’s updates about how Denver only scored 3 points, Mattress Mac lost $7 million dollars because of a bet with his customers, how the Red Hot Chili Peppers have lost it, and all that jazz (it’s really more entertaining personally).  But, my favorite thing social media has given us is the opportunity to watch the Super Bowl commercials post-Super Bowl.

There were lots of good ones, but my heart was saddened by many American’s hateful response to Coca Cola’s “America is Beautiful” commercial.  If you don’t remember it, or haven’t seen it, here it is.

It’s a beautiful multi-lingual rendition of America the Beautiful (NOT the national anthem, as so many of these haters suppose- I guess they didn’t listen closely and sing along at the beginning of the game) depicting American people doing American things in America, drinking an American favorite.  Many people responded with such hate, racism, and xenophobia to this simple and beautiful ad campaign stating that “in America we speak English.”  Let’s just overlook the fact that many people who posted such comments can’t even use grammatically correct English, and look at a foreigner’s point of view.

Being a foreigner in another country has given us a lot of perspective on what it’s like to live in America and not speak the language and be illiterate.  That’s right, in the country that Nick and I live in, we are completely illiterate.  We are the people who cause citizens to say, “If you’re going to live here, you should speak Chinese!”  Now, most of the people we come into contact with on a daily basis are very nice and hopefully don’t say those hateful things behind our backs, but it’s possible.  Living in another country is hard.  You move away from your family.  You are in a foreign land that you are not familiar with at all.  You don’t speak the language.   You can’t read.  You have very few contacts.  You are in a constant state of confusion.  You go without things because you can’t communicate your needs.  You are brave.

So why do people do this?  Why do people move to another country and leave everything they know behind?  Because they are in search of something better.  We moved to Taiwan for great jobs, just like many of the people who move to America.  They think, “This is the place to be.  This is where I will make my new life.”  After having seen some of the places that these people come from, I can see why they want to move to America.  We should be proud that people come to our country thinking, “this is where it’s at.”  We should welcome these people and try to make their lives easier.  We should respect them and the choices they have made.  Who cares if they don’t speak English?  As a matter of fact, we Americans should try harder to learn other languages and see other countries, but that’s a conversation for another day and another post.

Because America is a “melting pot,” we as Americans have a valuable and unique opportunity.  We can experience other cultures daily.  We know what the people of the world look like.  We don’t stare at people who have a different skin color, because that’s part of our everyday life.  No other place in the world offers that wonderful opportunity.  The fact that the people living here speak other languages is what makes America America.  We are THE melting pot.  So don’t be so narrow-minded.  Embrace it.  Love it.

Thank you Coca Cola for reminding us of the beautiful country that we live in that attracts people from all over the world.  Thank you for reminding us of all the opportunities to learn about other cultures from the comfort of our own homes.  Thank you.

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

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