Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sky and Groceries Photo

This is the sky during the day, I just took this picture like 10 minutes ago. I love it, the sun comes up at about 5am, I generally get woken up at 6 because of the sun and the birds are singing.

This is the bread that I bought at the bakery: there is a loaf of white bread, my "sandwich," and a butter bread roll? it has cream filling in the middle and nuts- REALLY REALLY YUMMY! it kind of has a coconut flavor to it.

This is my groceries that I bought at the store!! I also got a pack of toilet paper and some razor blades. Aren't you quite impressed? This plus two other drinks and the toilet paper/razors only cost $432NT, not bad.

This is called Penotti. Brooke said that it is kind of like Nutella, BUT BETTER! It has chocolate hazelnut like Nutella, but then it is also swirled with Caramel! I think that is may try it for breakfast on toast.

Yeah!!! My shelf has things on it, ok so not a ton, but it at least has some now! (mine is the second one down by the way)

The next 4 pictures are of last night, I think that these pictures are pretty good but it was even more beautiful in person. The last one is of sky this morning, I think that, that mountain is gorgeous. (by the way this is the view that I just have from my porch, I get to see it everyday, every time I step out of my apartment)




Taiwan Journey-- Thursday, July 30, 2008, Part II

Thursday, July 31, 2008 (Hualien) Part II
So I probably mentioned several times before we had the Sister Missionaries to dinner, they were supposed to arrive at 5:30 but they were a little late. I was in my room when they got here; Brooke came and got me from my room. I walked into the kitchen was introduced to Sister Wood from Arizona and Sister Ni from Taiwan. We sat down to a wonderful dinner of Caesar salad, green beans, garlic bread, and cut mangos (all that Brooke had prepared). It was so relaxing and enjoyable, we at first just asked them questions about their mission and some of the experiences they have had. Eventually the conversation moved to our families, where we are in the family, and our trips that we took. It was just a fun evening. I was quite impressed with both the Sisters, Sister Wood actually came out on her mission at 20, she goes to a military school (I think maybe Airforce Academy?) and she said that you can’t start your 3rd year and then leave, so they allowed her to come out a year early. I was also quite impressed with Sister Ni, she has a younger sister and of course her parents but she is the only member, she joined the church when she was 15 years old. I think that is so impressive, I don’t know if I were someone not placed in a LDS home if I would have joined if given the opportunity, especially being the only member in her family. After dinner they asked if they could “leave us a message,” theirs was a bit different then most missionary messages. First we sang a song (I Believe In Christ), I love that song, it is so beautiful and expresses so many truths, after we sang the song they read us the scripture 3 Nephi 12:15-16, I don’t know how many times I have read that scripture but it was extremely nice to hear it last night. Sister Wood told us how that became a particular favorite of hers when she was in high school, she had read it and realized that she had better shape up as there are lots of people watching her, and she applied it to us, and said that we may not know it but we are being watched constantly while we are here, both by members and not. Every week she translates for us during church and told us that she was extremely grateful that we choose to go to church each week, even when we don’t understand most of what is going on. She said that sometimes when people have “trouble” coming to church she says look at these girls, they come every week without fail even when they don’t know Chinese. I guess going to church is something that I would have never questioned, no matter where I am. I think that at first it might be a little difficult, but I think that it might grow to be a comfort to hear it in Chinese. I especially like that it doesn’t matter what language it is being spoken in, you will always be able to feel the spirit.
I was standing outside after the missionaries and looked out into the sky, and there was an absolutely beautiful sunset. So of course I had to go and grab my camera and take a picture. Strangely it worked better without the flash. Brooke told me that she thinks, no matter the weather or time of the day, the sky is beautiful around the mountain that is next to us (and no Mom, I still don’t know the name of the mountain ;D). Here is some of the pictures that I took last night and also some that I took this morning just to show how beautiful it is, no matter the time of the day.
Brooke and Natalie have both been more than willing to help me learn to do things and show me where stuff is. They knew that I needed to go to the grocery store and get stuff, but as yet I had not worked up the courage to go. So finally last night I worked up the courage and rode to the grocery store. It was an experience, I think that I may have laughed at half of the things (I know, I know, not the kindest), it was quite fun though, they had a lot of things that I think that I will eventually try and many things that I am sure that I will never ever try. Some interesting things that I saw, they don’t keep their eggs cold (though Brooke told me that as soon as they get home they refrigerate the eggs), I could buy beer and cigarettes if I felt like it (:D—don’t worry I’m not planning on it), and they have a lot of American companies-all coming with Chinese “subtitles.” So if you want bread you don’t get it at the grocery store, you go to the bakery, I was kind of wanting some bread for breakfast as I don’t have leftovers to have today (wow I can’t believe that this is only my 3rd day but I kind of feel like I have been here for awhile in that retrospect), so we decided to head for the bakery, as it was kind of on the way home the other direction. Just as we started to head out it started raining, Brooke asked me if I wanted to go on (she said that we would probably get some interesting looks as we weren’t wearing any jackets), I told her lets go for it as I am quite comfortable with rain. The rain continued to get harder but we made it to the bakery (only 12% dry that is :D). We parked our bikes and walked in, Brooke kind of gave me a tour of the store and some descriptions of things that she knew what were. A lot of it sounded interesting and some things not so much. I bought this “sandwich” thing, it was bread wrapped around chicken tenders, ham, lettuce, and mayonnaise – the strange this is that they keep it on the shelf all day, not refrigerated; Brooke was telling me don’t be weirded out by, you won’t get sick from it or anything (the sad thing is I don’t think that I would have even noticed/realized unless she had said something to me about it). I paid for my bread and we headed back to the apartment, right after we left the bakery an ambulance came by, we pulled over to get out of its way, but I guess they had passed where they were headed or something as they all of sudden started backing up towards Brooke and almost hit her. After the ambulance was gone we continued on back towards the apartment, I followed Brooke most of the time as I have no clue where I am, at sometimes that can be quite funny- we were going along when all of a sudden she swerved and then disappeared, I was so confused what she was doing; I guess she had been trying to tell me to turn and her handlebars took a mind of their own, we got home without any other harm or accident the rest of the way. When I got home as we were going up the stairs my legs did sort of feel like jelly, it didn’t help matters when I walked into the kitchen and I got my foot stuck on the metal part of the door and the other half of my foot slipped because they were wet, I had no chance and fell straight down. Now it is quite funny, at the moment I felt like I really was drunk or something.
Brooke and I had both bought some juice and so we sat down at the Kitchen table and were just talking while drinking our juice (and she ate the rest of the salad and mango—it was kind of funny she was eating the salad because she knew if it was left to today it wouldn’t be any good, after she was done eating it she said that it definitely wouldn’t have been good today as it wasn’t good when she was eating it then), I got apple juice (stick with comfort juice :D) and Brooke got Asparagus juice, she didn’t really like it; I thought it was funny though as when we were talking Natalie came back in and had bought the same Asparagus juice and she wasn’t so impressed with it either. So when Natalie came in she was all dry, I was like how are you dry, I guess where she was it wasn’t raining (totally not fair!!)
After we were done with our snack Brooke asked me if I liked to play card games (of course I do!!!), she was wondering if I wanted to play some, so we went to my room and played a couple of card games, mostly we just talked for awhile. It was kind of funny, earlier when we had gotten home and I had trouble walking up the stairs I said that I felt like I was drunk (of course she wanted to know how I knew what it felt to be drunk—don’t worry Mom I never have) and then when we were playing cards I had told her to hit me again and then asked for another shot, ok so it may not be as funny to you but It really was last night.
After we had played for awhile she went back to her apartment and I jumped into the shower (probably not literally jumped as that would hurt a little :D), it was kind of disgusting, I scraped off layers of either dead skin or dried sweat off my legs, but now that I have done that they are a lot more smooth :D.
When I was done with my shower I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water, Natalie was in there eating watermelon and she invited me to join her. She was right, it is yellow inside but it totally tasted normal and yummy! We talked for awhile, making plans and ideas for the next few months. I think that tonight we are going to buy watermelons and carve them? Sounds fun. Saturday we are going to help with this Children’s art camp at the Buddhist (I think) College. And last night Natalie found this festival where they have tons of stone stuff, I think that we may be going back to there also; she said that there was a ton of really cool stuff and that she thinks we would really like it. I am super excited for next Saturday also, it is the Relief Society activity and I guess we are tie dying either sheets or table cloths. It is almost 7:30 I should probably jump into the shower, I will write more later.

Taiwan Journey-- Thursday, July 30, 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008 (Hualien)
A new day has come and is part way through, where does the time go? How am I ever going to keep up with my life? I do not know, but it will definitely be done. So where to start, last night after I took my nap I was just sitting at my computer typing away on more of my journal when Natalie and Brooke came by my window asking if I was hungry (of course I was ;D) so we got on our bikes (I borrowed one as mine wasn’t brought until later last night) and rode to a night market, it was ok I only almost killed myself twice. It has been a really long time since I have ridden a bike and it was a little weird, but I made it and all was ok. So anyway we parked out bikes at the night market and we started to walk around. Brooke kind of gave me the tour, explaining what stands sold what, which ones she thought were good, etc. After we had walked through the whole place she asked me was sounded good, I knew right off that the fruit juice stands sounded really good. But I also thought that something called Coffin bread sounded good too! We went and ordered our coffin bread, I got sweat and sour chicken (is similar to French Toast, but filled with savory fillings, such as black pepper beef or curried chicken—it what really good they cut it open half way down and then fill it with stuff and then cook it with eggs), I liked it but I was trying to go slow and didn’t eat the whole thing- I brought it home and put it in the fridge and had it for breakfast (I actually liked it better cold). While we were waiting for the bread to cook, Natalie and I went over to the fruit stand to order our juice, basically you just tell them what fruits you want and the size that you want and they will put the fruit in a cup and then in a blender and mix it, pour it back in the cup, and then they do the coolest thing they seal it with a lid. Then you can take them home in your bike and not have to worry about them spilling, when you are ready to drink it, you just take a straw and pierce it and there you have your drink. I will try and take a picture of my drink next time I get one (as I am sure that I will be having a lot more of those drinks)- what I had last night was pineapple and grape (It was absolutely AMAZING!!) After we had eaten our dinner we decided to head back, Brooke had to come back home for a tutoring session so she went on ahead back to the apartment, but Natalie and I decided to stop and get some fruit at a fruit market. There was so many different types of fruit, many that I had seen and heard of but many others that I had not. One thing that is interesting, if you get the smaller watermelons they are yellow inside, I guess they taste totally normal but they are just a different color. I bought a couple of apples (totally funny, they have Chile stickers on them—ok so I thought it was funny) and I also got a bunch of grapes, it was kind of funny when we were looking at what bunch of grapes a lady who was also shopping for some just started handing us grapes from different bunches to try, I guess Natalie said that they did that the first time she went also, they think that color of grapes that we would normally get (which is what she tried to grab in the first place) are sour and that we should get grapes that are almost black (of course they were right they were way sweeter). So for a bunch of grapes and 2 large Fuji apples it only cost me $140NT ($100NT is supposed to be about $3)—oh yeah also my fruit juice only cost $25NT and the coffin bread cost $40NT, food here is way cheap. After we bought our fruit we headed back, Natalie was impressed that I remembered my way back, though I did try and stop at the wrong house at first. I did get scared out of my mind when a dog barked out the shadows only like two feet from me, I have been told that I will have to get used to all the wild dogs and to never feed them or they will follow me home.
So when we came home I got back on the computer for a little bit longer and then I started to be able to smell myself and figured that, that wasn’t too good (it had been 2 days since I had last showered and being in the humid heat hadn’t helped matters much either) so I asked Brooke when she was done with her tutor session how to work the shower, the water was absolutely freezing and at first it was a shock but it felt so wonderful that I didn’t care. I guess in the past few weeks or so the utilities have gone up 30%, so we have to try and leave the lights off and try to use the fans as little as possible (so not use them all night, etc.) I guess it will be a good thing that I most likely won’t need the water warmed very often (I guess that Keylien (the one that just moved out and I probably just butchered her name) takes a hot shower every night (I don’t understand why she would want a hot shower)). After my shower I was getting ready for bed when Natalie came in to my room and we talked for probably 45 minutes just about random stuff, her mostly trying to help me get orientated, as I was being told a lot of information to take all in on one day. She told me about this restaurant that she went to this past week that we are going to go to at some point, she said that you walk in and there are pictures of cats everywhere and you can go to this window that looks out into a courtyard kind of thing and it is filled with tons of cats, she also said that there were several people eating at the restaurant who had their dogs with them. What she said was the coolest part though was that many of the seats were swings, they were connected to the ceiling and you could just swing back and forth. I am really excited to go, it sounds a little weird, but cooler than weird. Before I forget, one of the random things is that you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilet, I guess their pipes are not very good and if you do it to often it will back up and flood (which I guess that two past interns found out the hard way “twice”) I keep on forgetting, like this morning I went in and remember as I walked into the bathroom but as I was going my mind wandered to other things and it went straight into the toilet, I remembered as I was flushing. They told me that if I only do it a couple of times it will be ok but try and not to do it too often, I think that I am going to have to put a sign on my bathroom wall that says “DON’T PUT TOILET PAPER IN TOILET, PUT IT IN TRASH CAN” I would hope that, that would help me remember. I am sure that as time goes on it will just become a habit, it might be a little weird when I go home and just keep doing it, sorry for whomever has to deal with the garbage :D Oh to continue with the garbage, I found out how they gather the garbage, the garbage truck comes down the street playing the ice cream truck music and that tells people that they need to run out with their garbage (that is normally how they do it), but because we are a school Yuling has made a deal that we have it all tied together and we can put it out twice a week and they will pick it up, we just have to tie it together so it is only one thing that they have to pick up. An interesting thing about my shower is that there is no separation between the shower floor and the bathroom floor, it is all one floor so when I shower the floor is all wet and sometimes throughout the whole day. Anyway last night I was quite proud of myself, I went to bed by 11pm. I finished talking with Natalie, said my prayers, put my headphones on and then went to bed.
I had set my alarm for 7:30am, but the sun comes up rather early and so I was up at 6am. I did not know what time it was when I first got up, I was afraid that I had overslept through my alarm (as it has happened many a time before) so after going potty I checked my clock to see what time it was, I considered going back to bed but instead I started writing in my journal again to get caught up on what had happened. I continued writing until about quarter to 8 and then went into the kitchen where I ate breakfast (the rest of my coffin bread and some grapes) I then jumped into the shower (where you know what I did ;D). At 9am I went downstairs with Brooke where I joined her for the day in her classes to see how the schedule worked and what kind of things to plan.
The first part of the day is one hour long, right now it is broken into two groups (3-4 year olds and 5 year olds) as it is still summer, but when summer is over they will be broken into three groups (one group per age), both Natalie and Brooke start with a group, with Natalie working on letters and I am not quite sure what is Brooke’s set topic. Today we were talking about Opposites and we also did Calendar, anyway they work with the first group for 30 minutes and then switch groups (with the three groups it will be 20 minutes long). After the first hour the American teachers (which will be ME!!) are given a 40 minute break while the children have Chinese class. After that we come back together again and do 2-45 minute classes again, this time we talked about Earthquakes. After those sessions we have lunch with the kids and then they take naps while we are given about a 2 ½ hour break. After the nap we come back and the kids are in a mixture group with a little bit of each age in the groups. This week Brooke is teaching about the Olympics and we were discussing the sport Hockey today. I think that it will be an interesting adventure, I am very excited. I was introduced to each child that was there today, I already am pretty sure that I can remember some of them. I think that the girls will be a lot easier to recognize than the boys but we will see tomorrow. There are already some that are my favorites, Maggie, Cindy, Little Alice (there is Alice-she is gone for the summer, Little Alice, and Little Little Alice), and for the boys Jared and Sam (it is kind of nice there is an Eric and a Sam).
I guess that this is all for now, we are done with school for the day, now what would happen is I might be tutoring throughout the evening but tonight Brooke is not tutoring anyone and has invited the Sister Missionaries to dinner. That will begin in a little bit. I am sure that I will add a Part II later, as after dinner we are also going to the grocery store so that I can stock up on stuff. So for now, this is Betherd, signing off!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Taiwan Journey--Day 1 and 2 Photos

Sorry these pictures are not in the order that I saw them as adding pictures to this is sort of confusing to me, so I will add comments to them and you will have to accept the order as it is.

This is one of there garbage trucks, I have yet to hear them but I have been told many times that the garbage trucks like to think that they are ice cream trucks and so they have added a little tune like they have on the ice cream trucks, Natalie said that the first time she heard one she wanted to run out and get something and they were like no, that is the garbage truck.

Notice the broom at the end of the truck, not exactly up to standard of what I think of as a broom. It kind of reminds me of what we always say witch brooms look like. When we drove past someone using one I was a little confused at what they were doing and then I saw it on the garbage truck and then it made more sense to me of what it was.

This is what a normal apartment building looks like, that or taller. It is insane to me, I complained about having to move in on the first floor of my apartment building. I know that you can find apartment buildings like that in the states, but this is mostly what I have seen here, two story buildings are not very common, except in the poorer parts.

This is what I saw on the train ride to Hualien, isn't it beautiful even with the clouds? I couldn't get the best pictures because we were farther away but I still thought that it was gorgeous.

This is what was on the seat in front of me during the train ride, I just thought it was kind of funny because it looks like a monopoly board. I am not sure what it means but I thought that it was kind of interesting.

This was the back of a tour bus, I just thought it funny that it was Volvo. I see every company of cars everywhere. I thought it was interesting, in Peru they had all the same companies but some of the car titles were put on a different company, as of yet I haven't seen that except there is a Toyota Corona and I don't exactly remember a beer named car.

This is what one of their "traditional" taxi's look like, the are quite nice looking I think.

Good ol' McDonalds, what would I ever do without you. I am actually doing quite well with the food so far, but I think that at least once before I go home I want to go and try Taiwanese McDonalds.

Strangely 7-Eleven is something that has traveled over here also. In my apartment there are 7-Eleven Hello-Kitty magnets everywhere. There is also Pizza Hut but I was never quick enough to get a picture of them.

One of their ambulances, they actually look very modern, you would certainly know what it was in the states even with all the Chinese.

Baggage claim in the Taipei airport

I was just showing with these two pictures that most things (at least in Taipei) have both Chinese and English, which was nice considering I don't speak Chinese.

This is the flight board, showing the status of each flight. My flight was 95, the one at the top.

I thought that this was funny, a whole airline dedicated to Hello Kitty. Dennis said that they have huge store where you can buy tons of Hello Kitty stuff.

This a tour bus, I saw tons of them in Taipei. It seemed like they were nearly every other car, and they were all painted with tons of colors like this one. I also thought it interesting that every window was filled with curtains.
Ok, so I tried uploading a video to this and I am not sure if it did or not. If it did it is of a stop light, I just wanted to show how many people go through a stop light and that wasn't even a whole light, it was pretty much INSANE! (oh yeah and that was in Taipei, of course it was around 8am so people were on their way to work)
video

Taiwan Journey--Day 2

Wednesday, July 30, 2008 (Los Angeles- Taipei)
I have arrived in Taipei!!! What a glorious feeling, ok not so much- I am hot and sticky and arrived over an hour early and am waiting for my ride to come. It is ok though, it is all part of the journey.
I have many things to write about that have happened. I guess I will begin with after I checked in. I got my ticket and then got into another line to go through security check, there were lots of voices talking, most in Chinese, a lady screaming every five seconds or so to have your ticket opened to the page in your passport. I finally got passed her and was a machine where I got to do my favorite part, take out my laptop, the bag of bottles, take off my shoes, etc. and then have to put it all back on quickly (NOT!). It wasn’t too bad. I then walked through the hallway of the terminal to again the very last gate. I was going to sit down at a chair around the gate but it was rather full, I noticed that there was a downstairs waiting area right below it so I went downstairs. There were many places to sit and in my case sleep. I re-applied my deodorant (:D) and then brushed my teeth, set my alarm and then laid down for a nap of some sort. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to sleep at all but was able to sleep for about 40 minutes when another announcement went off and I woke up. I tried going back to sleep but I had done something to my shoulder muscle and it wasn’t exactly pleasant sleeping on the floor, so I called mom and asked her what kind of medicine to get and went and bought some, thankfully it started working rather quickly and my muscles weren’t hurting as much. After I had purchased the medicine and went to the bathroom I was walking back towards my terminal when I noticed a group of people standing nearby at phone booths , there was one sitting on the floor and three others sitting on the counter, all talking on the phone. They were missionaries; after I saw that group I soon noticed another and another group, both sisters and elders. I thought that it was kind of funny to see missionaries in the airport other than Salt Lake, but I soon realized that I would be grateful to them. I had been talking to mom through this whole time and had mentioned seeing the missionaries but at about the same time when I got back to my gate we hung up, I sat down and started to wait. I hadn’t been sitting very long when I realized something. I had forgotten to repack my scriptures on Sunday after taking them out for church. I didn’t like the feeling that I was going without any scriptures so I went down to the first group of missionaries and asked if they had an extra copy of the Book of Mormon (I am sure that they got rather excited at first but then I explained that I had forgotten my scriptures at home and didn’t want to be traveling without at least a Book of Mormon) they told me that they did not (it was a Sister and an Elder- their companions were on the phone, so they couldn’t leave) but if I were to go down a couple of gates there would be a large group of missionaries and one of them should have an extra copy. So I walked down to the large group (and they weren’t joking, it was a large group of about 15-20 missionaries) and asked for a copy, thankfully one of the elders had an extra copy and gave me one, interestingly the one he gave me was one of the red small copies (mom thought that they were the military copies), is that what they are handing out now? After I got the copy I came back and sat down in a chair with a mother and her two young daughters on one side and a couple with their young daughter on the other side (I am pretty sure that the couple with the daughter was from the Philippines). We then proceeded to wait for a long time until it was finally our turn to get on the plane—oh it was interesting first while we were just sitting waiting a guy came through and checked our passport and our ticket and then highlighted it and then when we were waiting in the line to give our ticket they were there again and checked them again. I almost forgot about my Mexico City guy. He was probably in his 40’s, as I was sitting and waiting (which I did a lot of) he came and plugged in his cell phone and then sat down beside me. He asked me where I was going and I asked him, etc. after I had told him where I was going he walked up to the counter and then asked them a question after he had talked with them for awhile he came back and grabbed his stuff and then walked off telling me good luck on my trip. I was slightly confused but didn’t say anything, well anyway later at about 1 there was a flight leaving in the same gate (there was 123A and 123B) to Mexico City, I looked up and there he was again. But he was going down the escalator to the downstairs waiting room, anyway he saw me and flashed me the peace sign. I just thought that he was totally random and funny.
The plane ride was interesting. First of all my hips are a bit wider than most Chinese so it was a bit uncomfortable for the 12+ hours, I had a piece of plastic stuck into my leg the whole time. It was interesting right as we were getting ready to take off stewards came through and handed each of us a warm hand towelette to wash our hands with and then came back through with a tray to throw them away. After this there was a safety video, it would have to be one of the funniest that I have ever seen. It was a lady walking around the plane and the voice did totally not match the woman that was supposedly talking, anyway I learned a little more than I have ever wanted to know about airplane safety. I thought that when we first got on the plane they would not feed us but when we got on they announced that they would be serving dinner in about an hour and that breakfast would be served about 2 ½ hours before we landed in Taipei. After those announcements I promptly fell asleep, but did wake up as they were coming by with dinner, I had chicken and rice (though I thought that they had said Chicken and FRIES not rice), it was interesting the chicken had an interesting flavor that I am not sure I liked or not. I also had some orange juice, water, and carrot cake (I was going to eat the salad but it had shrimp on it, I know, I know –WHIMP). I then fell asleep for most of the night, though off and on. At about 4:30 (Taiwan time) I woke up again for and decided to try the TV. I was kind of stupid and couldn’t figure out how to do anything (get the TV out, where to plug in the headphones, how to get our tray out, etc.) but I had a very nice neighbor, whom I am not even sure spoke English but every time I was having difficulty she would help me. I watched an episode of Without A Trace (it wasn’t even one I had seen :D) and listened to some music and then they had this neat thing that you could read up on the places you were going so I read and learned some about Taipei (it was for main destinations so they didn’t have one for Hualien). After I had done all that the steward came through and gave us Apple juice or OJ, a little later they came through with “breakfast”- it was either a omelet or chicken and noodles. I opted for the omelet, it was weird though, it was a piece of cooked egg and that was folded over and then had tomato sauce on top of it and vegetables to the side. There was also some fruit, yogurt, orange juice, and a roll. After that it was nearly time for landing, so we were asked to put everything away (especially us as we had to put away our TV screens and our trays), we also had to turn our headphones back in, which I thought was interesting because it’s not like they can reuse them. Also another thing that I thought was interesting what that whenever they brought you a meal they would ask you to put up your seat. Other things of interest: my other “neighbor” was a guy coming to take a documentary movie, as we were waiting to get off the plane he was asking the steward different questions about places to go and then had her say something on the movie; the girl neighbor whom had been helping me was also part of a Taipei bowling league, they were all wearing purple shirts and I had been seeing them everywhere throughout the airport. In comparison to the plane that I took from Portland to LA, the plane that I took from LA to Taipei was HUGE. Just in the area that I was sitting at there were 10 seats across (a group of 3, a aisle, a group of 4, an aisle, and another group of 3), there was an upstairs with even more seats (oh and I don’t know how far back the plane went but I know that I was in aisle 38), I am not sure how many upstairs as I never went up there. Each seat had its own TV screen with a remote that controlled the TV, the light above you, could call the steward and there was even a place where you could slide your credit card and then make a phone call, I was kind of tempted to do it just to say that I had called someone from the airplane but I didn’t. Oh and of course there was first class seats (which are really, really nice- refer to previous post in my blog about the seats) and there was business class also. A difference that I had noticed: on our plane to Peru people were up and about the whole time, standing over others just talking with them and there were really long lines to the bathroom, I had expected that because it was such a long flight it would be the same, but except the line to the bathroom there was not many people up and about.

Anyway, we landed at 5:15am (local Taiwan time, 2:15pm LA time) and on the TV screen all night they had been displaying what the temperature was, it had kind of worried me as at times it was like -11 degrees Celsius, but all of a sudden when we landed it shot right up. When we landed at 5:15AM (notice the AM) it was 91 degrees Fahrenheit OUTSIDE!!! As we were walking through the airport there was a point where you walked and it was like you had walked into a wall of pure heat. It was kind of a long walk to the customs desk, with many signs that I did not understand, at times I felt like I was in the wrong place, and it was especially confusing as not everyone was going in the same direction (oh yeah it was weird as everyone had to get off the plane and take all of their stuff, even if they were going to be leaving on the same plane), but finally I found it. Right before the customs desk there was a health screening, you didn’t stop or anything but walked through this doorway, and beside the doorway there was two woman with masks on watching a TV screen and there was another TV screen that you could see as you walked through, I was all different colors. As I was walking towards the customs desk I noticed everyone was stopping at these different tables and filling out paperwork. There was one white guy and I asked him if we were supposed to fill it out, he said that he thought so but it was all in Chinese, luckily there was a woman there filling out hers and she helped translate it for us. We finally had it all filled out and we went and got in line, we got up to the counter and the guy handed us a different sheet that we had to fill out instead, this was in English and Chinese. We filled it out to the best of our knowledge and then went and got back in line, I was first, the guy barely looked at it, just stamped it and let me through. The guy that I had been walking with asked what I had written on something as we were confused to put, I was like I don’t know or care, but it got me through and that is all that matters. :D I then went down another escalator to where the baggage claim was, I was afraid that I would not be able to find my luggage as there was a lot of people and I really couldn’t see the luggage, but as I walked up there was one of my bags right in front of me, and then like a minute later there was my other bag. I took my bags and then walked down the pathway, and out the doors, there was people standing with signs with people’s names on it (I was hoping to have one of those, but sadly it didn’t happen) I wasn’t quite sure where to go, but went to the right and stood in this area with seats. I hadn’t been standing there for very long when this other girl came and stood beside me with her cart of luggage. We started talking, her name was Janelle and she seemed really nice. She is actually coming to Taipei to teach English also, but it is at the National English School or something like that. Her contract is actually for 2 years (don’t feel so bad now do you mom?), and it was just as good of a deal though, they paid to have her luggage sent here and helped find her a good apartment near things that would be of interest to her. She told me that she had gone to a International Teaching Conference in Boston and she interviewed with like 15 different schools to teach and then this is the one that sounded the best, I guess that Taiwan and Korea are the countries that most interested in bringing the best education for their children. After we had been talking for awhile her ride came (she hadn’t known that it was early)- I thought it was interesting, her ride said that they normally wait outside until the last moment to come in because they feel that it is cold inside the airport (ha I don’t know what she was talking about). They had lost her bag and so they were waiting to find it, when she offered me some food from the plane, it was a potato roll with some curry inside, it was good but the curry was a little spicy for my taste. She also told me that the actor Jared Leto had been on our plane, I think they were upstairs because she said that they had kept on paging him during the plane ride and I had never heard that.
Anyway they left and I decided to find out whether or not I had any internet connection to see if I had understood wrong about getting picked up. I luckily had internet and e-mailed the family that I had arrived and then sent out my first part of the journal to the family. It was about this time that Dennis came in and asked if I was Beth (sadly no sign), I loaded up all of my stuff again and we headed outside into the heat. As we were driving I took many different pictures and saw many interesting things, though in the same way Kyle was right, though there are some differences many of the things are all the same. I did see Taipei 101, but was not close enough to take a good picture. Dennis told me about Yuling having a baby, I guess in Taiwan they have a tradition that when you have a baby you do not leave the house for a month and that was why she was not picking me up. He also told me about the Typhoon that they had, had on Sunday, I guess it was a pretty big one and he said that I was lucky to have missed it (though according to the teachers down here it wasn’t that big of deal, mostly boring as they couldn’t leave the apartment). It was about a 40 minute drive to the train station, Dennis got out and walked with me to where I boarded the train, and he gave me instructions and then sent me off. I pretty much fell asleep as soon as I got on the train and got comfortable. I woke up after awhile and started watching the scenery, most of the ride I had to go to the bathroom but was too afraid to get up and find the restroom, both because I was afraid to leave my stuff and I didn’t really feel like experiencing all of the looks I would most likely get. I put my i-pod on and was good for the whole trip, at one point I took a couple of pictures of the ocean. I have since been told that we do not go swimming in the ocean as it is a steep drop off and the currents are too strong, they could pull you out rather quickly and you now know it. I finally arrived at the train station and got off, I had no clue where to go, who was picking me up or what, I went down the stairs and kind of made a decision and followed this hallway to the right, I was at the bottom of the stairs when this guy came down and waved, I wasn’t sure if he was waving to me or not so I kind of responded to it but I didn’t want to really respond if he wasn’t waving to me. He came further down the stairs and asked if I was Beth, I told him that I was and we went back up the stairs, at the top of the stairs he gave me some money from Yuling (personally I wished that he would have waited to give it to me to a less awkward time, but oh well). We got to the car and got in, we started to drive and then he told me that he is Yuling’s husband (always good to know who is driving you I say :D) we talked a litte bit but I always find it a little awkward driving with people I don’t know. We arrived at the school and he helped carry my stuff inside, I met Brooke as I was walking in, a couple of the Chinese teachers (whom I don’t remember who are at the moment), saw Natalie, and met a couple that was in my apartment but moved out last night. I was told that I could unpack my stuff and that I was basically free to do what I want for the rest of the day. I was told that I would not be teaching until Monday, but Brooke suggested that I go to class with her on Thursday and on Friday just to learn what I am doing a little bit. I called mom and Kyle on skype and talked with them for about an hour. It was nice to hear voices that were familiar. After I got off the phone with them I went to sleep for 2 hours (it was really needed). This entry is getting really long, so I will finish the rest of today up in tomorrow’s entry.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Taiwan Journey--Day 1

Monday, July 28, 2008 (Portland-Los Angeles)

Well the journey has begun, we left a little late this morning but were about to make it in time for Kyle’s flight (gratefully his plane was also delayed 45 minutes so he wasn’t in as much of a hurry). We dropped Kyle off at the airport and then left to get gas and then to try and find me some more shorts. We were able to find me a couple of pairs and then decided that it was time to head back to the airport so that I could make my plane on time. I got to the airport and unloaded my stuff, said my final good-byes and then went through the doors of the unknown. I first tried using the kiosk but it would not read my passport, nor could I find a confirmation number. When I finally asked for help I was told to go down to the desk where a agent could help me as I had a paper ticket. I got in line behind a couple of oriental guys and proceeded to wait, I had not been in line very long when another lady joined me in line (she was a little late and did not know that her flight to Denver had been cancelled, so she had to wait and get help in finding another flight).She was a very nice lady, I watched her try and find another ticket on the computers but she could not, so she came to stand back in the line behind me. She had asked me when the deadline check-in was and I told her 45 minutes and also explained that I was a little worried, as I had about 10 minutes until the cut off time for my check-in. It was about then that the two Orientals were joined by a woman and she proceeded to walk right up to the ticket agent and started to yell at her about wanting to see her manager, the agent told her that one would be up in 30 minutes, or she could get in line and wait until she was available to help her. The lady continued to yell, saying something about how the guy doesn’t speak English and that he was supposed to be going to Canada but someone tried telling him that he needed a visa, I heard her say that she had worked as a “airperson (yes her words)” for seven years and she knew what was what! The other lady escorted her to the back of the line (which I was grateful) and everything went back to normal. In between all of this the Denver lady and I were talking about how yelling at the ticket agent will not help get things done quicker, it will just get everyone irritated, uptight, and angry-never good emotions to try and help others. After this episode a second ticket lady came and opened up, she beckoned me to come forward, just as I was walking up this lady whom had been standing to the side asked if she could go before me (she had this huge box), she told me that she had been told to go to the front as it was her second time through the line, the Denver lady spoke up at this saying that I was getting close to the 45 minutes mark on a international flight, the lady paused and waited a minute and then tried passing it off that she was also, I looked forward and the ticket agent just told me to come forward. Beside my ticket agent was another one whom had been trying to serve one guy since before I had gotten there, at one point I heard him ask for her number or something and she was like no I am not going to give you my personal information, etc. –anyway they were still arguing as I walked away (I felt quite bad for her as it was the same lady that had, had to deal with the oriental group that was yelling earlier). I was quite happy walking away, as I had thought that I was going to have to pay $25 for my second bag, but as my final destination is a international place they don’t charge you for the second bag.

After I had checked in my luggage I preceded to my gate (I don’t understand why do they always make you go to the last gate?). It was quite strange; I don’t believe that I have ever been to the “E” gate. Mine was E7, but right beside it was E6 and in order to get to the waiting area for it you had to go down a flight of stairs, I don’t think that I have ever seen that before. I only had about a 10 minute wait until they started to board us, it was kind of cool, we walked down a flight of stairs and then outside and then we had to walk across the runway a bit and up a ramp into the stairs. I didn’t think that they did that anymore, only in movies- my mom was surprised when I told her also. I kind of wish that I had taken a picture because it was really strange, that was also one of the smallest planes that I had had ever been on (4 across (2 on each side) and then 17 rows down). It was a pretty uneventful flight, as I predicted it, I got in the plane and fell asleep within the first 5 minutes of take-off. I slept for the first 30 minutes or so and then woke up as they were bringing the drinks and snacks bye, I thought it was kind of funny as my seat companion was waking up at about the same time as I was and apologized for any snoring that he may have made, he said he doesn’t know what it is about planes but the moment he gets on one he falls asleep. I ate my mini pretzels and then drank my sprite and then fell back asleep, I proceeded to sleep off and on the remainder of the flight. Though it was a uneventful flight I would have to say that those seats on the plane were the most uncomfortable plane seats that I have ever sat on (and that is saying something considering that I flew all the way to Peru and wasn’t that uncomfortable).

When I arrived in LAX, I started looking for the tunnel that the agent in Portland had mentioned that would lead me to the international flights area, but when I asked someone where it was they “helpfully” (I think that they thought it was a little too funny that there would be a tunnel to the international area) told me that there was no tunnel and that I would have to walk out the doors to the street and then go to the blue sign (they failed to tell me that the blue sign was like 3 blocks away) and then catch Bus A. Finally after waiting like 5 minutes Bus A came through and picked me up along with several others. I rode along and as we passed different terminals a voice would name off what airlines were at that particular terminal, finally when we got to terminal 3 I heard my airline and got off, it then took me about 10 minutes to figure out that there was no Malaysia Airlines within that terminal, but I knew that there had been a sign saying that there was, so the first person that I saw that looked official I asked where it was, he told me that it was right behind us, during the day it was one airline but at night it turned into a different one. (if you can’t tell I spent a lot of time asking people today for directions to things) So I called mom to ask her to check my e-mail, as Nate’s friend was supposed to be picking me up and taking me out to dinner with her and some friends, unfortunately (for me) her sister came in for the week to take her kids to Disney Land and this is the only night that they can go so she wouldn’t be picking me up. So here it was 7pm, I couldn’t even check-in until 9:40 and I had nowhere to go (you are lucky to even find a table). So I got some dinner, asked to share a table with a guy (who was very cute by the way !!!! :D) and then started writing out this. Here I am not even one day into my journey and I already have nearly two pages of stuff that has happened. I just stocked up on a couple more snacks for the night as I doubt that they will feed us until breakfast and now am sitting on a the cement floor waiting for 9:40 to roll along so that I can check in and go find a seat that is a little more comfortable to sit on for the next 4 hours! So I guess for now, this is Betherd-signing off!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Celebration!

Today I received my visa!!! I was beginning to get very nervous about it getting here on time. I tried not to concentrate on it so I would freak myself out, but this lady at work kept asking me about my trip and whether I was nervous or not. I told her that I was really nervous and inside my head I was kind of freaking out because it hadn't come yet. Because of some mis-communication and mail problems my visa had taken a little longer then normal. But now I can breathe easy and celebrate the next week and a half until I leave for Taiwan!!!! I am excited to think that I will probably add one more blog about my brothers wedding and then my next blog will be from Taiwan, keep posted to find out what happens in my travels around the world, one blog at a time. Signing off, this is Betherd!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Drama in Toledo

July 4th has come and gone! Where was I? Working :( I have had some adventures though to fill my week, though I was still sad to have missed the 4th...)

I will start with last Monday and work my way forward...
I came into work last Monday to see all of the cashiers whispering together, I went to the service center to mail something and asked Missy what was going on, she told me that one of our regulars had come in and given her a twenty dollar bill and wanted to know whether it was counterfeit or not, it was torn down the center lengthwise, she used our marking pin and marked it all the way down the long way, sure enough it was fake. He was mad and took the $20 and walked out. She just told me who is was and told me to keep an eye out for them throughout the day, saying that as soon as they got mad over having been given a fake twenty they were sure to come back and try and use it. All checkers were on edge that day, watching out for the guy and his brother/buddy (I am not sure which) and everytime they came through we had to check every bill that they gave us, it kind of freaked me out the first time he came through my stand that day, I was definitely on edge that he would try to give me a counterfeit bill, but luckily the one he gave me was real. I believe that the cops came in that day at least 2 times, to question about what was going on. They told us that at several different businesses that day in Toledo counterfeit bills had been used, not all by the same people.
Tuesday was my day off so I had to come back and find out about the drama of while I was gone, I was kind of dissapointed in missing the action. When I returned I found out that the Secret Service had been into the store, one of the cashiers had even gotten to shake their hand. I guess that the counterfeit has all of a suddden been really bad, I believe that someone tried turning the money into the bank, which is why the Secret Service was called. I guess even more buisnesses received the counterfeit bills in Toledo, as this article was in the paper on Wednesday: http://newportnewstimes.com/articles/2008/07/02/news/news04.txt
as far as I have heard, the two people arrested in this article weren't even the worst of them, they were let go in the next couple of days from what I have heard. (Side note but not, several people from the buisnesses that received the counterfeit bills had to go to Grand Jury on Thursday).
Now on Wednesday when I came back the day started out pretty normal, but after I had been there for awhile things started to pick up. A busy rush had just started when all of a sudden we saw a guy walking across the parking lot with two police officers towards the corner of the building and then we heard sirens just before the Toledo Fire Department truck pulled into the parking lot, not long after that we saw a ambulance pull into the parking lot also. Of course one of our cashiers had to go rushing out of her check stand to take a "smoke break," from what I have heard she wasn't very polite about it and kind of got in the faces of the paramedics and such trying to find out what was going on. Of course we all wanted to know what was going on but it was a busy rush and she could have made things worse for being over there. Afterward we found out what had happened, I guess a guy had locked himself in the bathroom and while in there had a seizure, someone else had wanted to use the bathroom and the guy wasn't responding so they got concerned and called the police/ambulance, because he wasn't responding they had to break down the door. They took him to the hospital and we have not heard anything sense, though later that night the owner of the laundry mat came in and told us that he wished that we would have called him, "sorry dude, but it wasn't top in our list of things to do in the middle of a rush-we didn't even think about it."
Sadly not that much happened on the 4th, we were kind of busy up till about 6-7ish and then it just went dead, it was a very very long night. Though at the very end, we thought we were going to get a huge rush when about 10 people came in through the two doors, but gratefully it was not.
And people say that Toledo never has any drama/action, they should just come hang out in JC for a couple of days.
This is Betherd, signing off!