I Didn't Choose the Tuk-tuk Life; the Tuk-tuk Life Chose Me

Friday, January 29

It's Truly amazing how fast time can go when you are experiencing something new and fascinating for the first time. I've been in Bangkok for less than 48 hours and I feel like I've done so much already!

Thursday after landing in Bangkok we found our hostel ($6.30 USD a night...umm do I ever want to leave this place?!?) checked in and crashed...hard haha, we were out cold!

Friday morning we woke up and were dressed and ready to go by 9am. We had gotten pulled into a "private tour" of the Grand Palace the night before at the airport and thought why the heck not! It was cheap, we had transportation, a guide, and best part, we had someone's brain to pick on all things Bangkok!!

We got to the Grand Palace around 9:30, pushed through the crowds, paid our 500 Baht ($14ish USD) and our jaws dropped, this place was not only massive, but beautiful. To be honest I still need to do a little more research on this place to completely understand it, but a little over 100 years ago this was the royal family's home and from my understanding the kind now lives in another part of Bangkok. There were so many small separate buildings, the Emerald Buddha, "napping platforms", and guardians. Our guide Ming tried his best to explain things to us in English while my list of questions about what I was seeing grew longer and longer (side note: how did people travel before Google?! Lol) Needless to say the palace was amazing and sadly my words and pictures don't do it justice!!

After the Palace Ming took us to a suit fitting store as Bangkok is well renowned for being able to sew custom tailored suits for visitors and after to a jewelry and gem store {we later found out that drivers who take visitors to these places get 5 liters of free gas...win win for Mr. Ming! Lol} 

After our quick shopping detour Ming dropped us off near the Sky Tower (the tallest building in Thailand & super close to our hostel). We grabbed a quick $1 lunch of pork, rice, & an egg and literally sat on the side of the road to eat it (gotta love the traveling life!) we wondered around the surrounding market for a while purchasing far too many little souvenirs and elephant pants {a must when in Southeast Asia! Haha} before calling it an afternoon and heading back to the hostel to rest and regroup. 

After an hour rest stop we decided to head to china town just to see what all was there after hearing so much about it. China town was neat, we grabbed some small snacks, but after living in Taiwan for 6 months it was a slight let down (although we were told to go back next week for the Chinese New Year celebration). After China town we wondered around the streets aimlessly until stumbling onto a preforming street show that we watched before finding an amazing pad Thai restaurant recommended to me by a friend.

We were just about to finish our dinner when my friend called to tell me she was there!! I was so excited! Wan had been an exchange student in Ohio from Thailand when I was a junior in high school and I haven't seen her in almost 8 years, who would have thunk 8 years later she would be the one showing me around her country!! Amazing experience! Wan and her friend Ben took us out for ice cream at Asiatique, a fancy downtown Bangkok nightlife sopping area, followed by A visit to Khao San Road that was packed with places to grab food, pubs, street performers, and tourists galore. Before leaving Wan bought us a snack of sticky mango rice {sweet sticky rice with fresh mango and a coconut milk over top} that sadly didn't survive long after our first taste (DELICIOUS!!) They drove us back to our hostel, we said our goodbyes, and we crashed, hard, and a good nights sleep was much welcomed!

Day 1 in Bangkok...complete!


Thursday, January 28

Travel never goes as planned, NEVER! Sometimes things go better than planned, but unfortunately things are typically worse...but that's ironically half the fun and excitement about traveling. 

Tina and I left Taipei today (Thursday, January 28) on a 2 plane hop scotch game for Bangkok. First leg of the trip was Taipei to Macau followed by Macau to Bangkok. When we got to Macau though, we still had to get our second boarding pass (not 100% sure why lol) we are then notified that we don't actually have seats on our plane. They have overbooked the plan and the 20 of so of us grumpy people at the counter won't fly out until 10:30pm...4 hours later than normal. 

We quickly befriended the couple next to us while David, the husband, and I exchanged some lovely words with the people who continued to tell us "please wait" (umm please wait our plane leaves in 10 minutes!)

LONG story short, they ended up delaying our flight and there were magically seats now available for us...in first class...imagine that!

We landed in Bangkok around 11pm Thailand time, found out hostel, and passed out. 

New adventures await around the corner!

It's Travel Time

So I would start this post with an apology for the lack of posts lately, but life sometimes grabs hold of you and next thing you know it's 5 months later...ok maybe only a week lol.

The semester came to an end.
School is out.
Exams are graded
Mandatory orientation is finished.
Planes are booked.
Hostels are ready.


Guys, I'm leaving to Thailand in 2 hours!!!!

I'll be in Thailand for 2 weeks including a quick trip to Cambodia for 4 days, and I couldn't possibly be any more excited {peeing my pants with excitement is the phrase that comes to mind lol}  I'm not sure I'll be able to really post anything but you can check back just in case! But, if you click on the pictures tab those should be updating while I'm out and about!

Wish me luck, send your prayers, and adios Taiwan!

Happy Birthday to Me! - 生日快樂!


Zhù nǐ shēngrì kuàilè

Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {Fruits Galore}

I love fruit, I always have. I've also thought that I get a little more adventurous with my fruits than the typical apple and banana (sometimes I grab an orange or some grapes! lol). But really! I've tried tons of different fruits in my life and I love them all!

But holy cow Taiwan, you're throwing me a curve  ball here! Not only am I finding fruits here that I have heard of but never tried, I'm being handed fruits that I just stare blankly at the giver and ask "what's this?" or "is this a fruit" & my personal favorite "how do I eat this?"

You may remember earlier in my year I talked a lot about pomelos & persimmons. At that time I thought wow, 2 new fruits for me! Haha was I wrong...it just keeps going!

Most recent introductions have included jujube fruit & another they called a wax apple or bell fruit.

Let's take a stab at some descriptions!

The Jujube Fruit was small (kiwi sized) and looked like a hard granny smith apple, bright green and shiny. It tasted like a cross between an apple & a guava and was decently juicy. It also had a pit inside, like a small peach pit, that I wasn't quite expecting. I've been told this fruit can grow bigger, like apple sized, but apparently all I've seen is baby sized!

The Wax Apple I really liked. It was a dusty red almost purple-ish color and looked just like a small upside-down Christmas bell. The skin was waxy looking (imagine that!) and super shiny! The fruit was super juicy & instead of having a seed or pit in the middle, the middle was like a more bitter cotton ball stuck inside the fruit...I'm not really sure where that came from!

Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {Shower Room}

When I first moved to Taiwan and walked into my new apartment I thought I might have a mental breakdown right then and there {here it is in all it's glory!} as saying my emotions were running high was an understatement. But, when I glanced in the bathroom and had to actually ask "where's my shower?" I knew I might actually be going insane.

They simply pointed at the wall and showed me "my shower" or the shower head that happens to be attached to the wall of my bathroom, or as I've lovingly dubbed it...my shower-room!

Now trust me, it took some getting used to and some slight rearranging at first. Like obviously the toilet paper needs to be far away from the water stream & you can't really store your blow drying or bobby  pins in the bathroom {hello rusty pins!} but as time has gone on I've seen some real benefits to these goofy set up's as well!

"Benefits" of a Shower Room

1. My bathroom is always cleaned!
2. I can wash dishes while waiting for the shower to warm up
3. I can wash clothes while waiting for the shower to warm up
4. I can wash the sink while waiting for the shower to warm up :)
5. can wash the bathroom mirror daily if I wish
6. Mopping the tile floor in there has never been easier
7. Shaving is a breeze with the toilet and sink within arms reach!
8. Its ok if you splash everywhere!
9. You can never make too much of a mess in the bathroom
10. If the urge strikes, you don't have to dry off before using the toilet
11. Everything in there is always wet...ok so maybe this one isn't quite as beneficial!

What Year Is It?

Happy New Year my friends!

I hope you rung in the new year with your friends and family and that your year is off to a good start! Let's see about this resolution deal...this year I resolve to travel more (I'm living in Taiwan...check!), eat more (check, check & check), and live each day to it's fullest (always...check!)  Well looks like those are all taken care of! ;)

Ok, but really, on a more serious note (or as serious as I can be) new year's eve this year was a blast! You might have read my previous post about the funky feeling some of these holidays have here in Taiwan {if not you can read it here} but you get enough crazies together and  you can't help but to have fun!

I had to work New Year's Eve day, but my director let me out of work early (score!) and so I ran home, finished packing, and jumped on the next train to Taipei. To my dismay though, that was the last time I was able to move for the next hour and a half...holy crammed buses! I made it to Taipei and headed to Tina's grandparents place to get ready and wait for the other girls. We had dinner reservations for 7 at a "hardcore Taiwanese restaurant" but man was it delicious!

After dinner we began combing the streets for THE perfect spot to watch the fireworks; no building, correct wind direction, places to sit...this was serious! We finally found a spot and settled in amongt the crowds of locals....and then the countdown began!

The firework show was fantastic, we popped our party poppers, sang Auld Lang Syne in the middle of the street, gave the best new year's hugs to each other, and partied our hineys off until 4am....I'd call it a successful night to remember! I'm still confused though...is it 2016 or 105 now?!

The next morning we didn't have school (hallelujah! only our 4th day off since August!) so a group of  us headed out in search of food & adventure. We found both, in the form of a Pizza Hut buffet & climbing Elephant Mountain. Oh the food {and the views!!}

By Sunday we were down from 5 girls to 2 (and then there were none!?!) so Tina and I, having covered most of the super touristy things IN Tapei, rode the metro to the end & boarded  a bus to the very northern tip of Taiwan with not much of a plan to speak of. Only in Taiwan though can you have "not much of a plan" and still see the ocean, walk through a rock bridge, accept a ride from a strange man in a van, & visit a 10 story tall dog  in a single afternoon!

Ok, I'll elaborate a bit! We decided to venture outside of Taipei and see what the northern countryside had to offer when we discovered a natural "rock bridge" on a map and decided to check it out. The bridge was really pretty and unique, but let's face it, you can only spend so much time looking at a rock bridge! We checked our maps again and found a temple boasting a 10 story dog statue about a mile up the road; we walked it. Upon getting to the spot on the map we can't see the dog anywhere (this is when we start thinking we are crazy! How does one lose a 10 story dog?!) We stopped at an electric plant and asked a guard who told us it was about another mile...up the mountain...ugh. We asked if he'd call a taxi and he insisted it would only take us 8 minutes (a mile up a mountain...I think not!) we decided to give it a shot  though. We made it about 6 feet from the guard when he called us back and told us to wait. Next thing we know, another worker pulls up in a company van and chauffeurs us to the front door of the temple, wishes us happiness, and leaves....only in Taiwan!

Breathtaking views walking down the mountain from dog temple

Quick stop && Kung Fu time in front of Chaing Kai-shek Memorial

Josh, meet monkey...monkey, meet Josh!

You know that fuzzy warm feeling you get inside when you introduce friends from 2 different instances in your life and the 3 of you have a great time together and all in life seems well...yeah, that's kind of what it felt like to introduce Josh to my monkey friends in Kaohsiung!

I was supposed to work Christmas day {perks of teaching in Asia right!} but rearranged my schedule so I taught all my classes in the morning and asked for the afternoon off (you've got to take what you can get!) But the afternoon off meant that Josh and I could partake in the ever classy & traditional 7-11 Christmas luncheon as well as get an early head start on the almost 2 hour trip to Kaohsiung (sidenote here: kudos to me, this was the first time I drove my scooter to the High Speed Rail station...yay me!)
7-11 Christmas lunch! Seaweed chips, coffee, pork sticky bun, Japanese rice cake, sweet potato, tea eggs, & yogurt drink...HELLO Taiwan!

Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {western holidays}

Western holidays {or even just non-Taiwanese holidays!} such as Christmas and New Year are funny things here in Taiwan.

Outwardly they celebrate these holidays. There are Christmas trees, people dressing like Santa Clauses, Christmas carols in the stores, and fireworks shot off on the 31st of December. But, past the commercial aspect of these holidays, there is nothing.

I actually had a co-worker tell me that other than  "happy happy time" they had no idea why we celebrate Christmas {this co-worker had Christmas themed lessons in their classroom!}

Likewise, when midnight hit on New Year's Eve, people sat there with their phones filming the fireworks without a single hug given, kiss received, or Happy New Year shouted...it was silent...they don't celebrate it.

I don't understand why there is such a commercialist view on these holidays that they don't celebrate, but it certainly sparks many questions as they continue to pass by, stumping me more and more with each passing holiday.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, my students at Hsinfong Elementary School at their first annual Christmas carol competition!  {I may be biased, but I think they did great fantastic!}