Wednesday March 29th, 2006

Time flies when you are working hard ... or would that be hardly working?! I've picked up three new privates and I'm meeting someone on Sunday am for a possible fourth. I'm not sure I want to spend the extra time but I am focusing to save up for a one month holiday in August. My wish is that the one month could be spent starting in Cambodia and heading up the Mekong River into Laos but, unfortunately, that will have to wait until 2007 ... if I can swing it! Cat sitters?? Anyone?? Anyone??

I think the next few years are going to prove interesting. I have more opportunity going on then I'd like at the moment. It's hard to pick and choose where I want to be. For now ... I am content to be exactly where I am. It's four days to the date that I arrived in Taiwan ... three years ago. It seems like only yesterday, yet it feels it's a world behind me.

My seven years in Vancouver was an amazing thing, however, it was about three years too long. I don't want to make the same mistake here ... I want to get out while the getting is good!

I will need to allow myself another year and a half, but I am seriously considering making the jump over to China ... just to shake it up a little ... test what I've learned in this country here ... to confirm the fact that I really can communicate in Chinese.

China studies the pinyin, which is a bonus, but they also study the simplified characters, which isn't a bonus. I've been studying the traditional characters and I'd love for that to remain ... I am currently looking into whether studying traditional will be an option in China. School is definitely a heck of a lot cheaper as is cost of living. I hope Datz and Levi are up for the change!

I figure it's time to get in there and get my uni down ... I'm not getting any younger and a bachelors in Chinese, I would assume, will open doors in many countries. For the moment, that's what I am looking for ... open doors ... the ability to work in many countries would be this sweet added bonus.

My new privates have been real eye-opening for me. Two of them are sisters ... they don't speak English very well so it is teaching mostly in English, however, a lot of bad Chinese is being spoken ... all on my part, of course. The thing is, they can understand what I say and that brings this feeling unlike anything I can describe. That I am able to communicate in this foreign language to help them understand my own is a cool thing. It makes my job much easier, but it also raises my hopes in believing that you can achieve anything you want to in life. It really is simple. It's the hesitations that make it not so simple.

In saying that ... I sign off for the night ... it's been overly rainy, but I hope to get out soon for some pics that will show you what Taiwan is really made of.

The Kids of Cambodia ...

The time I spent in Sihanoukville was mostly spent on the beach. Just about anything and everything was available ... you could get fresh fruit, drinks, shrimp, lobster, snacks, spring rolls, massage, manicures, pedicures, hair removal ... I had to shave my legs everyday ... if I didn't the ladies would rub their hand up and down my leg saying 'much hair, i take off' ... much hair? Gosh, glad they aren't around in my regular day to day life!

Just about every kind of accessory you could imagine seemed to be within reach. I came home with 4 bracelets, a necklace and a ring. I also came home with 25 embroidered shrimps. I met a girl on the beach named Sok Srei, she was 12. Smart little girl, this one.

She found me my first morning there ... her English was quite good and she was quite the little pusher. I decided to bring home souvenirs for all my students, thinking this would give her some much needed money. I made her a good offer, I thought, but she was trying to get me for another $5 or so ... I told her when she was ready to say yes to come and find me ... it took her about a day and a half, slowing going down $1 by $1 trying to get me to agree, but I stood firm on my price. Sok Srei worked on the beach from 7am until 4pm at which time she would go to school for 2 hours a day. It cost her $5US to go to school for one month and if she couldn't make the money she didn't get to go. She would sell paintings, trinkets, fruit ... she even offered to remove the hair from my legs, funny that. By the time I left Sihanoukville, I gave her about $25US ... my hope is that it was spent wisely.

I met another six year old boy named Hong ... he came to sit with me one day while I was studying chinese. His initial thought, I'm sure, was to sell me something ... when he saw an unused pencil, his eyes lit up and he asked if he could use it along with a piece of paper. He sat there silently drawing for what must have been an hour ... as I watched this content little boy, I found myself wondering where his parents thought he was, did he have parents, why wasn't he at school, did he even have a pencil at home ... probably not. After his drawing was finished he explained it me ... it was of the beach and the water and all of the things within ... he said it was for me and thanked me for allowing him to use my pencil. I told him he'd better sign his piece of art so that I will always remember ... he then gave me a friendship bracelet and I offered him my pencil along with some more paper. He seemed hesitant to take them as if they cost me a pretty penny or two. The smile that came across his face for a pencil and some paper was priceless. It, again, made me appreciate the simple things Cambodia offers. I take so many things for granted in my life and I was constantly reminded of this day in and day out.

Thursday March 9th, 2006

Yesterday I bought myself my very first vacuum cleaner ... exciting stuff! For the past year I've been using one of those little hand held mini vacs ... this new one proves to be so much more powerful! Maybe ... if I'm lucky ... I'll even be able to suck up one of the little ones ... Levi just better watch her steps around here.

I started book 2 this week and I'm finding it a little difficult. They have decided to change the font which makes me feel as though I am learning to read again. The characters I use often are fairly easy to make out ... the problem lies within the characters I haven't used so much. The thing is, this book doesn't have the bo, po, mo, fo ... not that I've fully memorized that anyways ... nor does it have the pinyin, so when I come to a character I can't read, my finger stops and it's only then when I am reminded how foreign this language is.

I got a new private for the moment. It will be for 2 hours a week. It's about a 10 minute drive from my house, so the location is good and it is in the morning, so timing is also good. The lady's name is 陳小姐 or Miss Chen. I will have to ask her tomorrow if she has an english name ... if not, I will have to give her one. Her younger sister will be sitting in on our class tomorrow to see if she can understand enough as she'd like to hire me on for another 2 hours a week. Miss Chen's English isn't that great ... I had to arrange the whole meeting on the phone in Chinese. During our first hour class we spoke some chinese and some english to help each other understand what we were trying to say. If anything, this is going to help the basic chinese process along to perfection!

The weekend is almost here again ... it's my favourite time of the week! I hope to get out for some more hiking which means more photos of this great country! Keep your eyes posted!

Saturday March 4th, 2006

Spring has arrived which means summer is soon to be around! Today was beautiful, sunny and 22! I spent most of the morning hiking in some mountains near my house. There were some beautiful things to see ... temples upon temples on the way up.

Sometimes when we live life, we forget to stop and look at what is around us! Taiwan definitely has a lot to offer the wandering eye!

Wednesday March 1st, 2006

Another year, flying by ... already a quarter of the way through. I haven't written in awhile as nothing seems to be coming to me. The weather in Taiwan has been rain, rain and more rain. I imagine things will clear up in the next few weeks. I am really looking forward to being warm and brown! I gave myself a buzzcut yesterday in anticipation of the coming heat!

The biggest news I have is that I've finally finished my first chinese textbook ... 25 chapters, 500 pages ... done! I can't believe it. I purchased book two and will be starting it next week. It looks quite difficult as it doesn't offer the bo, po, mo, fo ... aka, the chinese alphabet ... nor does it offer english translation. This book doesn't focus much on grammar but it does offer a deeper insight into the culture, which should make for an interesting read. I'm really looking forward to it ... now if it would only start rolling off my tongue.

Not much else to say ... I am planning a trip back to Canada in August. I hope to spend a week and a half in ON and a week and a half in BC ... I will post the dates when I book my flight. I may try to do that soon in hopes of getting a cheap flight. I was luckily bumped up to business class on my way back from Cambodia ... gosh, it was nice. I'm not sure I can afford the luxury for the long flight home, but I will certainly check to see what the price difference is!

Anyways ... I'm going to try and clear up this hangover. Yesterday was a holiday in Taiwan and I had a small potluck ... we got into the tequila and my stomach is screaming at me today ... ugh!