Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cross-Country Paragliding

Last Sunday afternoon Karlis had no passengers to fly so we decided to head out and try a cross-country flight. We left from Puli and flew to Cingjing Farm, about 30km away. We were up in the air for close to 2 hours. It was an amazing experience flying through the clouds and over mountains. I felt like a bird. 

I could use words to describe this experience, but pictures and the video do it more justice. 

We started at the bottom and ended at the top. The yellow and red lines represent increases in altitude, while the blue is descending. 

Pointing to our landing zone, a field next to the parking lot at Cingjing Farm

Absolutely beautiful 

I mean really, it looks fake

We landed in this farmer's field and after we landed he came over to the parachute and started picking it up and looking at it. We thought he wouldn't speak English and he'd be mad at us for landing there, but boy were we wrong. He spoke perfect English and he was so excited that we were there. He kept asking all these questions about flying and what we did. He was one of the happiest, most energetic people I have met in Taiwan. 

Check out the video here!

The Random Happenings of Late...and One Big Decision

Life these past few weeks has been nothing short of a whirlwind. A whirlwind filled with big life decisions and a very busy schedule. In the past six weeks I have traveled to two different countries, went on three trips inside of Taiwan, had one big thing in my life end and another begin. 

About five weeks ago I officially made the decision to stay in Taiwan to teach for a second year! After other events happened in my life, the decision to stay was a no-brainer. I absolutely love Taiwan and everything about my life here. I have seen myself change and grow in ways that I never thought I was capable of. Taiwan, and my experiences here, are helping me to become the person I always wanted to be. That being said, there was no way one year on this beautiful island was enough. I will be teaching at my same school again next year. I am so excited to be that second year teacher that "knows her stuff" and can help all of the new teachers to establish themselves here. I have loved having the guidance of the second year teachers this year and I can't wait to pass that guidance on. One of my friends from KU will be teaching at my school next year and I am so excited to show him the beautiful country that I have fallen in love with. 

So here is to one more year here. One more year of growth, change, adventures, road trips, tea, dumplings, new friends and happiness. Here's to one more year of Taiwan. 

And here's to some pictures of recent events: 

Lunch with Angela's mom on a rainy Taichung day

Exploring the lantern festival at Wenxin Park

Biking on Cijin Island in Kaohsiung 

Walking around the lantern festival at Wenxin Park

Angela's mom made us pose with the different lights and statues

Waiting for the show to start

We celebrated Valentine's Day at school. How can you just not love them and want to take them home with you?

Cijin Island in Kaohsiung 

Art District in Kaohsiung 

One of my students enjoying her strawberries at the Lantern Festival 

Painting upside down at school, I have never seen them more excited for art

Art club doing some sketches

Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout these past few weeks, especially my amazing family. Your support and guidance mean so much to me. Thank you for everything! 

Firework Festival

Two weeks ago Taiwan celebrated both the Lantern Festival and the Firework Festival. A few friends and I decided to go to the firework festival in Tainan. We took the HSR to Kaohsiung, dropped our stuff off at our friend's apartment and hopped into a taxi to take us to the bus that would then take us to Tainan. Angela got the four of us onto a bus of foreigners. The bus was supposed to hold over 40 people, but in reality it held about 32. This led to people having to stand/sit in the aisle..which then led to the experience being even more awesome. The bus was loud, crowded and full of alcohol and music. After about an hour of drinking, people realized that the bus had no bathroom and pretty much all at once everyone needed that none existent bathroom. This led to people running up and down the aisles to ask/yell at the bus driver to let them off. By this point we had gotten into Tainan city limits, but just hadn't gotten to our parking space left. When we finally parked it was a mad dash to anywhere and everywhere you could use the bathroom. 

After a bathroom break, the putting on of our firework armor and the "wine bottle incident" we were ready to head into battle. Words cannot describe the actual festival, so I've included two videos. It was an amazing experience that I definitely want to repeat next year.

Ang and I waiting for the taxi

"The Olympic Team" waiting for the HSR

Check out these videos!

Here is Tim's awesome video! Yanshui Firework Festival Video

The website, Elite Daily, recently published an article, and an awesome video, about the event here.