Hello world. I think it’s time for a blog post! It’s been a couple weeks…my bad.
Well we are back to the grind here in Taipei. We had an amazing month traveling but now it’s back to reality. Sarah and I are both teaching our same classes from last semester, although each class has gone up a level. Each class has gained a kid or two, which is always nice as it gives each class a new flavor. We’re having fun teaching our kids to play battleship, “Simon says” AKA “Teacher says,” and drawing my little first grader’s all-time favorite movie character….Elsa. Sharon is usually quite the handful and is constantly pushing my buttons, but when she saw that I was drawing Elsa….her face lit up and a HUGE smile glowed across her face. Can’t beat that.
It’s been nice to just get back into a routine. We were in a nasty funk before we went home of staying up really late and waking up really late. We were feeling like bumps on a log and we weren’t getting anything accomplished. Now that we’re back, we’ve made it a point to get to bed at a decent time and wake up on time…can you say “We’re getting older?” WOW. I’ve got a rekindled vengeance to really hit my Chinese studies hard, while Sarah continues to explore Taipei by foot. We make it a point to try a new restaurant every week, and also hang up the ENO hammock at Bihu Lake to chill.
Most importantly, we’ve been spending time in our Bible. We’ve decided to read through the Bible together as we both, shamefully, have never truly read it from cover to cover. Already, as we make our way through it, we have gained and learned so much that we are able to apply to our lives here in Taipei. We are excited to continue reading and growing in our faith together.
Late February and early March is an insane time to be in Taiwan. Let’s just say it sounds like the city is blowing up from all the fireworks and firecrackers going off literally 24 hours a day. It’s Chinese New Year!!! Chinese New Year is by far the largest and most important festival celebrated by the Chinese people around the globe. Shops and tourist attractions usually shut down for the first couple days of the new year and people spend their time visiting family and join in on the celebrations. If you ask our students what their favorite part of the Chinese New Year is, they would say the “紅包” or “red envelope.” The red envelopes symbolize good luck and are supposed to ward off evil spirits, but most importantly for the kids, they are usually filled with a stack of money! The red envelopes are usually given to the kids by their families and are put into a savings account. Luckily for my student, Julian, he was pretty pumped when his Mom let him buy a PS3!
One of the largest festivals in Taiwan during the Chinese New Year is the Pingxi Lantern Festival. Tradition has it that the sky lanterns were invented to deliver military information from beacon tower to beacon tower during times of war. Now, the sky lanterns are released into the air as prayers to the ancestors for the coming year. The lanterns reflect the hopes and dreams of the people as they slowly float into the sky. During this time of year, the tiny town of Pingxi is overwhelmed with visitors strolling the old street lanes munching on famous garlic Taiwanese sausage, and scribbling their wishes and goals on the countless lanterns. Sarah and I also joined in on the festivities and bought ourselves a red lantern and wrote our dreams and wishes on it and launched it into the sky.
Nightfall. It truly is a spectacle to behold once in your lifetime. The dreams and wishes have been written, and the sky lanterns are ready to be lit and float off into the sky. At last, just over the tips of the trees, we were able to experience hundreds upon hundreds of lanterns rising into the night sky. It was magnificent! The lanterns slowly dispersed and the whole sky was glowing with different colors. It was beautiful and such a great way to soak in the Chinese culture.
It’s the year of the Ram or Goat (can be translated a few different ways). On the last day of the Chinese New Year, Sarah and I, along with the whole city of Taipei, went to Yuanshan Park to look at the bizarrely decorated park. The park is decorated according to whichever zodiac sign is for the new year. As I said, it is the year of the Ram. The park is a showcase for not only the Ram, but historic legends, fairy-tale characters, and party animals all lit up with christmas lights. The centerpiece for this year’s festival was a 40 foot tall goat on a mountaintop, but my favorite was the giant robot!
I can just see it…next Christmas…a huge, lit up robot in the middle of my front yard as a part of my Christmas light display! What do you think Sarah?!
We ended the week with a great night out with great friends. For all you manbun haters, I got a haircut.
Until next time.
Kyle and Sarah