Monday, October 29, 2007

Weekend in Taichung

This weekend I went to the center of Taiwan for a Jazz festival in the city of Taichung. Taichung is a city of 1 million people, the second largest city in Taiwan. It was about a 2 and a half hour bus ride from Taipei city. I went with my friend Jessica. We left Saturday and came back Sunday. We stayed in a really nice hotel on the 25th floor overlooking the sprawling and the omnipresent mountains in teh distance. On Saturday night we saw a great Fusion jazz band which opened with a smokin' rendition of Edgar Winter's Frankenstein, and they did a hot cover of Miles Davis' Walking. Sunday we went to the Museum of Natural Science and Biodome which had a fantastic exhibit on the evolution of life and earth. I was most impressed with the lively and informative exhibit on Dinosaurs, it awes me to think one day these surreal creatures ruled the Earth, being that we have such an anthrocentric viewpoint. I think it reflects the endless possibility of existence and the universe.
School has been interesting and exciting to say the least, however, I have been suffering from the chronic fatigue that comes with Lyme Disease (I am in the recovery stage right now, so dont worry) so it is often a struggle to provide the energy and attention that elementary schoolers who speak very little english require. However when I can summon the energy we have a blast, and the kids (for the most part) thoroughly enjoy my goofy antics. Life in Taipei is very interesting, so many oppurtinities to meet exciting poeple and Chinese culture is so rich I am always learning something new about it. However the city can be a little wearisome, I often yearn for some peace and queit that the countryside provides. Overall I am extremely grateful to be able to have this far out experience on the other side of the planet, and I feel I am growing and learning a great deal.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Master Wong Represent

This weekend was far out. After work Saturday morning, I went out to eat with my Freind Grace who was an exchange student in the US for a year at University of Maryland. Then I went to Xindian, an area south of Taipei which has much riverfront entertainment, chinese snacks, a giant old pedestrian bridge and a beautiful view of the mountains. At one of the Resteraunts was a performer on the acoustic guitar who played a really moving version of John Denver's "Country Roads" which transported me back to my West Virginia country home which was groovy. On Sunday I went on a hike up the mountain located behind my apartment, then I went to a vegetarian buffet in the bottom floor of a giant bookstore, a 13 floor bookstore, but it also has a bunch of super chic designer fashoin stores, infcluding a really post modern store of artsy clothes which is pretty cool. Taipei is super chic in terms of designer brands and shopping is the Taiwanese national sport, there are clothing shops everywhere, even tucked away in the subway stations. Not my thing, but still an interesting cultural phenomenon. Then I went to this Chi Kung class where I did some super-meditative chi kung with a bunch of other interesting foreign expats who are interested in buddhist spirituality and other esoteric practices. After the Chi Kung there is a question and answer session with the buddhist master who owns the center where the Chi Kung takes place. Although intended for foreigners, both Taiwanese and foreigners were present and they all treated this teacher with great reverence. He proved to be very clever and vast in his wisdom and knowledge of buddhism, as well as having a very humble presence and a good sense of humor. The foreigners asked him so many questions and he gave his full attention to everyone. Apparently this Master Wong made a fortune early on in his life Taiwan, and has devoted all of his energy and much of his finances to spreading the Buddhist dharma (teachings) all over the world, and is ordained in Chinese Zen, Pure Land (Chinese Mahayana) and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as being a Taoist master. It was a very cool experience.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Typhoon destruction yoga retreat botanical gardens happy fun time

These past few weeks have been swell. I had a four day weekend a two weeks ago, and when down to the South of Taiwan for a yoga-meditation retreat. I took the train down, and didnt get to do much sight seeing since i spent the whole weekend blissed out meditating, doing yoga, dancing Kiirtan, eating tasty vegetarian chinese food, and having stimulating conversations with other colourful people who are simply happy to be alive. In the south it is much more exotic, a ruggid southeastern Asian rainforest with plenty of heat and rain, and bursting with lush vegetation and varieties of Palm trees. The tempo in the south is also much slower than in Taipei, with it being much more rural and slightly less developed. Then I took the bus four hours back to Taipei, driving through the Taiwanese country side which was quite beautiful, with interesting cemetaries, temples, and giant fat golden buddhas dotting the landscape.
Then back to work, forcing english down kids throats but trying to make everyone have a good time which I am only partially successfull at, but ill get it yet.
This weekend there was a huge typhoon, pouring down buckets of rain, and knocking down trees left and right with 75 km/h winds, but there was minimal disastrous damage to my knowledge. Today I went to the botanical gardens, with my freind Jessica who I met at the yoga retreat and have been spending some quality time with, which was a beautiful pleace with so many different kinds of trees and plants, although it was kind of a mess due to the Typhoon on saturday. She has taught me to drive her moped, which everyone drives here, so I got to cruise around town on that with her which was quite Gnarly.

Pictures to come....