Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chicken McCostumes


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Fright Night

Last night was the kindergarten Halloween party. Teacher Lilly and I were the hosts, and the night was a success, I think. The kids and their parents showed up, most in costume, and we scared them in our scary costumes before we put on our little spiel about being demons from the past who hid treasure in the school for the kids to find.

The kids went out around the block where we had different activities set up for them to do, and after each they were given a piece of the ancient treasure map. Then they came back to the school to find their treasure (candy.)

Here are some photos of the night:
Hess Kindy Halloween '07

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rock lobster!

Luke and I were walking home after what I considered a successful but exhausting Friday of teaching last night, when we saw two Westerners sitting at the table in front of our apartment building. Of course, not thinking about it, we walked over and introduced ourselves and began talking to them. Our new friends turned out to be from Canada and South Africa, and are also teaching English at various spots around Linko. After talking about work and living in Taiwan versus back home and sipping beers for a couple of hours, we all got it in our heads to go to the beach.

This kind of surprised Luke and I because we didn't know we were very close to the beach. So after our friends went and got their scooters (mine died on me Thursday night) we jumped on the back and scooted off.

The drive was really nice. The air was cool and the weather was perfect for a late night drive. We wound our way down the mountain roads, and stopped to take in the scenery. We drove through forests, over bridges, and through a rather sizable cemetery. We stopped to take in a view of a coastal town, its lights reflecting off the Pacific Ocean, and then made our way down to the beach.

It wasn't a sandy beach, and it wasn't all that clean. Just a patch of rocky coast off the highway where we could enjoy the sound of waves crashing, and the firecracker sound of thousands of rocks and pebbles being turned over as the waves pulled back out to sea. We stood around there for a while laughing and talking, and then got on the scooters and headed home.

Our friends dropped us off here, we said our goodbyes and then we called it a night. It was a nice little adventure, though, especially since I left work only expecting to eat dinner and maybe watch a movie before bed, but little adventures like this are what make me glad I came here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Almost Halloween

Halloween is coming up, and yes, it is celebrated here in Taiwan (at least in Hess it is.) It will be interesting to see what the Taiwanese version of Halloween is. I have my costume all ready to go for Saturday night's Kindergarten Halloween fest. I'm a demon who, along with Demon Teacher Luke, Demon Teacher Christina, and Demon Teacher Naledi, will be the keepers of the treasure (a big box o' candy) and the hosts of the evening's festivities.

In addition to my Kindergarteners, I've been trying to get my other students into the Halloween spirit. I've added monsters to some of the games we play, and I wrote a play about a Zombie invasion of Linko for one of my classes to perform at their graduation in a couple of weeks. I'll let you know how it goes, but the kids seem to like it so far.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Feeling Bad

I'm sick. I was sick a couple days last week, and it's back this weekend. It's just the standard head cold with a cough kicker, but it means that I don't really get to enjoy my only days off of the week. I got some Chinese herbal medicine from the pharmacy downstairs. It's supposed to help with my cough. It's basically a box of ketchup packets filled with a sticky, syrupy brown goop. It tastes a bit like melted Ricola cough drops, and I'm supposed to eat them with warm water. I suppose they're helping, but that doesn't help my pyroclastic mucous flow or my pounding head or my achy joints.

Also, I woke up with bug bite (spider bites?) on my arms and shoulder and face. What kid of bulls**t is that? I hope tomorrow is better.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kindergarten Field Trip

Today was a special day for the kindergarteners at my school. Today they took a field trip. We started the day with the usual Exercise Time followed by Sharing Time, where the kids are encouraged to speak English to me and each other. We then took a bathroom break and headed out to the vans which would carry us to our destination.

Where would we go? The zoo? The park? A museum or exhibit? No, we went where all kindergarten classes of young achievers go: the local brewery.

Okay, so it's not strictly a beer brewery. They also distill sake and wine. And they make other things, too. Like crackers. And cigarettes.

We met Mr. Wang, who would shepard us through the labyrinth of laboratories, distilling machines, stock rooms, and factory areas. He spoke all in Chinese, so I really couldn't tell you if or how he managed to make the distilling process interesting to a group of five and six year olds. There was a flow chart involved, though. That much I know.

Along the way he showed us the various stages of the distilling process, from raw product to distillation, research and development to bottling and shipping. We even got to visit the factory store, which sells foods and cigarettes in addition to all the booze.

Overall, I enjoyed this trip. I don't really understand why we took little kids there, but I guess learning about the distillation of alcohol is just as educational as fine art or child-centered science.

Join me next month, on our next field trip. Where will we go? The crematorium perhaps? Or the taxi dispatch center? Or maybe the solid waste treatment plant? Who knows. Keep checking back.

Until then, you can check out all of the photos from today's trip here:
October '07 Hess Kindy Field Trip

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Sunday, October 7, 2007

There are inspirational messages posted above some of the urinals in the men's room at Taipei Main Station. Here's one:

I love you mom, Whoo-Whoo!


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Developing Story: The Apartment Fire

Luke and I finished off an average Friday at work, went shopping at Carrefour with our head English teacher, Christina, and shortly after returning home, had to evacuate the building because of a thick, acrid smoke that began creeping up the stairwell and into our apartment. The alarms went off, and we grabbed Jasper (our new feline roommate) and left the apartment.

Downstairs, in the lobby, there was pandemonium. Residents all brought their families and toy dogs down from their smoky domiciles and congregated in the one fresh sanctum of our entire community. It was kind of cool at first, seeing everyone in their night attire, everyone confused but happy that it wasn't their stuff on fire. We said hi to a couple of our neighbors and just chilled out in the lobby.

Then the firemen and police came in and started asking people questions, and everyone got restless, and I really just wanted to go back upstairs. After talking to Kevin, a guy who lives in the building who speaks good English (and who may be the resident's board president or something) I learned that a car in the B2 parking lot had caught fire. Lame. So I have to stand in the crowded lobby for an hour because someone's beater of a car couldn't even stand stationary without bursting into flames.

Add to this the fact that we're due in for a super-typhoon this weekend that will surely block any chance of having fun and you've got all the ingredients for a restless weekend at home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Moon Festival

A couple weeks ago was moon festival, and I'm just now getting around to writing about it. Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated all over the Chinese speaking world by grilling out, getting the day off, and eating moon cakes and pomelos (like grapefruits.)

Since we got a four day weekend, Luke and I joined some friends in Puli for a weekend of camping. We took a bus down and camped from Sunday to Tuesday. Our guide for our excursions was Yuri Bradley Human (a.k.a. Y B Human?) a South African expat that we found to be quite eccentric. He took us on a hike up the middle of a river, kayaking on Sun Moon Lake, and paragliding from our campsite. You can see the photos here, and I'll add more as I get them.

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