Nee how ma? How are you? Life is good, interesting and fun in Taichung. Experiencing bits of the culture are so fascinating. The Taiwanese are very careful and somewhat safety conscious. Everyone drives around on scooters with helmets, special arm and hand covers and face masks. They also use sun umbrellas all of the time. Keeping their skin pale and untouched by the sun is important because they feel that pale is more beautiful. (Needless to say, the tan that I got in Cabo San Lucas a few weeks ago makes me stick out like a sore thumb.)
Yesterday, we went to a pool near our home. It's not just your regular swimming pool. It was huge! There was a huge children's area complete with a play structure all above water with slides, swings and climbing areas, another children's area with slides and a water half pipe, a huge outdoor slide and pool, saunas, several jet pools (with jet beds, seats, standing jets), and 9 different soaking herbal pools all different colors from the herbs-light green, dark purple, brown, etc. The Taiwanese love jets and there was an entire tiled room with really strong jets blasting down. It was like a water massage after the initial shock and pain subsided. Also, there was a karaoke room, lap pool, gym, ping pong tables. We spent hours there and I got to speak to Taiwanese children for the first time. Their english was quite good and many of them asked me the same thing: "What can you draw?"
Back to my first point about safety has an interesting twist. While everyone seems safety conscious, I see lots of children riding around on scooters with their parents with no helmet and today while we were riding through town, I saw a huge water half pipe water slide above a building with no railings or guard. There are also lots of playgrounds with no padding under the structures, just cement. Hmmm... So, it seems to me that "safety" is a bit of a relative term.
On Wednesday, Simon and I hosted a dinner party, so I could meet his friends. He used to be a chef and whipped an excellent meal of 7 different dishes-vegetables, tofu, fish, rice noodles, salads, etc. I met many people that he teaches english with and all are foreigners. It was great to connect with his friends, even one from New Zealand who I had heard so much about and just feel a bit more connected to my new life here. Everyone has traveled so much and listening to their stories is renewed inspiration for me to see more of the world. Fun!
Today, we had lunch with Simon's language exchange partner, John and his girlfriend, Irene, who are both students at the local university. It was fun to get to know them, learn more Mandarin and have a delicious hot pot lunch. I am in the process of getting my own language exchange partner, as well. Learning Mandarin suddenly doesn't seem so hopeless and I am excited about the challenge.
We also just experienced a minor typhoon. Typhoon Bedesir has cooled the climate drastically (thank goodness-we don't have air conditioning), swept the bugs and mosquitos away (again thank goodness-I am a tasty treat for some of them) and has moved the layer of smog away from the horizons. From our balcony, I saw the mountains for the first time and they were beautiful. The typhoon also brightened the blue sky and white billowy clouds rolled through quickly as if watching them being fast forwarded with a giant remote control. The typhoon also brought much rain and this morning there was a small lake in our apartment due to a leaky window in our room. Everything, and I do mean everything is tiled in Taiwan, inside and out. So, we all have embraced the mop and things are clean, clean, clean.
Due to the typhoon, I have been locked out of my bedroom, twice. We keep a sliding glass door to the patio open to keep the place ventilated and the wind blew it shut and locked automatically. I had to figure out how to access the roof a different way and the security guard in our building doesn't speak english. Luckily, a nice lady helped interpret and showed me the way up to the roof. Yesterday, while I was reading during the day, I heard a man yelling from outside. I couldn't understand him, but he sounded a bit distressed. After wandering around our patio, I saw him, an elderly neighbor locked out on a different roof-top patio in our building. I figured out how to find his patio and let him in. While we couldn't understand each other, we communicated through body language and he got me to go back to his apartment with him. Turns out he's my next door neighbor and he wanted to give me money for letting him in. So sweet, eh? Of course, I didn't take his money; I only opened a door, for heaven's sakes.
This week has been nice as I haven't had any responsibilities of work or committments, which was a great change of pace from the long hours I was working in Seattle. I've spent my days exploring my new neighborhood on foot, doing my best to order food from local restaurants (which is really yummy and cheap), catching up on reading, writing and yoga (we have a little tea room that has been converted into a yoga space) and trying to acclimate my body clock to it's new environment. Just yesterday, I started sleeping more than 4 hours at a time. Yay!
However, I'm now ready to get back into work again. Next week, I'll visit Simon's school, meet his boss, visit some classrooms and see if I'd like to work there. Aside from teaching english at cram schools, I also could find work as a kindergarten teacher. We'll see how it all pans out... Will post pictures soon! Lots of love!