Location: Nongbualamphu, Thailand
And that's it... I've added some photos to fill my photos allowance, so that's it for Taiwan.
The rest of my trip will be recorded on:
hope to hear from you all soon!
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Actually this is not Thaliand Yet, but the last update on Taiwan...
I must Say that the last couple of Days have been a complete blur.
Although apparently they should have been completely straight forward, according to a language exchange of mine, who asked me why I was so busy since my last exam was on Friday. When I told her that I had a lot to prepare for the next stage of my journey and that there were a lot of people to say good bye to, she responded with "can't you just email them later, when you have time?" When I told her that I thought that would be a little cold she responded with "I know, you could phone them... that way they would hear your voice." I'll remember that next time I plan my departure from somewhere!!!
Sunday morning I continued to prepare the practical side of my departure, washing,m drying, continuation of the never ending packing, all that exciting stuff... Lingzi came over to spend some time with Manami and I (instantle welcomed, as she brought chocolate!!!) then I had coffee with the afore mentioned LE and later had dinner with Livy, my long temr language exchange and friend and her Aunty, Uncle and Big sister, whom I met when I went to celebrate Chinese New Year with Livy's family.
We had a specialk kind of hot pot and I even 'dared' to finally end my refusal to try black rice cakes, so coloured because they have pigs blood as an ingredient. (I know, that AND my second go at chou dofu!) Then we went together for icecream. It was really mice to catch up with them. When I first met them my chinese was ridiculously bad. and well, when I walked in Livy's Aunt announced that I had lost weight, so the conversation got off to a good start.
Monday began with me donning a suit and heading off to the universuty. I felt rather important wearing a suit on the MRT. Only problem with the whole business woman image was my foot wear... I left my shoes at Jahna's the day before so I had to wear thongs to the uni. just pointing out my nationmality again... can't help my self. Thongs might have been appropriate. I was wearing a suit because I was invited to moderate a ceremony between the Qld University of Technology and NCCU. I was the English speaking member of this particular eurovison couple, and I must say I do a very good Australian Accent.
I got to talk to the dean on the way down in the elevator, about my year in Taiwan and plans for the future, post graduate options, etc... do you think I could put on my application that he welcomed me to study in the NCCU masters program???
Then it was a trip to the electronics market, and back to complete my packing and departure, assisted by Jahna, heather and Lingzi... they were in charge of supervision, entertainment and ice cream!
We ended up at Heather's by about 4 am, where I completed my re pack and said good bye to Mayling, Nat and Nat's room mate who was a bit zombie like, because we woke the poor girl up. Then it was off to NY Bagel for a hen zao de zao fan... the only place open for breakfast at that hour and then a taxi drive to the airport, last coffee and a very teary good bye.
I think the immigration officer was a bit freaked out by me buursting into a new set of tears while he was ripping my immigration papers out of my passport.
So that's it for this chapter in Taiwan. *sigh* It was a year that I couldn't comprehend when I first got here and can't believe is over.
I said something in a good bye letter to a very good friend. I hope they don't mind that I am about to repeat it somewhat...
When I came to Taiwan I came without expectations. I think that is a good thing to do, beacause I have come across too many people who are bitterly dissappointed with Taiwan. Some times it's because it's not what they expected, or because they were looking for something that they didn't find there. Some of these people leave Taiwan and then it dawns on them how much they undervalued their experience while they were here.
I'm glad to have come without expectiations, because it means that I have never been disspppointed with what I have found. although given what I found, it would take a pretty stupid person to be dissappointed.
No matter what my expectations could have been, I could never have imagined the connections I have made and the people I have made them with. I could never have imagined the growth in my confidence, or really realised how stimulating it is meet people from so many interesting places with varied, but often similar out looks on life, to have some stero types proven true beyond belief and others blown out of the water, to be able to do something new every day and put into practice the ideas, thoeries and tools that you have learned.
I know that all might sound very corny, but I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to spend my year in Taiwan.
Thank you everybody for being so supportive.
ok, so with that out of the way... new blog.
I'll update the photos on this one and then start using this other one for our travels in SE Asia and China... running out of internet time right now, so there's nothing on there quite yet.
Talk to you all soon!
P.S. Thailand is nice
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
My last Days here are fast becoming a last daze...
the marathon so far:
My last class was Friday but I'm still going to be at the uni a lot... moderating a ceremony at my uni on monday, plus all my friends live close by. I got three hours sleep before my last class
showed up without preparing for the last exam, clutching a can of coke ( don't even like coke, but drank three that day) spent the morning running around the school finding people to say good bye to, took some photos with friends and went on a little field trip with some japanese friends as a good bye... we went to a place with a 'traditional' sort of tourist street, old buildings with cool wood carvings and dofu ice cream. The actual attraction here is chou dofu though... and yes, I did. Did my dance class that evening half exhausted, ran home and got ready to come back out, went to a good bye party at the uni and then to a club with some friends an a group of my friends friends who are visiting from Nicuragua... Stayed at a friends which of course required some late night talking and bonding with her family, then last night we went to 'our' tea house. Managed to make a very good mistake about which bus to take... we ended up at a bustling temple for sunset, then took the cable car in the dark for one stop to the tea house. It was all so serene and great to just relax some very good friends! Karaoke after that and another very difficult good bye. And some more late night bonding at Jahna's house :-) She and her family are such lovely people.
Thank you, Heather, Jahna, Lingzi and Enrique... I really had a great time last night!
My excuses for being 'worser' than the worst student in the world and not preparing for tomorrow's oral exam are numerous... I must look up 'obligation to country and friends' before I go to class tomorrow.
After my written exam today I went to cast my 'I'm in a much cooler place than the local school hall' vote. I have to say that my third go at this voting business had the best view and was definitely the most high tech. I had to go to the consulate that is not a consulate (you know, because we're in Taiwan, which is not actually 'Taiwan') and had to go through a web-cam / visitor card / security guard / check your bags kind of process to get into the the office. After that ( I just realised) they don't actually ask you for id... you just fill out a form.
The non-consulate consulate even had ballot boxes and voting booths set up like usual. Only this is the first time I've voted on the 27th floor with a view of the Sun Yat Sen memorial hall and had my picture taken to get there.
Rather fitting if Rudd gets in the year I am living in another country studying Chinese. Must remember to be somewhere interesting next time... ;-)
oh and the obligation to friends? Ice cream birthday celebration of course.
And you might hear some rumours about a foot massage (But I'll only confirm the rumour involving me wearing the sexiest pair of trousers ever... Um, should really post an explanatory photo before mum and dad read this bit)!
Location: tu shu guan, Taiwan
So now he's begun to crack his knuckles...
Location: tu shu guan, Taiwan
A lot of people in Taiwan rather like to bring a thermos of tea to class, or the library. It's probably a good caffine hit to stay alert while you study, but I just need to tell someone that "sluuuurp, thud, sluuuurp, thud..." is rather distracting during a test, or when you're trying to learn the finer points of chinese grammar.
Lets just say I'm about to kill mr slurpy over to my left. Thought I'd let you know before you read the headline "crazy Australian comits murder in Library"
Yes, I am tired, yes I am worried about tomorrows exam... can you tell?
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
It's the day before my written exam, so I'm procrastinating on my blog...
But there's nothing interesting to write, so I guess I should really go and study...
Whenever Manami has to go on a business trip she gets us to lie to the teacher for her and say she has a cold.
You have to be careful what you wish for though... this time she really did get one, which she kindly passed onto me before leaving for Hong Kong... somehow it turned into some kind of supervirus when it hit me, because for the last 4 days I've felt like I've been hit by a truck ... and I sound rather like a walrus! hen hao wanr, dui bu dui???
Today I solved my immigration wenti and managed to do so completely in Chinese - go me! I even had a chat to the immigration officer about how much I've improved and my plans for the future
And today was my 1 year Taiwan anniversary.
Actually completely coincidental, but we celebrated by cooking Indian food (and chocolate cake in Manami's toaster oven) for a bit of a dinner party, you know instead of doing less important things like...um... studying for the upcoming exams. (trying not to think about these)
I'm about to begin exam week and my last full week in Taiwan. Even though I keep talking about it, thinking about it and preparing for it, I can't believe the time is actually drawing so near.
So many things to do... I'm going to attempt to vote this week, which involves finding an office somewhere in Taipei. I also have to take a trip to the damn immigration office to extend my ARC by 5 days and avoid a big fat fine (hmph)... then there's exam prep, sorting things out, giving things away, sending things home, packing, last minute shopping...
There's also lots of things to do this week socially... lots of goodbyes, etc. A lot of friends are going on holiday befotre I actually leave and there are other important goodbyes like with my Taiwanese friend's Aunt and Uncle, who have been very kind to me. I'm looking forward to it, because last time I saw them I couldn't really communicate with them, but now my Chinese is a lot better.
It's really bittersweet right now. I've improved so much, but I wish I had more time so I could improve more!
.... but I think my first good bye might have to be to my bed. I don't think we'll be seeing all that much of each other this week!
Wednesday already! Time is ticking.
Boring, I know, but fitting to repeat the "I'm so Busy" mantra...
I'm slowly getting things done, rapidly adding to the 'to do list,' trying to finish some things up, finding it impossible not to start other things, and of course working hard towards my end of term exams...
It seems the longer you stay in a place the harder it is to leave!
The 'Simone is leaving' fesitval of events has so far included a cheesy chick flic, shopping at Shilin market, A trip to a night club (for it's excellent tea of course), pizza, the electronics market (to find a simone proof camera) and the zoo (had to say good bye to the koalas afterall)
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
Another week has flown by, meaning I only have 2 full weeks left in Taiwan (and yes, still so much to do).
My final final exam (2 finals - not a mistake) is looming and the teacher commented to me yesterday that even though I am leaving soon I'm still working hard. I guess a lot of people stop caring at this point, but I don't want to waste any of my time here... perhaps I'm just crazy ;-)
So, life is well in the trendy end of town and the count down has begun. I'm really enjoying living with Manami (and hope she feels the same way) and show my gratitude through cooking... or perhaps that is just the competitive female in me trying to make my beautiful friend fat ;-)
stay tuned for vivid accounts of the 'Simone is Leaving Taiwan' festival events!!! Ying gai hen hao wanr :-)
I'm not confirming the rumours just yet... but lets just say there might be icecream and dancing involved, not to mention a bit of singing and a lot of shopping and drinking (tea of course)...
zhou mo kaui le :-)
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
I'm now officially a resident of the trendy part of town.
It's amazing how fast you can pack up your life and move somewhere else. It's also amazing to see all the things I've accumulated that won't actually leave Taiwan with me.
We even celebrated my move with pizza and our very own version of Chinese whispers. The language barrier for deeper topics can be tackled as follows: I explain to Manami in English, she explains to Lingzi and Machiko in Japanese, Machiko explains to Manami's boyfriend in Chinese, or vice versa. We're finding we need this less and less though, Just as I noticed that I now talk to my friend and language exchange, Livy almost completely in Chinese.
Communication can be a funny thing. The other day Machiko expressed her regret that we're formed such a good friendship just before I leave when we've both been here the whole time. I've known her for a while, because she was Hiromi's classmate, but at first I thought she didn't like me. Recently she told me that she wanted to make friends with me when I first arrived, but was scared to because she thinks her English isn't good enough and my Chinese at that point was not much better than my Japanese is now!
However, some things are just as strange as they seem. A German girl at our language centre had always been really standoffish with me even though I smiled and said hello whenever I saw her. I figured it was just because up until recently I still regularly needed to use the odd English word to get my point across in conversations and she prefers not to speak English. One point of view is that we come here to learn Chinese, not to practice our English and I admit it is a valid one.
I found out the true reason the other day. I had never had a proper conversation with her and she had never addressed me in a group conversation, so even though I have known her for months she only recently asked me where I was from. 'Oh,' she said 'I assumed you were American.' now she always smiles when she sees me.
It's amazing how many people assume I'm from a place I've never even set foot in!
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
If I stand in the middle of my room and look at the rest of my stuff, will it pack itself?
Three reasons to leave Taiwan:
- I sleep in the library and on public transport
- sometimes I walk past a shop and think 'now that is a really nice umbrella'
- I no longer say "shi-ah," "dui-ah," "hao ke ai-ah" just as a joke...
(reason #4 no one at home understands my jokes any more because they're all about learning Chinese)
Location: Taipei, Taiwan
*sigh* So much to get done and so little time left. I think I need a mantra. "zhun bei, zhun bei, zhun bei" (prepare) would be appropriate, but I think I like "chocolate, chocolate, chocolate" better.
When I told my gymnasts I was going to Taiwan, Sarah (McDade) gave me one of those very special looks designed by children to make adults extremely guilty and said "a whole year?"
I said "don't worry, I year isn't a long time, it'll be over before we know it"
"Yes it is," she said, continuing the look, "a year is a very long time"
We were both right. Any time spent away from loved ones feels like a long time and as I try to pack everything up, I am discovering that a year has certainly been long enough to accumulate a lot of rubbish.
It's managed to go so fast, and like so many times this year I'm realising that we have no control over the speed of time.
It's also a bit strange right now (and a logistical nightmare). While I'm preparing to leave Taiwan, I won't actually be home until February.
Today when my classmates got the calendar for next term I leant over to Lingzi and started to brag about where I'd be and what I'd be doing the week of her mid term and final exams. But as excited as I am about what is yet to come, I'm kind of jealous of my classmates staying in Taiwan and how much they will improve without me!
I know, I know... we can't have it all. Perhaps I'll just have to come back some time to brush up on my Zhong wen!
Oh yeah, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!
And I think Carol McDade will understand when I say that when I picture that look, I still feel a little pang of guilt.
My classmate is extremely clever. Even when she's asleep (with her eyes closed) she manages to nod when the teacher asks if we understand.
Unfortunately, I think the teacher knows instinctively when I'm asleep or I'm lost... well, I guess with such high odds it's safe to bet!
I've put some photos of Kaoshiung up... my apologies for the quality - getting the camera to work requires manually holding the lens down, so most photos end up with a finger in them!
Nothing like a spot of Kendo and some Gelato to finish off the weekend!