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New Update: October 31th, 2000

Goodday Friends!! Things are going great here, I am happy now!!!! School is keeping me busy, I find the work challenging and gratifying. The students are learning and that is the most important thing. Time is going by quickly. I am now entering my third month. The weather is cooling down, and it is very pleasant. I had the impression that it would rain alot, I has only rained twice since my arrival. I bought a full length raincoat just in case, I keep it in my moped. Last week, my boss Emily arranged to treat us to a Thanksgiving meal. We had reservations at a beautiful hotel in Tainan. Nancy and I were in heaven, it was a buffet with a huge variety of western dishes. I filled my plate with prime rib and smoked salmon with capers. There was lots to chose from including a wide variety of sushi and sashimi(sp). It was a lovely choice. Emily's sister Tina is also a director of a Language school, her staff was there aswell. After supper they took us to a local pub called Cheers for drinks, I had my favorite gin and tonic. Emily had arranged that we sleep at her parents house. They have a beautiful home downtown Tainan, it is huge home with 4 floors. I was very impressed with the traditional architecture and gardens. On Sunday we went to Kaoshiung to shop at Costco, that was fun. We bought lots of books and art suppies for the school aswell as some good shopping for Nancy and I. Next we went to Toy'r'us, for the kids, since they had been good all day shopping with the adults. On our way walking to the toy store, Emily spotted a very young kitten that was crying on the street. The sight of it really upset me. I have a soft spot for animals, she was so young and helpless, she wouldn't of survived more than a couple of days without her mother. So with that thought in mind, I decided to take her!!! Nancy named her Kaoshiung. I bought her a baby bottle and some powdered milk to feed her . She slept on my lap the whole way back to Chiayi, which is about a 2 hour drive. I brought her to the vet 2 days after I got her, and she the vet gave her a thorough check up. He told me that she was a healthy 3 week old kitty, yippee!!!! I am not sure what I will do with her when my time here is over but for now I am acting as her adopted mommy!! She follows me all over the apartment, she is soooooo small and cute. On Friday I found out that I will have a new grade one evening class. I was not to happy with this decision, now I will work till 9:00 four days a week. I spoke to Emily about the extra hours and expressed my disappointment. So, together we decided that January 2001, I will become her kindergarten teacher and give my classes to the new teachers she hired to start in January. I am very pleased with our arrangement. The hours are longer, I will work from 8:00 to 4:00 Mon-Fri. We had to negotiate a different salary, but is has also worked to my advantage. One of the teachers she hired is a cousin of mine from Montreal. I am very anxious for him to arrive. It will be nice to have some family here to share this great experience. He is gonna be a great teacher I am sure. Not much more to say, except that I would really enjoy getting some news from you all. I hope that all is going well!!! Keep in touch. Happy Halloween!!!!
New Update: October 16th, 2000

Last Tuesday, was a National holiday called Taiwan Day!! It is the tenth day of the tenth month (double ten day). Nancy and I spent the day together on the beach in Tainan. The weather was sooo hot, practically unbearable. Our boss Emily drove us there early Tuesday morning. We packed a lunch and brought tons of water and fruit. Emily supplied us with 2 beach umbrellas and a cooler for our food. We were the only ones on the beach. People do not tan here, infact they completely cover themselves up to avoid the sun. The Taiwanese try to keep their skin as white and pure as possible. They associate being tanned a sign of being a labour worker and a second class citizen. My roommate Nancy gets told all the time to cover up . There are also many creams that you can buy to actually whiten your skin, they are very popular, all the major brands like Neutrogena and Biore have taken over the market here in whitening cream. The beach itself was not magnificent, it was very polluted and the water, I did not even want to go in. So a day at the beach was not what we had expected. Later in the afternoon Emily came back to pick us up and we were sitting in the parking lot enjoying the shade. We were anxious to leave, but she informed us that her 2 children Tiffany (12) and Eric (10) wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon playing in the water and sand. So we ventured back out to the water. By this time, approx. 3:30 in the afternoon, the beach was much more populated with people and the weather and had considerably cooled down. We lounged around in the shade of the umbrellas and watched her kids enjoy the water with there cousins. I actually fell asleep for an hour, it felt great. Emily's sister Tina is the director of the Columbia American school of Tainan, she is very nice. We were invited to have supper with them at a seafood restaurant located by the water Harbor. The food was excellent, we had a selection of all kinds of foods, including a dish with shark skin and another with sea cucumber. I enjoyed most of the dishes and was polite and tried all of them of course. It was a wonderful experience. After supper we walked the local fish market, all the local fisherman are were anxious to show us the catch of the day. I wish I had a camera!!!! We drove home after the walk through the market. It is Saturday evening now, the weekend is almost over. The time is flying by. Friday,I went to the Jade market again, I wanted to look for Christmas gifts and souvenirs. I did not buy anything, yet!!!! Nancy bought a little Buddha and a musical instrument, that she plans on giving as a Christmas gifts. We went to a nice local eatery for lunch and had chicken curry, it is really cheap and delicious. I only have one class on Friday grade 1 at 4:30 so it is a pretty easy day. I decorated my classroom for Halloween with my students. We make spiders out of construction paper and I hung them from the ceiling. I got a large mosquito net before leaving that I do not need, that was used to make a big ghost which was hung from the ceiling. My students enjoy doing arts and crafts so that is usually my lesson plan for Friday. The evening was a relaxing one, I spent it at school with Nancy watching a movie on the DVD player. We watched "Seven years in Tibet" with Brad Pitt, it was a great movie, I highly recommend renting it!! Today is Saturday and I have no plans, I went to the local grocery store to buy my usual staples and I am spending the evening with Nancy cooking meals for the week. We both pitched in on the fixings to make a homemade spaghetti sauce, which she is cooking as I write this email. We also invested in a bottle of red wine, it is actually a Canadian wine and quite good. I hope that there is some good TV later because I do not feel like doing anything else. Sunday, I have my plans to go to a local pool/spa with my friend Natasha. I look forward to relaxing in the medicine baths and saunas.
New Update: October 1st, 2000

I finally got myself a moped, so now I am mobile. It is my favorite colour, red, its runs well and is very peppy!!!! I am a little sloppy at driving, but that too will take adapting. I am very happy with my purchase. I am starting to learn my way around the city. English street names are limited, directions are given with last marks. There are also no red lights, just flashing yellows, so you have to watch in all directions to be safe. I went to blockbuster friday night and rented a movie with my roommate, we relaxed at home. We rented "The Beach", good movie. It is set in the country side of Thailand, just breathtaking scenery. I have been fortunate to visit many places in Thailand, so the movie brought back some good memories. I hope to go again on my own soon. The south pacific is sooooo beautiful. There are many places I would like to visit. It was exam day for my students on Friday, they all did well, I am very proud. Because of exams my week was relatively easy . I have set aside some time this weekend to plan for the next week and whole new unit. Unit 2 covers the topics of body parts and family. I will bring pictures of my family to help the students understand. I am slowly getting used to being a teacher. It is difficult not being able to speak Chinese and trying to get your point across . I am getting creative with my gestures, it gets quite amusing at times. Saturday, my roommate Nancy and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal at a Japanese restaurant. The food was excellent, I ate all my favorites, sushi and tempura. Afterwards we went to a very nice cafe for dessert, I ordered a kiwi shake and blueberry mouse, my mouth was in heaven. I am tired of Chinese food, most of it is unrecognizable, and when you ask somebody what it is, they don't even know, they just tell you to try it, it tastes good. VERY WEIRD!!!! I have found some things that I do enjoy eating here, like dumplings and noodle soups. Everything is also loaded with MSG though, so I chose to eat at home most of the time. The grocery stores have a wide selection of western food, at very expensive prices mind you. I would love to find some cheese, that I have yet to find... Eggs are used in just everything, and get this they don't refrigerate them.. I still buy eggs but only at respectable grocery stores. Not much more to say about the food. If I am home sick I go to McDonalds of KFC, it always tastes the same anywhere around the world. I eat my sorrows away. I hear Canada is getting cold, not Taiwan, the temperatures are still in the high 20 or 30's. When I drive to work in the afternoon, I am drenched with sweat. Walking is not am option. Thank gosh I have AC at school and at home. I am told that we do have a cool season that starts mid-November. That should be a pleasant. The winter season is very wet I am told, don't leave home without your raingear. It hasn't rained since I have arrived, we are due for a good heavy rainfall. We have had a few little earthquakes, nothing major, just trembling. It had been a year since the last major quake. I live on the tenth floor, I hope that the building is earthquake worthy. Sunday, I invited the school Director, Emily and a friend that worked at the school during the summer, named Persilla for brunch. It was excellent I cooked homemade hashbrowns and a western omlette. Nancy, is also a good cook and put together a nice plate of fruit and decorated the plates for serving. It all went very well. After brunch I got together with my friend Natasha for a afternoon at the pool/spa. I soaked my self in medicine baths and enjoyed the steam room. There were also 3 pools that had waterslides. It was a wonderful way to unwind, I think that I will make it a regular sunday affair. I have started inquiring about joining a swim team, apparently there are a few adult leagues in Chiayi. I would like to have the opportunity to do so something that I love to do, and at the same time I can stay in shape. There are many gyms that I could join, but I have never been much for using machines to stay in shape. I love to swim and it is great exercise. My parents should come to visit sometime, I look forward to that, we can all cruse around together on mopeds. I hope it will be sooner than later, but I am busy and so are they. My Dad is still in Saudi Arabia so we communicate often. I would love to have the chance to go back there, that all depends on if he is planning on staying on for another year. Sauidi is my second home, I have nothing but good memories of the middle east. It is wonderful that my Father is there, I think that he really enjoys the culture and he is a real trooper. I am starting to learn that living abroad is much different than working abroad. He had mastered them both I believe. I would love to hear some local news, I have no idea what's going on in the world. I only have one English station on my TV and it plays B rated movies, that are pretty bad. They also repeat them, so I have watched many of t he same movies again and again. I do miss my weekly sitcoms and I have been told that Survivor is back on with a new adventure in Australia. A friend of mine has told me that he will tape the programs for me, yippee. I will have a survivor evening when I get back home. For all you survivor watchers "Please don't tell who wins!!!".