Thursday, December 30, 2010

Packing Day

So my mom was asking me what my plans are for the today and tomorrow (my last two days before airplanes take a day away from me) and I started spouting out all this stuff my friend and I were planning to do on Friday in preparation for a lovely New Years Eve party. (Yay, French macarons!)

"Well if you're going to do all that stuff on Friday then you had better pack tomorrow."

Shit... She's right. I hate it when she does that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blerg... and a new blog

It's been a really long day and I still can't get to sleep. 

I crashed at my friend's house last night and then woke up this morning to take her to pick up her car from the mechanic (only so she could take it to the dealer so the repairs would be covered under warranty, guh). 

I stopped by the apartment and changed clothes and made myself slightly more presentable and less "walk of shame-y" and then went to Cedar Park to the hospital where my mother had had a routine surgery that morning. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Countdown and Nerves

So the countdown is getting low and I only have 5 full days left.

I have to finish my old roommates' Xmas present. (Shuddup, I know I'm late.) I need to pack. I need to go to the store and buy things I would rather not live without (not to be confused with things I can't live without). We're talking salsa, BBQ sauce, cumin.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Stress-Inducing Mess

Lots of developments since I last posted. For awhile there I was afraid nothing cool in my life would ever happen again and I would end up boring you all with the random junk that pops up in my head.

You're in luck, though definitely at my expense.

Texas things that are awesome:

Flannery and I went to Fredericksburg, Texas. We did this last Christmas also.
F'burg is a town that was settled by German immigrants (there are lots of people of German and Czech decent in Texas) that has a very kitschy German flair year-round but it is especially wonderful at Christmas time.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Musings of my inner 12-year-old

I don't know if it's because I'm 24, because I've been home for so long now — OMG almost 8 weeks! — or because my grandmother forbade me to marry a Czech man, but I've been thinking a lot about marriage and weddings and such.

No, I'm not plotting how to find a man. (However, maybe I should create an application process and see what happens... On second thought, perhaps not.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Games galore and some seriously bizarre writing

"Once upon a time there was a pyramid that had two scary masks. Someone went to the pyramib [sic] because they wanted to find the two scary masks, but they saw a big shadow, so they screamed and ran away. They ran over a bridge and they found a poisonous fountain. Then he drank the water from the poisonous fountain and he fell a sleep. He dreamed about a thunder storm and lots of lightning. The lightning hit an apple tree. He ran to a house and he locked the door."

If you've ever wondered how to teach kids whose first language you don't know, I'll give you a couple of hints.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zombies, Vampires and Christmas? Oh my.

I want to know what it is with people's obsession with the undead. 

I have a friend who *LOVES* zombies and living in Austin you get bombarded by zombies and zombie paraphernalia pretty often. I mean, zombies actually descend on the Erwin Center and road signs caution drivers that there may be traffic due to zombies.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pot Pies, East Texas and a Baby

With Christmas coming up and my bank account basically empty I've been trying to come up with things to make for presents. I took up crocheting again and I'm working on a couple of scarfs and hats.

My mom has taken up scrap booking so I've also decided to start working on some of that stuff also. I have a bajillion pictures from a bajillion vacations and such so those ought to be organized somehow, right? Well, I've decided to do it. I haven't actually started anything. Same thing though right?

In case you forgot my budding obsession for clouds, this is the kind of sky you get in Texas.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Talking to Strangers

First things first: Follow my blog with bloglovin

There are 31 days left in the year.

That means I have 31 days left with my family and friends here in the States. I have 31 days to eat all the Tex-Mex and BBQ I want (though I should seriously cut back). Best of all, I have 31 more days until I return to Prague.

Well, I won't actually get back to Prague until January 2 because of the time difference.Technicalities, meh.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010!

So in case you don't remember, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of all time. I love it. 

I made a cranberry-caramel upside-down cake.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Screw the Timeline for Life

So I was reading this blog post about how we 20-something women have a tendency to set a life deadline of 30. By 30 we should be getting married and ready to have babies (or already have a litter brewing). Our career should be on the right track and then the rest of our lives will just magically fall into place during the fourth decade of our being.

I'm sad to admit that sometimes a little voice deep inside my brain nags me with similar thoughts. Though I'm happy to say that I know it's all crap. Deadlines for things like that are impossible not to mention absolutely absurd — and that's coming from the girl who thrives on deadlines. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


So the worst part about moving abroad — well, really about moving anywhere — is finding an apartment. It's generally pretty difficult because most of the time the owner of the apartment doesn't speak English. Then there's the fact that you have to get used to different ways things are done.

Every apartment I ever had before moving to Taiwan was in Texas and followed the typical TSA leasing agreement which is a standard format and follows the state laws which, surprisingly, tend to advocate for the tenant's rights because those are often stomped all over.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

History Shapes People

If any of you have ever been curious about what drives me to travel, I think I might have at least a bit of an answer for you.

I love people watching. People watching is great even in your own backyard, but it's even better abroad. 

I guess what I love about watching people abroad is that it's all new and different and I'm always trying to figure out what is going on. But I love that the things that are different about it are entirely based on their culture. The thing about culture is it's so mixed and it's entirely shaped by history.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm torn

After the first week or so of being home had gone by, people started to ask me if I'm bored and ready to go back.

So after having been in Texas for nearly a month now (Wow, time flies!) I'm starting to finally be able to answer that question.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'm fairly certain I've mentioned this before, but I hate exercise. However, I also hate the idea of getting fat, mostly because the longer you wait to counteract fat the more exercise you have to do to make the fat go away. 

Sucks how that works.

Well I'm pretty sure you guys have also figured out that I love reaching goals and what's more is I love surpassing my goals. I love excelling at anything really. Finding out I'm really good at something is basically the best feeling in the world (right behind the feeling I have after eating a crunchy beef taco and drinking a Mexican martini, but still). 

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's like the freshman 15 all over again.

I remember when I first moved to Austin. I, like most other girls entering college, gained my freshman 15. Of course, back then, it wasn't really a problem because I was actually underweight. I worked so much and was so active in so many clubs that all the junk food I ate back then didn't even compensate for the calorie intake I probably should have had. (Oh how nice those days were.)

But again, the freshman 15 wasn't a big deal because I needed the weight. I just don't really want to go adding to that too much.

So remember how I said I'm probably going to eat the city of Austin? That's not faring too well for the belly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Come back to Texas

Despite the fact that I'm not traveling right now I figured I could probably manage to entertain you with the few things that have been going on around here.

I arrived in Houston Wednesday afternoon and my dad picked my up at the airport there. We decided it would be much more economical for him to simply pick me up in Houston and drive me back to Austin. Besides, then he got a whole two and a half hours with me all by himself. 

The first thing I did was nearly die of heat exhaustion when we walked out the elevator doors onto the roof of the parking garage. The Texas sun was beating down, as expected, and it was a clear, sunny 88°F. 

It was 34°F when I left Prague 14 hours before so I'm sure you can imagine how that felt. I tried to dress in layers so I could strip off the extra when I got to Texas, but we all know that effort is futile. You just can't get cool in Texas unless Texas wants you to.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I am the ultimate procrastinator.

 I've managed to completely avoid doing anything about cleaning and packing up my room. I'm not sure if you know this about me, but I am great at getting things done on deadline. That said, I usually wait until the deadline is pressing. I guess it's the journalist in me. 

Yeah, I know. My room is trashed.
I'm one of those get it done way early or wait until the absolute last minute kind of girls. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Preparing for Texas

I always leave packing to the last minute. 

I'm going back to Texas in two days and I haven't even started. My room is trashed and I don't know where to start.

This is all further complicated by the fact that I have to choose which things to take home and then which things to leave here. I have stuff at my parents house in Austin, but I can't for the life of me remember what. Apparently there are winter clothes there?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A walk through Malá Strana

Now I know I haven't had many touristy moments since I've been in the Czech Republic, but that happens when you're busy studying and/or drinking beer that's cheaper than water.

But after finishing the TEFL course on Friday, I realized that there was really nothing stopping me except for sheer apathy which I've had one hell of a case of lately. 

Finally I got up off my butt, donned my scarf and trench coat — I feel so European — and went walking around. We've had some incredible weather around here lately and every day we just cringe at the thought that it might be the last crisp, sunny day in Prague until Spring. That in itself should have been enough reason to make myself go out. 

Of course, it still took me until mid-afternoon to actually walk out the front door.

I have an announcement to make

So I know the blogging has been a bit sporadic (that word always makes me think of the movie Clueless) here but I promise it's because I've been very busy. Mostly.

I've been making new friends and going out a lot with them. And of course I have been studying hard. I'm happy to announce that it has all paid off!

On Monday I was informed that I received a Pass 1 grade in my TEFL course. That's the highest grade they give and it is accompanied by an automatic offer of employment. That means that I have both a TEFL certification and a job in the Czech Republic.

But wait there's more! I was also given an option between starting now or starting in January. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have learned some interesting stuff here:

First of all I want to say that while I've been learning, or shall I say re-learning, grammar in this course, I have realized that we say so much in English without ever actually saying it. 

For instance:

If you say, "I went to Spain," you're simply stating an action that happened in the past. It's done and over.
If you say, "I have been to Spain," then you're talking about an action that happened in the past and has bearing in the present. (Maybe we're about to talk about Spain. Who knows?)

It's crazy how much we say indirectly and without realizing it.

But on to the more interesting things, such as language acquisition.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

By the way... I'm in Prague

I've done a million things and yet at the same time basically nothing in the two and a half weeks I've been in the Czech Republic.

It's kind of crazy to think that I'm already halfway through with my course. I've been super busy with homework and lesson planning and getting lost in the city that I haven't really had time to stop and think much less blog about it.

 It's kind of hard to care about getting lost when you're in a city this gorgeous.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Five nights and Four and a Half days in London: Night One

I would first like to preface the next few entries with a word about my overall feelings of London.

I spent five days in London and from the moment I started making my way around the city I started catching myself thinking, "I could totally live here."

There was a moment when I actually started looking at jobs in the area and considering blowing off the TEFL program and just staying. Yeah, I liked it that much.

However, I can't really afford to live in London. Not just yet at least. I'll revisit the idea later when I'm more financially solvent.

Obviously I very much enjoyed my stay in London. It was the general feeling the place gave me which may have been aided by the fact that for the first time in eight months I could read and speak without have to pantomime everything.

I'll try to start from the beginning though.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A day and a half in Kuala Lumpur

By the time I got to Kuala Lumpur (KL from now on), I was absolutely exhausted. I managed to sleep about an hour and a half before I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready and make sure I had everything, then I hopped in a cab.

There was a girl already in the cab but she was going to a hotel that was apparently on the way to the airport, so no biggie. Or so I thought...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fleeting thoughts of doubt

I've literally been doing nothing worth talking about the past few days.

I have ended up staying in Kuta the entire time I've been in Bali. I'm a little mad at myself for not at least going to Ubud, but I really liked my hotel room and I've been pretty content. I just don't really feel like exploring is what it comes down to.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

It's beach time.

I have been so incredibly lazy since I got to Bali. 

I think I've just worn myself out to the point that the idea of exploring makes my brain tired. Instead, I've opted to sit on the beach and do nothing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Transit: Cambodia to Bali, Indonesia

I woke up bright and early this morning to get myself ready and make sure I didn't leave anything behind. By 6 a.m. I was downstairs with all my stuff paying out my hotel bill ($25 for the full four nights plus two days of breakfast, I love this!).

Today, my tuk-tuk driver was not late, thank goodness. I decided to use the guy that took me around Angkor yesterday, Sahd, since I felt like I could trust him after a whole eight hours of hanging out and small talk.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Angkor Temples: Enough Said.

When I was 18 and in my first semester of college I took this art history course. There was a 3-hour credit fine arts credit to fill and I decided this would probably be the easiest way. I was over playing the flute — which I had been doing since I was in the 7th grade. 

The course was really broad and touched on all forms of art from every era, time and place in the world you could think of. To this day, my favorite part was the architecture section of this course — particularly when we learned about the Angkor Temples. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Transit: It took me 18 hours to get here, but I'm in Siem Reap, Cambodia!

I have been in and out of Internet access and when I've had the access, I've been using the time to e-mail my family or call my parents. I'm trying not to be so dependent on the Internet when there are so many other amazing things around me.

Found these suprisingly incredible knock-offs of Pringles on the Laos-Cambodian border crossing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Si Phan Don: Four Thousand Amazing Islands between Laos and Cambodia

I took a ridiculously long "bus" ride to the Mekong River where I caught a tiny boat to Don Det one of the many islands on the river between Laos and Cambodia.

I essentially alternated between sleeping and reading in a hammock for a day and half prior to drinking and dining at night with complete strangers.

Then I went Kayak for the first time ever. Not sure if a first time kayaking experience should be on the Mekong River during the high season, but it was awesome.

Details to come soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

In Transit: Laos - Tha Khek to Don Det via Pakse

I lived a charmed life, I know.

After my super long and wonderful trip to Kong Lor I was exhausted but time was still of the essence and I had to get on the road the next morning. That said, I still ran a bit lazy all morning. I took my sweet time getting out of bed, eating breakfast and repacking all my freshly laundered clothing. (Oh my goodness, I love cheap laundry service.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Half Loop: My 400km round trip adventure to Kong Lor Cave

I took an amazing 200km motorbike trip to Kong Lor Village. I slept in the home of a Laos family. I rode a long-tail boat through one of the most amazing caves in the world. I trekked through the mud... and got covered in it. I made an equally amazing 200km return trip.

This was probably the most incredible adventure of my life (at least up 'til now).

On the road.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Transit: Hue, Vietnam to Tha Khek, Laos.

I realized that I completely left out Laos in all of the tales of my Southeast Asia trip thus far. That's sad considering Laos was probably my favorite country to have visited in that part of the world. 

(Just to be clear, I don't know that I will ever be able to pick a favorite place in all the world so at this point I'm sticking to the idea of having a favorite per continent.)

I really had to book it going through Laos and that was unfortunate. Honestly the nature of the country has nothing to do with speed. Everything is done at its natural pace and typically that tends to be quite slow. Something that those of us living in the States have a problem with. 

It certainly helped me realize how impatient I've become, especially after living in such an incredibly efficient place as Taiwan. 

Either way, Laos was amazing. Slowing down really helped me take everything in. It's an amazingly beautiful country. 

Simple and yet simply gorgeous.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vietnam Demilitarized Zone aka My Day With a Vietnamese Veteran

After a day spent on a bus then a dinner accompanied by a few drinks (and some rowdy Danish guys), I was impressed by my ability to wake up sans alarm clock this morning and still make it downstairs to the lobby before my arranged pick-up came to take me away.

However, I'm slightly less impressed with my choice of dress for the day. I should have anticipated hiking through the woods and fields on a DMZ tour, but I guess the typical idea of an effortless tour stuck with me. I certainly preferred what I got, I just wish I had dressed for it.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The gastronomic and photographic approach to travel

After getting into Hoi An on the night bus I found that quite a lot of the hotels were full, particularly all of the budget options. The best I could find was $15 per night. I know that most of you are thinking that's a great price, but up to now I've been paying $7-$8 per night. 

Besides, I'm in SE Asia, things are just plain cheaper here.

Conical hats, colonial architecture, bicycles and scooters. That's Vietnam.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Diving in Vietnam is not like diving in Thailand.

So diving in Nha Trang was mildly disappointing. I think at this point (despite learning to dive in Taiwan) I have the whole experience built up in my head.

It was certainly different.

The view from the boat.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Alive and soon to be kicking underwater

It's funny how many people here ask me if I speak French.

It makes sense given that Vietnam used to be a French colony but it's just interesting when you think about it.

Obviously I don't speak Vietnamese and I'm sure they're thinking that their French is better than their English so that might be their best bet.

It's kind of like when I met someone in Taiwan and sometimes I would prefer to speak to them in Chinese because it was just easier. Or like the time the guy at Teppanyaki asked me if I spoke German because my Chinese wasn't good enough and his English was non-existent.

Oh the language barrier.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I already lost my camera, but I'm having fun.

I've been in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam for a day and a half now. I'm taking some time out from my day to rest and get out of the sun and pollution for a bit.

Saigon is a fun city and there truly are a bajillion (work with me) tourists. There are also a million bajillion motorbikes. People here do ride scooters but there are more actual motorbikes with gears and such.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

When do you feel like a grown up?

It's nearly 2 a.m. on my last night in Taiwan and I'm no where near ready to go to bed. 

I should be but my brain is going too crazy for that, so I thought I would take this time to reflect a little on the past 14 months in Taiwan and the upcoming months of travel ahead of me.

Many of you may remember I cried when I left America and came to Taiwan. I was excited and nervous, but a lot of that was alleviated by the fact that I would at least know someone who was here already. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Exciting news!

Apparently Texan in Taiwan has been listed as one of the Top 10 blogs in Taiwan by Go! Overseas

It's really exciting to know that people are finding my blog and enjoying the content. I hope that I can get this kind of feedback at my new blog Tales of a Traveling Texan

The new blog already has all of my Taiwan content and I will discontinue updates here at Texan in Taiwan once I leave the country.

T-4 days, folks!

Coming up, goodbyes with all my classes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Do you need a receipt?

I keep forgetting if I've been back in Taiwan for one week or two since Thailand. That's how blurry everything is. (It's been two by the way.)

There is just so much going on.

I told all my classes this week that I'm leaving. I've been reading my Southeast Asia on a Shoestring book like crazy. I actually read the entire Cambodia chapter and most of the Laos chapter. 

My first cooking camp is over. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. And I get to do it all over again next week. Yay!

I finally broke down and went to buy new luggage today. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's your name?

So I went to play Killer Pizza yesterday and found out that a girl in my class didn't have a name yet.

First things first, Killer Pizza is a super easy game in which you draw a circle on the board and divide it into slices like you would a pizza. Then you label each slice with a player's name. Then you throw a sticky ball at the circle. Whoever it hits is out (dead if you will) and the two people on either side have to paper-scissor-stone (rock-paper-scissors for all you Americans and Canadians out there). The loser now has a larger piece of pizza because they are occupying their own slice plus the dead person's slice.
Ok that made it sound overly complicated, but it's not. It's super easy. However, you have to have a name. Well, an English name because this is English class after all.

Monday, July 19, 2010

When are you nervous?

I woke up today not feeling very well. Initially, I thought I ate something bad last night at the movie theater. But considering it came and went all day, I think I've just got a huge case of the nerves.

As Leila said, it's only Monday and I've already had a crappy week.
Today I started my first of two cooking camps (I have one this week and one next week).

I love cooking and I love teaching so on the surface this sounds like the best camp ever. Well, looks aren't everything.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You took pictures in Thailand right?

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from Thailand. Enjoy.


Who gets the world's worst blogger award?

I know I'm the world's worst blogger.

I went to Thailand for 10 days and came back a week ago and you guys haven't heard anything about it.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How does a person accumulate this much junk in just a year?

I hate packing.

I managed to get almost all of the clothes I want to keep in one bag along with two pairs of shoes, my documents and a Texas snuggie.
Unfortunately, my robe and my second favorite blanket of all time didn't make the cut. I'm currently debating the idea of a second, smaller, bag of luggage in which I can cram my blanket, my robe and all the other stuff I have. I just have all this extra miscellaneous stuff:

Monday, June 28, 2010

So what's your travel plan again?

I'm moving this week... out of my apartment that is.

Our lease agreement ends while I'm in Thailand on vacation next week so I have to move out now. I'm having trouble getting up the motivation to actually get my stuff together, though, so I'm blogging as procrastination.
My plan is to go ahead and pack everything as if I'm actually leaving the country. Since I will come back from Thailand and only be here for another three weeks, I figured I may as well not waste time moving things that I'm not keeping and since many of the things I am keeping won't be coming with me on my big vacation, I might as well shove them into a space bag and suck the life out of them now. Temporarily of course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Was this your last time teaching our class?

So before Dragon Boat Festival we were having all this terrible weather and my co-teachers and Taiwanese friends all kept saying that once we got passed Dragon Boat Festival it would be super hot out and we would get all the sun we could handle plus some.

They weren't lying. Except I'm a Texas girl, so I can totally handle it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's that stinging feeling?

I woke up at 5 a.m. today.

Not because I wanted to. I wanted to wake up at about 5:40 a.m. That would have been plenty of time to get my stuff together. But the sun wanted to have its way, so I gave in.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What do they mean the road is broken?

After my adventure at Jade Mountain I'm not entirely sure where to begin, so I'll just go chronologically. 

Note: This is an exceptionally long post, but I assure you it is worth it.

 The weather looked like this pretty much the whole time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When was the last time you used pen and paper?

I wrote my entire recollection of the "Jade Mountain" adventure with Leila with a pen on paper. It was weird actually writing something again and I think I actually prefer it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What is a monsoon?

So just a quick update.

It's been raining pretty much constantly here in Taiwan. We're in the middle of a pretty heavy monsoon, I guess.

We thought it was going to be terrible weather last Sunday so we canceled our second trip to Fulong for our diving session. Of course, then the weather turned out to be amazing. We didn't know until it was too late to head out there and be productive though.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's not a volcano is it?

It's funny the little tidbits of information that get home and how. 

When I lived in Austin I didn't see my mom every day even though she only lived 20 minutes away, but I talked to her almost every single day on the phone at least once. Sometimes multiple times per day. 

And despite being halfway around the world, we have the digital era to thank for the almost instantaneous assurance that all is well with our loved ones. We were talking constantly when I first got here, but now we pretty much just e-mail a few times a week.

Here's a little snippet of today's conversation:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

When do you feel pressed for time?

I've had my nose in my Southeast Asia on a Shoestring from the Lonely Planet for about a week now. I actually lent it to a friend for the next few days so that I'll stop reading it constantly.

While doing my homework is a good idea, I get kind of obsessive and then really anxious. I don't know how I'm going to survive five weeks out of a backpack if I can't just go with the flow of things.

It got all sunny, warm and beautiful on Monday. Of course, it would since it rained on us all day Sunday while we were in the pool learning to dive. 

But, by Wednesday night it was pouring again. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Can you SCUBA dive in the rain?

Today we went to Fulong to do our first dives of the dive course. 

Initially we intended to do the two pool dives and then one (mayyyybe two) dive in the ocean. 

Things didn't go quite as planned. I had some trouble with one of the exercises which put us behind schedule. But honestly that wouldn't have made a difference because by the time we were even considering going in the ocean we realized that the rain made the conditions far to crappy for us to deal with. 

So it was a pool day, and that's fine by me.

Things of note: 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

When are you busy?

So I definitely dropped a big bomb on you guys and then haven't been back since. I apologize, but in my defense, I've been working a lot.

I picked up a lot of extra hours and privates, so I've been working something like 40 hours a week — nearly double my usual schedule.
It'll be like this until I leave. Especially once the summer camps kick in. Those alone will add another 15 hours to my week.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Do you have any secrets?

OK, I have to admit, I've been keeping a secret from you.

Don't hate me. It was honestly for the protection of my job, but now the cat is out of the bag, so I can tell you.

I'm moving. To Prague. In September.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When does the sun come up?

For the record, the sun comes up ridiculously early.

That's a good thing though. I can't really sleep when it's bright out, so I've been waking up a bit earlier lately. Granted I'll stay in my bed and read or play on the Internet until my stomach starts yelling at me furiously about food, but waking up earlier is better.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who knows what is going on in this head of mine?

Let's play catch-up first. My birthday was super fun.

I went to Debbie's for breakfast with a few of the girls. Then I went home and researched vacations for about four hours. Then I went to the book store at Taipei 101, Page One, for three hours.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why are these people paying so much attention to me just because it's my birthday?

This week has been one heck of a roller coaster ride.

I've been happy and the sad and angry and depressed and excited. I've experienced a plethora of emotions and I'm not even sure where all of them came from.

Though I think I have decided that I would suck at living alone. It's nice to have a little alone time, but I don't like having too much alone time. Honestly, that's kind of what I thought would happen.

This week had some rough patches, partly due to being alone all week and partly due to the fact that my birthday is tomorrow.

Believe me, I know that doesn't make any sense.

I never really thought I was that much of a birthday person. I mean, I enjoy birthdays, but I didn't think it meant all that much to me. (Granted there was that time I didn't talk to my best friend/prom date from my birthday until prom day because he forgot my birthday...) I like getting presents and it's fun having people say happy birthday and all, but honestly, most of the time when people wish me a happy birthday, I feel ridiculous.

"Why are these people paying so much attention to me just because it's my birthday?" is all that I can think.

Honestly, at first I wasn't even telling people it was my birthday because I felt like an attention whore. That lasted until I realized that if I didn't tell at least someone that I would be spending my birthday alone or doing something I had no interest doing. Let's face it, I haven't known these people very long so I can't just expect them to know when my birthday is.

Truth is, it's just nice to have a day where people really pay attention to you. Even if it is just because it's your birthday.

Anyhow, I was sad about my birthday coming up because it's the only birthday that I can ever remember not spending with my family. And I miss my friends so much. All I could think about it how I would have gone to dinner with my family. My mom and my sister would probably have made me cupcakes or something or we would have all baked something together since it's also Mother's Day.

Then I would have met up with my friends at one of my favorite watering holes where we would dominate the jukebox chit-chatting and singing along all night. 

I don't even know of a place in Taiwan that has a jukebox (even one of those digital ones would suffice).

But despite all the homesick blues I've been having this week things are looking up.

My kids all sang "Happy Birthday" to me today and my last class even got together and ordered a bunch of pizzas to celebrate. That was seriously the nicest thing (and totally solved the dilemma in my mind about what I should eat for dinner tonight).

Some friends and I are going to go to brunch and then JiuFen during the day tomorrow. Then we're going to try to have dinner at Chili's so I can have American-Mexican food (specifically fajitas and queso) and so I can get my margarita on. I definitely haven't had a margarita since I was home in December. I plan on teaching the bartender how to make a Mexican Martini (also known as a Texas Martini at some establishments). 

Then, I found out that I got approved to take a Monday off in June so that I can have another Taiwan adventure with Leila. 

In case you need a reminder, Leila is basically my Taiwan travel buddy. She's Brazilian-Canadian, loves scuba diving and has lived in Taiwan twice as long as me (maybe more?). Her Chinese rocks and she's super laid back which makes her super fun to travel with. You may remember her from trips such as Chinese New Year in Hualien, Taroko Gorge and Kenting, or from Tomb Sweeping Weekend at Sun Moon Lake.

Well, ladies and gents, it is officially time for me to ditch the elevator and start taking the stairs up to my fifteenth floor apartment because Leila and I are climbing Jade Mountain in about a month.

Jade Mountain (玉山, YuShan) is pretty much in the middle of Taiwan in the southern portion of Nantou county. It is the tallest mountain in Taiwan (and East Asia) and the fourth tallest mountain on an island. It rises to 3952 meters (or 12,996 feet).  (Ahem, thank you Wikipedia.)

We will begin the hike on a Sunday morning and stop for lodging a little more than half-way up. Then at 3 a.m. Monday morning we'll be waking up, chowing down some grub, and grabbing our flashlights to guide us to the peak to witness what will ultimately be the most gorgeous sunrise I've ever seen. (Not that I've seen many sunrises. I'm the kind of girl that cooperates more with sunsets, honestly). 

Believe me — I know I'm asking to get my butt kicked with this one, but I couldn't turn down the opportunity.

So that leads to the next new thing in my life. Starting this week, I plan to hike Tiger Head or run twice a week, as well as hike Yangmingshan once a week and then yoga twice a week. This will be a pretty good prep for Jade Mountain as well as make me feel less guilty and self conscious when I finally step into a swim suit this season. 

I'm also going to get a little more serious about cutting down the meat in my diet. I just don't feel like meats here are as high quality as they are at home and often I feel gross after eating meat these days. I'll hike up the fruits and veggies count.

I have two months until Thailand when I seriously need to be camera ready.

Now I'm going to go to TaiMall to watch Iron Man 2 with some of the ladies. That'll be a nice way to cruise into my birthday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Do you take your camera everywhere with you?

I do take my camera with me everywhere. At least most of the time. 

Unfortunately, that two months that I went without a battery charger for my camera really killed my habit to automatically shove my camera into whatever bag I'm taking with me when I leave. Now, even when I do have it with me, I often forget. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

What do you use chopsticks for?

So I'm at the end of my super busy week and my first week alone in the apartment.

The timing actually couldn't have been more perfect. I worked 40 hours this week and when you add in travel time I basically did nothing at home but sleep, eat and shower. I didn't really have time for anyone (or anything) else. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are you a good driver?

OK, I've been trying to get around to writing for a few days now, but I've just been so busy.

The extra work was enough to keep me going all day, but add in having a bunch of extra foreigners around and you can understand why I haven't been able to find much of a free moment.

I'll just give you the basic highlights of the past few days plus a lengthy description of Sunday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What kind of mood are you in today?

I was super cranky all day.

Well, the first 20 minutes of my day I was pretty aloof... and that's when everything went downhill.

I sort of dawdled when I was getting ready this morning and I ended up not leaving the apartment until 10 minutes before I was supposed to be catching a train.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What would it be like to live alone?

So today began Tess' last week in Taiwan.

It's totally bizarre to think about because not very many people have left since I got here last summer. Which is weird considering this is generally a pretty high turnover job.

Either way, her mom and sister will be here tomorrow morning. She's super excited and to be honest so am I. I can't even count how many conversations I've overheard between Tess and her family on Skype and of those how many I've actually ended up giving my two cents in. Then there are just all the families she's told us.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When are you absent-minded?

The past week has been insane.

Saturday night we went out for Angela's birthday. Of course we went to our usual club — Search — but this time Angela reserved tables. That put a nice twist on things and we all had a blast. (Except for when that super creepy Taiwanese guy kept following me around the dance floor and literally tried to kiss me at one point...)

Every time we go to this beach we go all the way down to this old war bunker to set up camp.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who needs a $200 bill?

So I have apparently been teaching for nine months now, if you take out the vacation time that is.

According to our contract, they hold the first two weeks of our pay. Then when you've stuck it out for nine months, they give you back a week of it. They hold on to that other week to make sure you stick around for the next three months.
I guess the $30,000NT bonus at the end isn't enough for some people so they had to tack on that extra $14,000 or so.

So for the next week I'm getting double pay. That's nice. Of course, this was all accounted for in my budget and so it must be sent directly to my bank account never to be seen at again until I'm ready to pay off bills or travel.

I have, however, gotten to see some interesting money.

I've already told you about the $2000 bill in all its purple glory. It's slightly longer than the other bills and in general a major pain in the butt unless you're going to make a pretty large purchase or just put it in the bank.

Every time I've gotten one I've just put it in the rent pile or given it to the bank in exchange for the funds I send home for my student loans. (Insert grumblings about student loans here.)

A few weeks ago though, I found this really random looking coin in my bag. It took me awhile to realize it's a $10NT coin and not some random other money. It just looks so sleek and new and it has the random circle on the back of it that's a different texture from the rest of the coin.

According to Linda (my Chinese teacher) they were trying out a new look for the coins, but people decided they didn't like them and that they were still very similar to the old version (I mean they are still silver and the exact same size, but so?) so the government stopped minting them.

But today, well today I had a special discovery. I got really confused when the accountant at school handed me this:

It's green!

I don't know about you, but when I see green money I automatically think American money. This was especially true since all the money in Taiwan is red and blue and purple (Purple. How can you take this seriously?). At least I thought it was.

Someone told me the $2000 bill was elusive, well I hadn't even heard of the $200 bill until last week. And why would I?

It's the equivalent of the American $2 bill. In theory, it's kind of cool. But in practice, it's kind of annoying.

The way things are priced here, it's rare you would need $200NT and if you do, why not just use two $100NT bills or a $500NT bill. Chances are you have a ton more of those than $200NT bills. If the government really wanted anyone to use them enthusiastically it would make more of them. But it's stingy with them, and that's because they know that they really don't fill a need.

They're simply not necessary.

They are kind of nifty looking though. They're very clean (not like "not dirty" clean — though I suppose that's true too given its lesser use — but well organized). And I would guess they're more difficult to forge than the average $100NT or $500NT bill.

There are quite a few water marks and this one strange spot on the right side of the bill that looks like a guy wearing a dou li (those pointy bamboo hats) in the back of a red truck driving through a dessert. (For the record, I'm sure that's not what it actually is, but it's kind of hard to tell so I'm letting my imagination take over.)

Anyone know of any other infrequently used currency out there? I think it's kind of interesting.