Our long break from school is nearing an end. Tomorrow we return to classes. However, we have definitely made the best of our break!
After we completed the two weeks of our scheduled internship work, we substitute taught English classes for two and a half weeks. That's the first deja vu. We both taught full-time so it felt like we were teachers again. We would even come home and discuss what to do to make a class better and what certain students did today just like we used to do. It was amusing because James actually taught most of my old classes at my old school. He finally understood why I had funny stories about some students and complained about others!
For the first time, I experienced teaching 2-5 year olds. I taught at "kindergartens", aka day care preschools, everyday. I realized that I really didn't know how to teach the younger children. Their attention spans are about 3 seconds if you're lucky and they don't know much English. It was quite the challenge but the learning curve was steep. Each day got better especially with the never-ending hugs and high fives from the students. I've never had to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "Hockey Pockey" so much in my life! Also, even the Taiwanese two year olds say "No" continuously all day long. How do all toddlers learn to do that?! Also, the children could barely say "Hello" yet they can all sing the lyrics to "Let it go." Disney truly is amazing.
One weekend day we visited this mysterious place called "Green World." We've always seen signs for it while we are driving to nearby mountains, but we've never been there. It's basically a zoo in the mountains which includes a lot of flowers and forests. It's pretty neat but I'm sure the flowers are much prettier in the warmer months! The animals also have a lot more freedom and space to move compared to most zoos.
The Alpaca House with great scenery. The alpacas are allowed to roam around in the field.
The baby alpaca named Pinkie. So cute!
Sonic the Hedgehog
Parrots playing basketball
I always feel the birds in the bird house are a bit too close for comfort.
The website said the bathrooms were beautiful and they weren't kidding!
There were a lot of cute animals in the Cute Animal Area.
Another weekend day, we (deja vu) re-hiked the Taoyuan Valley historic trail on the northeast coast. We blogged about this hike last winter. It was so cold and rainy the day we hiked that we tried to get a taxi half way through the hike. This time the weather was much better, but still overwhelmingly windy!!!!! Did I mention it's nice not having homework on the weekends?
Super runner James!
Why are there water buffalo in Taiwan? So random!
After the teaching marathon ended, we decided that we must do something fun during the real Chinese New Year holiday. Even before the true holiday started we were already having deja vu from last year in Hsinchu. All the restaurants were closed and locals were setting off fireworks everywhere at all times of the day. It sounded like a war zone!
We decided to head south for warmer weather. All of the train tickets were sold out but we managed to get a seat on the Aloha Bus for the trip to Kaohsiung. Deja vu in Kaohsiung. We visited this city on the southern part of the island as our first trip in Taiwan in June 2013. This time, things were much easier. Knowing a little bit of Chinese will do wonders!
The Aloha Bus was like sitting in first class on a plane...well....sort of. Huge seats, blankets, water, cookies, coffees, personal TVs, bathroom and even a vibrating messaging chair. Although I couldn't tell if it was on or not with the bumpy bus ride! Luckily we didn't hit any traffic on the way to Kaohsiung (3 hour trip). Interestingly, the highways were guarded with policemen. If a car did not have at least three people in it, it was not allowed on the highway. Good thing we didn't rent a car! We hit a lot of traffic on the trip back to Hsinchu (7 hour trip). We really enjoyed the comfortable seats then!
First thing in Kaohsiung - renting bicycles and enjoying the bike paths once again.
We saw a man doing falconry! James' sister loves falconry so it was cool to take some videos for her. His sister thinks this is a golden eagle.
Bike path in the Art district
The second day we went to Monkey Mountain (deja vu). Except this time, unlike last time, we got off at the right bus stop and got to hike more trails.
We probably saw about 100 monkeys. Once again for me, it was a bit too close for comfort.
One of our classmates lives in Kaohsiung. Him and his friend showed us some neat spots on our last night in Kaohsiung. This is a cathedral in town.
We also saw a great night view from Monkey Mountain and took our picture with the LOVE letters (deja vu..see below for picture taken in June 2013).
After a couple of days in Kaohsiung, we headed to a small island off the southern coast of Taiwan, Little Liuqiu. We went from one island to another! The island is a coral island. The weather was perfect! We rented bikes to go around the island and see the attractions. The full perimeter around the island is only seven miles.
Lots of cool wildlife on the island
The island is famous for sea turtles. We saw several from a distance. It's hilarious how excited everyone becomes when they spot a sea turtle! The red arrow in the picture is pointing to the sea turtle.
There were lots of caves on the island and coral to maneuver around. Watch your head!
Blue and turquoise waters. Are we still in Taiwan?
We even found a vegetarian restaurant on the island that was open!
This is our campground resort. Great views of the sunsets and the cleanest bathhouses I've ever used!
And on Feb 23 (the last day of our holiday), James ran a 45km low-key race near our house. He found a group of local Hsinchu runners that put on a holiday run. He got LOTS of time to practice his Chinese with the group of people he was running with. And he was the King of the Mountain!
Michigan is everywhere! One of James' students while he was substitute teaching.
This is my favorite student, Jenny. I tutor once at week at her house and enjoy a vegetarian meal with her family. Great company and delicious food!
A random picture of a fun run with our running crew. We were enjoying the sunny winter weather in Hsinchu!
Happy Chinese New Year! (Deja vu of the whole new year thing for 2015, too.) 新年快樂!