Tales of Taiwan

Tales of Taiwan
Summer 2010. That's when I first moved to Taiwan. I came here to teach English for six months and I ended falling in love with this little island. That is why, after being home for a year, I had to move back.This time to dance. I can't wait to see what adventures lie in my path this time...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Call to Adventure: Continuing on the Road of Trials

Well, it has been some time since my last post so I thought I ought to catch up a little before more life happens and I forget what has happened the past fortnight or so. I blame my lack of diligence in logging partially to the tragic death of my camera. Because of it many of the pictures in this post are borrowed from my dear roomates. I am happy to say that the new camera is great and will definitely do some good in the coming months. Anyway, enough of these boring explanations and excuses! On with the blog!

Lets begin with the celebrations surrounding the very wonderful Moon Festival. Let me just say that I have long been a fan of holidays that coincide with the cycles of the moon and the sun. Therefore this one is very welcome in my life. I most certainly will be celebrating it in the years to come. How will I celebrate it you ask? Just like the Taiwanese of course. First we will have a serious karaoke party....

These people really know what they are doing when it comes to KTV. This little stage folds up into a truck akin to the truck seen in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. And yes, we did enter the imaginarium and we did defeat it. We were just sitting and enjoying watching all our neighbors singing their hearts out when this adorable older gentleman, who had been on the stage at least three times already, brings us the book of songs and opens up to the English section. Here was our test. When confronted with less awesome songs, we chose to sing the best one there "Hey Jude." It was fantastic. And our audience was very warm. They even shared their Moon Festival BBQ with us. They gave us a couple of gigantic crustaceans that turned out to be shrimp after you ripped off the head and the legs and the shell. Quite yummy :).

The next day Kailey and I ventured to Taipei for a little visit to the Temple. (Yes I will include a temple trip to the list of festivities for Moon Festival.) It was a very good and relaxing day. We devoted the whole day to the trip so we weren't rushed at all and we really got to soak in the spirit. Afterwards we made our way to the oh, so impressive Chang Kai Shek Memorial.
This building is really quite remarkable. A must see for anyone visiting Taiwan. The picture really doesn't do it justice for how big and magnificent it truly is. We had heard it was big but we didn't truly understand just how big until we saw it for ourselves. Imagine if you will seeing a large building in the distance and slowly walking towards it. As you continue walking, it doesn't seem to get any closer. Still big and substantial but still far away. And then as you are walking away, when you glance back, it doesn't feel like you've moved away from it at all. It is an ever present structure of unending grandness! I would definitely like to visit again before I leave this little island.

The next week was the actual week of Moon Festival. We were Lucky enough to be invited to my student's, Ivy and Mimi's house for a little family Moon Festival BBQ. What a fun evening!
Here we have my little Mimi. I have posted picture of her before but I just think she is the cutest girl. She is very quiet and appears kind of shy but as I've gotten to know her she has begun to show me a little mischievous side that I kind of love about her. I do love my students...

When we first arrived at their house they invited us to play the Wii with them. A little taste of home to be sure. :) Unfortunately Rock Band has yet to be introduced to this country... but Wii fit is a lot of fun too..

I don't have any pictures of the BBQ itself, but due to the rain, it was conducted inside- definitely a new experience. I Love the Taiwanese style of BBQ. It is very relaxed and friendly. They have a couple of little grills that they all sit around and turn the pieces of mean, rice, tofu, vegetables, and whatever else you please, while chatting, enjoying each others company, and eating as they go. It lasts for several hours as they continue adding little bite size pieces to the grill. The food itself was rather good to. They certainly know how to make a good pork sausage.

And of course, what is a celebration in Taiwan without fireworks???
The next day was the actual day of Moon Festival, and our only day off for the entire six months we are here. We started off the day with a little taste of the oh so famous "Moon Cakes." I enjoyed them a lot. I will certainly try to find a good recipe for them to make for my next Moon Festival celebration.

We spent the majority of the day exploring parts of Taichung we hadn't seen yet. We came across this very intriguing Temple inside a Temple...
They seem to have encased an ancient temple inside a beautiful building for protection. The result is very intriguing. And just around the corner of this temple was my old friend Buddha sitting and smiling away...
I do love him a lot.If the fullness of the gospel had not been restored I might just have become a Buddhist... Who could resist those dimples??
That night we returned home and made our way up the mountain to eat dinner at a lovely little restaurant looking over the city of Changhua. The food was pretty good but it was the whole atmosphere of the place that truly made the night. We sat in this lovely little garden that was designed in a very Asian and classy way. There were families and children all around us playing with sparklers and having a grand old time. The best part was after dinner. We walked over to this little deck that looked out over the city and just watched as big fireworks were being shot into the air all across the city. It was one of the must stunning sights I have ever seen. The beautiful lights were seen dancing across the horizon and throughout Changhua and it's neighboring cities. I tried counting to see how many different places were shooting them off but soon gave up as I realized that it was literally in the hundreds. Everywhere you looked there was some sort of work being enjoyed. I felt like Jazmin must have felt when she and Aladdin stopped in China during their magic carpet ride. We were separate from all the celebrations, yet a part of them all at the same time. The only difference was that instead of one firework show, there were thousands, and instead of Aladdin, I had the moon to fall in love with. :) That being said, I wouldn't have switched places with Jasmin for the world.... unless of course a pet tiger was included in the deal...
I LOVE MOON FESTIVAL. It is right up there with Mid Summers Eve for favorite holiday.

That Saturday we decided to go on another little excursion to an unknown place: Wanggong. Wanggong is this little coastal town famous for its oyster harvesting. This trip was nothing grand but it was very relaxing and enjoyable. This little town was so unlike anything I had seen yet. It had an almost other-worldy feel that was very tantalizing and fascinating.
"You are the lighthouse, the sea mark, the tempest created this tide. I'm pulled to the black, silver ocean where the heavens and earth collide..."
Here we can see the people harvesting oysters. What a pleasant little way to spend an afternoon with your family :)

Of course most of my life is spent at school so I can't help but mention it again. When we returned to the school the next week we were surprised to find all of our favorite 7-11 treats mysteriously placed on our desk space. We were all so confused! who would know all of our favorites??
Kailey and her diet coke...
Liz and her dried mangoes....
Anna and her 10 NT chocolate...
And my darling Kinder Bueno....
After a little bit of detective work, we finally discovered the true source of our happiness. Dear Anna sneakily placed them on our desk space when she was the only one there. She is such a sweet heart. It was exactly what we all needed that day. I am so lucky to live with the girls that I do. I don't know what I'd do without their sweet friendship. :)

Meet Gilbert. This printer very determined to make my life difficult. It is nearing the end of its life, as you can see by the tape holding it together....
Our days at work can get very long. One day while I was working away at correcting papers, I paused to look around and found myself surrounded by this:
Yep. Anna, Kailey, and Linda were all sound asleep. I must confess I have had my share of desk top naps as well :)

Recently I have taken great pleasure in decorating my class room. My latest addition if the "fun. wall." I'm rather fond of it....
No I did not draw the mustache. That was Justin. He came up with it himself I swear. Although I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have thought of it on his own had I not already taught them the word mustache by showing them my mustache necklace... you know in the movies when the little students have a crush on their teacher, and you always wonder if the teacher realizes it... she does. 'Nough said.

For nest next couple of weekends we kept it low key and stayed in Changhua and Taichung again. The first weekend we did a nice bit of exploring up on Baguahshan. I feel like there are many treasure to be found up there yet...

We came across several abandoned buildings and fields that were very interesting, as all abandoned things are. They were kind of like modern day ruins. You can't help but wonder what they might have looked like in their days of glory and what sort of people occupied them and why they are no longer inhabited.... Here we have and abandoned Basketball court...
We also came across several abandoned houses and a massive school that didn't look too old, but was completely vacated.... fascinating.

This little guy was the guardian of a little house we passed by....
I want one. Isn't he just so lovable??

And then there was this wall around another house....

I thought this was rather thrifty... a fence made out of old doors...

Hibiscus: my favorite flower.

And just to add to the feeling of abandonment, we discovered the biggest, most overgrown cemetery I have ever seen. I love cemeteries. Here, there, and everywhere. I think they are so peaceful and beautiful. Especially the cemeteries in Taiwan. Instead of using open flat areas like we do, the tombs are encased in the hills and in the mountains...
They are not broken up into perfect little plots either. They just seem to put them wherever they can find room. So beautiful...

That night we met with the relief society of our ward to watch the Relief Society General Conference. The only way we could access it was using Alex's little computer, so here we are gathering around it to listen to our beloved church leaders.
It worked great, but I will still never again take the Broadcasts at home for granted...
I love these beautiful ladies!

The next weekend we got to enjoy the rebroadcast of General Conference. I must say it was a superb conference. ALL AROUND. I felt the love and support from our darling church leaders as I have never felt it before (except when face to face with Sister Dalton of course :)....) I felt the spirit so strongly throughout manifesting to me the truth of their messages and my faith was reaffirmed in their council and guidance. All questions and thoughts I had and even didn't realize I had were addressed and answered. I love this gospel so much and I'm so grateful for the way it blesses my life. I'm so grateful for the courage of our leaders. Where would we be without them? In fact I'm grateful to all the leaders I have had in my life. All the YW's leaders who were exactly what we young girls needed at that crazy time of life. All the bishopric's that have been there to help me at important moments of my life. All the Sunday School teachers that put up with our foolish classes and found ways to get us to love the scriptures. All of my Seminary and Institute teachers. Their wisdom will always stick with me. And most importantly my dear parents. Their steadiness of faith and trust in our leaders still set the perfect example for me as I venture out into the world. I feel their love and support constantly and I know that without their support I would be nowhere. They have given me greater opportunities than they themselves have ever had and for that I am eternally grateful. Dear parents, I hope you realize how grateful I am to you. Not another soul on this planet could have given me a greater life than the one you have provided (and are still providing haha) for me. :) Thank you. I would be a fool if I didn't pause to thank my siblings and friends here as well. I am blessed with the most wonderful people in my life.

Well thats quite enough of this expressing of gratitude... I just can't help but be grateful when I look back on my little life so far :)

Anyway.... back to Taiwan...
So then came John Lennon's 70th birthday....
Naturally we had a little party for him. What a good guy.

Well thats really about all I care to say in this long overdue blog. Do not fret, another one is soon on it's way. This blog will address our little trip to Green Island, or rather, The Island of Fantasy........
until then.... Zai Jian!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Musings during a storm...

An Ode to Taiwan

To the land where:
Sunscreen is my lotion
Bug repellent is my perfume
My make up is the toner,
smudged on my face,
from another battle the printer

To the land where:
My roomates are my sisters
The security guards are my fathers
The little old women who sit in the courtyard,
reading and chatting all day,
are my grandmothers
The secretaries are my cousins
Linda, our cook, is the mother and protector
The students are my children

To the land where:
Typhoons come every year,
schools are closed,
air is cleaned,
minds are refreshed
...Except for this year

To the land where:
Karaoke is a competitive sport
Dancers become runners,
Runners become boxers,
And they all become surfers,
And learn how to fly

Throughout the years
I have felt an attraction to many places
My first love is Utah and all its wonders
I'm crushing on Arizona, Russia, and Africa
I have a never ending infatuation with
the UK and all of Europe

But right now
I am in the middle of a full blown love affair.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Call to Adventure: The Road of Trials

"The road of trials is a series of tests, tasks, or ordeals that the person must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these tests...
...Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage."

The more this adventure pans out the more closely it follows the Hero's Journey, or the Monomyth. It's quite remarkable actually. Even during the last phase (the belly of the whale) I met my guardian/mentor. Sister Dalton. I couldn't have picked a better person to take on that role. Now here I am on the "road of trials." Quite. This is definitely the hardest job I have ever had. I am so emotionally invested in these children's lives. I care so deeply about them and I'm constantly trying to figure out how I can be the best teacher I can be.By the end of the those ten hour days I am exhausted emotionally and physically. I have definitely already learned more than I can express in the few months that I have been here and there are still four more to go.... bring on those lessons! As is referred to in the quote above, I can definitely sense that "
benign power" that is constantly bringing "supernatural aid." Lets just say that I would be lost without the guidance of the gospel in my life.

Trial number one: I have a basic reading class with thirteen students. This is a lot for our program considering that most classes have six or seven students. It has been the bane of my existence to try and figure out how to teach these childers in a good way. I'm starting to slowly figure it out but it's definitely not something I could have done without a little guidance from above.
Here we have little Joshua. I had to say goodbye to him this week because he was just a summer student. :(
Let me just tell you about this kid. He is six or seven years old and he is one of the most clever little farts I have ever met in my life. First of all, he has flattery down to an art. He is a charmer times three. But just when you fall in love with the little guy he becomes the ring leader of chaos in you classroom. As crazy as he made the class sometimes I couldn't help but admire his little mischievous mind. Although my classroom will be a little more under control without him, I will miss him greatly. Oh Joshua.

Trial number two: Gilbert, our copy machine. This thing is a straight up dinosaur. There are days when I thinks the purpose of its existence is to try my patience.... and don't get me started on our old computers...

And then of course there's the weather trial. As a big weather fan this is one of those trials that I can't help but enjoy. The main big problem is the overwhelming, knock you over, humid heat. The temperature might be only in the low 90's but with the humidity it feels like 104. And that's at about seven o'clock at night. I am grateful to be in an air conditioned room for most of the day.
After a long, hot week, nothing is more welcome than a big Taiwanese rainstorm. They can pose a few problems, however, when it's a Sunday morning and your only method of transportation to the train station is your bicycle....
But we figured it out. I wish we could have gotten a picture of us riding our bikes in the torrential downpour with our ponchos and umbrellas. It is definitely a moment I will never forget. Despite our efforts we were still rather wet when we arrived... and we loved every second of it.

And then there's the trial, or rather the anti-trial, of celebrating your birthdays in a foreign land... KAILEY TURNS 21!!! Unfortunately we had to work all day so we couldn't really celebrate it throughout the day, but it was worth it when we found ourselves in the most posh restaurant I have ever encountered.
So cool. Yes all the seats are couches. Why haven't any American restaurants figured out this blissful recipe for comfort?

Here we are just chillin. Cuz that's what you gotta do in such a posh place. The pictures just don't do this place justice.
My delicious pasta. (The name of the restaurant is Spaghetti House in case you might be wondering why my food looks not Asian. That's because it's the Asian take on Italian. Which is divine.)
What's a 21st birthday without some crazy drinks right?? That kiwi juice was amazing. I would go back to that restaurant for that alone. And to top it all off, we got to sit right next to the incredible entertainment.
He was VERY talented that I kept forgetting that the music was live. And then he started playing songs in English for us. :) I have this thing where I can't help but have a musical crush on anyone with talent. He was no exception. Well done guy! He even sang happy birthday (it was for someone else but we like to pretend it was...) for Kailey! It wasn't just your average, Applebee's birthday song though. It finished off with a fountain of fireworks blasting off just outside the window. Perfect.

Despite these little 'trials' there are always things to look forward to that make this experience worthwhile... Challenges and adventures...they all work together to assist in the "transformation" right??

Each month at our school we select "Super Students" from our classes. Ever two months we take these super students out to McDonald's to celebrate their Super Studentry. We get to wear these lovely vests declaring that we teach at Maryland Language Institute making us complete walking billboards, but it is a lot of fun playing with our students outside of the classroom.
Here we have the sisters Ivy and Mimi. Mimi is in my Basic Readers class and Ivy is one of my 4A students. It's so fun teaching sisters. I was very excited that they both were super enough to come at the same time. Cute girls.

And then there's Jimmy and Sara. These are two of the reasons I put up with the long hours at work. They make it worth it.
Notice how Jimmy's head is cocked in exactly the same way in both of these pictures. He is a little model. He's got his signature look down completely. And he's very proud about dipping his fry in the ice cream. No I did not teach him that. The Taiwanese figured that little treat out on their own.
And then we have the sisters Barbi and Eilleen. I don't actually teach Barbi, who is only three years old and therefore in our very bottom level. Eilleen, who is only five, can read rather well, though and so I get her in my BR class. These two are stinkin adorable. They are total princesses and they know it. But you can't help but love them.
Gifted children, as you can see...
And here are Kailey and I sporting our lovely vests and a beautiful hat that Sara made for me.
McDonald's night is crazy but oh, so fun. :)

Once again we were invited on a little "home visit" excursion.This time it was Kailey's student but her family was kind enough to invite us all. I was certainly glad for the opportunity. This time we went to the Sitou Forest. Not too far from Jhushan and Sun Moon Lake. I sure do love our trips into the heart of this country. It is so lush and lovely. You can't help but feel like you are in Jurassic Park or Ferngully.

This little forest is owned by a university and they take great care of it. The first part of the forest has a bunch of little hammocks randomly strung about and different little playground/ exercise areas to be played on. The air is VERY clean here, compared to the rest of the Island, So many people like to go and just relax in the fresh jungle.
Here we have Kailey and Kitty racing to the top...
As we continued along our way we came across this lovely little wall. All of the structures and paths were designed in such a way that they just seemed like they belonged there almost as if they were a part of the natural life there.
So beautiful.
I loved the little pathways and staircases...
Me and Kailey standing on rocks in a little creek. :)
And then I did some Imago. Can't seem to get over that little dance.
Eventually we made our way up to "The Great Tree"...
This picture doesn't really do it justice but it this tree is massive. It is supposedly 2800 years old... But George, Kitty's dad, says its been 2800 years old for the past 40 years or so. I swear this is the tree that Krista traps Xcisssss in at the end of Ferngully.

This country loves corn. You can get a little piece of corn on the cob just about anywhere you go. George and Grace were so so kind and bought us all a little piece of corn while we sat gazing upon the great tree. I couldn't resist taking a picture with it because several of the students at the school decided my Chinese name should be Euoo Mee (ha! I don't know the pinyin) or, Corn. I think its because Karyn kind of sounds like Corn. It was easy for me to recognize this because Cammie has been calling me Karn for years now... but there you have it!
As we continued on our way we began to notice these cool tree like things... upon closer inspection we found that they weren't trees at all...
They were gigantic ferns!!!! I never knew ferns could grow so tall. I guess anything horticulturally fantastic is possible in the subtropics...

One of my favorite parts of the Sitou Forest was the Sky Walk. So when I said in my last post that I was reminded of the games Myst and Riven I had no idea how accurate that actually was... well its either Myst or the little tree network society of Robin Hood and his Merry Men... "To the trees!"
It was so cool to get to see those trees up close at a height that would otherwise be unattainable. Beautiful plant life that normally remains unseen and admired was at our fingertips. I definitely took my time up there soaking it all in...

This one kind of gives you an idea of just how high up we were. See the little photographer on the path below?

Another lovely spot in this little forest was University pond. I love the color of the ponds and rivers here. The greenish blue just sucks you in...
This lovely little bridge is an incredible suspension bridge made out of bamboo. Only ten people are allowed to cross at a time...
I love bamboo. I love the way it looks in its natural habitat. I love the way it people use it in sculptures and art. I love the way it tastes. I love the creaking sound it makes as the wind rushes through the bamboo forests. I'm a regular panda when it comes to bamboo. Here we have a lovely bamboo sculpture of two tiger babies in honor of it being the year of the tiger. I felt inclined to pose with them in honor of Nicole. It's your year!!
As with most day's this time of year, it began pouring in the afternoon. This definitely did not hinder our experience. We trudged along in the rain and continued to enjoy the incredible beauties around us. Dear family, I wish more than anything I could bring you to this place. I wish I could share it's beauty with you in more than just a little photo.
The picture above reminds me a lot of Asian landscapes. Doesn't Dad have a landscape of a river that looks kind of similar to this?? Or am I just making things up in my head? I'm definitely going to want to look through those paintings when I return....

And then there was a gigantic bamboo owl. Seeing as I was wearing an owl shirt, I thought it appropriate to pose with said owl structure.
We finished off the "home visit" with a trip to a famous pineapple cake factory. SO delicious. I guess Taiwan is known for it's pineapple cakes. They are most excellent. I'm going to try to bring some home with me for the fam.

Let me pause here to say that while I am still waiting for my spirit animal to manifest itself in an impressive way, there have been a few applicants for the position. Animals I have seen here in action: 3 creeeeeeeepy spiders, many many koi, several little crabs, frogs, lizards, hordes of dragonflies, a beautiful white crane flying over the ocean, a real flying squirrel (one of my favs.), and I'm still waiting to see fireflies..... basically I just need one to step up to the role of spirit animal....

And then came my birthday....

Since Kailey was unable to celebrate her birthday in a big way we decided to combine our birthdays this weekend for a magical birthday extravaganza-Taiwan style: UN.FOR.GET.A.BLE.

Kevyn and Allison invited us to join them at this little surf town on the east coast of the island: Wushi Gong. This is a little taste of the beautiful view of the coast we enjoyed on our train ride out there.
When we arrived there we immediately met up with them and got going with our surf lessons and what not. There was such a friendly atmosphere on the beach. It was packed full of surfers of all ages and all levels of skill. Everyone had a great open respect for each other no matter how good or awful you were at the sport. The fact that you were out there giving it a go, sharing in the passion, created an instant bond of friendship. It was beautiful.
Here are Kailey and I sporting our lovely surf shop's shirts and surfboards. You should have seen us getting our surf lesson in Chinese with Kevyn doing his best to interpret. We are certainly some awkward humans with surfboards. It was definitely worth it. :)

And of course we couldn't spend the whole time surfing...
Whats beach bumming without a good book??Even if you spend most of the book time watching the surfers instead of reading your book...

Images and lessons from surfing that I will definitely want to hold on to:
-I love watching everyone out on the ocean, sitting or holding onto their boards, all eyes following the movement of the ocean. It was incredible to see so many faces turned towards the same natural phenomena. The waves determine everything. If you look away for a second you could miss your chance for a great ride, or worse, be overtaken by a big one... the focus was everything. There is definitely a lesson in there...
-It takes more than just practicing hopping up on your board. Before you can surf you have to figure out how to read the waves. You have to be able to predict when they will break. Timing is everything.
-My favorite: While I was trying to figure it all out I kept having trouble getting my board to straighten out right. I would just get up on my board in time to catch a good one when my board would turn. It wasn't until after a few awkward attempts that a wise surfer told me to pick a spot to look at out on the beach. Having nothing to lose, I gave it a go. It was amazing. I have no idea why it worked, but as soon as I stopped focusing on the water and the people around me, and started focusing on a specific point on the beach, my board magically lined itself up just right and I was able to stand. I don't think I need to spell out the lesson in that for anyone. All I can say is I can't wait to use a surfing metaphor in a future talk or lesson.
Will I be going surfing again? Most definitely. Such a rush.
After we returned to our little hostel and cleaned up we decided to go exotic for dinner... Our meal consisted of: Frog.
Crab. (which you had to crack open with your teeth.) Sushi-mi. And soup...... .....with a surprise! Yes, that is a fish head. It was certainly one of our most interesting meals! Definitely worth the experience.

The rest of the evening was quite interesting although not interesting enough to be blog worthy... All that needs to be said is that Kailey and I got to play mediators in a little relationship schism. Whats a weekend without a little drama right?? Ha. Fortunately we were able to mend things enough for the next day to remain unspoiled...

While we were on the beach we had noticed a bunch of para-gliders floating down from a lovely cliff to the beach below. So naturally we had to do it. The next morning Kailey, Allison, and I set out - once again using our minimal knowledge of Chinese and a lot of body language and stick figure drawings. Language barrier, schanguage barrier. Our goal was para-gliding and we accomplished just that.
Clearly we mean business.
As I gazed out onto the ocean below, I prepared for my first big moment in my airbending training.

Thankfully, we were attached to trained gliders and my trainer spoke pretty good English. Otherwise I don't know how I would have felt about running straight off of a cliff. With the guidance of my sensei, I ran straight forward until I felt the parachute gently catch hold and before I knew it I was gently flying out over the coast.

It was marvelous.
This is a picture Kailey got of me in flight. :) You can see the beautiful Turtle Island in the distance behind me.
And this is the beautiful beach we landed on...We spent several blissful hours here just enjoying the feeling of our feet in the salty sea.

What a perfect way to celebrate....
This is our year!!!

What is it about large bodies of water that reach so deeply in to the human soul?? We can't help but feel it pulling us in. It's the same everywhere you go. The beauty of the ocean is universal as is the human draw towards water. H2O. Life. ....I think I will choreograph a dance about it....
....Swim with me darling, if you've got the inkling to dance...

Convenient little frame expressing exactly how I feel about this little town :)

And then of course at the end of the weekend in which we frequently broke out into the classic B*Witched song.....

Cups that say "C'est La Vie!" .......some people say I look like me dad! Very appropriate seeing as I was spending my 21st in the same place my Dad spent his.... and its true some people do say that...

And what could possibly make this birthday weekend of the gods any better?? COLDSTONE! Thank you Taipei bus/train station. As you can see the effects of the beach would be felt far into the next week in the very pigment of our skin. That's alright. It's just another reminder of the incredible adventures had.

While returning to the classroom after such a weekend didn't necessarily sound ideal, I was happy to receive an incredible little package from my family with the best birthday gifts ever: deodorant. fancy rain poncho with grandma hair protector. cake mix with frosting. talking card. skirts from the DI. an awesome mix-tape. and a fu-manchu mustache complete with little beads on the ends. What more could a girl ask for??? Only a letter from her grandma...Which came just a few days later. :) BEST BIRTHDAY EVER.

The "road of trials" is certainly still underway, but I am extremely blessed and with the support of my dear friends and family and of course, the Lord, I feel like I could take on the world!