Sunday, August 26, 2007

DIspatches from Taipei...

So I have been in Taipei for two weeks now. Tomorrow begins my career as an elementary school english teacher, which I have anticipated for a few months now. I had an awesome weekend, yesterday I visited the Taipei Fine arts museum with a couple of my friends who are also foreign teachers, which contained awesome contemporary art and photography, which spoke volumes about taiwan and life in general. Today I went on a monstrous hike across a few mountains and to the other side of town (at least the northern part of town). It was amazing, all the mountains are loaded with buddhist temples and taoist shrines, which you can go into and pray, meditate, light incense or just be a grade A tourist like myself. Then I went to a group Ananda Marga meditation, where I met a load of friendly Taiwanese margii's (practitioners of ananda marga yoga), which was excellent and lots of free really good food, for the body and for the soul. Attached are some pictures from my hike today.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My first days in Taipei

SO here I am in Taipei in the eastern hemisphere. Its awesome. Taipei is a on a basin in lodged between lush sub-tropical chinese-esque mountains. Taipei is steeped in traditional culture, and there are taoist-buddhist-confucian shrines everywhere, along with loads of traditional chinese food ranging from snake alley where snakes are the main cuisine to vegetarian resteraunts where they do wonders with tofu. On my first day in Taipei I went to the Grand National Palace Museum with other American and foreign teachers (who were very nice and interesting), where all the treasures of the many Chinese Dynasties are exhibited becuase before the Nationalists fled China during the communist revolution, they brought along all the artistic, literary and jeweled treasures to Taiwan where they built a nation of Chinese expats who have preserved and developed traditional chinese culture in Taiwan. The Grand National Palace was incredible, with treasures ranging from the Crystal cabbage to the most elegent China pottery. Then we ate a "Shabu shabu" resteraunt, which is a restaraunt that on the tables there is a grill and a pot to boil, steam, and grill food selected from an uncooked buffet, and you cook it at your table. They had a variety of tofu and vegetable dishes, so I was quite satiated from this unique style of eating out. On Monday I visited the school where I will be teaching. The manager and staff are very nice and I look foward to working with them. After work I met up with my Friend Grace who was an exchange studnet at university of maryland, and we spent the whole day visiting various tourist attractions in Taipei. We went to a number of temples, which was amazing becuase it was the beginning of a holiday, "ghost month" in which everyone honors their ancestors and deceased. There are many folk-gods and much ancestor worship, and at the temples everyones lighting incense in front of the deities and asking for thier help. The shrines to the different gods of the taoist/folk religion canon are so colorful, full of gold and all types of jeweled and textured symbols. Today I went to look for apartments and found a nice, cheap one room apartment in the district of my work. There is also a beautiful park near my hotel in wchih i walked around