The Beach

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

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

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

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

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

Under the Sea!

Well, we did it!  We crossed one thing off our 2013 bucket list!  That’s right, you guessed it, scuba diving! (That title’s kinda a dead give away, huh)?    At the beginning of June, Nick and I took some time off work to go to the tiny island of Jiang-Jin to take scuba diving lessons.  We had a great time and saw some absolutely beautiful coral and fish.  Once piece of coral was as big as a car!  In addition to a beautiful bright blue coral, we saw angel fish, some colorful reef fish, groupers, and a sting ray!

Let me break it down for you technical people.  ;P  We arrived in Jiang-Jin on Friday morning, and started the first class of scuba diving after lunch.  We had to start off by taking a swim test which was really easy because we were allowed to use flippers and a snorkel and mask.  While taking this swim test, we got to look at all the beautiful under water life close to the shore.  Next we had to float for ten minutes.  Neither Nick or I can float on our own, but with wet suits, floating was a piece of cake!  Once we passed our tests, we had to watch some informational videos and learn how to assemble our equipment.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to start our official training.  The first few times you go into the water, you are just learning some basic skills and emergency procedures in case something ever goes wrong (losing your regulator for instance).  After you practice the basic skills like replacing a mask, swimming with a buddy, and a myriad of other skills, you are ready to actually start scuba diving!  Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning were spent in the ocean exploring the under water world!  It is so beautiful, and Nick and I couldn’t help but think how awesome it is that we were spending extended amounts of time under water.  Every time I thought about this, I smiled, which is really hard to do with an air regulator in your mouth.  It really is amazing how much life there is under the sea and I felt like I got to see just a little more into how creative God is, which in its self is awe-inspiring!

By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, we were ready to take our certification tests.  Yes, it was that quick!  We studied all the information we were given (well, I studied and Nick laughed at me for studying), then we took our tests and passed!!!  We have now joined the ranks of PADI certified open water scuba divers!  The possibilities are endless, and we are already planning our next underwater adventure!

It's official- see those certificates?  Our instructor was great, and we really did have a wonderful time!

It’s official- see those certificates? Our instructor was great, and we really did have a wonderful time!

Categories: Education, Taiwan, The Beach, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Just a week in Paradise!

Hidey ho there neighbors!

Last week was AMAZING!  Once again, teaching in Penghu trumps any other teaching job ever.  I was sent to the small island of Wang-An to teach the students there.  As with any other new school I was nervous.  You never know how you will be received by students and teachers alike.  This time my fears were unnecessary, everyone was so welcoming and helpful, and the students were very excited to meet me!

I taught elementary and junior high school while I was there.  There were about 40 students at the elementary school and 17 at the junior high school.  The elementary school students were shy at first, but once they warmed up to me they didn’t want me to go (one class literally locked me in their classroom when I tried to leave).  Being in a small outlying island, the students don’t have many opportunities to speak English to foreigners, or even see English-speaking foreigners for that matter, they also don’t have the opportunities to attend English cram schools to further enhance their English-speaking skills.   Because of these disadvantages, their English skills were much lower than the students I teach on a regular basis at Wenao, but their energy was just as high!  For the first few minutes of class, the students would look to their teacher for translations every time I said something, but then she got smart and left, so they had to really start tying to listen to me.  We played games and read books and had some basic conversations, it was a great time!

While I had a blast teaching at the elementary school, my favorite part of teaching in Wang-An was the junior high school.  Because these students have been studying English for a long time (since 3rd grade), their English was much  more advanced.  I could hold a conversation with many of them, and if not, there was always another student around to help translate (can you believe that?! Students were translating without the help of the teacher!)  The students were a lot of fun and in our classes we could hold more conversations and really learn about each other and discuss some of the more intricate matters of English.  We also had time for some fun.  Fun?!  In a classroom?  That’s right, singing, dancing, ukulele playing (aren’t you jealous?) We had a grand ole time!

Unfortunately Friday came around and I had to say my farewells to the students.  They made me sweet cards and yummy pizza (what a way to go out)!  But Friday also brought another round of fun, Nick and Anly!  Stay tuned for details on our Wang An wanderings!

Categories: Education, Friendship, Taiwan, The Beach, Travel | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

A Hard Day at Work

On Friday Nick and I went to teach on a small island called Jeibei.  This island is known to be very beautiful and therefore a popular tourist destination, so needless to say, we were very excited to be going here!  This was our first lone expedition, meaning that no one from our school would be going with us.  I was a little nervous about that, but then we were told that we would be going with the dentist that traveled with us to the other island.  (If you don’t remember that adventure, look here).  That calmed my nerves, because he seemed like a nice man.  So when Friday morning came, we met him at his dentist office, and rode in his car to the boat dock.  Riding in his car was an experience all of it’s own.  Most people here ride scooters because they are more convenient and the roads are narrow, so riding in a car is usually a little scary.  He was weaving in and out of traffic and honking at everyone, but after 20 minutes we arrived safely. 🙂  We only had to wait a few minutes to get on the boat, and while we were waiting, the dentist gave us drinks and snacks of pineapple cake (which is a specialty here, and very tasty)!  He also gave us maps of all the islands and pointed out which one we would be going to.

The dock.

Our boat.

The boat we took was filled with tourists going over for a fun filled day at the beach.  The ride only took about 20 minutes, which is good, because the water was pretty choppy.  As soon as we disembarked, we came to a huge scooter depot!  There were seriously hundreds of scooters lined up just waiting for someone to rent!  We followed the dentist to a scooter stand and he rented one for us.  The scooter we rode was smaller than the one we own, and much slower!  We had to go over a big hill to get to the elementary school, and we didn’t think the poor guy was gonna make it.  I seriously considered peddling with my feet! 😛  Surprisingly it made it all the way to the school (which was really just a 5 minute ride).  We parked at the public health center that the dentist was working at all day, and walked over to the school that was next door.

When we got to the school, the Military Service guy at the school was sitting in this tiny chair digging rocks out of the cracks (notice that the bucket is bigger than the chair)! I felt for him.

When we showed up at the school, the English teachers greeted us, and told us that we didn’t need to be back until lunch time.  They told us that we could go to the beach, or drive around the island if we wanted to.  But we felt the need to be responsible, so we decided to wait at the school all morning and perfect our lesson plans.

Nick with the tiny scooter.

NOT!!!!  We jumped on the opportunity to go to the beautiful beach!  We got back on our tiny scooter and high tailed it to the beach.  We had to stop along the way to buy some cheap bathing suits, but it was totally worth it!  The beach on Jeibei is beautiful! The water is so blue and clear!  The water was a little cold, so we didn’t actually swim, but we walked all the way around the beach in the shallow water.  While we were walking and talking, it dawned on us just how amazing God is.  I should say re-dawned, because we realize this frequently.  It’s funny how sometimes we forget and get caught up in ourselves.  We talked about how He knew exactly what He was doing when He brought us to Penghu.  This has been the perfect place to start our adventures and our marriage.  We get to work together everyday!  Since we seem to have less distractions here, we have been able to get incredibly closer to God and to each other!  The people here are so kind to us and help us with whatever we need!  AND we get paid to spend the morning at the beach!  God’s plans are definitely better than our own!!!!

There is a stone weir behind me. Stone weirs are man made walls that trap fish when the tide goes out.

Here we are, having a BLAST!!!

Isn’t it beautiful?

Meet Nick’s new flower shorts 🙂

Next, we decided to drive around the island.  There is a road that circles the island along the water line, so we took tiny scooter on a trip.  We were thankful that he made it! 🙂  The island is pretty small, so the whole trip took about 30 minutes.  Along the way we saw some more stone weirs, boats, beautiful views (of course), a light house, and some interesting grave sites.

Cute houses

Don’t you love the trees lining the road?

After our morning of adventure, we went back to the school just in time for lunch.  The English teachers asked us if we wanted to eat alone or with the students.  We told them that we would eat with the students because we thought they might be excited to see us, and man were we right!  When we entered the room, there were two desks set up at the front of the class, facing the rest. We sat down at these and waited for all the students to get their food and sit down.  Before they started eating, they all said some type of prayer in Chinese.  I was surprised because I didn’t know they did this.  After that, they were eager to talk with us.  Unfortunately these students were only in second grade, so they didn’t know very much English.  Thankfully the teacher helped to translate, and we enjoyed the questions they asked.  They wondered how tall we were, where we were from, if we had any babies (lol), how old we were, and other things of that nature.  After lunch they started bombarding us with questions in Chinese, apparently they didn’t understand that we didn’t know what they were saying, but it was still a lot of fun!  Then they showed us where we could take our rest (nap).  They held our hands and tried to make us hold hands, and talked the whole way.  It was very cute and heart warming.

After lunch time, we started teaching our classes.  I taught about things around the Library, and Nick taught water sports.  After our classes, the students asked if we would play basketball with them.  They are all in love with basketball, especially the Houston Rockets because Jeremy Lin is from Taiwan!!!  We played with them for a little bit and then had to go back to the boat to go home.  When we got back to the dock, we got back in the dentist’s car and went home.  He took us a back way, which meant he went down roads that cars really don’t fit on and used his four wheel drive to climb a hill that over looked the city.  The view was pretty, and he took our picture!  He is a really nice man, and we hope to see more of him 🙂

This is us on the hill.

We were exhausted by the time we got home, but we had a blast!!!  I hope you all had a great day at work on Friday and had a great weekend as well!!!  On Sunday, we bought a couch, it will be delivered today, so we are very excited about that!  We will post a picture when we get it!!

See ya next time
Liv

Categories: Education, Island Teaching, Nature, Taiwan, The Beach | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

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