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Purple Armadillo Travels

Taiwan Times - the start!

TAIWAN | Sunday, 5 August 2007 | Views [931]

Well - over a month after arriving in Taiwan I have finally managed to get my shit together and put something up bout the place.... can't rush these things!

So - where to start... well - I got off the plane in Taipei and got straight on a bus from the airport direct down to Pingtung (roughly 4- 5 hour trip) to where Kev lives. Dumped my stuff off at my new abode, had a few whisky's with Kev and his mate Zoe and then straight to the local bar - The Beaver Dam.

The beaver dam is owned by 2 Canadian guys and is basically the main foreigner hang out - and also the main job network agency it would seem. Within 2 hours of arriving in pingtung I had 3 potential job offers. By my 5th day here i had something like 8 different options of employment - all of them coming from getting my face known at the bar. Seems somewhat ironic that you should look for a supposably respectable citizen of the community such as a teacher, in a bar.  ..... not that i'm complaining - it was the most fun i've ever had networking.

Pingtung maybe only has 50 foreigners in the whole city, and most of them have been here for around 6 plus years so anyone fresh to the town is made to feel somewhat of a queen just out of pure novelty factor - people fall over backwards to help you out and make you feel welcome and i felt like i was continually drunk for the first few weeks just off other people buying me beers and shots all the time.

Anyway - moving on to the main reason that i came here - I was offered a really good full time position in a mates school and everyone said i would be mad not to accept it - and i almost did .... but they wanted me to sign a one year contract - and i am not the best at commitment (as i'm sure most of you know) and even worse at lying so .... long story short - I freaked out at the last minute and declined the job cos i couldn't promise with all good intention that i would be here for the whole term of the contract.

Alls well that ends well though and the boss still gave me sub hours and 3 weeks to change my mind. I have now in that time though been able to pick up a number of other jobs that don't require me to sign a contract (the only hitch being that i need to leave the country every 2 months for a visa run - which doesn't really bother me - i will probably enjoy the break - 7 weeks on 1 week off - not a bad life huh!).

most my hours are at a kindergarten - 9-11:30 Mon to Fri. Everyone kept warning me that i would be mad to pick up kindi work, but after subbing a few classes I decided I really liked it. Two weeks later though I am really wishing that I had have listened to those in the know. Yes, they are cute (actually they are down right adorable) and sweet and they give you big hugs and tell you they love you and for a moment your all like "ohhhh" and you melt ...... and then the moment is over , and they are running around going nuts , squealing and yelling.

stand up, sit down, run around, jump, skip, punch , kick, scream, yell, squeal, hide (this one is my favourite)..... aughhhhh!

My god I never realized how much energy kids have (what am i saying... they're not even kids, they're still babies - i have 3 classes - 2 year olds, 3-4 year olds and 5-6 year olds). The littlest ones cant even wipe themselves after going to the toilet, yet we're supposed to teach them to talk English - man, i cant even teach them to sit still for more than 2 minutes at a time.

The only way I can get them interested is by singing songs and dancing. I never want to hear "I'm a little teapot" ever again in my life.

I went into work one day really really hungover with basically no sleep (it was completely by accident - I went to the bar to have one beer just to wind down and .... blahdi blahdi blah... you know how the rest goes) .... any way , never EVER will I do that again. Take my word for it when I tell you that doing the "hokey pokey" is NOT fun when you're about to be sick.

So anyway - that is Kindi...... I also work 2:30 - 4:30 every day at a Primary School (which is just great) and then in the evenings (anywhere  from 5:30 til 9pm, depending on the day) at a Buxiban (pronounced bushi barn) which is an English language centre. This is mainly with teenagers (which brings into play a whole new realm of discipline issues).

But i cant complain too much, the pay is really good - for some perspective - foreign teachers get paid about $600NT per hour (in comparison a local teacher gets paid $700NT per day). the rent for mine and kevs 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment is $2,500NT per month (so i can make my rent in about 4 hours work.) and food costs anywhere between $20NT and $100NT per meal. beer is between $45 -$100NT for a pint depending on where you get it. Pretty good living.

I went out and bought myself a push bike as soon as I got here ( only cost me AU$45 for a brand new one) which has been just fantastic - but i spend at least 2 hours each day riding between the schools so I am contemplating buying a scooter (every foreigner here has one and thinks I am absolutely nuts for riding for so long in this heat... but on the bright side, I'm getting a fabulous tan!)

My only concern is that people here drive like absolute maniacs. especially the old folk. Its like with age comes some sort of imaginary permission slip to ignore every road rule known to man.
left turn from the right lane infront of traffic? - no worries, I'm over 80! red light?....what red light? can't you see these wrinkles .... move out of my way sunshine, old man coming through ...weeeeeeeee! seriously , you'd think some of them were making a anarchic protest to legalize euthanasia... they must be dropping off like flies from road accidents.

Talking road accidents - my fear of the roads over here was, 2 weeks ago, founded, when Kev and I were in a pretty bad bike accident.  We were coming back from a fantastically relaxing day up in sandimen where we spent all day swimming in the crystal clear streams and eating yummy food when ...... BAAAMMMM , CRASH,  BOOM (and lets add KA POW too - just cos i like the sound of it) .... a girl decided to turn down a left hand street from the right hand lane when we were going along a 2 lane freeway. We saw it coming, in what seemed like slow motion, but there was absolutely nothing we could do about it, so we hit right into her and she went flying one way and kev and I went flying the opposite way skidding across the road.

anyway - I guess the main thing is - we all managed to walk away from it relatively unscathed.. be it a little bruised, scratched, bleeding and near broken. It was lucky that we were both wearing helmets as I practically landed on my head (you can see the smashed bit on my helmet from where I landed.) Kev seriously hurt his ribs but they are slowly getting better and I thought that I may have broken my wee pinky finger (I still cant bend it properly - but its not so bad anymore) but apart from that and a couple of scars as momento's alls well!

hmmm - what else...... oh yeh ... We had an earthquake here last week - my first ever earthquake , how exciting! It wasn't very big (which is probably a good thing cos i was in my apartment on the 9th floor at the time) but you could feel the floor move and all.

Which reminds me - you all remember how i was complaining about the Volcano that I trekked in the Philippines and how it was really disappointing cos there was no lava?...... well.... I head back to the Philippines on the 16th of this month to do a visa run for 9 days and had been planning over the past month or so to go trek Mt Mayon another volcano that is considerably more active. It is a three day trek up and back and i was really looking forward to it ..... til i told a friend the other day what i was planning and she goes "um, tania , isn't that the volcano that's erupting at the moment and they've had evacuate a whole load of people" ...... sure enough, it was! Just imagine if it was just 2 weeks later - i would've ended up like those people I saw in Pompeii. You could've put me in the corner of the room - a little Tania statue preserved in cold hardened lava forever. how Art Neuvo!

Anyway - guess it just goes to show you gotta watch what you wish for - I wanted an active volcano to trek and I got one - it just now means i cant bloody trek it and have to think of somewhere else in the Philippines to go.

ummmm....other news?   kev and I have a dog - she was abandoned as a puppy and kev took her in - she has since grown into possibly the most naughty and disobedient dog I have never known. her name is rascal and i often wonder why kev couldn't have called her "serene" or "calm" or something instead! any pointers on how to train a extremely disobedient dog would be most appreciated.

Moving on ( I think I am almost finished - don't fret!) I have just bought myself a violin. I have no idea how to play it, mind you - but i have always loved the sound of it, and learning how to play an instrument properly is one of those ticks i need on my list of things to do before I die, sooooo.

I am thinking that Kev is probably dreading the day he told me about the sale at the music store - as he now has to sit in the house and listen to me make a horrendous sound comparable only to..... actually i really don't know what on this earth it could possibly be compared to...... maybe if you pull a thousand cats tails at the same time and listen to the screech ... yeh.. i could imagine that would sound something like my violin playing at the moment.

absolutely shocking - poor poor kev.

anyhoo - practice makes perfect they say - gonna be alot of bleeding ears in the meantime though - including mine.

ok - so what else is news ... hmmmmm .... nought really. (thank god you say!)

wow, my gosh - what a horrendously boring blog that was - congratulations to anyone who actually made it to the bottom without skimming over - it's so mundane that i cant even be bothered to proof read it again before posting it - that says something.

I guess on that note i will sign off

Tags: Work

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