Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Taiwan

Despite year round Christmas decorations (I still don't understand why), and the occasional overpriced (but still disgusting) turkey dinner; Taiwan doesn't do much to celebrate the holidays. Our school gave us the option of taking Christmas off, but to avoid wallowing in homesickness at my apartment, I decided to work anyway. I like both my Tuesday classes, so it wasn't that bad, and I knew as soon as I got off, most of my family would be waking up and opening Christmas presents so it would be a good time to call them.

Another way to bring a little bit of Christmas joy over here, was celebrating with a couple of my classes. Thanks to the enormous amounts of candy I received from Mom, Dad, and Grandmother; I was able to give my Treehouse and Kids Club classes (my two favorites, if you can't tell by now) a little Christmas party. I brought in some hot chocolate powder, marshmallows, and candy canes. I started by scooping out the powder into some paper cups, then marched them upstairs to the teacher's lounge where they could fill up with hot water. However, by the time we made it upstairs, I realized that half the kids had already eaten the powder!

One girl, named Sandy, especially enjoyed the hot chocolate. When the bell rang at the end of class, I saw that she hadn't drunk much. I told her she couldn't take it with her, but she insisted that she wasn't finished yet.

"Ok, Sandy. Hurry up then," I told her.

So she picked up her glass and chugged the entire glass of hot chocolate in under 20 seconds. Then she paused, and had a look on her face of pure discomfort.

"Are you ok Sandy?" I asked.

She paused for a minute, then gave me a typical Sandy smile, said Yes, and bounced out of the room to go home.

A few seconds later, while Ellen and I were still cleaning up the room, another student named Bella came running back in...

"Teacher Ethan, Teacher Ethan!" she yelled.

"What Bella?"

"Sandy... Sandy... BLEHHHHH" (imagine her making the hand gestures since she didn't know how to say "blew chunks" in English)

Ellen and I ran outside and saw Sandy standing on the stairway, completely surrounded by vomit.

Ellen took her into the bathroom and we laid down some newspapers to avoid other kids playing in it.

Afterwards, I saw Sandy downstairs and I asked her if she still likes hot chocolate. She shook her head 'no' with a sad look on her face.

The one on the left is Sandy

Hiding from the camera

The aftermath of Sandy's marathon chocolate chug

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Abandoned Amusement Park

A friend in Taichung told us that there was an old, abandoned amusement park on the outskirts of town. So, having nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon; Stephen, Sue, and I decided to go check it out.

If Horror movies have taught me anything, it's that the most likely reason the amusement park was shut down was because two sexy teens were brutally murdered there and the killer was never found. But, when we arrived, I realized a more feasible reason for it's economic downfall was probably because it was situated on the top of a hill that was very hard to climb, and when one got there; they only had a total of three rides to enjoy.

Nevertheless, it made for a good day trip and some nice pictures.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Proper Dining Etiquette

I often thought back home how ridiculous it was whenever I saw a person eating french fries with a fork. It just seemed incredibly pretentious and unnecessary. Well, I think it is safe to say I've witnessed on several occasions something that is even more ludicrous.... the use of chopsticks to eat french fries.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Shrimp fishing

A few days ago, some friends and I decided to try the very Taiwanese sport of shrimp fishing. There are several places you can go shrimp fishing in Taichung, and we managed to find one only a few blocks from our apartment. They are open 24 hours, so we got some dinner after work one night, then stopped by the shrimp hall around midnight. You walk into an open room and find a couple of shallow pools that are stocked with the shrimp. Another pool contained crabs, but was a little more expensive so we just stuck to the former. You take a long pole and bait a couple hooks with chicken bits. After a few minutes you'll see the floater go under water, and if you pull the pole up with the right amount of speed and care, you'll have snagged a shrimp. After a couple hours of shrimping and drinking beer (fishing is fishing, right?) we had managed to catch about 15 shrimp. We then took them over to a grill, salted and skewered them, and let them cook for a few minutes. After writhing around for a while, they turned a nice pink and were ready to eat. We peeled them and dipped them into some soy sauce. Aside from the occasional brain juice or baby shrimp eggs, they were probably some of the best tasting shrimp I've ever eaten.