Happy Halloween!

The weather isn't looking too promising today. I have most of the day off, although I do have some errands to run. The past few days have been busy. The party on the weekend was a blast ... I know I said some pics were to follow, but I didn't really take any. I'll see if I can't come up with something in the next few days.

Rugby on Sunday was great. Our coach is from South Africa and he brought an aerobics instructor for our warm up. We did lots of drill work which showed us how to pass the ball correctly. The rules of the game were explained within the drills and we were able to get a few games in. I've learned that one game of Rugby is 14 minutes long. There seems to be a lot of running involved so I assume that's why it's so short. I may try to download a game so that I can see what it's supposed to look like.

Most of us are new to the sport, so it's all a bit confusing at the moment. We are looking for a sponsor and we are going to have some uniforms made up. The coach thinks it will be the New Year before we are able to challenge another team, but that's okay. I hear there are teams all over Asia and if we are willing, we may travel to places like China or the Philippines to play a few on the weekend. We have called ourselves the Black Panthers.

My Chinese class is going very well ... my new teacher is coming to my house on Monday and Friday mornings. He has taught me some great things so far and has already helped me to have a better understanding. We are already on Chapter 5. My writing is improving more and more each day and I am finally starting to remember how to write a lot of them. It's a pretty cool thing.

And with that ... I'm out.

Saturday October 28th, 2006

I find it hard to believe that November is arriving in a few short days. Today is turning out to be alright, weatherwise. The sun is making great efforts to show ... both the cats are basking in it now.

I have a few errands to run today. Other than that, it should be fairly quiet. Tonight is Adam G's annual Halloween Party. It should be a blast ... two apartments, side by side, open to all! I will be going as a devilish vampire.

We had our halloween parade at school on Wednesday ... it was fun. I think the kids enjoyed it. I was able to download some Charlie Brown cartoons. The bundle came with all the holidays specials like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and even Valentine's Day. I will probably show the Halloween episode on Monday for the kids.

Must get out in that warm sun for some excerise. Hopefully some halloween photos will follow tomorrow. Boo!

Friday October 27th, 2006

Michael Kremko Photography

What I wouldn't do to be there right now ... relaxing on that beach. The weather is a bit crazy today. Some blue skies and a bright sun with rain coming down every which way. I've been up with Datsun most of the night as he's been sick to his stomach ... poor little guy. He did decide to throw up on my blanket ... hard to say whether or not it will dry today. The sun is strong, but the air is wet. Thank goodness for extra blankets.

I'm glad it's Friday ... the week has been busy. I had a meeting with my principal yesterday as one of my troubled students is, perhaps, leaving the school. I have to say, I'm not too sad to see him go but Mommy, of course, is blaming myself and my co-teacher for being bad teachers. My principal asked what it was that we can do to make things better. My only response to this was that the school and Mommy should have been paying attention from the start. I asked the school to fail him after level one and Mom promised to help him out and promised he'd try harder. Of course, he failed miserably. I asked the school to fail him after level two, but this would be an embarrassment to Mom so on to level three he went. Now that he's completely lost, it seems to be my fault. As per my earlier post, there are a lot of people in this country that shouldn't be allowed to mind animals ... there are also lots of people that shouldn't be allowed the pleasures of children. Most of them do not get the love that is required.

Levi has just pushed my Chinese homework off the table and onto the floor. I guess that means I best get back at it. My teacher will be here in about a half hour and I still have some writing to do. She's eating the paper ... what a BRAT!!!

Thursday October 26th, 2006

Words haven't been coming to me as of late ... I find myself wondering if, perhaps, I'm in a bit of a rut. Going back to a place that was home for so long always presents a bit of weirdness. Lots of comforts, yet hesitations.

Taiwan reminds me of why it is that I am living my life in a far away place. Two months in, however, I find the month to be a tad frustrating. Life on the other side always brings interesting and challenging things, but with that, sometimes, comes lack of understanding.

I love things here, don't get me wrong. It's just that, trying to understand the things that go on in a world that isn't quite your own can be hard.

Take yesterday morning, for instance. As I was out for a morning jog around the area, I ran into this lady. She had a silver plate type thing over her eye and she looked ... a little off. She was playing catch with a golden retriever. Catch consisted of throwing a ball down some stairs that led into a tennis court. After turning around for the jog back, I noticed that her dog was locked in the tennis court. The dog was crying and seemed somewhat unhappy. In seeing this and realizing that I would've been up and down the stairs five times already, I wondered if the lady, perhaps, might be deaf. I mean, one never knows, right?!

I jogged back over and this is how the convo went (in my horrible Chinese):

Me: 小姐, 你的狗不能出去.
Miss, your dog can't get out.

She: 知道, 知道
I know, I know.

Me: 門 ... 關了
door ... closed.

She ... in English ... I know, leave him, leave him.

Me: 牠不太高興
He's not too happy.

She: ... in English ... I know, leave him, leave him.

Me: left feeling angry and upset for the dog that has such a heartless owner.

That has only been one of the few annoying incidents going on this week. To get off annoyances ... life has been good. Sometimes I'm reminded of the amazing things living life on the other side has to offer ... sometimes I'm reminded of the tests of patience it requires.

My new Chinese teacher has been interesting. I think he's going to be a good teacher, but he is a bit out there. It could be intelligence, it could be something else ... hard to tell at this point. I've learned a few good things already, so we shall see. We are on class three tomorrow am.

I have joined a girl's touch rugby team. I don't know anything about the sport, but practices and games will be held on Sunday afternoons. Because I don't quite have enough to do during the week, I thought, why not squeeze one more thing in on the weekend. It may prove to be interesting ... or it may not. One must give it a try, however.

Life is too short to not try things out.

上 (shang4)

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word ... that word is up.

I saw this at a friend's place the other night. I've searched the net as to the owner ... I didn't really come up with anything to link it to. As I am (trying to be) a teacher of the English language, I find this very interesting.

Situations like this occur much too often in my life!

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election ... why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. We use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver. We warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

This UP is confusing:

A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP ...

To be knowledgeable about the proper use of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out, we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, ... for now my time is UP, so ...

time to shut UP ...

Thursday October 19th, 2006

I am, once again, sitting down to write with nothing much to say. Things have been a bit busy on my end. The weather, however, has been fantastic. It's been in the high 20's to low 30's with sun and blue skies. The humidity is gone ... with the hot sun comes a decent breeze. I've been shutting my window at night which tells me the cold is coming.

Today we were talking about heating during one of my classes. I told my kids that it's kind of like air conditioning except it brings warm air. I told them I have a heater here, at home, so it can be used during the winter. They argued with me stating that it's not cold here in the winter.

It got down to 4 last year ... with no central heating, concrete walls and white tiled floors ... it gets cold. They seem to think otherwise. It's funny. In the summertime, you will see a foreigner, myself included, walking around wearing as little as one can get away with, soaked through with sweat. In that same moment, you will pass this little Taiwanese girl dressed in jeans and a tank with a black long sleeve and ... ?? ... not even a drip of sweat.

And the winters aren't cold?!?! Brrr ...

It's going to be an early night for me. I start Chinese lessons tomorrow. My new teacher will be here for a 9am class. I am very excited. I am also a bit nervous.

Tomorrow should be somewhat of a fast day. It will consist of Chinese class, lunch with a friend, my regular classes, then home. Having had to work last Saturday made this week out to seem long. I will be thankful for the two day weekend!

Monday October 16th, 2006

Wandering through a shop in St. Jacobs, ON, I stumbled upon a small section of cat things. A notepad that read, 'Dogs come when they are called. Cats take a message.' A ceramic plate saying, 'Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.' I had to giggle as I could relate.

I've done some research into the University of Macau. Although the internet states it's the second most densely populated place in the world, it doesn't seem to have a limitation as to how many animals one can bring into their country. The University is primarily a teaching University, but some other courses are available. Mandarin is a required course with Cantonese being optional. One year will run me about $5,000 CAN, not including living expenses. I will be looking into how internationally recognized it is. Their website states that they have established academic links with over 100 institutions around the world ... I think I will have to find out in greater detail what that means exactly. I wouldn't want to go back to North America showing a few years of nothing.

Hong Kong has given me eyes for a new place. If I start planning now, I'm sure within two years I could have enough to take a year off and get back into studies. With just over two years left on my contract here, timing should be perfect. I suppose an extra private or two might be in order.

Chinese University, I'm afraid, didn't make it into my schedule. I spent some time being disappointed and scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. In the process, I've discovered that Wen Hua, seems to me, to be a bit disorganzied. I tried to figure out the pros and cons of going to a classroom environment ... really dug into the idea of what it was that I was trying to gain. Wen Hua means ten hours of study each week with approximately seven hours travel time per week. I will lose one private tutor and my morning language exchange partner ... I've been seeing her for almost a year and a half now.

In saying that ... I've hired a private teacher. A bit more expensive? Yes. A bit less time of study? Yes. A bit more convenient? Absolutely. I can keep my private and my LE partner and the teacher will come to my home for study. Although it will be six hours less class time, it will also be seven less hours spent driving in the madness of Taiwan. I will try it out and see what progresses. That's all one can do, right?

My Chinese lesson starts on Friday. I am going to ask to start from Chapter one in book one. I think it might be good to get another perspective from the beginning, but this time doing all of it in spoken Chinese. I want to learn to write, so that's why I'm going a bit backwards here. I'm sure we'll be able to cruise through the first fifteen chapters ... after that ... hard to say. All I know is that I am excited!

The cats are starting to get a bit vocal ... I suppose it's time to go rough a bit of feathers around here ... they love the abuse!

澳門 - Macau

Five of us left for 澳門 Macau early Sunday morning. It was about a one hour ferry ride from HK. Now, what really baffles me is that HK and Macau are both in China, however, they are considered different countries. We had to go through immigration and change over our money. I guess it's four more stamps for my passport, although it's already full. I'm glad I have to get a new one in 2007 ... mine won't be able to take much more abuse.

The internet states that the total area of Macau is 25.4 square kilometres with a population of approximately 460,000 ... it also states that it is the second most densly populated area in the world. It didn't strike me as being overly busy, however.

It was a place of character and history. I wish I had allowed myself the two extra days, although turkey dinner yesterday was fantastic! There is an international University on the island ... it will be something that I will be looking into.

Five of us had about five hours to run around and see as much as we could. Two of us went up the Macau Tower. It was a pretty cool view, although the pics weren't so great with all the smog.

After that we hit one part of town with some old ruins and churchs. First stop was lunch, where plates and plates of yummy goodness were being served. We, once again, outdid ourselves. Small shops everywhere were selling dried meat, I think. The narrow streets had people standing in the middle of them every few feet holding a big square of it with scissors in the other hand offering to cut off a piece to try.

We spent the day walking around seeing the sights and stopping in the little shops to buy some specials here and there. The shopping was much cheaper than HK or Taiwan ... I managed to come home with a bag or two of goodies.

A new album has been posted. Check it out on the sidebar. I think I may finally be running short on things to talk about ... my fingers haven't been able to keep up the past few days!

Day 2 - 香港 ...

Our bus pulled into the city around noon on Saturday ... we were scheduled to stay at the Holiday Inn for the night. A big Ckids lunch was planned for us in the hotel ... we had enough time to check-in, drop off our bags and head to the restaurant. Lunch was unbelievable. Just when we thought we were done eating, a whole other meal would start to be served. The food just kept on coming.

We were served spring rolls, pork wrapped in something which probably doesn't have an English name. They served us dumplings and radish cakes and fish and shrimp and a few other things which are, in English, unbeknownst to me. After all of that, shark fin soup was served ... apparently a speciality. Now, one would think that after the soup was served the meal would be over, but nooo. They continued to bring water cress and eel and chicken and shrimp and noodles and fried rice. Dessert consisted of moon cakes and a mango pudding/jello/soup type thing and ice cream ... I mean, ugh. We all had to roll ourselves out of the restaurant from eating too much.

After lunch the group set off to do some shopping. I found things to be very expensive in HK, so I wasn't up for the malls. Morgan and I went to hang in a park or two to see what was around the downtown area. I couldn't believe the hoards of people ... everywhere. Trying to get a spare spot to sit in the park was next to impossible. I will never again say Taiwan is crowded. The day brought along all sorts of interesting characters.

After hanging around for the afternoon, we went to the MTR to hop the train to Victoria Peak. The tram ride up was great, the view ... spectacular. I've already posted a photo in an earlier post, so have a look around.

After The Peak, we took the MTR back to The Temple Street Market. It was there that we decided to stop for more food, because we didn't quite have enough for lunch.

As I can't seem to eat mullosks there wasn't much there for me to eat.

The four girls I was with ate and ate and ate ... they ordered snails and squid and clams and who knows what else ... I did ask, but they didn't know the English names. They did order dove which I tried ... it was quite tasty ... poor little bird.

After spending another two hours eating, we made our way through the market. I didn't buy anything, as most of it was quite similar to what we can get here in Taiwan and the the prices seemed to be about the about the same. We arrived back to the hotel around midnight and I fell asleep within minutes. I was scheduled to leave the hotel at 725am as some of us were catching a ferry into Macau. That is another story to follow shortly.

Hong Kong (香港) Disneyland

We arrived at Disney's Hollywood Hotel around 830am on Friday. I was travelling with a group of 20 or so ... needless to say, check-in took a bit of time. The hotel was quite neat as it had Disney stuff everywhere. The park opened at 10am and, luckily, our rooms were ready upon arrival.

After dropping our bags in our rooms, we ran down to the free shuttle. It was a holiday weekend in HK, so we expected the park would be packed with people. We were wrong ... the park was empty. We never had to wait more than a few minutes to get on the rides, which was great! Space mountain was our first choice and I managed to ride it about another six times after that. It was the only coaster in the park.

Our first few hours were spent running about the park ... I mean, imagine 15 adults running through Disney ... too funny! We did manage to cover the whole park, hitting all of the rides and seeing most of the shows available. My favourite attraction was Mickey's PhilharMagic. It's a 3-D movie with interactive smells, water and blowing air ... a very cool thing!

Other attractions included a jungle river tour, adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Hatter Tea Cups, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Orbitron, parades and The Golden Mickeys to name a few. It didn't compare to the one in Flordia, but a great time was had by all.

Fireworks were set over the castle to end the night of fun. They were quite impressive. After the day, we all went back to the hotel for some pizza and a beer or two. Most of us could hardly keep our eyes open.

A full day had been planned for the following day, so it was early to bed for us. What a great experience it was as I'm sure I wouldn't ever want to afford to stay in Disney's hotel. The following morning, I awoke early to take advantage of the hot weather, the outdoor piano shaped pool and the water slide ... we had an 11am bus into HK where we would be staying the night.

Check out the new album on the right ...

Monday October 9th, 2006

All of a sudden I have so much to say, I can't even decide where to begin. I thought I kind of had an idea of what 香港 (Hong Kong) was going to be like before I got there ... upon my arrival, I realized I didn't really know that much.

Let's get a few facts on the go according to old faithful. HK has an area which is about 1,100 square kilometres ... it covers Hong Kong Island, the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories. Within, one will find themselves stumbling into 6.8 million people.

English is spoken very well almost everywhere you go. With signs in Traditional Chinese and English on every corner to guide the way ... one could hardly get lost. Now, if one could only get through all the people. It seems to me that HK builds up rather than out ... I suppose there isn't much room to go anywhere else but up. All of the city buses are double deckers. That should tell you something.

Tall forests of residential buildings stand all over the city. At the stoplights, I would find myself counting the stories. As the bus would pull away, I'd find myself at about 30 flights or so and sometimes that was just over halfway. I tried to get some photos, but it was next to impossible.

I didn't spend much time in the city ... with so much to do and so little time, I wasn't about to waste time shopping for stuff I don't really need.

I did take the tram up The Peak on Saturday evening. The sights were beautiful from way up there. My camera doesn't take great night photos, so it was hard to get a good shot. This gives you somewhat of an idea.

So ... this is the start of a few stories to come. New albums will be posted in the next day or so, I'm sure. Today is a holiday as is tomorrow. Eyes posted.

Friday October 6th, 2006

3:06am ... my ride is coming in about 20 mins ... it's awfully quiet at this time of the morning! I will be in Hong Kong for the next few days. Keep your eyes posted for stories and pics soon.

Wednesday October 4th, 2006

I've been trying to figure out how to change the skin on my video as right now on Mozilla it looks a bit tacky. I've been able to make some changes and it is starting to look how I'd like it to on IE, but not on Mozilla. It's a bit frustrating sometimes trying to make changes to a site ... especially when it looks alright on one browser but not alright on the other. It makes for a lot of fiddling ... as always, another work in progress.

Only two more sleeps until I find myself on a flight to Hong Kong. Friday is a holiday, as is Tuesday. The government has declared Monday a holiday as well which is awesome, although we are required to work on Saturday which isn't so awesome. I sometimes have to wonder why the people here think that time off always needs to be made up ... as if it's something that can be caught up on. I guess, financially, things will be the same and time is money ... but mostly ... money just can't compare to time.

I was really tempted to change my flight back from Hong Kong ... stay the extra two days. However, that would mean missing out on a turkey dinner with some friends. Hong Kong or turkey ... Hong Kong or turkey ... hmmm ... food always wins in my books!

And with that ... I sign off ... a movie before bed sounds like a good plan. I'm not having much luck finding ways on this thing tonight!

Does this work?

Here is a quick video clip of the changing of the guards at C.K.S. Memorial Hall. This video doesn't really do much justice to the whole presentation, which goes on for about 10 minutes, but it certainly does give you an idea. My camera doesn't capture sound, but the new camera I will be buying very soon will have that feature! I hope this works without a glitch.

Another Taste of Asia ...

Some new photos have been posted in the album titled above. My collection is slowly starting again ... slowly being the key word there. I think my camera is on the fritz ... it's taking an awful lot of blurry photos these days ... hmmm.

Check out the album on the sidebar if you find youself with some time!

Sunday October 1st, 2006

October already ... wow. It's been almost one year to the day that I started this thing ... it certainly has come a long way. It's gone in a direction I wouldn't have imagined it to ... it's taught me a lot of things and it continues to do so.

Today I found myself at 中正紀念堂, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The area is 240,000 square meters and it contains the National Concert Hall, the National Theatre and a memorial for the late president. I was able to catch the changing of the guards on video ... I will look into finding out how to post a video on my blog. It's a fairly cool thing to watch ... not sure that the video really captured the moment, however.

I had a potluck last night to welcome my new guest. It was great fun! Kathy will be staying with me for one month. She already has two job interviews next week, so hopefully something will work out. I think she enjoyed the city in all of it's craziness today.

Not much to write about these days ... I'm hoping my trip to HK will inspire me with some stories. I hear it's China's birthday so I'm sure it will inspire a lot more than that. And with that ... I sign off.