Thursday, 28 January 2010

Now it is the End

Well I know it has been a while since I wrote an entry but that is because I have been so busy!! And, my friends, this is the last entry. I leave to go back to Australia tomorrow morning very, very early. But today I will update you on my trip to Jioufen and Jinguashi mountain with Bella and my days in Hsinchu with Miss Yang, Paulina and Candy.

School finished at midday on the the 20th and straight afterwards I went with Bella to visit some amazing places called Jioufen and Jinguashi mountain. At Jinguashi there is an old mine and some old buildings, and a very cool mountain called Teapot Mountain because it has a rock on top shaped like a teapot!!! To get here we had to drive quite high up, it is amazing to me that so high up there are still 4-storey high apartment buildings and a massive school and public buses that drive up narrow winding roads. I have no idea how on earth the drivers manage to drive those massive vehicles on such tiny roads up so high! My dad is a bus driver, so Dad.... there is your next challenge! :)

We went inside the mine tunnel and also touched a massive block of solid gold. It's worth a bucketload. A funny thing that happened was some random boy from Hong Kong came up and asked if he could have a photo with me!! I said ok and thought his friend would just take the photo and that would be that. But no! His whole group of friends all whipped out their cameras too, like 10 of them, and clicked away!!!! I felt even more famous than I did at school!!

so so so funny. I will be sad to go back to Australia where I am not treated like a film star :(

After Jinguashi we went to Jioufen which is beautiful. The view of the coast and the mountains is really really stunning. And the town itself is so so so cute, all perched up on the mountain side with the Old Street and all its shops. But still with tall apartment buildings!! To me little towns don't usually have tall buildings but I guess that makes it more unique. I bought some cool things and, surprise surprise, ate some more food :) Thank you Bella and her husband for a very fun day :)

The next day I went with the teachers at school to Hsinchu. First we went to a restaurant for lunch where the food was Hakka-style. It was very tasty, especially the pumpkin slice, and then we had a DIY dessert. We made some tea using a mortar and pestle, and some kind of sticky rice balls with sugar and peanuts. It was very cool.

After lunch we hiked a mountain. Not a really big mountain but big enough that I felt extremely sweaty and tired afterwards!! It was a fairly warm day so it was good weather for the hike. I took some very pretty photos, because some of the trees were still in autumn-mode and had red and orange leaves. We visited a pretty park but some of the things weren't open because they only open on the weekend.

After this we went to Hsinbei (I guess that's how you spell it in English) and had dinner with Miss Yang's sister at a really nice restaurant called Tang Bistro. The food was very tasty. We also went to a great bakery and Miss Yang bought me a very nice present of nougat. Thank you!!

We stayed overnight at a beautiful hotel called Lakeshore in Hsinchu which had a massive buffet breakfast and then in the morning we went to the lake in Hsinchu and then to the glass museum. I really liked the glass museum, it had some really cool stuff. I especially liked the tiger exhibit for the upcoming Chinese Year of the Tiger where I learnt that five is a lucky number and the glass statues were really cool, very colourful and creative. We looked around at the shops and visited another bakery that is like 100 years old, where I bought something that was very tasty but I cannot for the life of me remember what it is called!! It was sticky rice with a pink edge and something dark in middle and it was very sweet. Paulina if you read this can you please leave me a message telling me what it is called because I would like to know!!!

Thankyou Miss Yang, Candy and her daughter May, and Paulina, I had an excellent time and you are very generous.

Well here is where I must stop. This is the end of my time with Wu-Xing School and tomorrow I leave Taiwan. Taiwan is not really a tourist destination for Western visitors, but I will recommend it to people because I think it is an undiscovered gem and definitely a destination for those who love food :)

And I will definitely try to come back :)

Zai jian, wo de pengyou :)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

This is not the end!!

Today I have had the members of AIESEC visit the school to sit in on my classes and learn about my time here at the school. They enjoyed sitting in on my class about Australian animals and especially the youtube videos I showed with the animals! If anyone is interested, here are the links: for a funny dancing cockatoo for a kookaburra laughing for people being stalked by an emu

Today my younger English class read a great book I brought with me called 'Santa's Aussie Holiday'. It's a poem about Santa taking a holiday in Australia and all the things he did there, with some cute pictures. They were extremely good at English and understood most of the story without any help, and when we played a game after they were extremely good at recognising the words. Very smart!


And today is my very last day at school. This morning the students all had an assembly out on the track and I could see how big the school is, at least twice the size of any elementary schools in Adelaide!! And I just had my very last class, which was the fourth grade, class 402. They were a very enthusiastic class and were keen to take part in the activities. So I think it was a good class to finish up with!!
When school finishes this afternoon I am going to Jiangua (I think that's what its called!) with Bella. This is apparently a very beautiful scenic spot so I will be sure to take lots of photos and show them on here! Also I will be going to Hsinchu with Miss Yang and Paulina so I will also add this to the blog. So just because school is finished does not mean the blog is finished!! This is not the end... I will blog about Taiwan right up until I leave. So stay tuned :)

Monday, 18 January 2010

Samantha's first calligraphy and first pottery attempt

On the weekend I did some fun things which broadened my creative horizons!

On Friday night I went for dinner at Bella's house. She had cooked some very nice food and her sons also ordered in pizza so it was all very tasty! After dinner Bella's husband showed me
Chinese calligraphy and then I had a go. He is very good at it and made it look easy, but believe me, it is definitely not easy! Using the brush is really hard, my hand was shaking a bit and it takes lots of practice to be able to form the strokes in the right way, turning the brush to create ends and thick and thin corners. Plus you have to do all the strokes in order. It was hard but here is one of my attempts as shown in the photo! And no laughing at my shaky characters all of you in Taiwan who are reading this :) or at my terrified face as I contemplate how my characters are going to look when I finish!!

On Sunday I went to a place called Yingge in Taipei County where they do lots of ceramics and pottery. The shops have some really cool stuff that I would love to buy, especially the teacups and teapots. Also some pretty jewellery and statues. But I'm unwilling to buy this kind of stuff because I'm afraid it will not survive the trip back to Australia because it is too fragile!

The best part was that I got to make my own pottery at one of the shops were they teach you how. It was extremely fun but I think maybe slightly harder for me than the other patrons in the shop because I don't speak Chinese! So when the instructor was telling me how to do it, my friend had to try to translate it into English for me! But it turned out ok and I made two bowls. I got to keep one, and I engraved my name and the date around the side and then when you are finished they fire it in the kiln for you and paint it. When they are done they send it to you. So hopefully mine will arrive before I leave for Australia! When I get my bowl I will put a photo of it on here :)

So it was a fun, informative weekend, and today at school the kindergarten students did a little performance for Chinese New Year. They did a dance and handed out little cakes and they were just so cute. Some of them were dressed up and they had musical instruments and decorations. This is a photo of me with them :)

Friday, 15 January 2010

Me and the Second Grade - and an exciting McDonalds discovery!

Today is a beautiful sunny day which made me very happy! I had classes all morning so I have been very busy. I had my first fourth grade class this morning which went well and then two second grade classes and a fifth grade class. I thought I would include some of the work the second grade class did, this is class 208's efforts at learning the Australian animals. I also wrote my signature on several more pieces of paper for the 5th grade class so I am still a little bit famous!! This is also a photo of me with the second graders in class 207.

Today the teachers ordered in a delicious cake to be eaten. This cake is only made in winter because that is when the Taiwanese Strawberries are in season. It is a rectangle shape with different coloured layers and strawberries on top and in the middle, and with a little bit of chocolate on the bottom and what is either cream or mousse near the strawberries. It is very tasty and sweet.

I also discovered today that McDonalds here sells soup and bagels with Philly cream cheese!! It was very exciting because I love bagels and I love Philly, and I also quite like soup. In Australia McDonalds mostly just has burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, wraps, salads and some desserts. Also breakfast food. But no soup and no bagels! Mmmmm...bagel....

Tonight I am going to Bella's house for dinner. She is one of the English teachers and it was very kind of her to invite me.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Bits and Pieces...including more commentary on food!

Tomorrow I have my first second grade class and also class 510, which is the school basketball team. For the second grade I have prepared a lesson about Australian animals, with a powerpoint and a sheet for colouring in and labelling all the animals. I thought that maybe Class 510, being the basketball team, might like to learn about Australian sports so tomorrow we will learn about cricket and Australian Rules Football. We will also go through other sports played in Australia, such as surfing, rugby, basketball and soccer. And then afterwards we will play pictionary with the sports. So I will see how it goes tomorrow... I vary between thinking they will guess the pictures really quickly annd the lesson will be over too soon, and thinking it will be too hard for them! So we will see.

The children seem to like learning about the Australian animals so i think it will be a good lesson for the second grade.

Yesterday was a pizza day which made me very happy...the teachers ordered pizza for lunch and there was very tasty chicken and also ham and pineapple pizza. I haven't had pizza in ages so I enjoyed it more than I usually would.

Well I had the second grade and the fifth grade. It was funny because the second grade were so happy with the animals that they had absolutely no interest in me whatsoever! So they didn't have any questions for me...but I had a photo together with some of the girls. The fifth grade class were very energetic and very keen on making everyone laugh. They were very involved in playing the game and they picked up all the new words fast.

Today I went with the teachers to a restaurant for lunch. We had Peking duck, which was really nice. You took a slice of duck, a slice of skin, some spring onion and some sauce and wrapped it in a wrap that is slightly like a pita bread but thinner. It was my favourite part of the lunch, though I also enjoyed the pancake-type dessert we had at the end. It had red bean in it. I try to describe these things cos I hav absolutely no idea what they are called!

Well that is all for today. But this picture is of the sheet the second graders filled out, they label the animals and then colour them in.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Shilin and Danshui

Good morning everyone. It is bright and early on a Monday morning, back at school for the week and I am very very tired! But I have had a fun weekend so I will tell you all about it.
On Friday night I went to a birthday party for Boris, a member of AIESEC CCLC. He cooked lots of food for us to try and I got home very late. Happy Birthday Boris :)

I was tired on Saturday morning so I accidentally slept in a bit but afterward I went to a meeting at the school and met the Scouts, the parents and the Leaders. They played games and activities; I joined in one of the activities, which was fun. Afterwards I travelled on the metro with Paulina to the National Palace Museum. It is in an area which is very beautiful, with green mountains and the weather was nice so there was blue sky and the sun (which made me very happy)! The Museum has so many things so we were there all afternoon. I liked the paintings the best, they are so delicate and the attention to detail is so painstaking; you can tell the artist spent years completing the work. Also some of the paintings are very long and give insight into the way of life for all people in that era that you might not otherwise see. I also liked the ivory carvings and statues made during the Qing and Han Dynasties, they were very intricate.

Afterwards Paulina and I went to Shilin Market, which was absolutely jam-packed with people. There were so many people there was no room on the street for cars or buses and there was no space to look at anything. It was a crazy, crazy place. But I had a very nice drink made of papaya and milk.

On Sunday I went to Danshui with Paulina and Bella. It was beautiful weather again, sunny and warm and it made me sooooooo happy... maybe you may have guessed that I don't really like winter! :)

Danshui is a beautiful place; the landscape made me think of a miniature Hong Kong crossed with a miniature San Francisco. First we went for lunch at the Red Castle, it is a beautiful old red brick building built in 1899. Lunch was tasty; I had a massive chicken and salad sandwich and some pumpkin soup. Afterwards we took some photos on the balcony; but by then fog had rolled in, obscuring the view. The fog came in so fast, this is why it reminded me of San Francisco. We then visited Fort San Domingo, first built by the Spanish and then taken control of by the Dutch. The British had control until after World War Two. Nearby is the British Consular Residence, which is the same style as the Red Castle. Both were surrounded by very nice grounds and gardens. We took some great photos...especially with some statues in the old prison at the Fort :)
We also saw the old hospital of George Mackay, who brought western medicine to Taiwan.

Following this we took the ferry to Fishermans Wharf, where we walked across the bridge and then ate a dish that is made in Danshui, called a-gei. It is rice noodles in a big fish ball. It was tasty and I was able to use the chopsticks pretty well to eat it! We visited the nightmarket in Danshui afterwards, which wasn't anywhere near as crowded as Shilin, and Bella bought a rubber chicken that makes a very loud noise. Bella I hope it is effective! And I ate one of my favourite things in Taiwan: the strawberries on a stick covered with a sugar glaze. Mmmmmm.

When we got back to Taipei i was pretty tired but I had a good day!

P.S. Oh and on Saturday before I went to the Museum Paulina introduced me to a wonderful place where you can have brunch called LaGuardia. I had an excellent tuna salad roll and there are bagels and subs with all different fillings. It was so so nice, i thought I would share my happiness with the tuna salad roll with everyone :)

P.P.S. I know there are a lot of photos but I really wanted to put more on!! Plus they are all out of order so the first photo is actually me and Paulina on the ferry in Danshui.

Friday, 8 January 2010

I look like the President of the United States

Yesterday I ate a very tasty bun. It was warm, I think it was steamed, and it had things inside. Cheese and nuts and some kind of red stuff.... this is not very specific but I have no idea what it was! But it was very tasty.

Last night I went to a meeting with AIESEC at the Cheng-Chi University with the Non-Corporate Function, the group which brought me to Taiwan. It was the last meeting for the year and they just wrapped things up with a review and then wanted to know how things were going for me. They were interested to see this blog I keep for the school so hello to any AIESECers from CCLC who are reading this :)

Afterwards I went for food with Franziska, who is the president of Non-Corporate function, and ate something which I also have no idea what it was! It was black, a liquid which solidifies when it gets cold. We ate it warm like a soup with sweet potato, red beans and peanuts in it. The English menu said it was 'herb jelly' but I'm not quite sure about the translation. To me it looked like liquid liquorice.

Today I had the 6th grade and the 5th grade. The kids are all very curious about me, they want to know things like what colour my eyes are and if I like computer games. I'm curious about them too but there is less opportunity for me to talk to them. After the 6th grade class another funny thing happened kinda like being a filmstar the other day... except today I felt like the President of the United States because I had several photos taken with some of the girls, shaking their hands and smiling at the camera, just like the President does!! Almost as funny as giving my autograph the other day!