Oh Changhua! How I've missed you. I am so glad I chose to come back a month before school started so I could spend sometime in my old home. I have so many precious memories in this place. It was nice to refresh them before creating new ones. Being in an old familiar place didn't stop me from making new friends, however. While Lauren and Natalie were busy working I had the opportunity to run around with the Sister Missionaries quite a bit. What great girls they are. I was also introduced to a new Taiwanese friend, Erika. She was a delight. In my short time there we had many an adventure on her little scooter. The friendships made during my stay were very short lived, but I am certain they will last a lifetime.
Photos to narrate my Changhua Days:
Lauren is a great teacher. I loved watching her with my former students. It is so nice to know they are in good hands. I have such an intense love for them. They are just the same as ever. And I think they were excited to see me too.... or maybe it was just the American candy they were happy about...
Walking home from the school I always passed the loveliest little homes in the quiet alleyway shortcut.
Erika was so good to show me everything she could in our short time together. One of the nights she took me to the Fengxia Night Market in Taichung. This is one of the most famous night markets in Taiwan. Quite the sight to see. And, oh, how delicious the food is.
She also took me the the Museum of Natural Science in Taichung. This museum really is impressive. We only saw about a fourth of it and I learned SO much.
Dragon and Phoenix from a very old temple:
Masks from Oceania:
The museum had some fun interactive exhibits. As you see here, I am now a character in the Taiwanese film Seediq Bale. I think I may need to see this movie now.
I thought this flower was kind of neat.
This bowl of black jelly is a popular dessert type snack in Taiwan. Delicious. My favorite part was the chunks of Taro.
I took responsibility for the tambourine.
Group song: California Dreaming.
Natalie claims to not enjoy singing, but she was a rock star that night. She held nothing back.
Another adventure to the wetlands with Erika:
Sad looking abandoned Tellytubbie:
Erika and I were quite cold, but I do love me a nice ocean breeze.
A couple of stray dogs followed us along the path.
And what would a visit to Changhua be without a trip to Baguashan.
He was my Valentine again this year.
While gazing upon my Buddha, a group of Philippino's asked me to take some pictures with them. They were so friendly! They have even invited me to visit them in the Philippines sometime. I think I just might take them up on that. Lalang and I are already Facebook pals.
The amount of stray dogs will never cease to amaze me.
I think this picture is kind of nice.
Staircase up the mountain.
Sometimes when I'm in Taiwan I feel like I'm in Myst. Or Riven.
When I came home from church on my last Sunday there I found a celebration in my very own courtyard. Fireworks and all.
I had no idea what was going on but I loved it.
After standing around looking quite perplexed for awhile, this kind woman caught me eye. I smiled at her and before I new it she was handing me a box of bread. Purely from the kindness of her heart. I was so touched. A few seconds later, another man approached me and motioning to the festivities around us he said one word. "Mazu." Suddenly it made more sense. Mazu is the Goddess of the sea. She is pretty significant here.
THEN, the free food trucks entered the courtyard. Hundreds of people crowded again and once again free deliciousness was forced upon me.
And what is a religious celebration without the money fires.
These festivities went on all night long. And I mean ALL night long. We were wakened at three in the morning to what seemed and endless firework explosion. Luckily, I could never stay annoyed with fireworks long.
According to Erika, This "little" celebration was just the beginning. At the end of March the real festival will happen. And in Changhua too. According to the Discovery Channel it is the 3rd biggest religious pilgrimage in the world. I will definitely be there.
Lugang Lantern Festival!
Erika, the Sisters, and I enjoyed the most pleasant of days at the lantern festival on one of my last days before my big move.
These lanterns were so inventive!
Sister Waterson found her lantern double.
Recognize my Buddha on this one?
The lanterns were made by students, young and old. But my favorite lanterns were those made by the prisoners in a local jail.
The focal point of the exhibition was the giant Dragon Lantern for the year of the dragon.
The whole place was a visual feast.
The Star Wars and Transformers Lanterns were a nice surprise.
Here is the great Mazu herself.
And of course, what is a trip to Lugang without a stroll through the beautifully ancient streets.
I know I've been here just over a month, but I already feel as if I've lived here forever. Taiwan is doing a very nice job of capturing my heart again.
ALSO- if you feel so inclined, feel free to take a look at more of my photos on my Flickr account. You can find the link on the top-ish right side of this here blog.