I loved teaching in Taiwan. I co-taught a class nicknamed the Beach Babes with my roommate Jodi. I got lucky in 1. being able to co-teach and 2. having a class of 9! For those of you who have ever had to teach 20 plus kids, you know what I mean when I say, 9 KIDS! It was amazing how much more in depth we could teach with a smaller number of children. I have wanted the opportunity to really work with a small group of kids to see what it was like without have the distraction of at least 11 other children in the class, and I finally feel like I got that experience. It taught me a lot about what is possible in a classroom. In addition to that, Jodi and I were also fortunate enough to have some really great kids. They worked hard and always made us feel appreciated and loved :-). Now, I have transitioned into my new class for the regular school year in China. I am teaching 20 3-5 year olds without another co teacher in the room. Although this teaching situation is more daunting, I look forward to learning from this class as well and finding a way to teach this class in the most effective way possible.
Year 3 of teaching has officially begun! Here we go…
A few weeks ago, I went to Kenting (Southern Taiwan) for a friend’s Birthday. Every time I mentioned to Taichung locals that I was going to Kenting for the weekend, they praised the place. So, naturally, I had high expectations that this place would be paradise. Except for the scorching heat, this place pretty much delivered that image. The beach was unlike any other beach I have been to. Surrounding the beach area are mountains and more mountains. Kenting is actually a National Park so beauty is part of the package I guess.
The sand itself was the softest (and hottest) sand I have ever touched, and the ocean was a beautiful aquamarine color. Unfortunately, no one could swim in the ocean when we were there. This is not always the case, but the waves were too rough. It was crazy how much force they had. We were allowed to dip our feet in the water and that was enough to tug you down and further into the water (and your bathing suit if you were not careful). In fact, on one of the beaches, we were told that someone died because of getting pulled into the water. I have never been exposed to such strong currents. I think some of it had to do with the typhoon a week or so before.
On a more positive note, we celebrated my friend’s Birthday in style! One of the resorts on the beach took us under their wing and allowed us to stay on their property. I think they took pity on us after they noticed how we were no match for the heat. So thanks to this resort, we had shade if we wanted, a wonderful beach to use and a bar to quench our thirst :-). Not too shabby for a random weekend in August! More pictures are below.
Last weekend, I travelled to the capital of Taiwan- Taipei! I thought Taichung was a big city until I entered Taipei. There are many things to see and to do in Taipei and the zoo is one of them. The zoo has a wide variety of animals to look at and is an inexpensive adventure. It only costs the equivalent of $1 for entry into the zoo. Many of the animals that I looked at with my travel companions are below!
After the rain
Will there be a typhoon day or not? Instead of talking about a snow day on Thursday at school, all the teachers and students were talking about a typhoon day. Snow days do not happen in Taiwan but typhoon days do! A typhoon is the same thing as a hurricane. There is heavy rain and strong winds involved with a typhoon. It sounds scary but when it hit Taichung, it was not bad. The storm began Friday night so sadly, we didn’t get to have our typhoon day. It is always disappointing when you anticipate a day off, and it doesn’t happen even if you enjoy work. So for Friday night, we buckled down in our apt and watched the heavy winds and rains commence. By Saturday morning, the typhoon was in full swing. Debris fell from trees and plants, and according to a news report, some people were injured from the flying debris.
Most events, except for LUVstock, were cancelled for Saturday. LUVstock is a music/art festival in Taiwan. When the rain and winds let up, we taxied to LUVstock Saturday night in 3ominutes. The festival was taking place in an abandoned amusement park in Northern Taichung. After living in a place for two weeks without seeing many foreigners, the crowd at LUVstock put me right back in the U.S. There were people from all over at LUVstock, and the bands we saw seemed like they were mainly American and British. The fact that we were in an abandoned amusement park was pretty neat too but also a little creepy. Similar to the amusement park at Sun Moon Lake, this park had opened in the middle of the wild terrain of Taiwan, more specifically in a jungle valley. So as we explored the amusement park a little bit, we also had to be careful to climb around overgrown brush and plants to see the old rides. Overall, my weekend went very well and I am glad I have been introduced to my first typhoon. I will most likely be experiencing more of those when I move to the eastern coast of China!
On Sunday, the teachers of Cornel School travelled to Sun Moon Lake, which is the largest body of water in Taiwan. The trip took about 2hours from Taichung. I needed this trip. After being in the city for a week, I was ready to breath some fresh air. I really like the city, but it is overcrowded and fairly smelly. In the city, you have to rise above the tall buildings to see the beautiful mountains Taiwan has to offer. Thankfully, my apartment is on the 19th floor so I get an excellent view of the mountains. With such a tantalizing view, I was ready to explore them myself.
When we arrived in Sun Moon Lake, it was exactly what I wanted. There were quaint towns, busy enough to keep you entertained but not so busy as to overwhelm you. It reminded me a little of a beach town but Asian style. Unlike a beach town though, no one swims in the aqua blue water. It is just a huge tease. It is mainly there for you to enjoy on a boat, in the air or on shore. We did all three. We took a boat to another town and then a cable car and another cable car to an amusement park. I was a little skeptical at first to go to an overcrowded, smelly amusement park when we were in the midst of such beauty. However, it was nothing like that because it was an amusement park in the mountains of Taiwan! It was what Disney World thrives to mimic at some of its more tropical parts, but this was authentic. It was also the opposite of overcrowded and smelly. The park was the cleanest, most natural park I had every been too. The park had rides that followed its nature theme, and sometimes the rides gave better access to a beautiful view of the landscape.
After the amusement park, we took our cable car and boat rides back to town. Then, we hopped on a bus to get back to Taichung. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit this area again or something like it before I leave Taiwan. If you ever plan to go to Taichung, Taiwan, I suggest a trip to Sun Moon Lake. It is affordable, accessible and just beautiful!
We might not have been in the States, but we had a wonderful time celebrating the 4th of July (hamburgers and all!).