Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Don't mess with me.

So, I might be taking tae kwon do. It is all in chinese and I do not really speak chinese. However, I think this makes it more fun. Our coach is awesome. His coach/owner of the studios is also awesome...They yell at the other kids, but never at me. haha. Don't worry, I do not take advantage of this, I just try harder so they won't have to yell at me. When my roommate Arwyn and I first went I'm pretty sure the other kids had no clue what to think of us. One kid and I did not quite see eye to eye, which led to fights (literally) every class. One of us would tease or kick each other and then the other would fight back, resulting in me picking him up. Of course, my shining face won him over and now he loves me (love is probably too strong a word, but we are definitely pals). All the kids finally got the courage to tell me their names and I think there is only one girl who is a little scared to talk to me. She just giggles whenever I talk to her...I think it might be because she does not understand any of the ways I try and communicate with her. I think I should also state that I have two coach crushes. Many people might not understand what this means. It simply means I love them because they are so great. nothing more. If we ever tip a little because we can't find our balance, they just say, 'drink beer,' motioning to their mouths. I hope they don't really think we come to class drunk.

We had our first belt test tonight and it was hilarious. We walked into the studio and literally everyone started to whisper and stare at us. All the kids who are at our studio were now the popular ones who were friends with the Americans. I felt like a piece of meat...c'mon, I'm just a middle-aged white person. Now imagine already being nervous to take a test in front of tons of parents and students (many black belts), but to add to this, everything is in chinese. I mean, our coach told us the chinese and I knew it when he said it, but this other guy was awful at speaking chinese. I understood nothing. But, thankfully I did remember the order so I really only messed up once....only because I did not know I was supposed to go so stop thinking I'm horrible at this whole karate thing! Apparently all the coaches turn into devils during the test...my coach showed me devil horns to tell me that this is what he becomes on test day. I motioned to him that this was not allowed and of course, he obliged. The owner of the studio, Mr. Low, was sitting next to us when we sat down and he kept saying, 'very good, very good, no problem.' He loves saying, no problem. It is 2 of the 10 english words he knows, which I think is the reason he uses it so much.

I'm pretty sure I look like a hobbit.

Watch out. I think I have a pretty solid punch now so ADAM, be careful next time I see you because I might beat you up!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My name is Michael Jackson

Our school has two locations. When they first started as a school they had a smaller building a few blocks away from the present school. They now have kindergarten at the smaller school, which is where I teach every morning. I like being able to teach in both buildings because it allows me to leave every morning and actually get outside when some days it can be difficult. I will need to soon share pictures of those kids because they are beyond adorable.

Anyways, I get back at lunchtime every day and there is a group of students that are always eating lunch. So, of course, I go hang out with them for a little bit each day. Everyone is obsessed with Michael Jackson here, as are these 5 year olds...which means I do Michael Jackson moves for them. They now call me Michael Jackson more than my real name. I guess that isn't a bad trade off, except for the fact that the school probably wouldn't let the real Michael Jackson teach a bunch of kids. Just saying....

I love the reaction I get from them every day. Sometimes when I show up at the door, they pull out their fake guns and start shooting me and the other times they are hugging my legs and blowing me kisses. The other day they would not stop getting up and hugging me. I don't know what drugs they were on, but they seriously would not stop. I had 3 kids in the front hugging and little Owen comes behind me and is hugging my bum/leg. He proceeds to ask me if he can kick my bum. I'm trying to process what he asked me because it really makes no sense (the kid loves to hug me and kiss me if he can) and he can't even reach my bum with his foot. Don't worry, he did not kick me, he KISSED me on my bum. hahahahhaa. I thought I was going to die from laughing so hard. I don't know what gave him the idea that you can kiss bums, but he thought it would be okay. I don't even think he realized that it would be weird...he is just such a sweet little boy. Either way, I thought it was hilarious. However, I hope that kids do not continue kissing my bum because it is a little weird.

I had taken a bunch of pictures of them from a field trip the other day, but I lost my camera so I lost the pictures......But, here are a few, plus one taken from another teacher :)

Little Owen (the bum kisser) and Brandon. These are the sweetest of the group. They give me hugs every day. (That is a the peel of a pomelo fruit on his head. Kids do it all the time here.)

Winnie and Julia. Today I told Julia that my mom's name was Julia and she had the biggest smile I've ever seen. She would not stop talking about it the entire day. I teach kindergarten in the evening as well and I have a very interesting student, Peter. He speaks english pretty well and he is very articulate. Winnie was getting picked up by her mom and came over to me and my class to say hi. After she leaves, I tell my students to say goodbye and Peter says, Winnie is sooo beautiful. haha. He is 4. I have no clue where he has learned this language, but it is pretty funny when he comes up with this random stuff. But, I do agree, she is a beautiful little girl.

Julia again. She has the greatest laugh on the planet except for maybe John Gibbons. Please excuse the way I look...I think I woke up about 5 minutes before the picture was taken and it was the hottest day EVER.

Carson=personality. I love this kid. He is sweet and energetic and funny. And, who can resist a kid with a bucket hat and an apron.

Angelica. She is such a cute little girl. She is the daughter of the director of the school so she is around all the time. Don't you love the closed asian smile eyes!?

These are most of the kids. Our director, Frances tells them to pose in the most hilarious ways. They have to tilt their heads and put their little peace signs up.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Perfect Saturdays

This is very long...which I am okay with.

First Saturday:

So, a previous blog post might have shown my love for BYU football. I was quite devastated that I could not watch the BYU/OKLAHOMA game, so when I found out that it was being broadcasted on BYU tv on Friday at 7 pm (Sat @ 9 am), I was happy. I sat in my little bed with my BYU attire on and watched the whole game on my laptop.

Then, we met up with a bunch of friends and went to a waterfall about an hour away from my apartment. FYI...it is not very comfortable to ride a scooter for 3 hours in one day. But, it can be really fun. The drive was incredible...the hills are so green and we were driving up windy, hilly roads.

After getting back we went into Taichung and had curry...yummm.

Here is part of the drive up.

When we hiked down to the waterfall there was this monk meditating. It was so beautiful.

I tried climbing up the waterfall, but there was so much moss. It looks way easier than it was...there was a rope higher up that you could use to climb, but you had to get to it which was the hard part. I did not give up though :)

See! We all slid down together and maybe I got kicked in the thigh...hard. But, it was funny.

Second Saturday:

My friend Kim is serving a mission in Taipei and just happens to be at temple square...so I called her to get a tour (mostly so I could hang out with her). We took the train to Taipei, which is always great. I love train and bus rides, especially long ones. Yes, you might think I'm being sarcastic, but this is not the case. I love looking out the window, taking 5 minute naps here and there, listening to music, reading, practicing chinese, etc. The temple was great as usual- Kim, or Sis. Chang took us to the second level of the church office building so we could see the temple. She told us to look out and think about why it was special to us. I thought about how amazing it is that so many temples are in the middle of the city (LA and Taipei)...you enter the grounds and there is silence. The spirit is automatically present and seems to wash away the outside. I realized the somewhat significant parallel between your home and the temple grounds. I've always hoped that my future home would be somewhere that you can walk into and feel the spirit...that it would be a happy, comfortable, and loving place. I need to always make sure that I'm living the life that would help me to have a home like that.

After the temple we went to the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial. wowzers. It is beautiful. There is a giant memorial, reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial (which I have never been too, but those pictures online reminded me of it :) ) There is a main building with the statue of the first president of Taiwan, who was a pretty awesome guy, and a museum below. There are two other huge buildings on the site that are also beautiful. In the museum, an older man walked up to my friend Janae and started speaking to her in Chinese. They seemed to be talking about me and my friend, Wendy. We started speaking to him and I could not understand any of his English. I felt so bad cause I just kept nodding and smiling, feeling like an idiot. I tried really hard to understand him because he was so nice. After a few minutes, his accent seemed to clear up and I could understand everything he said. There is a lot more to the story that I will keep to my journal, but lets just say that it was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had in my life. Heavenly Father really does put us in the right places at the right times to help us learn and grow. The man's name was Charles Lee and he continually told me in our conversation that, 'To live is to learn.' That is really easy to forget! I love to learn, but sometimes my life can get so busy that I forget to put that extra effort to really learn new things. I figure learning how to teach can keep me busy...along with tae kwon do and learning Chinese so here's to learning! After the memorial we went to the Longshan Temple. wow, it was pretty. There were so many people praying and monks all over the place. I love seeing temples on almost every street, although this one was much bigger than most. After the second temple of the day we went to Snake Alley/Huaxi night market in Taipei. It was nice to just relax and walk around, except the fact that I might have had to really go to the bathroom and those are not easy to find around downtown Taipei.

Here is the little group from the day, including Kim and her super cute companion. I look funny in this picture, just like every other picture I take here.

That is me, in case you didn't remember what I looked like...

This picture is to show how the temple is right in the city and of course, right next to a gas station.

Longshan Temple. People love their incense and candles. It was so smoky.

Here are all the offerings because of ghost month. My favorite are the 7-11 type snacks. They put out so many random kinds of food....it kind of made me hungry, but I thought it might not be a good idea to take the food.

I loved watching these people pray. There are hundreds of people praying so reverently as if no one else is around.

The man, Chiang.

They sure love him here. I highly contemplated buying this little treasure.

Here is my pal and I. The guy is still a professor at the age of 85 and was a scientist for the rest of his life. He had me read a sort of paper that he wrote about the necessity of love in the relationship between China and Taiwan. It reminded me of Israel and Palestine as well.

So there was this exhibition of art at the museum. Every piece was made out of real flowers or leaves or some kind of plant. It was so funny...and a little cool in its own special way. I actually liked this one, mostly because it was made of daisys and was a pretty dress. Most of them had creepy birds and trees.

Here is a video of this super random band playing, Hey Baby, which they play at every BYU game. I've been to this memorial twice and they were there both times. The sound is not so good and please notice the boy in the midriff in the back.

Third Saturday from heaven:

I got to sleep in! Well, that means until 8:30, but it is better than 7:30 every other morning....just the life of a hard-working teacher. Some friends and I went to the morning market in town. It was so nice...all different kinds of stands and people. I bought an incredibly soft pillow, which still has not helped with my horrible sleeping problems that have developed here in Taiwan, but it is still nice to have something soft. Then we went to a bbq at one of our secretary's orchard (not where she lives). It was on the outskirts of our town, so there were much fewer buildings. She had a small house and a sweet, old, handmade basketball hoop, along with a fishing pond. We played on bikes, fished in the pond (where I caught 2 fish and cooked them right after- I ate it right of the bone. yum.), ate incredible food (which they did not stop cooking the ENTIRE 5 hours) including ROOT BEER, which was bought at Costco , and went on a walk through the hills to a bridge and tunnel. Besides the fact that I seriously could not cool off, the day was really relaxing and wonderful.

These asparagus were at the morning market. The big ones were about 2X the size of my thumb in width- about 4 normal size asparagus put together. mmmm.

I liked these chickens particularly because they still had their mohawk in tact.

I walked so close to this bag I nearly stepped on it. I jumped quite high when I realized they were huge toads. what? There were also a bunch of eels and other creepy stuff. Sometimes I do not understand the Taiwanese people.

The basketball hoop and hill behind the orchard.

These little guys were so cute. They are the twin sons of one of our secretaries. The one of the right was so smiley the whole time.

I love Fenny. She is one of our secretaries, but really just my friend. Plus, she majored in English and speaks like an American.

The bridge. super exciting. This bridge is part of a bike trail- when we got to it, someone mentioned that we should high five the bikers as they went by. You see, in America this would seem like a normal thing to do. Not in Taiwan. I high fived like 50 people- one guy gave me an actual handshake as he was riding his bike by us. It was mostly just the younger people that understood what I was doing with my hand pointing, open palmed, at them.

Palm trees on the walk.

I suggest to everyone to have your saturday's be perfect as well. It is like a present every weekend.