Bucket List

Three Years Running

Today marks three years of marriage for Nick and me, and what a fabulous three years it has been!  For the last two years of marriage, we’ve been living in Taiwan, and for this next year, we will venture forth into the unknown of doing this marriage thing as real adult in the US (our first year of marriage, we were still in college, so I don’t count that as real adulthood).  What will this next year (and the next 20+) bring?

Here are some things we definitely want to do during this next year…

1. Buy a house.  That is a big commitment, and if we just get this one done, I’ll be good!  Nick wants a fixer-upper, but I would be just fine with a ready-to-live-in house (but because I love him, we’ll probably go with the fixer-upper).

2. Celebrate Christmas in our own home with oodles of decorations (and cookies).  I’m a sucker for Christmas.  It’s hands down my favorite time of year (really the whole Fall/Winter holiday season), and this year, we have no reason not to go all out!!!  This includes dressing the dog up for Halloween… he’s going to love it. 😉

3.  Do some camping!!  Camping out under the big Texas sky is something we’ve been dreaming about ever since we left the Lone Star State.

4. Find a new church home and get involved!!!  This is something we recommend to all people of all ages. We shouldn’t just to go to church, but invest ourselves in others and make disciples.

5.  Spend lots of time with our family and friends that we’ve missed these last two years.  This is gonna be fun!!

And, because I’m feeling sentimental (and because you all like looking at us)…enjoy some random photos of us through the ages. 🙂

Advertisements
Categories: Bucket List, Family, Fun Stuff, FYI | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

TBT: Tokyo Sumo

Joining the “Throwback Thursday” bandwagon, I decided it’s finally time for me to make good on my promised Sumo blog post.

This takes us back to our winter vacation in January 2013, when Olivia and I spent several days in Tokyo, Japan.  On our last day there, we got up early at 5 am (isn’t vacation for sleeping in?!) and waited in line in freezing weather (our Texas blood isn’t used to Japan’s winters) for 2 hours, and got tickets to see Sumo wrestling!
If you follow the professional Sumo circuit, you’ll know that these tournaments take place twice a year in seven different areas in Japan, each one lasting two weeks before moving to the next place.  It just so happened that the last day of our trip coincided with the last day of the tournament in Tokyo, and we were lucky enough to get tickets!  (Nosebleed seats only sell the day of the tournament, while the better seats sell our early and have high prices).
It was a day of fun and learning, experiencing the history and culture that has created modern-day Sumo.  The rules seem simple:  the object is to either knock your opponent down or push them out of the ring (only your feet can touch the floor or you are considered “down”).  However, there is much more to this sport.
The Opening
There’s more to the opening than just fat men parading around in cloth diapers (not every wrestler is fat!).  Each wrestler has a fancy half-dress thing that I’ll just call an “apron.”  These aprons have different colors and a “coat-of-arms,” which is different for each man.  Want one of your own?  Be ready to throw down at least $20,000 USD!  The men all enter the ring, circle it, and each throws salt into the ring.  This is to ward off bad spirits who might cause injuries.  (There’s a lot of salt throwing in Sumo.)  Some words are said, things happen, and then the dohyo (think: wrestling ring) is cleared.
Fun Fact: The wrestling ring is made of a certain kind of clay and weighs several tons!
Another Fun Fact: Olivia says I should let other people decide whether my facts are fun or not.
The Fight
In a single day of the tournament, each wrestler will face a total of one opponent in one match.  One might think that this would make the tournament go fairly quickly.  If you think that, you’re wrong.  First the opponents enter the ring and throw some salt.  This is not only to ward off bad spirits but is also a form of intimidation!  (“Eat my salt!”) It can be quite interesting to see the many and varied styles with which one can throw salt into the air and on the ground.  The salt throwing also includes the famous  stomping of the feet.  Then the opponents enter the ring and squat facing each other, staring into each other’s eyes.  The referee signals the start of the match, and the wrestlers…stay still.  You see, each wrestler waits until he is fully ready, mentally and physically one, before going at his opponent.  However, if one starts before the other, the match is restarted.  Apparently, these waiting periods and false starts could combine to make a single match last several hours.  Thankfully, they now have a time limit of three minutes before they must start the match.
Finally, the wrestlers clash together, and the tussle begins.  Some use strategies of pulling their opponents down to the ground or throwing them off balance, while others rely on their girth to push their opponents out of the ring.  Strategically, the wrestler with more girth has a forceful advantage, but what they gain in girth, they lose in stamina and agility!
The Closing Ceremony
Finally, after an afternoon of fun watching the best Sumo wrestlers in Japan, we see the closing ceremony.  Like the rest of the sport, this comes from a line of tradition and involves spinning and twirling a long rope in a specific series of moves.  This rope dance is performed by the tournament champion, and then the wrestlers file out of the stadium.
On our way out, Olivia wanted to see how she would look as a sumo wrestler.  A few hundred Big Mac’s later, here’s the result:
??????????
Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Wreck Diving in the Philippines

Nick and I just received our new Advanced Open Water and Wreck Diver certification cards and it reminded me that we never told you about our amazing wreck diving experience in Coron!

After our disappointment with the Whale Sharks, Nick and I were really looking forward to seeing some cool stuff during our dive time.  After another two flights, we were in Coron and ready to start our diving with Rock Steady Dive Center.

During WWII, a fleet of Japanese ships were sunk in Coron Bay, so now there are about 11 wrecks that you can explore.  It’s been Nick’s dream since we started scuba diving to see some wrecks, so we knew we needed to hit these up.  We decided that while we were here, we might as well get wreck dive certified, because…why not?

Diving in the wrecks was amazing!  I feel like I use this word A LOT when talking about diving, but it just fits.  When inside the ships I can’t get over how amazing it is that nature has taken this foreign object and made it it’s own.  We saw coral growing on the ships, huge fish swimming in and out, and basically a what looked like a whole underwater city.  Nature at it’s finest I think!  And to imagine that this is all part of God’s work!  And then to think that this is just one of the wonders that the world holds for us!

Unfortunately our camera is only rated up to about 15 meters, so we couldn’t take pictures of most of the wrecks we saw, so just use your imagination!

Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Nature, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Whale Shark Fail

So, if you remember this post about our new year goals, you would know Nick and I were super excited to go swimming with sharks while in the Philippines.  Don’t get your panties in a twist, these sharks aren’t deadly, just really big.  We made our plans and checked our list twice, and we were ready to see us some Whale Sharks in Donsol, Philippines.

After our awesome ATV adventure, we made the hour-long bus ride to our B&B in Donsol.  We were exhausted by this point because it was now some time on Friday afternoon, and we hadn’t slept in a bed since Wednesday night, but the show must go on!  Since we were cramming so much fun stuff into our trip, we unfortunately were only able to spend one night in Donsol, and thus begins our sad tale.

The staff at our B&B was very helpful, and showed us when and where we needed to be in the morning to get a boat for the Whale Shark interaction.  We had a tight time schedule because we needed to make a flight at noon.  In the morning it looked like we would not be able to get on a boat AND be back in time to catch our flight, but after much stress on my part, and bravery on Nick’s we managed to make our way onto a private boat that would make it back in time for us to catch our flight.  SCORE!

We were so pumped that we were going to be able to see Whale Sharks, and we settled in for our three-hour experience with lots of smiling and anticipation.  Our excitement started to wane the longer we were cruising around looking for sharks, but we weren’t going to give up hope.  Eventually we realized we would not see our sharks today.  The captain said that it was unseasonably cold, and because of that, the sharks weren’t surfacing.  *Cue sad music*

On the bright side, we got to work on our tans and enjoy some nice weather and scenery, and we made it back in time for our flight.

Moral of the story.  Don’t try to cram tons of stuff in one trip. Although, like us, sometimes that’s unavoidable if you only have a limited amount of time for all the fun stuff.  Oh well, better luck next time.

 

Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, The Beach, Travel | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

ATV adventure!

After finally arriving in Legaspi, Nick and I high-tailed it to the ATV company that we had been so excited about.  They specialize in ATV tours along the Mt. Mayon 2006 lava flow. Let me just say, it did not disappoint.

After some indecision on my part, Nick finally convinced me to drive my own ATV, and I am so glad I did!  We did a quick practice session to familiarize ourselves with the ATVs, and then we were off!!!  Since we were off-roading, we went over some really rough terrain, and through a little river, which added to the excitement even more! (If you notice the excessive use of exclamation points, you should realize that this was really exciting).  Our guide was really great and would stop periodically to take our picture, which was awesome because it’s hard to drive and take pictures at the same time (oh and stay on the path).

Along the way, we passed workers who were moving volcanic rock to use for building and other things.  They were always so excited to see us and would wave and yell “Hello!”  I was always eager to wave back, but it’s hard to drive an ATV over rocks one-handed.  If you haven’t tried it, take my word for it. 😉  After about 45 minutes of driving, we stopped to take a hike up on top of the lava flow and to get a view of the volcano itself.  Unfortunately it was cloudy the day we went, so we didn’t get a great view of the volcano, but it was still nice to take the hike and see God’s creation.

Once we got back from our hike, we took a short break, then got back on the ATVs for our ride back to the base camp.  We went a different way back which took us through some of the village around the volcano.  It was really interesting to see how the locals lived (not to mention a smoother ride for my bum bum).

If you ever go to Legaspi, Phillipines, check out Your Brother ATVs, it’ll be a blast! (get it?)

Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Nature, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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?

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

When All Else Fails…

Yesterday I wrote about How to Survive Winter in Penghu, and despite following the list of survival tips I gave myself, sometimes the winter just gets to me.  To be honest, that’s why I haven’t written much this January. Life has just been kinda blah and uninspiring.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my life and don’t regret a single day, but lately not much has been going on other than a Lord of the Rings trilogy and dreams filled with Hobbits and Orcs and other funny creatures I don’t know the names of.  So, I’ve added an addendum to my previous list of Winter Survival Tips, and that is: when all else fails, run get away.

Starting this afternoon, Nick and I are doing just that.  We’re flying down to the Philippines for 7 days to bask in the sun and experience some more scuba diving.  This is a trip we’ve been dreaming about for the last year, and finally it’s happening!  We’re so ready for the warm sun and beautiful views of the ocean!  So, we’re signing off, and will see you all laterz!

http://sparklingtwine.com/

Categories: Bucket List, Nature, The Beach, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A New Year, A New Adventure

Happy_New_Year_Charlie_Brown1

While Nick and I kicked off our New Year by throwing on our Christmas jammies and staying in all night, this year is going to bring us lots of adventures!!! (That’s the plan anyways).

Some of the adventures we hope to take are:

1. Go scuba diving in the Philippines.  Sharks and ship wrecks and a volcano are going to make an appearance.

2. Explore more of Taiwan- this country has so much culture and history!

3. Say goodbye to Taiwan and move back to the Lone Star State. White dog in tow. 🙂

4. Buy a car.

5. Get new jobs.

6. Buy a house (if all goes according to plan).

7. Eat a full Thanksgiving dinner.

8. Celebrate Christmas with our families for the first time in two years.

As you can see, this is going to be a big year of change for us!!!  We would most definitely appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement as we go through the rest of this year.  We hope that you have a very blessed year and that God’s love and joy is abundant in your lives!!

Philippians 4:6-7 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Categories: Bucket List, Friendship, New Year's, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

A Birthday Extravaganza!!!

December 19th was my 24th birthday!!!  I’m getting old! 😛  To celebrate, Nick took me to Kaohsiung, the second biggest city in Taiwan and boy did we party!!! By party, I mean we went to bed by 11pm each night.  We’re crazy, I know!!!! (Like I said, I’m getting old).

Despite our old people sleeping habits, we had a great time!!!  We kicked off our weekend adventure with a small night market near our hotel.  They had some really interesting food choices.  Huge octopus tentacles and oysters were just a few (and they say everything’s bigger in Texas).  In addition to all the food, we also saw lots of dog clothing shops.  The people here love their dogs, and, in my humble opinion,  love dressing them up even more!  I think there’s something in the water, because Nick and I stopped at every shop to look for something for Bai.  What’s happening to us?!!!!  Fortunately, they were all too small for him.

The next day, we went to the Pier 2 outdoor art gallery.  As we were leaving the MRT station, we started seeing people dressed oddly and with weird looking hair, and thought, “hmm, that’s odd.”  As we got closer, we started seeing more and more of these odd looking people, then it hit us, we had walked right into the middle of an Anime Festival!  There were people EVERYWHERE dressed up as Japanese comic characters complete with blue hair, huge swords, and crazy outfits.  We spent the afternoon walking around and trying not to gawk too much at the costumed people.  It was…interesting.

The last big hooray of our trip was spending Sunday at Eda Amusement Park.  Amusement parks in Taiwan are very small, so there were only about 5 big rides, but the lines were short, and the rides were fun, so we’re not complaining.  It was comical to watch a group of teenage boys in line in front of us (all with the same haircut mind you) feel each other’s racing hearts right before boarding one of the roller coasters.

We had lots of fun and managed to squeeze in the second Taiwanese county to fulfill our New Year’s resolution we made in January!!!

Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.