Ghost Festival

Let me start this post off by saying that this year is going to be a year of many new experiences and lots of new learning will take place {some learning  by the kids and tons by yours truly!}.

So Friday here in Taiwan was the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar (I realize everywhere else the date was August 28, 2015, but here in Taiwan it was July 15, 104....yeah I'm not completely sure I understand this yet!) The 7th month in many Asian cultures is ghost month and on the 15th day the doors to both Heaven and Hell are opened and the ghosts are allowed to roam free with the living. (Side note! I am by no means an expert with ANY of this, this is just what I have gathered by talking to people at school and in my community). Because the ghosts are running free, their culture believes that they must feed, make offerings to, and entertain the ghosts...enter the Ghost Festival.

On this day ALL the families, business, and stores make offerings to the wondering ghosts by placing these offerings (usually food items) outside of their homes and then putting a piece of incense into each food offering signaling to the ghosts that it is for them. Food that  I saw being offered included Doritos, Oreos, beer, Mountain Dew, tea, homemade rolls, dog food....literally whatever they have, they offer! Likewise, many of the families also set up small burn barrels where they burn fake paper money as a way of giving money to the wondering ghosts.

Needless to say, I did lots of walking around town and exploring Friday night and graciously talked to many of the locals who were eager to tell me about their traditions. I took some pictures, but because I tried to do it cautiously, some didn't turn out the best, but it was still so fun to see what everyone was doing!

This family had tons of offerings...including several packs of beer!

A small offering table before the incense was placed in it. 

Their ghosts must love ramen noodles and bread!
The offering table outside of the home I am living in...and our little stray dog friend that lives at my house!

A Chinese theater show that was being presented to the ghosts outside of one of the local temples. 

The full pig that was being offered to the ghosts outside of the temple. 

The temple where 100 or more people gathered to give their ghost offerings together at the foot of the temple steps.
If you want to read more about this Ghost Month, this link as well as this one.

Back to School Shopping...

...Taiwanese style!

Pen ✔️
Pencil ✔️
Soup Bowl ✔️
Rice Bowl ✔️
Chopsticks ✔️

Looks like this teacher is all ready for class to start on Monday!

Weekend in Taipei

I'll start out with a fair warning, this post is WAY picture heavy! After a week in our respective new  homes a few of us girls that met up at orientation decided that we had earned ourselves a fun girls weekend, and what better place to do that but while exploring Taipei! After a jumble of buses, express trains, and the high speed rail  (the dang place is only 50 miles from me I swear!) we settled into our swanky little hostel and began exploring!

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- DAY 1 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 

 First things first on the relaxing agenda...dinner and drinks! Though I don't have pictures of dinner (we ate too fast!) it was absolutely delicious! 

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- DAY 2 --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- 

Rice Paddy

Just a quick post this morning before I head out for the weekend. A couple of the girls that I met at orientation last week and I are venturing to Taipei to see what all we can find!

I went for a walk last night and found myself here where this video was taken only about a 10 or 15 minute walk from my house. It was so serene and quiet, and it's hard to tell in this video, but the amount of dragon flies buzzing around between the fields and the small road were amazing!

Enjoy! :)

Taiwanese Street Show

This will just be a quick post of mostly pictures for two reasons. 1. I'm sleepy! 2. (and more honestly!) I have no idea what is going on in these pictures!

Apparently this is some type of traveling theater troop that goes around singing and putting on shows. I clearly understood none of it! haha, but I decided to go out and see what was going on since I was able to hear them from my {closed} bedroom window from about noon until I went to bed at night. These pictures aren't the best, but it was still interesting to watch! :)

Taiwan Apartment Tour!!!

Here it is, in all it's glory! May I introduce you to my new "apartment"! 

Although this is by no means a "standard American apartment" (or anything close to  my 2 story 2 bedroom townhouse from Ohio :(  ) this is pretty typical (if not considered large) for a Taiwanese apartment. I am living on the 3rd floor of a couples home and enter and exit through their front entry way to get to my apartment. It is located in the small farming community of Xinfeng within Hsinchu County. I am only about 2 miles from my town's center (though I am by no means in the town!) and 6 miles from Hsinchu City, but they take about 9 minutes and 30 minutes respectively to get to each by bus and/or train.

I can't say my little room feels like home yet, but I'm sure it will come! (I can't lie I've already scoped out several stores sell paint and various art these walls won't be bare and lonely much longer!)

I found a church!!!

Before coming to Taiwan I was a little worried about what I was going to do about weekly masses. I had already talked to my priest back home and he gave me a book of prayers and the parts of the mass in English in case I ended up having to go to mass in Chinese regularly, but truth be told, I was just worried about finding a Catholic church period! Most of Taiwanese practice Taoism or Buddhism with less than 5% of the population practicing Christianity (let alone Catholicism!) Needless to say, I wasn't 100% sure what I was going to end up doing for the year.

As I continued to research I discovered that there were a decent handful of Catholic churches in the larger towns (aka, not mine!) and some of them even claimed to offered mass in English!! I was determined that I was going to find one! Fast forward to Saturday morning, I was looking online for what I could find (side note, I'm not sure what people did traveling before the internet! lol) and found a large Catholic Cathedral that offered mass in English twice on Sundays!! Downside, google maps claims it will take me almost 2 hours by bus to get there...I'm all about going to church, but that's a lot of travel time.

I was determined to find something better! I continued my research and found that there is actually one in my town! (I live like 2 miles outside of the town of Xinfeng although my address is still technically in Xinfeng). Excitedly I hoped on the bus (and surprisingly even knew which stop to get off on!) and in less than 10 minutes I was at the church!!! To my surprise it was not only a Catholic church, but also a Catholic school! It took me a little bit to actually locate the'll see why momentarily!...but when I did I couldn't have been any more excited!

The church is TEEENY and sits about 100 people although we packed that baby church to the point that there was standing room only! I had to giggle to myself though, out of the 100 or so people in attendance, all were Asian (mostly Filipino) besides myself and the priest from Africa! Needless to say it was great to find mass in English, and I look forward to going back again!

A Little Bit of Chicken Fried

Hi, my name is  Tracy...and I LOVE food! Now I'm  not saying that I love food simply because I need food to eat, or I have several favorite, I'm saying I love food simply because eating is one of my favorite  past times! What could be better than thoroughly enjoying something that you have to do?!?! (disclaimer:  it is 11:00pm here and I've had a long day, please don't judge me for my corny writing and love of food at this hour!)

Now that I have my heart on the table ;) I'm sure it has become obvious one of the many reasons I was so excited to move to a foreign country for a year...a whole year of new foods! Of course I had eagerly and extensively research the Taiwanese cuisine before hopping on that god awful long plane ride, but nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for what the spontaneous side of me decided to do Thursday evening.

If that video wasn't quite graphic enough...I know I get the heebie jeebies just watching it over again, I'll tell you...I.ate.chicken feet. CHICKEN FEET. Like that animal that I don't even like to eat if it has bones or skin still on it and I decided to pick up one of it's boney and scaly legs and take a big ole bite out of it!

Now to be honest, this video is bite #2...there was some disbelief among the spectators that called for a second bite. But now the honestly is going to really poor out. I was dreading this. I thought they looked gross, felt even grosser, and the concept of eating an animals feet made me a little squeamish...BUT, they weren't that bad. {i said it} the chicken feet were  not that terrible. Imagine you were a dog and your owner just gave you one of those big rubber chickens to play around with...yeah that's pretty much where this poor guy's leg ranked, somewhere between part chicken and part rubber. I'm not saying that I'm going to sit down and gnaw on some chicken legs in lieu of my popcorn while I'm watching TV (I swear they told me that was common here!), but if my life depended on it...I'd take another bite!

Bathroom Woes

Yes you read that right...and you are correct in assuming that this will be a post all about my bathroom usage...ok so not so much about "usage", but possibly more about experiences.

I will start you off with a of those that I'm sure the friends I have made here won't let me live down! Tory (one of the other girls from Ohio that will be teaching in Taiwan) and I were walking around the campus we are staying at this week and decided we both needed to use the restroom. We found a public women's bathroom on the campus and thought that we knew what we were doing (after all, using the bathroom isn't rocket science...or at least I didn't think so yet at this point in the story!)
Upon entering the bathroom we quickly discovered that the handicapped bathroom was the only "western" bathroom and the rest were "slightly more Asian" we can say for now. We decided we just needed to pee and weren't in the mood for an adventure so we would take turns using the handicapped stall. When it was my turn I went in the stall and did my business, reached up, and pushed the red button to flush the toilet. Just a simple side note here {THE RED BUTTON IS THE EMERGENCY CALL BUTTON!!!} needless to say, the red button did not flush the toilet, it did though have the ability to produce the most ear-splitting siren that could be heard throughout the entire campus! After waiting it out a couple of minutes (and discovering that if this were in fact an actual emergency that no one would come help you!) we decided to leave the premiss like it wasn't some "dumb American" who had set off the toilet alarm!

 Needless to say, when I have used the restroom outside of my dorm room since then, I have began to practice the art of using one of these bad boys!


I made it!!!!! There was much hauling of luggage, last minute packing, checking flight schedules, and even some tears; but after 36 hours of traveling, I am in Taipei!

I left Ney, Ohio at 4AM Saturday and with the 12 hour time difference and 19 hours of airtime, I didn't land in Taiwan until almost 8PM  on Sunday!

Bedtime for me now, it's only Sunday afternoon at home, but it's almost 1AM on Monday here so it's time for me to crash!  Thanks for the prayers, support, and well adventure begins NOW!

Well This Looks Like Fun!

What's more fun than waking up early knowing that your daily agenda includes sorting through and packing your most {necessary} 100 lbs. of belongings?!?

Waking up to an email with reassuring me that I will have transportation home from the airport on Sunday even if my plane is delayed because of the typhoon. EXCUSE ME WHAT?!?!

Yes, I was anticipating "different" weather in Taiwan....I was not expecting a typhoon to greet me at Taiwan's doorstep though! Crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that this storm passes with little effects to my travels or to the people currently in Taiwan.

Check this guy out!
Check this guy out!