Nature

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!

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Categories: Friendship, Fun Stuff, Nature, Taiwan, The Beach | 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

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

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

Hualien 2.0: White Water Rafting

I’ve never been white water rafting.  It’s always looked cool and it’s been something I would like to do for a while, but the opportunity never arose until Nick’s dad came waaaaay back in August.  After visiting Taroko Gorge, we decided that a white water rafting trip was in order.  With help from our great friend and co-worker Anly, we made reservations with a company that picked us up and took us to the starting line.  After gearing up and watching a safety video in Chinese, we were ready to go!!!

Before loading the boats, we had to get into groups of 8-10 people.  At first it seemed like no one wanted the English speaking Americans and we were standing around like a few lost puppies, but finally some people took pity on us and called us over.  We wagged our tails in appreciation and quickly joined them in line.  Our group consisted of four Taiwanese people and three Japanese people, all of whom spoke at least a little English.  We ended up getting along really well with them and were a big, happy, wet family by the end!

The rafting trip was really fun!  There were soo many boats and we all started at the same time.  Unfortunately our boat got stuck on some rocks right off the bat, so we ended up being the last boat to start its trek (clearly none of us had done this before).  Amongst the row boats, there were workers in motor boats who were there to push people in the right direction, help people get their boat un-stuck, and to splash everyone with water, of course!  I think I want that job!

So, there you have it!  Hualien 2.0!

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

Breaking the Radio Silence

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’m sorry, I know your lives all revolve around my blog posts. 😛  The writing bug hasn’t really hit me lately, but today, I’m breaking my radio silence! (Insert applause here).

I just want to start with how amazing Fall is!  Unfortunately, we can’t watch the leaves change color here in Penghu due to the fact that we only have plam trees and evergreens, but we can delight in the change in weather.  I love Fall!  The weather, the clothes, the upcoming holidays, the soups, the PUMPKIN, the opportunity to wear jeans to work and not sweat to death, everything!  I’m using a lot of exclamation points here, but Fall is totally worth it!

To kick off Fall, I made pumpkin pie!!! This was my first time making pumpkin pie, and I have to say it was a success!  Not like it’s that hard, but you’ve gotta enjoy the little things.  I made three, which I thought was a little excessive, but then everyone wanted to try some, so it went pretty fast saving Nick and I from pumpkin coma (it’s a real thing).  We followed up by making Flautas for a bunch of the foreigners in Penghu.  Everyone loved them!  That’s another great thing about Fall, we can cook and not sweat to death (as you can see, summers here are pretty brutal without air conditioning).

Fall has already brought about many adventures in cooking, and as you know, we LOVE adventures!  Another recent adventure of ours is dog sitting two dogs for a friend for a month.  We love having dogs! Nick was a little skeptical at first, but the dogs worked their magic and now he LOVES them!  They add so much fun and excitement to our lives!  The say people with animals are happier, and while I haven’t done any kind of studies, I agree with them.  It’s a constant source of entertainment!

dog on couch

Dogs are just so funny!

So there you have it, The recent happenings in our exciting life!  (Impressive, huh?)  As soon as I remember to bring the camera to school with me, I’ll write some more about our summer adventures, but if you know me, my memory isn’t my best asset, so it still might be awhile. *sigh*

Categories: Cooking, Fun Stuff, Nature | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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.

selfie

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

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

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