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I cannot believe it is already the third week of February. I am amazed that my journey here is about half over. When I think of how much I have (finally) learned, the opportunities here for teachers (but not librarians), the easiness of being here, I really think about giving it one more year. But, when I think about my mom, my Kris, Evan and Rod, libraries!!, students with whom I can communicate, the possibility of dating and so many of the little things to which I’ve grown accustom, there is no way I can stay here two consecutive years.

This year has been a whirlwind and winter break has been no exception. I, like many of the foreign teachers spent parts of the break at English camp. This gave us the opportunity to teach students English in a more relaxed atmosphere. I was able to continue traveling during my time off as well as to gather items to decorate my rather bare classroom.

And the other teachers? Rose (Michigan) in Fongshan went to Taichung and Haulien with families from her school; Gene was able to visit Carolyn (Arkansas) in Putzih, spending time with members of her school and traveling the country; Betty (Canada) and Marilyn (Arkansas) had an incredible trip to Cebu in the Philippines and Mama Leah was in Malaysia. Sandy just sent me photos of her incredible trip to Bali.  We keep in contact with each other, like touch stones filling the void. Sean (IN) and the Grandersons (Arkansas) came to visit Pingtung and Kaouhsoing. As big and as busy as Kaouhsoing is, many people never make it there to visit. They are convinced that the only happenings are in Taipei, so they miss out!

The true highlight of winter break is Chinese New Year. This holiday, stuffed with tradition, is quite unlike the New Year in America. Rather than revelers taking to the street to count down the minutes to the new year, those in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China go home to celebrate with family over a 5 day period. The calendar in Taiwan changed to the year ‘97’ in January, but this new year while mark the beginning of the year of the rat on the lunar calendar.

While huge dinners have traditionally been prepared in homes, more families are taking to reserving banquet facilities for the huge meals which take days to prepare. Traditional foods are prepared to insure prosperity in the upcoming year. The more food, the greater the anticipated prosperity. There is majjohng, and red envelopes—the giving of cash to children still living at home, or to parents of grown children. There are special offerings in the temple, fireworks to scare away evil spirits and special spring couplets put on the doors for much the same reason.

Everyone is home with family for 4-5 days. Stores and restaurants close and the trash man does not cometh. Those of us (ME!) who have never cooked stock up on food supplies from Carrefour and begin a new year tradition of one’s own (cooking!). The holiday also includes the Lantern Festival which is held on the first full moon of the new year in about 15 days.

I know there is a big celebration in Kaouhsoing, but I don’t know what happens in Pingtung, or if it is even a day off work.

It’s also still winter and the temps have dropped. The 50s and 60s are nothing to sneeze and when homes don’t have insulation (it would hold too much moisture), floors are made of tile and there is not enough reason to invest in central heating.

Monday is still a day off from the holiday and Tuesday it’s back to school. I get to see my students again!!


I thought I would become a recluse when Kris left, just go to work and cocoon most of the time inside my apartment with my books and laptop. HA! There’s the nightly dinner trek. And while I’m out, I just have to stop to get some fresh fruit or yogurt or check out the $10 store or some such. That’s 10 New Taiwanese dollars. That’s about thirty American cents. They have pretty much everything you can find at a well stocked dollar store and they are a teacher’s paradise! There are also $39NT stores, one of which is in the Dream Mall in Kaoushoung. It’s actually a Japanese store and a wonderful place to shop for those little Japanese trinkets you just have to have!

Guess what I did in Chiayi!

Well, back to the subject… cocooning… not yet! I ended up in Chiayi with Carolyn on Saturday. Caught the high speed up there all by myself! I left on a beautiful, sunny morning and a few hours into the afternoon, the temperature began to drop and the winds picked up. It looked and felt like a chinook was about to settle in! It was so much warmer when I got back here in Pingtung! Sunday, I went to Kaousoung to the Dream Mall. I went to see the anticpated “American Gangster” and was much disappointed to see Denzel looking so incredibly gorgeous in a role that glorified the man who put poison into the veins of so many so that he could profit.

I did a little shopping after the movie, dinner at TGIFridays and headed home. I was so amazed by the lights outside the mall! I really think the display of lights has increased in the past week! Trees are laden with monocromatic, effervescent blues or oranges or greens. Some have a light blue and a dark blue stream of lights and they are just dazzling! Add a thread of red and they pop! And of course, I didn’t have my camera with me.

Today, the cold settled into Pingtung. Typically, it’s cool in the mornings and it begins to cool again just before sunset. But today it never warmed up. I’ve been told this will last for a while. Now, this could get interesting because apartments (i.e., my home!) have no heat. My classroom has four doors and two walls of nothing but windows. I was warned that it does get cold on this rock (which lies in the tropics) in the “winter” but I was also told that there are two climates in Pingtung: hot and hotter. Well, it’s not hot now! It’s not really too cold as I’m fine with a sweater or long sleeved shirt. For now.

And at the faculty meeting, our school nurse announced that flu season has hit the building. Yep, winter is here!

This will be my last post of 2007. I’m wishing all of you who have taken the time to check up on me some wonderful and exciting adventures of your own in 2008! May peace be your journey–cool runnings!

In August, 2007 I will be leaving Indianapolis with my daughter, Kristen, to live and work in the Republic of China (Taiwan). This will be my fiftieth year on this planet and my first year living in another country. This blog will let you join us on the adventure!
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July 2018
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