Friday, October 24, 2008

Hot Springs and Culture

This past weekend Jay and I went on a Hash House Harriers excursion to a place called Bailaoi, which is about 4 hours south of Taichung and in the beautiful rugged mountains. It happened to be the 10th anniversary of the Taichung Hash. So we had been looking forward to this for a while. I of course had trouble convincing my job to let me have the Saturday off, keep in mind I only teach one 2hour class in the morning and they couldn't seem to feasibly find a sub for those little two hours, so being the good employee that I am I came into work and found another hasher who had a car to drive me down later, while Jay went down on the bus early in the morning. We arrived at a very remote place with tons of hot springs. It was amazing. Unfortunately I arrived too late to make the first run on Sat. but Jay was able to enjoy a treacherous two hour mountain run. That evening we indulged ourselves in traditional Taiwanese food and beer as we all relaxed around in the hot springs. Jay and I stayed with most of our friends at another foreigners house/hostel by the river. It was beautiful to wake up to clean air and the sound of the water. The next morning we all got ready for another run which was an A to B run and ended at another hot spring. It was a very hard mountain run that included climbing directly up about three waterfalls and climbing multiple mountains. It was a fairly short one but had beautiful scenery. We enjoyed more natural springs afterwards and then headed for the long journey home. A lot of our fellow hashers found out this weekend that we are leaving fairly soon and it was very sad to see their reaction. They must actually enjoy us.... because they were very upset that we were leaving. But it is so great that we have made such good friends here. I think they are definitely the people we enjoy the most and will miss the most. We have had a lot of great times with them. I think they might even miss us more than our work but who knows. Unfortunately this entire weekend I did not take pictures and I anxiously await the pictures that other took and I will put them up as soon as I receive them.

This week Jay and I went to dentist for the first time and for the both of us it cost a total of $6, pretty amazing huh? I have never been so excited to go the dentist before. And lucky for us we both came out with clean teeth and no cavities. I think Jay and I are both pretty lucky we have never had one cavity between the two of us. I plan on keeping it that way. As for other news we just are waiting with anticipation for our marathon in one week... very nerve racking. For those of you who don't know about it. The length of a marathon is 26.2 miles of 42 kilometers. And this particular race is in the Toroko National Gorge which is the main tourist attraction in Taiwan and Jay and I haven't experienced it yet. And I still am not sure if we have picked the most pleasant way to do so, but I definitely think we will see all of it, in its entirety.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Beauty of Taiwan

Last weekend we had a great weekend of somethings different. Of course we still had to go to our hash run, but something new about it was a run through the city and also a pool BBQ at the end. We ran in places that Allie and I have never been. Most of it was through the old section of the city where there was less traffic and cool side streets. It was really hot that day so it was nice to be able to jump into a cold pool even with a swim cap. After swimming around and cooling off for a while we had a pot luck cook out. Everyone brought something different from guacamole to fried noodles. The meat was brought by a hasher that works at a restaurant so we had baby back ribs, German sausage, and real marinated steaks. Needless to say I ate way to much and Allie was hurting a little too. We already had plans to meet some of our co-teachers (Chinese teachers) at a local bar where we had a really good time. It was really nice to hang out with them since we are going home soon. It is going to be sad when we leave because we have made a lot of really good friend and are really enjoying the life that we have made here.

The next week was short, we had Friday and Saturday off for Double Tenth Day which is the equivalent to Taiwan's independence day even though a lot of the world don't recognize it as a seperate country from China. We left at 12 midnight on Thursday night with 4 other friends, one South African (Lauren), one Australian (Brian). and two from Boston area (Jon and Nick). We were off to Orchid Island also known as Lanyu. It is south east of Taiwan. We left late at night and had an intense journey down to Kenting to take the ferry, which left at 8 the next morning. The journey consisted of waiting at Mos Burger for 3 hours in the middle of the night for our ride, then taking a very cramped van to the port, and then taking a 2 hour boat ride (which was one of the roughest rides ever, with people throwing up all around us). Finally we were there and the beauty alone was worth the hassel. It was amazing, very green and volcanic, it reminded me a lot of what the Hawaiian islands look like. The island also had a lot of goats, they were everywhere and very cute. Since we had the entire day on Friday we all rented scooters and then went to our campsite. Which was in the middle of a schools track. And it was perfect. Close to the water and nice comfortable grass to set our tent in. We went swimming to the beach for a while and then took a scooter trip around the island which is about 50km long so we did about half. We drove a very steep road to the weather center on top of the highest mountain and enjoyed a beautiful view. That night we met some other people camping and decieded to raid the only local supermarket for all the pork and some fish that they had so that we could have a campfire on the beach. It was awesome..people from all over the island ended up coming for a good feast and relaxing. Unfortunately we were all very exhausted from basically not sleeping well for the past 36 hours and we headed to bed at about 9 pm. Jay and I woke up early the next morning for a run. Then we all rented snorkeling equipment and enjoyed the coral. THe current is really strong around the island and we couldn't venture out too far otherwise we would have a difficult time swimming back to shore. Brian decieded to go out a little far and we couldn't see him... eventually we spotted him far out and looking as though he was having a difficult time getting back. Jay went out to help since he is a good swimmer and on the way he spotted a manoray....which is somewhat like a stingray. I was so jealous... ButI guess that was his reward for going to help out Brian. We enjoyed another scooter trip to the other side of the island and watched the sunset. We ate dinner at a very cute restuarant called the Epicurean and it was amazing with very good food. We had another early night and the next morning we had one more quick snorkle and went back on the ferry home. When we arrived in Kenting after the ferry, we had arranged a driver to pick us turned out to be the taxi ride from hell. He seemed to pop a beatle nut in every 20 minutes and he never spit. He was driving like a mad man mainly whizing by cars in the scooter lane most of the time. People were rolling down their windows screaming at him. I felt as if I was in a Formula One race... and I didn't feel like we were winning. Anyways it was an amazing time and really recommend it. Taiwan is really beautiful in some places. This gave us the boost we need to make our final stretch to the end.