There's a whole month to catch up on, so it will be highlights (and lowlights) only starting at the beginning of April - there are quite a few.
The lowlights were that my cold had evolved into a cough, which lasted over the entire month of April. There were still highlights though, largely involving foreigners. I had to fly to Hong Kong, land of my mother’s birth, to meet the first foreigner before accompanying him to Taiwan. It was my father, who was coming to see what I was up to....or that’s what he told me.
The fact that we were meeting in Hong Kong made me suspicious, and rightly so. He had arranged tickets for the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens (thank you Eddy). Considering that he has been married to a Hong Kong Chinese woman for over 20 years, it is a mystery that it is the first time either of us had attended the event. The rugby was fantastic and the half time entertainment was brilliant too - they had flown in the Proclaimers from Scotland, clearly just for us!
After spending some quality time with friends and family in Hong Kong, it was time to introduce papa to Taiwan. It’s only a short hop (just over an hour from HK to Kaohsiung (高雄) but a delayed flight meant that we arrived after 1am with another 50 miles to go to our final destination in Tainan. By this time, all forms of transport, excluding taxis and a single bus from the train station, had ceased operating. Ironically, a potentially stressful situation introduced my father to the type of kindness that I have witnessed regularly in Taiwan. Not only did the supervisor of the airline counter offer to drive us to Tainan, he deviated significantly from his own route home to do so. There could be no better introduction to the nature of Taiwanese people than this. My father continued to be treated extremely well for his entire stay and wants me to thank everyone for their generosity.
But he did have to ‘sing for his supper’. I had foolishly roped my father into delivering a history lesson at Jhongsiao, so the first day I had to make sure he was prepped for class. I have to say, he did a decent job considering he’s not a teacher. Ironically, the second wave of the April’s caucasian invasion involved a teacher and he didn’t teach a class.
After his class on Tuesday, father was free to roam around Tainan as he pleased, and fortunately he is a resourceful individual, so I left him to it. He met pretty much all the important people in my life over here in Tainan, including Andie (GWC teaching assistant), and Paige (GWC exchange student), who was a brilliant tour guide in Taipei. I don’t see much of them as they are both in Taipei, so it was great to catch up.
After saying farewell to the old man, my attention turned to another white man from the West - Principal Roffe (and his delightful wife) had flown all the way from GWC to check on my wellbeing, so the school tried hard to make them feel welcome. Ok, so they had bigger business in Japan with the pipe band, but it was good to see them!
We spent some quality time discussing my role at the school and what improvements could be made to the scholarship programme. I realised as I talked with the Roffes over a fine dinner that, for me, the most important point is learning the language - there is no real point in spending a year abroad without giving it a go. The Roffes’ visit was brief, and it is always a little disappointing to see friends from home leave, but the caucasian invasion of April had lifted my spirits by taking my mind off my ailments - bronchitis and an injured wrist that had kept me out of the gym for a month. The visitors had also kept me away from my grammar class (I’ve missed three out of five, so my final grade is falling all the time - they take off marks for non-attendance).
One other GWC item - a big thanks to Mr Leonard for supplying some hockey sticks, which my father had lugged across the world. They arrived just in time for one of my recruitment drives at other Tainan schools where I use hockey as one of my main teaching tools alongside a presentation on Scotland and myself. My reward was pizza - well worth it. If anyone has an old hockey stick that they no longer need, I have a home for it.
The final thing to mention was an excellent day on Sunday. I had volunteered to be a student to trainee teachers at Cheng Kung University for a morning. After 4 long hours, we were free and instead of going to the gym, I was invited to go to An Ping (安平) with some other students. We just hung out and ate the local seafood delicacies - it wasn't half bad. It was good to make some new friends.
Well, if you have made it all the way to the end, well done. I’ll try to make the bitesize bitesize next time! Then I’ll be reporting on mid-term exams and who knows what else.