Happy Easter ...

Although it's not celebrated over here, we were able to take some time out of our regular schedules to dye eggs with the students. I've posted a new album with some of the faces I see on a daily basis.

Taiwan will celebrate Tomb Sweeping Day in a few short weeks. On this day, families maintain their family grave sites and worship their ancestors. Maintenance of the site includes cleaning, weeding and repairing any damage that may have been done over the wet winter season. Some families will add a new inscription on the tombstone to add beauty and new meaning.

Other rituals include burning ghost money, lighting off firecrackers and having a huge feast. A group of us will be heading to Sun Moon Lake for the weekend to do some camping and hiking. I can hardly wait!

Hilarious ...

I bought two Ikea chairs this evening from some people that live a few buildings over. Datsun, of course, is completely traumatized by the whole thing ... I mean, imagine ... new chairs ... yikes!

Levi, on the other hand, spent the first hour sniffing them out before claiming one as hers. She's been there ever since. When Datsun finally braved it to inch his way over to check one out, she batted him in the face ... he's not been seen since.

Who needs a TV when you have two cats?


The Living Mall ... Core Pacific City ... open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's floors and floors of mall ... 204, 190 square meters as per Wikipedia ... 12 above-ground stories and 7 underground levels.

That's a lot of mall!

It's one of many massive shopping centers around Taipei City ... all comparable in size. I can think of five off the top of my head. There are probably more.

Last Night in Palawan ...

I found a tricycle to take me to a hotel that boasted hot showers and TVs. I asked the driver how much and his response was whatever you want. I gave him 100 pesos only to find out later that it should have cost 20 ... 80 pesos doesn't make much of a difference to me, so I didn't mind so much.

I arrived to the hotel with a hat on my head, my pack on my back and dust all over from the 7 hour bus ride. The two behind the desk looked at me as if I was in the wrong place. I asked them about a room and they told me they were booked. It wasn't what I was expecting as it's a fairly big hotel. I asked them if there were any similar hotels in the area. They preceded to tell me that the price of their hotel was 3000 pesos a night. I responded with a yes, I'm aware of that, thanks and a big grin to go along with.

The hotel they sent me to was called Dolce Vita. (It's not letting me link it for some strange reason ... http://www.hotels-palawan.com/) It was fantastic and much nicer than the first hotel. The rooms were cheaper as well, only running me 2200 pesos ($53 CAD) per night. A waiter greeted me at the door with an iced tea and whisked my bags away to my room ... already luxurious and I wasn't even out of the front foyer.

That's my room on the upper floor. This isn't my photo ... I stole it from the website. Talk about sweet! My room had double French doors and this huge bed and bathroom and even a small loft. First thing I did was climb to the top, throw myself on the mat and giggle out loud. After that, it was a hot shower. I was starting to feel a bit more normal. The only other plan of the day was to hit the tiny mall for some clean clothes to wear home the following day.

Upon entering the mall, my bag was checked, I was frisked and scanned with a metal detector. I bought a few things and at each cash counter there was a person to ring in the product and accept your money. Then you had to wait for another person who was standing beside her to check your receipt and the items. The items were then put into a bag and the bag was pressed shut with a hot iron type thingy ... not even sure what they'd be called, perhaps a bag sealer? The receipt was then stapled on top. On the way out it was checked by the security, of course, to make sure it wasn't tampered with.?! Yikes.

The food at the hotel was nothing special, although I did have this fantastic salad with hard boiled eggs and veggies and ham and the works. Breakfast was served on my balcony table outside my door. It was a great way to wind down from a (sort of) rugged trip in the Philippines.

The Charity Bus ...

5:45am ... it was pouring rain as I ventured out. Hard to see what the bus looked like due to the darkness (El Nido is powered from generators and all were off) ... from the inside one could see it was extremely old.

I picked the seat in front as it offered the most leg room. The roads twisted and turned for the first few hours. This little bus could tear around a curve ... I held on for my life.

Our first 5 minute bathroom break happened after hour four. We stopped on the two lane highway where everything stood open. The boys got out and picked various spots along the road ... the overnight bus ride in Vietnam was all too clear in my mind ... at least in Vietnam it was dark. Here ... day as day could be. I made the decision of waiting it out.

Not even an hour later, we made a quick stop with, somewhat, proper bathrooms. I had a look on my map and it seemed that we were quite close. With it being the 11 o'clock hour, I was surprised.

The bus had four workers ... two guys sat on top to haul luggage on and off ... the others were bell ringers, perhaps?! A 10 peso coin that tapped twice on one of the steel poles got the driver to stop and start. The bus would come to this instant screeching stop ... it kind of made me feel like I was in a cartoon. Imagine this little bus, flying around corners, a big ball of dust trailing behind ... funny.

Each village we passed presented people that wandered the street with a live chicken tucked under an arm ... the legs of the chickens tied. It was a Sunday, I suppose ... talk about a fresh dinner.

Quite suddenly, we were in Puerto Princesa. $300 pesos ($7 CAD) for a 6.5 hour trip. I was thankful of making it in one piece. They made me get out at a gas station and as I stood there unsure of what to do, I made my way towards the people ... someone had to be able to offer some help ...