Personal Update · Travel

Jeepneys, Monkeys, & Babies, oh my!

I decided to try something new with my blog.  Thus far, I’ve been updating with long letters that usually recap several months of experiences.  Yet it is a daunting task to write an all-encompassing missive, and therefore I find myself postponing the work of composing until the task becomes even greater.  Instead, I’d like to start writing short(er) entries about various little adventures in my life.  Here goes…

Manila, Philippines

Last weekend I went to the Philippines for the EARCOS Teachers’ Conference.  EARCOS is the East Asia Regional Conference of Overseas Schools.  There were international schools from China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and a few other places represented at the conference.  It was a great opportunity for professional development, and I learned a lot that I hope to implement in my classroom to make me a better teacher.  Particularly, there was a lot of really innovative technology stuff that will make the classroom (and homework) more exciting.  Also, it was very neat to be in another country while going to a teacher’s convention since in the U.S. it was a big deal to go to a different city.  We had a little time in the evenings to explore the city, and I had fun doing that with friends.  Interestingly, Manila is a very westernized city; if I had been going there from the U.S. I would have been disappointed because so much was the same.  However, since I went after being in Taiwan for so long, it was fun to get some treats that I don’t have here…like Auntie Anne’s pretzels in the mall.  :)  We did manage to find some more purely Filipino things to do as well; we braved the most crowded subway I’ve ever been on (I wasn’t holding on, and I didn’t have to brace my legs to stop), we rode in a jeepney (a local form of transportation that cost us 12 pisos, or about $0.27 USD), and we shopped and bargained at a night market.

Mom & Dad’s Visit

Mom and Dad are in Taiwan with us right now.  Next week, Dad will be sharing with the students at our school for our spiritual emphasis week, but this week we’re taking time to play and explore.  It’s so great to have them here, but there is something missing:  Ashleigh.  This is the first time that we’ve done anything like this without the whole family together.  The good thing is that Ashleigh will be here after she graduates to spend almost three months living with us, traveling, and working with His Hands Taiwan, so she’ll experience a lot of the same things, just slightly delayed.

On Monday, the day after Mom and Dad arrived and I returned from the Philippines, we spent the day out with Bill and Cathleen Lin.  B&C took us to a nice little restaurant on a mountain on the coast (about 40 minutes from my home) where we ate delicious pizza and had a wide open view of the ocean.  As we were coming down the mountain, to our delight we saw monkeys along the side of the road.  We later found out that we were on what is called “Monkey Mountain” where there are lots and lots of monkeys (rascally little things that will pick your pockets when you’re not watching).  We got a few fun pix, and we all enjoyed seeing these interesting creatures for the first time in the wild.  We then went over to CiJin Island and explored some more of the coastal area (see pictures).  We finished the day off with a nice meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Wu Hua Ma (dumplings, beef wraps, and turnip cakes are some of our favorite things there).

On Tuesday and Wednesday, we did some shopping at a local furniture store with beautiful carved wood pieces and at the downtown jade market that has lots of exquisite and interesting items.  After the jade market, we ate at a Cantonese style restaurant with delicious food–sweet & sour pork, curry noodles, eggplant, spring rolls…yum. We also had a real Thanksgiving meal on Tuesday night with our principal and his family.  Long story short, Sara and I had a turkey that didn’t get eaten at Thanksgiving, so we cooked it and all the necessary side items for a feast with Mom and Dad and friends.  (Okay, confession:  Mom, Dad, and Sara did all the cooking while I was at my house…thanks, guys!)  On Wednesday evening, we took Mom and Dad over to visit the His Hands Taiwan orphanage.  Mom and Dad are great with babies, and I think they enjoyed holding and loving on the little ones.  I look forward to the rest of the time spent with Mom and Dad here.  Check out the pictures of our trip so far.

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