Thursday, October 29, 2009

Trick or Treat?

I wish we could wear costumes everyday. They definitely make kids even cuter than they already are!

You'll see what I mean:


My babies class! Aren't they so adorable!
Me with one of my favorite classes!

David with our class. He was being SO goofy!

Rosa, my little Korean princess.

Tina, the scary witch!

Harry Potter! I mean, Wudy.

Johnathan being dopey in my Domo mask.

Ruby, my dead Geisha.

Alice and Little Janice, my pretty girls!

Edison! His grandpa is the man sitting behind him. He made this whole costume!

Oh and of course, where there are children on a holiday, there are songs to be sung! Remember this classic?

Trick or Treat
Smell my feet

Give me something good to eat
If you don't
I don't care

I'll pull down your underwear!


I've always preferred this version, which is exactly what I taught to my kids.

video

The other classes apparently use
"Not too big, not too small, just the size of a basketball."

Obviously this one is more kid friendly I suppose, but I like that the one I learned when I was a kid really lets you know what you're in for if you decide to say trick instead of treat. Just sayin'.

More Halloween tomorrow and maybe Saturday depending on how my older kids are feeling. At the very least, I have one more little kid class and then lots of jack-o-lantern carving in another one tomorrow!

Can anyone think of any other songs? As much as I love it, I'm still getting a little tired of hearing it after 25 times.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What are you going to be for Halloween?

It's only Tuesday morning and I'm already exhausted this week.

The sad part is, I haven't really done anything. I'm just lazy.

On Sunday, Tess, Katie and I all slept in — for once I didn't sleep the latest though — and then we had a leisurely day of fun all planned out for ourselves.

We went to Debbie's where I finally had the eggs benedict that I've been craving for a week. It's nice to just have this nice little place where we can go to get Western food that we didn't have to cook ourselves.

Then we went to walk up Tiger Head Mountain. Yep, I finally actually went to Tiger Head. It only took me four months. Now I can start going on my own because I know how to get there. Let's see how long it takes me to get motivated for that.

After Tiger Head, Tess and I didn't a little shopping at the Baking Store. I really mostly browsed so I could get a feel for what I could buy for Thanksgiving dinner. Then we all hung out at the apartment for a couple of hours before heading out to the movies to see Taking Woodstock. It was a pretty funny movie.

I took a lot of pictures on Tiger Head but I haven't uploaded them yet. I'll post them tonight with my Halloween Party Pictures!

Yep, I have my babies class tonight meaning me and 13 adorable children playing tons of Halloween games in lots of crazy costumes. I know that you guys just can't wait to see the amazing photos that will come out of that.

Speaking of costumes, today is "Project Costume" day. I'm headed out to the fabric store so I can make mine now. Hopefully five hours is enough time. It's not like it has to be super high quality. It's just got to hold up for a week.

Yay! Candy, games and costumes all week!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

She understands Chinese?

Today is probably the most successful Saturday I have had since I've been in Taiwan.

Four months of crappy Saturdays... yuck.

I actually had zero trouble waking up this morning even though I didn't go to bed until 1 a.m. I just jumped right out of bed and had plenty of time to take a shower, make coffee at home and stop to get some dan bing on the way to class.

I know you're probably wondering when the heck I'm going to get tired of dan bing. My current answer to that is "never," but I know that is probably not true. For now, it's the only local breakfast cuisine that I know of meaning my only other option of breakfast on the go is McDonald's.

Well, I suppose I could cook... Ew, 7 a.m. cooking.

We had a movie day in my first class. I went to Blockbuster last night and my brain was swirling with ideas of what movie I should pick for the kids. Obviously it had to be age appropriate; it had to be in English with Chinese subtitles; and it had to be something that would win me points with these kids.

Since our class is so early in the morning, we generally don't have much fun and so I always get this feeling that they kind of hate me.

Turns out, that's not it. Or if it was it's not anymore because the second they figured out that I picked Night at the Museum 2 they were all clapping and super excited.

Cool points for Teacher Jimmie.

I got a little homesick watching the movie though. OK, less "homesick" and more "last summer" sick. The majority of the movie takes place in Washington D.C. at the Federal Archives and in the Smithsonian Museums.

Well, if you don't know already, I had an internship in D.C. last summer and although I never saw myself as a D.C. person, it turns out that I really am.

I fell in love with that city.

Also, I definitely spent the majority of my weekends last summer visiting the Smithsonian Museums — they're free so what else is an intern living on $1000/month supposed to do. I went to the Air and Space Museum on multiple occasions because I just kind of love planes and all things aerospace.

Point is: They would show these awesome panoramic shots of the city or these cool parts of the museums and I just kind of felt really sad all of a sudden.

It seems D.C. still holds a piece of my heart.

That said, this blog is supposed to be about Taiwan where it's still raining. That stupid typhoon — Typhoon Lupit — turned northeast and so we're just getting all of the rain that's on the outer edges of the storm. Granted at least we're not getting the actual typhoon, but I still hate driving in the rain.

I don't care where you are, people drive like idiots in the rain! It's universal and I simply don't understand it. It's like no one has ever seen a raindrop in their lives.

Add in a million scooters, flimsy helmets and worthless rain gear and you've got road rash up to your eyeballs. At least one of other teachers does after getting hit by a car a couple of days ago. I'm just glad she's OK. A few big scrapes be she made it out OK.

So many of the teachers at our school have gotten into accidents since I've been here. It's so scary!

Back to my successful Saturday, the rest of my classes went off without a hitch.

Lately I've been describing Saturdays as a pattern of coffee, crappy class, great class, food, crappy class, great class, food, sleep.

I think I'm finally getting to that point where things really aren't so crappy anymore. I still wouldn't describe them all as "great" but I think I'm starting to get somewhere. Maybe it's my new no-nonsense attitude.

In my third class, the kids generally misbehave. One of the kids kept going "Laoshrrrrrrrrr." (Chinese for teacher.)

Finally I just looked at him and said, "Sam! Say 'teacher' not 'laoshr' or you're gonna get double homework!"

Sam looked at my co-teacher and was like... "Uh, she understands Chinese?"

Then we talked about how I am learning Chinese but still know infinitely less Chinese than they know English. And they asked if I know Spanish and I told them I started learning when I was really young. They decided that it's my background speaking Spanish that makes me speak English so fast.

Maybe I should slow down for these kids, eh?

I also gave a girl double homework because she had her cell phone out in class after me telling her multiple times to put it away. She and the other kids in class kept calling each other so their phones would go off and interrupt class. I already told them last week no cell phones in class.

That's just a general respect thing, but it made me feel like a real teacher not necessarily in a good way though.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

When it rains, it drizzles?

There are some classes that I honestly feel like you just can't win over and the WOW class I was teaching tonight is definitely one of them.

I can feel the 'tweens in that class judging my every move. I'm not nearly cool enough or thin enough for them and therefore anything I do in class hardly warrants participation.

Result: a very quiet classroom, a very irritated teacher, and some seriously bored kids.

I know I'm supposed to teach through games, but I just can't bring myself to reward them with games. They don't deserve it. Then again I may just be feeding the fire by only playing one game per class.

You win some, you lose some.

Outside the classroom, I slept most of the day (we stayed out too late for Danielle's birthday last night...) and then spent time looking ahead at what I might do after my year is up here in Taiwan. While it is always an option to stay here (and I am considering it) I am also looking at where (or how) else I can grow. Of course, my ultimate goal is to put that journalism degree to good use, so that's also on my brain.

Also, it started raining sometime this afternoon and it hasn't stopped since. That's the thing about rain in Taiwan versus rain in Texas.

Texas: When it rains, it pours. That's not simply a figure of speech. It literally pours whenever it rains in Texas and then next thing you know the evidence it gone except for some wet grass (and the aftermath of a flash-flood or two).

Taiwan: When it rains, it drizzles... OK, maybe it's a little more than a drizzle, but what I mean is that it pretty much rains softly all day.

While I miss being able to hear the rain (probably my favorite noise of all time), it's nice that it's not pouring down when I'm on the scooter driving to work.

Apparently it's supposed to rain through Saturday.

At least it will be gone in time to have a fun Sunday! I'm thinking I might go to the National Palace Museum. Suggestions?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's the weather like in Fall?

It's gotten to the point where we keep the balcony windows open all of the time now. Yep, it feels that good outside.

Though it's pretty chilly at night. In fact, I'm officially calling it soup season!

I finally tried Taiwanese beef noodle soup (niou ro mien) and it was really good. The broth wasn't exactly what I was expecting (I think I was thinking more beef stew) but after a few bites, I decided I liked it. The noodles were the best.

And it was so filling. I got a little bowl and it was even too much for me to eat.

Then last night I got some guo tie (fried dumplings, or what many of us call "potstickers") and some hot and sour soup (which I have no idea what they call hear, I just pointed).

One of my co-teachers told me about this place by Dar-Nan school that has the potstickers and so I've been going there for a few week now. But she told me they also have great hot and sour soup there.

Since she told me, she has been asking me every week if I've tried it yet. So I decided that, since it's finally cool enough, I would try them finally. I never really liked hot and sour soup at home, but I find that I'm far less picky about food here and so I thought I would just go with it.

It tasted great, but I just couldn't bring myself to eat it.

Think of what egg whites feel like when you first crack open an egg, that was the consistency of this soup. It was almost gelatinous. I am very much a texture person when it comes to food, and that is one texture that I just cannot handle. I tried though. I definitely had a good ten spoonfuls before I just had to give up.

In other exciting, non-food-related news, next week we get to have Halloween celebrations in our classes.

I'm so exciting to see my kindie class dressed up for Halloween and playing all these fun games. In fact, last night, I taught them to sing my favorite Halloween rhyme ever (i.e. the only one I can remember because it's been like 13 years since I've been Trick-or-Treating).

Trick or Treat
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don't, I don't care
I'll pull down your underwear!


It was the cutest thing in the world.

But this means I have to come up with a costume and a ton of games. Games for little kids and for big kids. The big kids are always the hardest ones though. If you have any fun Halloween game suggestions I would appreciate the help.

In return for the help, I'll post the most adorable pictures ever. I'm going to go camera crazy in my classes next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Isn't Taipei 101 magnificent?

I am proud of myself for holding out all day Sunday before I found out what the final score of the UT/OU game was. That's not to say it wasn't on the back of my mind the entire day, but I had enough cool stuff to keep myself occupied.

We had our big party Saturday night. It is three different teachers' birthdays this week and one of them rented this swank hotel room. We gathered in Taipei at the hotel and then went to this
gigantic club called Luxy.

It was so much fun.

And since we already had the hotel room, most of us stayed in the city and just slept on the couch, floor, etc. I put two chairs opposite each other and used a bathrobe as a blanket.

It was kind of like being in college again.

As I was walking to the MRT from the hotel, I started to cross over Shin-Yi Road when I noticed that I could actually see the very top of Taipei 101. For those of you who don't know, 101 is currently the tallest building in the world.



I've been itching to go — I love heights and crazy cool engineering projects like this — but every Sunday I either already had plans to do something or it was cloudy/raining. Obviously it would be stupid to go to the top of a ridiculously tall building when it's cloudy.

The point is to see things.

I spent so much time just walking around the observatory. In general I feel like going to the top of a high building is pretty much always the same. I mean, I've been to the top of the Seattle Space Needle. My work building in Arlington, Virginia was pretty tall (I had a view straight down the National Mall).


It's not the fact that the building is tall that's all that interesting to me. Though Taipei 101 being the tallest is neat, I honestly believe there is a point at which you can't tell that you're much higher. Especially in Taipei because there aren't very many tall building to begin with. If it were towering over all the other sky scrapers, that would be cool.



But it is a
different view than all the others and my isn't is beautiful. I love that it's this super dense urban environment, then a big green mountain and then more city. Taipei is a pretty unique city.

The other cool thing about tall buildings is the cool engineering stuff that goes into it. If you've been following along with me then you know that earthquakes and typhoons happen are a pretty regular occurrence here. That has got to be the first thing that pops into the mind of someone who says, "I'm going to build the tallest building in the world in Taipei."

The damper ball — the world's largest passive tuned mass wind damper (according to the 101 Web site) —weighs 660 metric tons and is 5.5 meters in diameter. It's huge. And the way it works is awesome.


It's essentially a big pendulum that sways back and forth — it has a clearance of 1.5 meters to do so — in order to level out the building during earthquakes or high winds. It's just a massive amount of steel strung up by even more steel (24 steel cables each 9cm in diameter) that keeps the gigantic bamboo-shaped steel from falling over.

The best things about the damper are the hilarious Damper Babies. In fact, this month they are celebrating the Damper Babies' sixth birthday.


See! The damper is the body and then you throw on some legs and arms and make the eyes and nose using "101."

They have four different Damper Baby personalities. Find out which one matches you best here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What time is it?

My tendencies toward obsession have been preoccupied with college football for the past couple of days.

In fact, my Facebook status has something to do with OU still sucking at 8 p.m. Saturday night. What can I say, I like the idea of being "in the future."

I'm proud that although I'm 13 hours ahead and I can't even watch college ball, I still wear my orange every Saturday (even though the game generally doesn't even play until my Sunday) and I do everything I can to keep up with the stats.

I "watch" the game on the CBS College GameTracker. What can I say, I'm a Texas girl — not to mention I certainly have a team worth being proud of.

We're supposed to go out in Taipei tonight for a few of the teachers' birthdays (three people's birthdays in the next week!). I'm still trying to figure out how I can manage to keep up with the game while I'm out dancing with my friends. Maybe there will be a sports bar nearby playing ESPN or something.

I feel like I have a better chance in Taipei.

Other things that have happened recently:

Yesterday, the fire alarm went off in our building for something like an hour. They made some big announcement in Chinese and then it started going off. At first I thought it was the car dealership attached to our building because now and then I hear announcements coming from there.

Then I went out into the hallway and it was definitely the loudest thing ever.

I totally didn't get it until way later, but one of my friends' called in a Chinese Fire Drill.

If you don't know what a Chinese Fire Drill is, see below:



I'll just leave you with that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Which season do you like best?

I know what you're thinking. "We did this one already, right?"

But it seems that Autumn is upon us and let me tell you how it is certainly my new favorite season.

I say new favorite because Autumn simply doesn't exist in Texas. There you go from blazing hot hell of a summer to iced roads and the biggest coats you can find (because everything is bigger in Texas).

Of course, I'm not really seeing evidence of leaves changing colors and falling — though my sister now lives in Seattle and she is. Jealous.

I wore a sweater and a scarf today — and I actually needed them. I think I'm probably going to have to buy a new helmet because the colder it gets the more my ears and face are going to freeze off — and apparently it will indeed get colder.

Right now, it's slightly chilly on the scooter, but nothing I can't handle (especially with the help of a cardigan and a light scarf).

I simply love the fact that I'm not sweating through my clothes before I even get to class and then sweating through my clothes all over again while I'm in class.

I know, gross/TMI.

Autumn just makes me feel young and energetic though. I know that I am young, but this is different. I guess I just don't feel like time is blurring by anymore. I don't understand how weather makes me feel that way, but it does.

Now I just have to figure out how to clothe myself for a couple of season that I wasn't really expecting. Apparently it actually gets pretty cold here (at least from a Texan's perspective).

Let the shopping spree begin?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ni lei bulei?

Today I kept myself busy. Making a list of things to do today helped a lot.

I still woke up kind of late but it was still an acceptable hour.

I bought a ton of fruit and veggies today and concocted this crazy "everything" dish with black beans, eggs and various seasonings. It was interesting and pretty good. It would have been better with tortillas and salsa though.

I bought some okra and I'm trying to figure out what to do with that. I'm thinking I might try my hand at some curry, though I'm not real familiar with that area of cooking.

I finally went back to Chinese class with Linda tonight. We covered two chapters in the book. It helped that I had pre-read everything.

I'm actually doing surprisingly well at reading the characters. We actually went through both lessons reading only the characters and not the pinyin. I'm proud of myself.

Linda also taught me a bunch of new verbs and ways to describe people and I now know conjunctions. (Thank goodness. I love conjunctions!)

At the end of the lesson, she asked if I study at home and when I told her that I do she said she could tell. She also said that it makes her excited to teach me because I'm so in to learning and I'm trying to read and all.

Who doesn't love a little praise from their teacher?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What's the deal?


OK so here are the basics of my trip.

My college roommate came to visit me. It's the furthest she has ever been from home (of course) and the longest she has gone on a vacation that didn't involved her parents.

I already told you about our first couple of night so I'll skip to the rest.

Sunday is where the fun started.

Meghan and I grabbed some
dan bing (geez, I can't get enough of that stuff) and we hopped on a plane to Manila. After a moment of confusion and stressing out over the fact that we didn't have pesos so we couldn't use a pay phone to call Meghan's cousin who was meeting us at the airport, he found us.

Thank goodness, because I get a little panicky.

Manila was relatively uneventful, which I guess is a good thing.

Honestly, it was just a little different than what I expected. We were staying with her cousin who is an American businessman living in The Philippines working for a company in Hong Kong. He has this fabulous house, amazing (and gracious) wife, two adorable sons, three maids/nannies and a driver.

That's living the high life. And thus, we lived the high life for a couple of days to.

When we arrived that afternoon, Troy and Loren (his wife) took us to Tagatay. It's an active volcano with a lake and an island in the middle.

Unfortunately, the clouds had set in by the time we made it up there, so this is what we saw.


If you squint really hard you can see the ripples in the water, but the island is pretty much impossible to see. It was still pretty and peaceful though, so we had snacks.

The next day we pretty much just hung around for the morning. We were woken up with a gigantic (Western) breakfast. Eventually Meghan and I decided we wanted to go to
Intramuros.



Intramuros, inside the walls, is the oldest area in Manila, built by the Spanish, most of which was destroyed in WWII. You can still see parts of the wall, Fort Santiago and a couple of super old churches.



They have this amazing shrine to Dr. Jose Rizal. After his execution by the Japanese, the Filipinos rose into rebellion. I honestly couldn't repeat the whole story, but it's a very romantic story when you hear it told by a Filipino tour guide. Ours was actually quite excellent. He did the whole tour in a horse-drawn carriage for 250 Philippine Pesos per person. I recommend it.

After Intramuros we headed over the The Hobbit House. This is a bar staffed almost entirely by little people. Yep. Just think Hobbit. It opened in the '70s and is basically Lord of the Rings themed. It's owned by an Irishman and therefore sells hundreds of amazing beers. Unfortunately we chose to go on a Wednesday night in October, so it was dead.

We also went to a wet market (you know how much I love open-air markets) to buy
tons of fresh-out-of-the-water seafood. A restaurant right next to the market cooked it all up for us. It was such a nice night.

Then it was off to Bohol for our beach time.

Now remember all that panicking I was doing? You know how I was obsessing over the weather?

Well, it all pretty much disappeared as far as The Philippines went (though Meghan didn't have one cloud-free day in Taiwan).


Alona Beach was gorgeous and everything I hoped it would be. We had a room at an awesome resort and it wasn't crowded at all. I highly recommend Alona (on Punglao Island) if you're going to The Philippines. It's so wonderful.

The only thing that bothered me is that people kept saying that we were rich because of the resort we were staying at. It baffled me because I'm anything but rich and honestly, I found a fabulous package deal.

We could have actually done stuff cheaper, but I didn't know that at the time considering I had never been there.

I found this package that got us three nights stay, breakfast everyday, a one-hour massage and a tour of the big Bohol tourist spots. All for about $600/each. I'm happy with that. Like I said though, we could have done it cheaper, but this was safe and easy. You pay for luxuries like that.

On the tour we went to the Blood Compact site, Baclayon Church (also known as Immaculate Conception Church), Loboc River (where we went on a lunch cruise through the rain forest on a
bangka), the Chocolate Hills (which were beautiful) and the Tarsier Sanctuary.


Either way, at the beach it was pretty much nothing but watermelon margaritas and San Miguel Pale, a ($5) massage every day and beautiful views.

The Philippines were amazing. The people were
so nice and it was kind of nice to take a break from thinking in two languages all of the time.





Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is she back yet?

OK, I have been having some severe problems with the Blogger editor and since I was on vacation I didn't want to stress over them too much. But I promise you that I have been dying to tell you all about my trip and seeing my best friend!

Alas, I have class in an hour and a half, so for now I will leave you with some glorious pictures of all our fun. I'll actually write about everything after class. (I've had a few cups of coffee today so I'm nearly positive I'll have enough energy.)

I'm so excited to get back to work today to see my babies.

Oh and one last thing before the picture parade.

I am now officially a student correspondent for GlobalPost.com. My first story went up with the pre-launch copy and now the whole Study Abroad portion of the Web site it up and running. The Study Abroad site compiles stories, photos, video and other multimedia from students studying abroad and recent graduates (ahem) who are traveling over seas.

Check out my story. Then check out some from the other correspondents.

There are some very talented young people involved in this project and I am so excited to be a part of it.

Now for the picture parade:



Fort Santiago at Intramuros in Manila City.


Wet market in Manila where we bought the yummiest seafood and had a
nearby restaurant cook it up for us and make it even yummier.


Me at Baclayon Church. The tour guide told "You are dressed to sexy," as she
started to drape me with these little satin pieces of cloth.

Loboc River. We took a little lunch cruise and it was absolutely beautiful.


The Chocolate Hills. This place is gorgeous and it goes on and on forever.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How long will it rain?

This is going to be quick because I need to go to sleep.

Meghan got here Saturday night and we've been having tons of fun.

Saturday we went to the Taoyuan Night Market and then bowling. Then we proceeded to stay up until 7 a.m. talking and talking and talking.

I hadn't seen the girl in four months and we used to be roommates. We went from 60mph to 0mph real fast.

When we finally woke up Sunday it was a little late but we made it work.

We booked it to Beitou and took a dip in the hot springs.

Hot springs are a big thing in Taiwan. They're everywhere. It has something to do with the crazy geological activity in the region.

At the hot springs there was this funny little Taiwanese man. He immediately latched on to us ("Sit here! Sit here!") and we talked to him most of the time we were there. He told us about how he used to live in California for about a year and he asked about why I decided to teach in Taiwan and how long I plan to stay.

After the hot springs we headed over to the Shilin Night Market. If you'll remember I was there last week with the roomies so it was nice to know where I was going. That and this time the entire market was open because it was actually night time.

I think we ended up just walking around and eating. I bought a pair of black shoes that are rubber-ish (so they're great for rain) but they're actually really cute.

After a couple of hours at the night market we came home exhausted. But somehow we still ended up staying up until 3 a.m. Poor Meghan and all the jetlag.

Today we woke up late again. We both set our alarms but forgot to actually turn them on.

We still managed to go to WuFen Pu and shopped for almost three hours.

I bought a couple of shirts. Meghan bought a ton of stuff but she still didn't spend very much money. That's the great thing about shopping in Taiwan.

Then we headed to Sashi Miya. I've been dreaming of going to this place ever since I found it on this girl's blog. It was so good to have real sushi again.

Also, they were super nice. The guy was concerned about us not having umbrella's (we had been walking around the the rain all day with our hoodies on and just trying to stay under the awnings). He offered to give us umbrellas.

"You don't have to bring them back," he said.

He got distracted but it was for the best because I would have felt bad just taking these umbrellas.

Then we headed over to Longshan Temple. It was beautiful.

Honestly, I see temples all of the time, but I haven't actually gone inside one. I'm always nervous and I kind of felt like it's disrespectful. But we were welcomed in (via umbrella) and we just walked around and took pictures of everything.

I wish I had thought to take video of the people in the temple but all I could think about was wanting to take a picture and how that would definitely be disruptive with the flash and all.

It was absolutely gorgeous though. I love temples because despite the fact that many of them are super old, they still look shiny and new because they're so well taken care of.

After Longshan, we took a walk over to Snake Alley. It was anti-climactic though.

It was pretty empty because of the rain (actually one guy who gave us directions said that it would be because of the typhong, or typhoon) and so there weren't any snake handlers out. We hoping it will be clear out when we get back from The Philippines so we can go back.

Meghan will have one more night and a morning in Taiwan when we get back, so hopefully we can do Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum then. 

Until then, we will be in The Philippines starting tomorrow until Sunday. I'm not sure how the Internet connection will be there. Hopefully we will have access so I can update now and then.

I'm considering doing an individual post about each place we went during this vacation so I can put up pictures and give historical background and suggestions on visiting. We will see how that works out.

Cross your fingers that we actually get some sun in The Philippines and stupid Tropical Storm Parma leave Bohol alone. My skin could definitely use some sun!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Aren't vacations supposed to be relaxing?

It's funny how stressful the last day before a 10-day vacation can be.

I was so excited I couldn't sleep last night (and can't sleep tonight for that matter considering it's 2 a.m.).

Not falling asleep until 6 a.m. translated into not waking up until 2 p.m. when I realized, "Crap I only have one hour until the bank closes!"

I still needed to wire transfer the money for my fancy schmancy resort. They were supposed to have e-mailed me the SWIFT code and routing number for their bank, but had apparently forgotten, so I had to call them. I am so glad I have Skype for international long-distance calls.

The woman gave me a horrendous code and I hauled butt from one bank to another only to make the most stressful and unorganized wire transfer of all time. I'm still not convinced it worked (the lady gave me the wrong SWIFT code and we looked it up...) especially since I got a phone call from a strange number while I was in class.

I will have to call the bank tomorrow to make sure it went through, otherwise I'm going to tell Amorita it's their fault and they'll have to take the $60 I already have in my bank account and just wait until I get there for the rest.

Otherwise, everything with Amorita has been pleasant. I can't completely fault them for this. I did wait until the last minute. They're even giving us an upgraded room without extra charge because they ran out of the regular rooms.

Hello third-floor room with its own little "living room" and an ocean view balcony.

I can put up with a little idiocy from a secretary in the reservation office as long as the service and accommodations are actually as glorious as all the reviews say they are.

Otherwise, I continue to stress out about weather and, honestly, Mother Nature in general. She seems to be a bit pissed off at Asia.

I'm only making an observation and don't mean for it to come off distastefully but wow. Four tsunami waves pummeled Samoa and American Samoa and then an earthquake in Indonesia flattened buildings. Then there's Typhoon Ketsana that flooded Manila last week and then slammed into the Vietnamese coast.

All of that inside of a week.

Then right this very moment Typhoon Parma — at a whopping Category 4 — is ravaging Luzon Island in the northern portion of The Philippines. Hopefully Manila doesn't suffer too badly from this one. It looks like Bohol Island is merely getting a light rain so that's good.

Then there's Typhoon Melor. It's hard to tell what that one is going to do. It's up to a Category 4 in Western Pacific right now. To me, it looks like Melor is headed straight for Taiwan, but the forecast says she's going to make a funky U-turn and wind up beating on Japan's southern (eastern?) coast.

Can you tell I've been obsessing over the weather?

In fact, since I couldn't sleep last night, I looked up videos of tsunamis. I wanted to know what they're like.

I always imagined a gigantic tidal wave that crashes onto beaches (You know, like The Day After Tomorrow Style) and those who were hanging out in the sand or playing in the water had no chance at getting away... Really, it seems that's not always the case. You could potentially be standing on the beach and manage to get far enough away or high enough up to be safe. Though I suppose the flooding afterward is a whole other thing.

In fact, as far as what I could see in the video, the real dangers seem to lie in all of the stuff that could get swept into you or the building you're in (i.e. cars, boats, glass breaking, furniture moving with the flood waters and trapping you into a wall).

Though I obviously have no idea and I certainly don't know what the recent tsunami in Samoa was like. I suppose it could have been like a tidal wave. I did see a picture of a rather large boat on the side of a highway. That's telling.

And frightening for that matter.

Point is someone needs to take my Wundermap away from me before my head explodes while trying to think of all the variables involved in our potential vacation ruin.

I'm supposed to be relaxing now that my vacation technically began five hours ago, right?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ni jiao shenme mingzih?

One more day and then I'm on vacation!

One more day and then all the teachers have a two-day weekend!

One more day and I get to see my best friend again!

I spent all day catching up on America's Next Top Model Cycle 13. I know that's ridiculous but last night there was a bit of a "party" on the roof at the dorm. We just listened to music and drank and talked.

But staying out so late (not just staying up late in bed) made me feel like death today. I suppose the vodka probably didn't help.

Anyway, sometimes I forget just how crazy Tyra Banks is.  It's funny though, because sometimes my kids look at me the way the models on ANTM look at Tyra.

Not the I-want-to-be-you-and-I'm-hanging-on-every-last-word look (though I get that too), but the You-are-the-craziest-woman-who-has-ever-stood-before-me-why-don't-you-feel-like-a-complete-moron-when-you-do-that look.

Today I had my super quiet WOW class. They're all tweens and teenagers. Some of them can be really rude and others are just embarrassed because, honestly, who wasn't embarrassed to be anywhere between the ages of 11 to 14.

Anyway, I tend to act really goofy in my classes if for no other reason than it keeps me from getting bored. Usually it helps get the energy up in class and the kids participate more. I don't mind giving up a few cool points in front of some kids to get them to laugh and then play along.

There is this part in our book about folk music and how some is soft and gentle and some is really violent and loud. My kids didn't understand "violent" as an adjective describing music.

So I demonstrated.

I starting jump up and down and beating on the desk in front of me like I was playing a drum in some African tribal performance you would have seen in Ace Ventura.

You should have seen the look of bewilderment on their faces and then they burst into laughter.

Unfortunately, while I did get them to laugh and loosen up, they're still quiet as can be. I'm not sure I can win with those ones.

Oh and I found out my favorite favorite student isn't going to be in that class anymore. She went back to the other school she came from. That makes me so sad!

After class I went to Tina Coffee for some grub and to study Chinese. One of the waitresses speaks a little English and she was super sweet. She helped me with a couple of the words I didn't know how to pronounce and she and I talked off and on for the hour or so that I was there.

It was funny because we were going back and forth between Chinese and English because neither of us knows enough of the others language to just use one language.

It was also really cute because I asked her what her name is (in Chinese) and she told me just to call her Rabbit. Apparently that's the nickname her friends gave her. Isn't that adorable.

Anyway, I think I have a new friend. I'll be going to Tina Coffee a little more now that I have something to look forward to.