Mid Autumn Festival
It's been another week or so and I have been busy as ever.
But that’s not where it ends. My latest task is to teach some Scottish Ceilidh dances to a number of students and teachers. If you've ever seen me dance you'll know this can't go very well. Apparently, our "mission" is to go on a recruitment drive to a nearby primary school to attract the children to go to our junior high school, Jhong Siao, when they are old enough.
I had my first Chinese test on Friday (I am studying) after going out for lunch with Andie, who very kindly gave me a lift to Cheng Da University. It turns out that she was in the same class as my pronunciation teacher. I’m not going to lie, I’m feeling pretty good about the test...famous last words.
On the same day, I received a message from none other than Winnie, my exchange student from four years ago. I think it's fair to say that exchange didn’t go well. Not only did I slam the car boot on her head (by accident), but we also managed to lose her on Arthur's seat, which resulted in a 999 call for help. Fortunately, she has changed. She still hits me - a lot - but now she is slightly more mature. I always thought she was younger than I am, but she's actually older by six months, which is a major surprise because she looks about twelve.
So on Friday night, Winnie took me to the same night market that I had gone to four years before. There are lots of different types of food to try, many games to play for prizes and a couple shops for clothes and general bits and bobs. I revisited the games, or should I say game (singular), that I had been good at a few years ago – popping balloons by shooting them with plastic pellets. I won a Mike Wozawski soft toy by shooting 9/10 and then 10/10 of the balloons. I hadn’t lost my touch!
Winnie invited me out to the cinema on Saturday - I promise it wasn't a date. After the film, we went bowling. It’s fair to say that I was shattered when I returned home, but we were having a barbecue (the food was great) in the evening to celebrate 中秋節 (mid autumn festival) – it’s a celebration of the harvest at the time of the autumn full moon. Danny and Irene had some friends over and Andie came to keep me company. The celebration involved sparklers and fireworks, which were definitely not a safe distance away – I guess the Chinese know what they are doing with fireworks since they invented them - and a water balloon fight, essentially Irene and her friend pelting me with water balloons. All in all, it was a very good night.
On Sunday, I had a 5am wake up call to be ready for Mr Su, our mountain guide, who took me by motorbike to collect the Principal and her husband. We did switch from the motorbike to a car at that point, in case you are wondering! And it happened again - I fell asleep. This time, it was definitely justified by the 5am start. But of course I lost track of where I was and what mountain I was climbing. Suffice to say, we made it near the top of the hill （合歡山北下). The evidence is below and you can see the view was incredible.
Not only were we climbing, we were camping too. Su (that’s him in the photo) and I were sharing a tent. As soon as we arrived at the campsite after descending the mountain, we pitched the tent and went for a shower.... separately. I managed to FaceTime my parents from the campsite to be reminded that Scotland were playing the USA at rugby. It was all very nice to catch up, but I now have near no mobile data left.
I guess Monday was better than Sunday – it was a 6am rather than a 5am wake up call. Nobody warned me about the early starts. After breakfast we drove back to Tainan, making a few stops again, the most significant being at Su's second house just outside Tainan... I think... sorry I fell asleep again. His house was full of evidence of all his climbing successes, the most significant being his walk from the north of Taiwan to the south in a straight line in 46 days. He’s a real adventurer and may well be the Taiwanese equivalent of Bear Grylls – he certainly pointed out all the edible plants to me on our expedition.
I have to say that when I finally arrived home I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was sleep. Unfortunately, I had a lot of Chinese homework to finish for Tuesday. Andie to the rescue! She came round and helped me with/corrected what I had done.
Then it was Mel to the rescue. I FaceTimed her late that night, which was really good because it reminded me that I still have friends back home. My life is very different here and I am content with that life, but it is nice to know that I have a life back home too. Thanks, Mel.
Till next time…