Fun Stuff

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. 🙂

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

It’s the Final Countdown!

*Cue Music*

In four weeks, Nick and I will leave Taiwan forever.

That’s a little dramatic.  We hope to return some day for some travels, or maybe even some more teaching.  Who knows?!

But no matter, we are excited to move back home.  Taiwan has been a great place for us these last two years and will always, always hold a special place in our hearts, but it’s time for the next chapter in the wonderful book God is writing for us called Our Lives.

Isn’t it great to know that God always has a plan for us?  Even in this in-between time when we’re not sure where we’ll be working or living this Fall, there is comfort in knowing that God has a plan and He will take care of us.  He has most definitely taken care of us these last two years as we made our way into the unknown, and He will continue to take care of us and guide us for the rest of our days!

As we pack up our house, our dog, and our lives, we take comfort, joy, and excitement in the future that God has written for us!

Categories: Faith, Fun Stuff, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

Penghu’s Night Market

Night markets are a big deal in Taiwan.  All the major cities have them every night and they are packed with people!  They’re filled with food and clothing, jewelry, electronics, pretty much anything you could want, you can get at a night market for pretty cheap.  If you ever go to Taiwan, night markets are a must do!

Penghu usually doesn’t have a night market, but for about one month each year, we get one!  It’s not huge like the ones in Taipei or Kaohsiung, but there is food and games, and it’s pretty fun.  We went on Saturday night and got some yummy food!  French Fries, curry wraps, and crickets!

Yep, you read that correctly, crickets.  There was one stand selling crickets and we decided that we had to try them!  They didn’t taste bad, but it was still kind of weird to be eating a bug (especially feeling their legs inside your mouth).  Anyways it was fun and a little crazy, just what you would expect from eating an exotic food, right?

 

Categories: Friendship, Fun Stuff, Taiwan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Weekend Shenanigans

Hello folks!!

Summer is officially here (at least in my mind), and that means more beach time!!!  Yay!!!  This weekend we kicked off our summer with a trip to our favorite snorkeling spot, Shili Beach, and boy was it a sight for sore eyes.  Other than the water being ridiculously cold, we had a great time snorkeling with some teachers Nick met while teaching on the island of Cimei.  We saw some clown fish, zebra fish, and I saw two eels!  We even brought the pup along  He didn’t appreciate being left on the beach while we went for a swim, but he had fun digging in the sand and playing ball.  It was a great day, that’s soon to be repeated!

Categories: Friendship, Fun Stuff, Nature, Taiwan, The Beach | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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:
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Categories: Bucket List, Fun Stuff, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Rising Stars

Over the two years that we’ve lived in Taiwan we’ve mentioned the perks of being some of the few white people in an Asian world, but I think being asked to be in movies tops them all.  That’s right, I said movies, plural.  In the last three weeks, we’ve been asked to be in 2 movies!  (Granted, we’ll probably be extras in the back ground, but these opportunities don’t come around everyday people.)  We of course said yes, because that’s what you say when someone asks if you want to be in their movie, right?!

obviously

Unfortunately, we quickly learned there’s a reason we’re teachers and not actors, the reason you ask?  We. Can’t. Act.  After agreeing to be in the first movie, we met up with some of the movie people for what we thought was a “we’re gonna film on this day and you need to wear this and act like you’re talking in the background” meeting turned out to be an audition.  We were as astonished as you because like I said before, we can’t act.  They wanted us to act out a short scene where we were riding our bikes and I fall off mine and Nick has to check on me, then stop a passing car to take me to the hospital.  They gave us a few minutes to think about it and practice, and then things got hilarious.

oh boy

Picture this- we have no props, we’re standing in plain view of all the passersby, and we have no idea how to make this look real, but we do it anyways, because we’re dedicated.  So they say go, or action or whatever the movie term is, and Nick and I start our pathetic attempt at acting.  I fall down off my invisible bike and do some whimpering and crying for help.  Nick rushes over and sees that I’m okay, then tries to stop cars.  At this point we think we’re done, but they say “No, keep going,” so we keep going.  Thankfully I’m supposed be the injured, so no one can see my embarrassed smile because my body is blocking my face.  Nick stops invisible cars  like a pro, and eventually I hobble over to the “car” and they rush me off to the hospital.  End of scene.  We of course apologized to the people about our horrible acting skills, and they reassure us that it’s okay, but now they have to send it to the director to see if he likes it.  We haven’t heard from them yet, so, we’re not getting our hopes up, but there’s always our second movie.  That could be our big break!

flash photography

Categories: Fun Stuff, Humor, Taiwan | Tags: , , , , | 1 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

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