Posts Tagged With: Taiwan

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

Year one in Review: Our Adventures

Annnnnnnnnd we’re back!!  Sorry for the loong break, but we’ve been kinda busy this last month with being back in the USA and visiting family and friends.  We’re back in Taiwan now, and we’ll continue posting about the adventures and fun that we have.  And without further ado, here’s what you came for! 🙂

While just being in Taiwan was an adventure in itself, we have had many other opportunities for adventure throughout the year. Some of our adventures still need to be recorded on here, but here are just a few (stay tuned for more adventures including the rest of our trip to Hualien as well as our most recent trip to China).

1. Going to Taipei for New Year’s Eve. Taipei is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. The government shoots fireworks of off Taipei 101 which is currently the 3rd tallest building in the world. The show is quite spectacular and ends with the message Happy New Year in English and Chinese flashing on the side of the building.
2. Discovering how to use the squatty potty at school. As an American the idea of a squatty potty is intimidating and scary, but this year I have conquered my fear and faced the unknown adventure that is the squatty potty.
3. Our winter trip to Tokyo, Japan. Sumos, rickshaws, temples, and zoos. Read about some of our Japan travels here.
4. Dog sitting for our friend Sharon. While our friend went away for three months we dog sat one of her dogs named Bai. This being our first time taking care of a dog, we were a little nervous but we really fell in love with him and go to visit him and Sharon on a regular basis.

5. Taking scuba lessons. Scuba diving is something we’ve wanted to do since we moved to Taiwan, and it was such a great experience. I know I’ve said this before, but the world under the water is AMAZING! Scuba diving is something we will enjoy for years to come.

6. Going to Hualien and seeing Taroko Gorge. Taiwan is a country that is rich in natural beauty and culture. We have enjoyed exploring everything Taiwan has to offer and look forward to experiencing more next year!

7. Taking on the traditional markets in Penghu.  Being from America we were used to a one stop shop for all our cooking needs, but we have really fallen in love with the concept of going to the market on Saturday mornings and doing all our shopping for the week.

This year has been a testament to God’s love and faithfulness He has blessed us in so many ways. We have really had to trust God to take care of us this year while we were on this adventure. It has been a great lesson to remind us to trust in Him and remember that He is in control of our lives and that we must always stay close to Him.

Categories: Fun Stuff, New Year's, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Year one in review: what we’ve learned

Wow! Can you believe we’ve already lived in Taiwan for a year? It’s been a great year full of fun, adventures, new friends, and discoveries. God has really blessed us with this opportunity and we wouldn’t trade this year for anything!

We started this adventure knowing absolutely nothing about Taiwan, but we trusted God that He had a plan for us and would provide for us. And guess what, he did! Here are a few things we learned this year.

1. Taiwanese schools are completely different than American schools. (Not just in the language area). Read about it here.
2. There are many languages that are spoken in Taiwan. The main language is Chinese, or more specifically, Mandarin, but other languages include Taiwanese, Hakka, and other various aboriginal languages.
3. Taiwanese people are very nice! We have made so many new friends this year, and everyone we meet is very helpful. They’re not just nice, they’re also very trust worthy. Theft is almost unheard of here, especially in Penghu.
4. 7-11s are everywhere!!!!!! Seriously, they’re more common than Starbucks in America.
5. Authentic Chinese food is nothing like the Chinese food served at “Chinese” restaurants in the USA. Additionally, forks are a rarity in Taiwan. We had to learn to use chopsticks very quickly; now we’re pros! Aren’t you jealous?
6. Scooters are the main form of transportation. And you better watch out, cuz they drive anywhere they want to. Nick has easily adjusted to the Taiwanese style of driving, so I’m a little nervous about his driving in the States.

2013-07-10 Taiwan Trip 937 --- 7. According to a little American boy I met who was visiting his grandparents in Penghu, “the toilets here are weird.” He’s right. I’ve proudly learned how to use a squatty potty. I’ve even made up a slogan- you haven’t pottied ’til you’ve squattied.
8. Taiwan is a cheap place to live. Eating out here is almost cheaper than cooking food at home. This is really nice because Nick and I haven’t exactly gotten the whole meal planning thing down. (We’re still young). Internet is also super cheap here! Idk what American companies are thinking, but it shouldn’t be so expensive to have Internet at your house.
9. Bakeries are everywhere, and they’re delicious! Nick and I will eat something from a bakery almost every morning for breakfast. It makes me happy.

2013-07-10 Taiwan Trip 1189 ---
10. Traditional markets sell fresh produce, fruits and meat as opposed to the grocery store.  This was really strange for us, but now we enjoy going to the traditional market on Saturday mornings.  Check out some of our market stories here, here, and here2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 411

Basically, so many things in Taiwan just make sense and we love it!

Stay tuned and in our next post, we’ll give a brief recap of some of our adventures from this year.

Categories: Education, Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (or should I say scooters): our trip to Hualien

As mentioned a while back, Nick and I took a trip to Hualien at the end of June. This was our first trip out of Penghu since January, and needless to say, we were super excited about it! We took the last two days of school off and hopped on the plane to start our weekend of fun (does that make us bad teachers? I hope not, because we loved it).

Upon arriving at Hualien, we planned on taking a taxi to our hotel and then taking a bus to Taroko Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Taiwan.  However, the first taxi driver we stumbled upon just happened to know English, so we gladly accepted his offer to show us around Taroko first thing and then take us to the hotel later. He took us to all the popular sites around Taroko and told us valuable information – the main road is only open for ten minutes every two hours due to a rock slide that occurred two months ago. We had a great time, but were exhausted when we got back to the hotel, so exhausted that we fell asleep at 5:30 and didn’t wake up again until the next morning. Well except for Nick’s sleepy suggestion of getting dinner at 1am. 😛

Friday morning we woke up beautiful and refreshed from our long night of rest and decided to rent a scooter for the day to get a more up close and personal view of Taroko. After a short game of charades with the hotel staff, they finally understood that we wanted to rent a scooter for the day and they contacted a scooter company for us (It helps that Nick knows the chinese word for scooter- part of his limited vocabulary, and only because it is part of a Chinese insult). The company sent a car to pick us up, got us hooked up with a great scooter, and then showed us how to get to Taroko. Nick drove out onto the highway and we were off! (Apparently the scooter had lots of “get up and go”). I have to say that seeing Taroko on the back of a scooter was waaaay better than looking out of the taxi window-can you say beautiful?!

We had such a great day! Nick loved driving the scooter on the mountain roads, and I thoroughly enjoyed the view. If you’re ever in Taiwan, Taroko Gorge is a must see!

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

Penghu Traditional Market: This Little Piggy Went to Market!

Hello there!  I am Nick’s sister – Emmelyn.  I’m visiting them in the HOT Taiwan, and decided to write a guest blog post for them :).  I had a little help to make sure my facts are correct!

On Saturday, Nick and Olivia took me to the traditional market in Magong.  There is a large building in the center of the market where the meat is sold (chicken, pork, beef).  Outside, vendors sell produce, fresh fish (some still flopping around), clothing, accessories, and more!

Some vendors are at tables, but others set up their goods on the ground for purchase.

2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 404

2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 406

Often, you will see vendors preparing their goods for sale.  It’s amazing how fast they can peel a pineapple!

2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 442

There are many familiar fruits and vegetables like apples, pineapple, bananas, nectarines, and more.

2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 411

Nick buying some delicious dragon fruit!

But there are also many things that are not as common in the states, like dragon fruit, lychee, etc.

2013-07-06 Taiwan Trip 412


All-in-all, a fun, but STRONG SMELLING experience!  I was glad Nick gave me some strong gum!

~Emmelyn from thisthatandcraft

Categories: Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

An Uneggspected Purchase

If you recall, we have to get all of our fresh foods from the traditional markets around town.  This is a chore we have gotten used to during our time here, and we have become pretty confident in our “market Chinese”.  Market Chinese consists of the phrase “I want ____.” and the numbers.  Our Market Chinese rarely fails us, although from time to time, we do have to ask some vendors to repeat themselves before we can understand the cost.

With all that said, let’s journey back to last week.  I was sent to the market across the street from school with the simple mission of purchasing 8 eggs for our use that week.  I approached the vendor with confidence because we are frequent customers, and the couple who runs the stand is always nice to us.   Normally we just pick out the number of eggs we want and place them in a bag for the owners to weigh, but today, the lady was feeling extra helpful.  She asked me how many eggs I wanted (I think) and I told her eight (in Chinese of course, and I even included the modifier used when stating a number of things, I got skills).  As she started to count out eggs and place them into the bag, I was feeling very proud of myself (you’ve gotta embrace the little things).  By the time I looked back down and was about to reach for the bag, I noticed that there were definitely more than eight eggs in my bag.  I repeated my Chinese for eight several times, but she was still loading me up.


Before we proceed with the story, I should tell you that I am a non-confrontational person.  I don’t like to make people feel bad, or make them think I am upset with them.  This is especially the case when people are trying to help me.  It is something I am working to overcome, and I’ve come a long way, but occasionally, it is still really hard for me to feel as if I’m being rude to someone.  It doesn’t help that in this case, there was an added language barrier.


I finally got over my aforementioned fear of confrontation, and reach over and told her it was okay, and that I didn’t want any more in the best way that I could.  She understood and put back the 20th egg she was about to put in my bag.  She then handed the bag to her husband and he proceeded to weigh the bag and tell me how much it was.    This whole time I’m thinking, what am I going to do with 18 eggs (that was the final count).  Of course I couldn’t help laughing over this egg mishap, and since then, Nick and I have been having an eggcellent time eating all those eggs. 🙂

You may be wondering, as I was, how she misunderstood eight for some eggstreme number.  I asked my co-workers this, and one of them mentioned that for certain products, like eggs, people in Taiwan measure the amount in weight, so we came to the conclusion that she thought I wanted eight kilos of eggs.  I’m certainly glad I stopped her when I did!


Categories: Cooking, Education, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Chinese New Year!

February 1oth was Lunar New Year, or more commonly, Chinese New Year.  I’m a little late posting this, but we’ve been seriously busy the past few weeks, so better late than never, right?  Without further ado, here is our first Chinese New Year experience.

Envision this: every store except 7-11 and McDonalds is closed, families travel miles to reunite, food is in abundance, red banners of blessing are on every door, families give red envelopes filled with money to one another, and fire crackers are exploding non-stop.  It is a very festive and long holiday in many Asian countries, the festivities last for almost one week.

We had the week off from work, and spent most of the time cocooned on the couch with books.  We are proud to say that our New Year’s goal of reading a book every week is being fulfilled, and then some!  We did take the occasional respite in order to walk the dog, feed ourselves, and go see the New Year’s festivities in town.

To kick off our New Year’s celebration, we were invited to have New Year’s Eve dinner with Anly and her family.  Her mother made some traditional foods, like fish, and we added some burritos to the feast!  Fish is a traditional food to eat on New Year because the Chinese word for fish 魚 can also mean abundance or more precisely “more than enough”, so people like to eat the fish to represent the hopes of an abundant year.  Tradition says you are not to eat the full fish to symbolize that you will have more than enough in the year to come.

Our small city, normally rather boring, was bustling with New Year’s festivities.  A small road in the heart of downtown was blocked off so that games and street vendors could line up to entertain and feed the crowd.  We went to the street on several occasions with different friends.  We played some games, ate Taiwanese snacks, and had a fun time!  My favorite part about this street was that a certain street vendor was selling corn dogs (my snack of choice)!!!!  In addition to the street, the cultural center in town hosted a performance group from China.  We went to see the last performance, and were really impressed.  The performance featured very talented dancers, jugglers, singers, amazing balancing acts, and so much more!

We came to Taiwan not knowing what to expect during Chinese New Year, but we enjoyed every minute of it!  Next year we hope to have just as much, if not more fun, celebrating Lunar New Year, we might even put up the red banners. 🙂

These are the infamous red banners.  Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come.  These were up on every house!

These are the infamous red banners. Each one contains a prayer or blessing for the year to come. These were up on every house!


One of the games set up for the holidays. You used bb guns to pop balloons!


As I was walking down the street, this is what I saw! It is rare that we see this many people in one place in Penghu.


This is a ring toss game.


In the background they are selling chocolate covered marshmallows and tomatoes as well as sugar covered tomatoes and strawberries. In addition to games and food, some stands also sold clothing and other knick knacks.


Categories: Family, Friendship, New Year's, Travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Greetings 2013!!!

2012 was a great year full of adventures and blessings, friends and laughter, change and peace.  As you know (hopefully) we moved to Taiwan in August to start a year of teaching English on the fun little island of Penghu.  We had recently graduated college and wanted a chance to explore the world, do what we love, and get paid (what else could you want out of a job?) 🙂  God has been with us every step of the way!  He has orchestrated everything from our job search, to getting hired, to getting placed in a wonderful school with wonderful people, and we know He will continue to guide us in 2013.

With that said, lets get on to our New Year’s adventure! (Very smooth transition, right?)

When in Taiwan, there is no better place to ring in the new year than in Taipei.  For the last nine years, the city has put on a wonderful fireworks show at Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world, and our goal was to be there this year!  Like all good adventures, getting there was more than half the fun.

We left our house and hopped on a plane to Taipei with our friend and co-worker Anly early early early on Saturday morning (6:40 to be exact).  Okay, so maybe it’s not that early, but to us, anything before 8 o’clock is too early.  When we arrived in Taipei we bought tickets for a train to Sinchu where our friend was getting married later that day.  Since we bought our tickets the morning of our trip, we had to stand on the hour long train ride, but it was okay because we watched a movie, read, and talked.  We spent the rest of the day walking around Sinchu.  We found a big bookstore (the bookstore was big, not the books :P), ate frozen yogurt (a commodity not found in Penghu), and watched some University students performing in a park-like area.  When evening came, we quickly got dressed for the wedding and hurried over the the venue.  The wedding was beautiful and sweet.  Everything about it was personalized to fit the couple’s style and love story.  We had a great time celebrating their love and eating great food (there was soo much)!

The next morning we woke up and got on a train back to Taipei.  Lucky for us, Anly lived in Taipei for a year, so she knew where everything was!  We went all over the place!  Fisherman’s Wharf, Starbucks, Lover’s Tower (a tall lookout thingy), a really old church, The National Palace Museum (which we only got halfway through, it’s huge!!!), a really big shopping mall (we felt like small town people saying “Wow!  It’s soo big!”), Toys R Us (to get gifts for Anly’s niece and nephew, but we had fun shopping for them), Sun Yet Sen memorial hall, a park with a giant Christmas tree, and lots of places in between.  We, of course, ended our adventure with a viewing of the Taipei 101 fireworks on New Year’s Eve.  It was 188 seconds of firework beauty!

We have been thinking about what our favorite place in Taipei was, but we can’t really pinpoint a certain place.  The most fun was getting to explore the city together and enjoy each other’s company.  After being together for almost four full days, we didn’t want to kill each other (AMAZING)!  I have to admit, when we finally got back home, we were exhausted!  I think I slept a total of eleven hours that night, and it was sweet sweet bliss!

While in Taipei and during these first days of 2013, Nick and I have been reflecting on some goals for this year.  I am posting them in hopes of keeping ourselves accountable.

Here it goes:
1. Read a book every week- CRAZY I know, but we’re going to try.
2. Pray more- together and individually.
3. Learn to scuba dive.
4. Learn to surf.
5. Exercise more (we’ve heard exercising is good for your health or something, who knew???)
6. Explore 2 new counties in Taiwan.
7. Nick wants to write more.
8. Nick also wants to improve his French.
9. I want to improve my Chinese.
10. I also want to blog at least once a week.
11. Go to two new countries (we are starting with Japan).

So there you have it!

Categories: Friendship, New Year's, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas is my favorite Dr. Suess book!  The way the Grinch tries to steal Christmas but then realizes that Christmas came without all the presents, tress, and food just gets me every time.  More than just “getting to me”  it reminds me that Christmas is more than the gifts, decorations, delicious cookies, and fun Christmas carols, it’s about our Savior.  The gift of Christ is the greatest gift anyone has or will ever receive, and the fact that God sent His son to earth to forgive us of our mistakes, selfishness, and mean words, and die so that we can live for eternity in the paradise called heaven, that’s what really gets to me during Christmas.   Now I know Christmas has come and gone, but I come from the school of thought that says Christmas should be celebrated all year long, so here’s our Christmas story.

I was worried that Christmas this year would just go on by unnoticed, but I was so wrong.  Although Christmas isn’t as popular in Taiwan as it is in the US, it still gets some attention.  There are Christmas trees in the stores, lights all around, and Merry Christmas signs in 7-11.  We still have our Charlie Brown tree up in our house, and I’m not really sure when I’ll take it down, I’m sure Nick will make me do it soon. 🙂  Christmas day was not your traditional Christmas considering we had to work, but we spent this Christmas surrounded by good friends, and fellow believers, and that is what is really important.  Our church put on a Christmas play the Sunday before Christmas, and we spent Christmas with some fellow foreigners eating Turkey and all the yummy stuff that goes with it!  On Christmas day, we were also able to skype with our families back home, that was wonderful!

We even had a big Christmas Shebang at the school on Christmas day!  We decorated a Christmas tree and spent the day playing Christmas themed games and Christmas music.  We had a “snow ball” fight, made Snowflakes, decorated ornaments to hang on Christmas trees, and even had a small gift exchange for the older students.  It was a big hit with all the kids, (especially the snowball fight).  Our co-workers and us had a Secret Santa gift exchange, and we got some really fun and thoughtful stuff!  So even though we had to work on Christmas day, we couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend Christmas this year!  We had Christ in our hearts, and that was what really mattered.

Like I said before, Christmas isn’t the big thing this time of year in Taiwan, instead, they celebrate Winter Solstice. Unfortunately we don’t get any time off of school, but we do get to learn about the traditions associated with it.  Winter Solstice marks the beginning of winter in Taiwan, and they celebrate it by making rice balls and in Penghu, rice animals.  The ball is to symbolize safety in the coming year, and I’m not really sure what the animals are for, something about how the people in the old times couldn’t afford real animals, so they made them out of rice. Don’t quote me on that though.  Whatever the reason, making rice balls and animals is a lot of fun!  We spent December 19th (my birthday) making the rice balls and animals.  Although my rice elephant did not turn out they way I had imagined him, I had a blast!

Here are some photos from our Christmas adventures!

Our school Christmas tree

Our school Christmas tree

Snowflake fun!

Snowflake fun!

The snowball fight!

The snowball fight!

The man in the brown coat is our principal.  He's finally taking out all his anger. JK.

The man in the brown coat is our principal. He’s finally taking out all his anger. JK.

Making ornaments.

Making ornaments.




My sad elephant.

My sad elephant.

rice animals

Categories: Education, Faith, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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