Saturday, 16 January 2016

New Year, New Experiences

It was Friday, 01 January 2016.  Winnie's family had very kindly invited me on their annual trip to 墾丁 (Ken Ding) on the southern tip of Taiwan about 90 miles from Tainan.  I had not met Winnie's older brother before, but it didn't take long after our arrival in Ken Ding for him to lead me astray to a bar and a game of darts.  What he hadn’t bargained for were my countless hours of practice in Malia, which paid off handsomely as I emerged darts champion!

On Saturday morning, we (Winnie, her brothers and I) had to be woken/revived by her parents at 8:30 to attend breakfast.  It's a little strange having rice and stir-fried vegetables for breakfast, but that’s what we ate and I'm not complaining.  Having arrived in darkness the previous evening, it was time to see what Ken Ding was all about.  First stop in the car was a viewpoint overlooking the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean – next landfall Hawaii circa 5,000 miles away.  With powerful waves crashing against the cliffs close to where we stood and relentless high wind, we took a few pictures before retreating to the car.

Next on the agenda was quad biking, definitely a highlight of the weekend and of my whole stay in Taiwan so far.  Unfortunately, the rain cut the fun short so we returned to the hotel feeling a bit deflated. Winnie promptly disappeared.  Nobody knows where she went, but if I were to hazard a guess it would be the "Hello Kitty" shop in the main lobby!

It turned out that there were more high-octane activities during the weekend – go-karting for starters. As there were single and double karts, this was my opportunity to turn the tables on Winnie scare her with my driving.  I may not have achieved this, but I certainly enjoyed the go-karting.  Next, Winnie’s dad signed us up for a “car ride”.  This was no ordinary car ride.  We were driven up a mountain in a "jeep" type vehicle at breakneck speed.  If that wasn't enough, we were taken over some jumps (yes all four wheels off the ground) before ploughing through a river just as the rain started again.  As you can see in the photo, we were not well protected from the rain and the splashes from the river.  Still, it did afford Winnie’s brother the opportunity to practise for his modelling career.

Safely back in Tainan city after a not-so-safe weekend away, my first classes of 2016 were on Monday morning.  It was not until Wednesday that I have something to report, and, unfortunately, it's not good.  I made a child cry... Now before you jump to conclusions, let me explain.  The class was sitting a test and the girl in question had her book open in front of her.  Naturally, I asked her to close it.  She didn't object, so I thought nothing of it…until the crying started. It turned out that was allowed to have her book open during the test.  The next day, I apologised and made up with some chocolate, so I think we're all good now, as her parents haven’t complained!

As you can tell from my blogs, my experiences here in Taiwan have been varied and often unexpected.  Yu Ying's class on Thursday was one of those unexpected experiences.  I had been asked to teach a class unlike any I had taught before, so over the past week, I had been preparing a presentation on puberty and the importance of using contraception for a Sex Education lesson.  I had even been provided with a few props... Yu Ying must have heard from GWC that this was one of the few subjects in which I had achieved 100% during my time as a pupil!  Anyway I'm pretty certain the kids enjoyed the lesson even though there was a small mishap with the technology towards the end, which may or may not have ended in the kids screaming.

After that noteworthy first (me teaching sex education), the remainder of the week should have been a let down, but it wasn’t.  I still had to make presentations on Friday on my pet subject (hockey) and attend Xie Long's class where we made sugar biscuits – literally just sugar, water and baking soda.

A long lie on Saturday was a relief after a recently hectic schedule.  My Saturday visit to the gym and the cinema to see "Daddy's Home” is where I shall end this blog with the recommendation that you should see the film if you are in need of some laughter.

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