Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Taipei Zoo

I am one of a few lucky people who temporarily doesn't have to work on Tuesdays so we decided to take a trip to the Taipei zoo.

To get to Taipei, we took a bus that left at 8:30 and arrived in Taipei at about 11:30. We walked to the MRT station and ate lunch and some yummy grape icecream. The MRT system here is really user friendly. Here's Whitney purchasing a train token from a kiosk machine.

Here is a view of Taipei from the train.

The animals at the zoo seemed a lot more active than I'm used to seeing. The lions were actually awake which is something I don't think I've ever seen before.

There were some amazing butterflies in the butterfly garden.

The signs said, 'Don't feed' but apparently nobody cares.

Great Indian Hornbill

Emily totally scaled the fence to get this shot...

Too funny!

After the zoo, we decided to ride the train over to Longshan Temple. We found a place to eat dinner and then walked around this temple.

Then we went to this tourist night market called Snake Alley.

For some reason, I felt the need to sing in this video and I wish we could mute it 'cuz I sound pretty obnoxious. Everybody looks like they're about to drop after our long day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A lovely cheese pizza, just for me!

People of Taiwan:

If you were in Taichung last night and saw a crazy American riding backwards on a scooter holding something large wrapped up in a poncho...that was me. I'm glad I could provide some entertainment and just want to thank you for not openly mocking me.

After cleaning the church building in Taichung and helping our branch president pack his house (they are moving into a new place this week), Destiny and I decided to go to Costco and buy a couple of pizzas to take home and freeze so that we can have pizza any time we want. Mary asked us to grab her one too.

The hard part is trying to figure out how to carry three pizzas home on a scooter.

This is how ridiculous I looked:

When we stopped at intersections, I could feel the stares of the other people on scooters and in cars around me. At one point, I turned and saw several girls wearing orange aprons inside a restaurant all looking out the window at me. On the floor just above them, there were cooks, pointing with their spatulas and waving to their co-workers to come and see the lunatic riding backwards on a scooter.

We decided to drop the pizzas off at the church building and go shopping at the Taichung night market. Something was going on at the church though, so we felt weird about hauling three huge pizza boxes inside. We decided to leave the pizzas with the scooter in the church parking lot and hoped that the poncho would keep them safe.

Destiny showed me some great stores that have the best Chinglish shirts ever! I can't wait to get paid so I can start collecting them!

Tanya, this white shirt reminded me of you because of it's Hawiian flair- I like how it says shake ice instead of shave ice.

I'm not sure why, but I think this snowman sweatshirt just might be my favorite... it's just so random.

If you click on this gray shirt, you can hopefully see the random Chinglish written on it. I can't tell for sure but it sounds like it's talking about a golf swing?

Here's a fabulous Puma knock-off:

We then moved on to the men's section and found a ton of crazy clothes. I like the random chains hanging from the neck of this striped shirt.

Here is Destiny displaying a very masculine shirt:

I realized I hadn't drank any water all day (it's so wet here that I sometimes forget). The problem is, everybody just drinks tea here and it's hard to pick something to order when you don't know if you're going to get tea or not. I finally saw this place that looked like they sold orange juice (Taiwan has freshed squeezed orange juice in practically every store and it is soooo good!). Destiny and I looked at the drink menu and through a process of elimination, picked two things to order. I wanted a fruit bingshaw but this is what I got:

It's a tea bingshaw which I'm sure would be really good if you drink tea- but I don't, so I just played with it until Destiny finished her orange juice. Then we bolted out of there since I felt bad about leaving a full glass sitting on the table.

After that, we went back to the church (the pizzas were still there untouched) and headed home through a light drizzle.

The cardboard pizza boxes were pretty flimsy from all the moisture in the air but miraculously, the pizzas survived the trip! Destiny's pizza box had a hole in the bottom though.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Berhan Cast Bios

Let me begin by saying that living with Utahns has introduced me to new vocabulary and phrases that weren't around when I lived there. I feel the need to educate the public on the latest Utah jargon. Today's lesson is on expressing how honestly you feel about something by inserting the phrase "I'm not gonna' lie." So for example, if you really want people to know just how much you love pizza, you must preface it by saying, "I'm not gonna' lie...I love pizza." Now you try....think of something you have a strong opinion on....Now repeat after me. Say, "I'm not gonna' lie...
I _______________________________(fill in the blank). "

Very good. Own it. Use it. Love it.

Okay, moving on...Since my first week here, I've been wanting to write bios for the cast of the 2008 Berhan Bunch. I think it would have been easier to write a short little snippet about everyone that first week, but now that it's been more than 3 weeks, there's too much to write and I know I can't do any of them justice. They are all AMAZING. I'm so lucky to be here with these people. It has felt like a great big family from day one. And just like a family, we'll probably get annoyed with each other from time to time but I'm hoping we'll always remember our first few weeks here and how we felt bonded by this great adventure. Laura and Joseph had to go to Hong Kong this weekend for their VISA's and I think we all felt like part of our family was missing. I don't know if any other groups of teachers have felt this way, but it is really a blessing that we all seem to get along so well...uh-oh...now I've probably jinxed it...knock on wood!

Here is a tiny little bit of info about some of my favorite people. I hope they won't stone me for not being better at writing all the little quirks and traits that make them loveable.


Jessica is hysterical. Here are my favorite Jessica quotes: "Goulet! When the dog bites, Ouch! When the bee stings...I'm allergic! When I'm feeling sad....single tear." "I can judge you if I want to.....Judged!" "Do you want a screwdriver so you can poke your eyes out? 'Cuz that's what I feel like doing right now."

Jessica hails from the beautiful state of Oregon and has recently graduated from BYU Idaho with her Associate's degree. She plans on becoming a nurse and has great stories about working the graveyard shift as a CNA. She is currently playing the role of beautician in our production since none of us are brave enough to frequent any of the hair salons here. She is also extremely talented at whipping up scrumptious concoctions with many foreign ingredients when most of us are just trying to get by with microwaving steamed buns or frying frozen dumplings day after day.


Mary is FAB-U-LOUS. She is one of those crazy people who graduated with a degree in English from BYU. I'm amazed at that accomplishment alone. She's from Waco, Texas and is one of 11 CHILDREN! If Mary entered a Kirsten Dunst look-a-like contest, she would win it. I'm pretty sure she has a gorgeous voice too, but since she's lost it for the past few weeks due to teaching...it's been a while since I've heard her sing. I love how Mary is able to come up with a song to fit whatever it is we're doing. She provides the soundtrack to our lives. Mary always has great stories and phrases that you can't help but adopt into your own vocabulary. My fav right now is, "Whatev" which epitomizes the more commonly used word, 'whatever'. Did I really need to explain that? Probably not but, you know, whatev.


Three words: A-MAZ-ING

He can sing, he can write, he can play the piano like nobody's business...AND on game night when our branch president plays less than three notes of a classical music piece, Joseph knows the name and composer before you can say...what...ummm...I don't know. Joseph is from Washington and comes from a family of 9 musically talented kids (I'm assuming the whole family is talented since he is). He served a mission in Russia and graduated from BYU with a degree in Russian. Did I mention the boy can write? I highly recommend clicking on the link below and reading his hilarious words, which to me, pretty much say it all about him:

My favorite Joseph quotes: "Do it" and "There's what's right and there's what's right...and never the twain shall meet. (Raising Arizona)"

(By the way, if anyone out there has the movie Raising Arizona and wants to send it to Taiwan.....)


Elisha hails from California and has been living in Tempe, Arizona while working on her Master's degree in video game writing. She is a BYU graduate and served a mission in Brazil. I met Lish at church a few months ago when I started whining about what I should do with my life. Lish taught here a few years ago and totally sold me on Taiwan. I decided to apply and now count meeting Lish as one of my many blessings. Right now, Lish is enrolled at a local University here in Taiwan and will be learning Chinese. She is also taking online courses for her Master's degree and is writing her thesis this semester. Wow! Amazing girl...


Laura is from Price, Utah and just graduated from BYU in International Relations. She served a Spanish speaking mission in San Antonio, Texas. Are you sensing the "amazing people" theme here? She's an avid reader and has been reading the Golden Compass. So maybe I can blame the book as part of the reason I haven't been able to interrogate her more about her life, instead of admitting what a slacker I am.


Steve is from Bountiful, Utah and recently graduated from Weber State in Political Science. He served a mission in Richmond, VA, has spent time as an EFY counselor, and has some great dance moves that keep us all laughing (hence this great video!). Teaching kindergarten in Taiwan has made him actually consider teaching as a profession...should I warn him that he's completely out of his mind? He has also been named assistant photo-journalist for our group since we can't do anything without Steve asking,"Are you documenting this?" Steve continues to help us remember our time in training by repeatedly asking questions like, "Whose crayon is this? It's Steve's crayon. Whose pencil is that? It's my pencil."


Whitney is a sweetheart! She served a mission in Italy and graduated from BYU with a degree in French and a Minor in Italian. She's a great listener and is very intuitive. I know she must have been an awesome missionary (I've seen her in action) and I am in awe of her Christlike example and her kind heart. She's such a great example that I think we should make and wear bracelets that say WWWD? (What Would Whitney Do?). She's originally from New York state but now calls Montana home. Whitney and I have been teaching kindergarten and one of our favorite kindergartener quotes is from a four year old boy named Stanley who loves to yell at the top of his lungs, "I don't want sit by YOU!" when we try to help him sit during opening or closing. Too funny.


Another absolutely amazing girl...Tammy graduated in Special Education from Utah State and hails from Logan, Utah. She is definitely our cheer-leader and always has a positive attitude. I don't think I've ever heard an unkind word uttered from her mouth. She has worked as an EFY counselor and has also performed as the heroine at that melodrama playhouse in Bear Lake that I've always wanted to go to. Even though I've never seen her perform...I can tell the girl has got drama skills and probably brought the house down with oohs and aahs as the sweetest heroine ever.

And then there's me: I've kind of taken on the role of photo-journalist since I'm constantly taking pictures. That and Steve won't quit with the "are you documenting this?" question every five seconds. I'm also playing the role of travel coordinator for our upcoming Chinese New Year trip to Toroko Gorge. It might turn out to be a total disaster and I may get fired from planning any trips ever again...one can only hope.

There are also four great continuing teachers that weren't here our first week in Taiwan so I'm still in the process of getting to know them better but wanted to include them in this blog.


Emily is from Farmington, Utah and has been an awesome resource in showing us great places to eat, hike, and bike. She's been a life-saver in helping me figure out how to reserve and place a deposit on a hostel for our upcoming trip and we're excited she's coming with us on the trip. She has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from Weber State and comes from a family of 8 kids.


Destiny is from Maryland and even though she's only 20, the girl has already graduated from BYU and aspires to go to law school. Wow. She's been in a scooter accident here but assures us that we won't regret purchasing a scooter.


Emily Sain goes by Sain since we have two Emilys. Sain is a concert pianist and is busy applying for a Master's program in piano performance. She's a lot of fun and is in love with the Taiwanese pop star, Jay Chou.


Katie is from Oregon. She graduated from the University of Utah and unfortunately I can't remember what her degree is in...human development? What I do know is she's a sweetheart and has been great about answering the multitude of questions I've had about traveling and kindergarten and living in Taiwan.

In this video, you will see Frances the owner of our school, her husband Gerald who is a super-star for all he does, and all of the secretaries that help keep this place running:

So that's everybody...hopefully everyone will still be speaking to me after reading this since I really can't do them justice in just a few sentences.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Saturday was our long anticipated trip to Costco. There are only 4 teachers who have scooters so Mary, Steve, Jessica, & I took the train and a cab and everyone else rode by scooter. This is where we waited for the train to Tai Chung. The train only costs 22NT which is less than a dollar.

The girl just behind Mary in this video spoke English and helped us get off at the right stop (which was really helpful when I walked off the train before I was supposed to).

When we left the train station, a woman came up to us and asked if we needed a taxi and told this taxi driver where we needed to go. The ride to Costco cost 160NT. ($6?)

We met up with the scooter riders at Costco and were really excited to eat Costco pizza. They also had a slushy mango drink that was really good.

Okay- so Jeanney...if you're reading this...you wanted to know what a Costco in Taiwan is like....here it is!

This Costco had two floors and magnetized escalators that held our cart in place as we rode to the second floor.

I think I say in this video that we're on the third floor, but we're actually only on the second floor.

It was extremely crowded.

Books in Chinese...I didn't see Twilight though.

They had lots of American movie DVDs in Chinese. Here's Pirates of the Carribean.

It was great to be able to buy american food even though it was more expensive than it is in the U.S. I think I spent around $15 just on canned chicken so that I can make chicken salad sandwiches. The only problem is the mayo here tastes really weird so I should have bought Costco mayo. We bought stuff that we can't get in our local grocery stores like tortilla chips, cheese, and yummy Costco muffins!

Afterwards, we flagged down a taxi driver who didn't understand when we pumped our arms and said, "Chugga chugga choo choo!" Go figure. He ended up calling someone on his cell phone who spoke English and we explained that we needed to go to the train station.