Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Few Pictures from Singapore

It's already been 2 weeks since my trip to Singapore. A few days after returning to Taiwan I got sick and I am still fighting it. Fever, horribly sore throat and now maybe a sinus infection. Jacqueline says it's because Singapore was hot and Taiwan is cold. Could be. But today she also tells me that there is a throat infection going around caused by eating sweets. Hmmm... I choose not to believe that. But if it were true I would certainly be a prime candidate for catching something from eating too many sweets! Jacqueline tells me lots of things about illnesses and most of it sounds like Chinese superstition to me. But she is never sick so maybe she is right! Last week when my throat hurt so bad she told me I should cut an onion in half and put it in my bedroom, then it would absorb the virus. Sounds crazy to me but of course I didn't try it and I continue to be sick. She (and every other Asian person) also tells me that I should not drink ice water. Asians do not drink cold beverages, only room temperature or hot. We Americans like our drinks cold! In fact, that is one thing we have learned to say in Chinese quite well: "Bing shui" or "ice water" because if you don't say BING you get warm water - yuck. Well, as usual I have to start out by apologizing for the pictures I am going to share. When I went to Singapore I elected not to bring my good camera. I was trying to travel light and I didn't anticipate sight-seeing, just lots of girl talk. I kicked myself for that decision many times as I took crummy pictures with my camera. So here they are: The view out my hotel window. We stayed out of the main downtown area so this doesn't look like much. The downtown area is filled with architecturally interesting high-rise buildings. I tried to capture some with my camera but it just wasn't good enough. (kick, kick.) Here we are still a bit at the outskirts of town, at a quaint waterfront area.

I loved this statue in front of The Fullerton Hotel. The hotel itself looked quite amazing - it reminded me a bit of Buckingham Palace. I don't remember checking rates there but if I ever return to Singapore I will have to see if it's in the budget. (Likely it's not.)
We rode a cable car to Sentosa Island where we spent one day. This rope bridge leads to...
...the southern most point of continental Asia. (Note the camera in my girlfriends hand. She brought a good camera! Kick, kick.)
On both of my trips to Singapore I have been astounded by the number of ships in the vicinity. It is like a ship parking lot. When you fly in you see ships for miles - not just one here and there but loads of them everywhere you look. We climbed a 4 story observation tower in Sentosa and could see some of the ships.
Late in the day we found some beach bars where we sat for an hour or so, until they kicked us out.

We strolled through a whimsical park on our way to dinner.

Then, as I flew home, the sky was so amazing that I just had to try to capture it with my camera phone.

Nothing else exciting to report for now.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I'm Not in Kansas Anymore.

Last night I went to the home of some friends to meet a couple who are missionaries in a country which is completely closed to the gospel. I felt honored to meet them. Their story is fascinating. I will not share it here in order not to expose them.

Just a few hours before meeting the missionaries I heard word of the earthquake in Japan. Upon arriving at the friends home the TV was tuned to a news channel where we all kept an eye on the developing story of the tsunami. As the meeting began the TV was turned off and we prayed for the people in Japan. It felt a little surreal to me... I was in a foreign country meeting missionaries to a closed country and praying for people enduring unimaginable circumstances in one of our "neighboring" countries.

Also during the evening I had a conversation with a new friend from Haiti. She told me of her brother who was trapped for several hours in rubble following the Haitian earthquake. He was rescued by a friend who dug with whatever he could find. This felt even more surreal... I was in a foreign country meeting missionaries to a closed country, praying for people enduring unimaginable circumstances in one of our "neighboring" countries and talking with someone whose immediate family survived the last big earthquake.

I'm a long way from Kansas.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Just this week...

...I have toured half of Taiwan. Or at least it feels that way!

I have a new friend from Bible Study who has offered to show me Taiwan from an insider's point of view. In addition, another Taiwanese friend - who currently lives in America which is where I met her but is MORE currently visiting her husband here in Taiwan - (got that?) is showing me around. I am exhausted, but it's a better sort of exhaustion than that which I felt 2 weeks ago.

My pictures are in backward order because I am trying to hurry.

Yesterday Gloria (my new/old Taiwanese/American friend) took me to Danshui. Then, just as were were stepping off the MRT preparing to go our separate ways, Eric called to say he would be home to get the kids from the bus so I didn't have to hurry home. Accordingly, we shopped a Shilin Street (day) market AND the Shilin night market. I left home at 8 a.m. and returned at 10 p.m. with extremely tired feet and legs. We had been walking almost that entire time!

We also did the tiniest bit of shopping in Danshui, at the end of our tour. Here is the street in Danshui.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant whose owner is a friend of Gloria's. The interior was decorated very nicely. It is 3 stories and has a nice view of the river. Gloria was determined to get me to try Taiwan food. Because I trust her I did try several things throughout the day. At the restaurant I had some beef and rice (safe) and I tried a couple bites of things out of a pot of stuff that was brought to our table. There were shrimp which I normally love. However, in Asia shrimp are cooked straight from the water with nothing removed. I told Gloria I cannot eat something that is looking at me so I refused to try the shrimp. I also refused to try the clams. I tried a bit of a dumpling and some other noodles but because they had been in the mix of this pot I didn't like the flavor. There were also meatballs (different from American meatballs) tofu and egg dumplings in the pot. Sorry but I didn't try any of it. The flavor was too off-putting to me. Nevertheless, the place was beautiful and I would probably go back.
A bit of the boardwalk in Danshui. (Just FYI, we were technically in Bali, not Danshui. But it was Bali, Taiwan not Bali, Indonesia. The latter would have been much warmer!) The boardwalk was lovely. Well-maintained. Unfortunately it was quite cold and windy, but that meant we had the place almost to ourselves!
A lovely Catholic church in Danshui. Excuse the darkness of these pictures - I forgot to bring my good camera so all were taken on my phone.
Another lovely restaurant in Danshui. This would be a wonderful place to sit on a hot summer afternoon. It is right on the riverfront.
I will need to go back on a nice day with my good camera. Danshui was a lovely area. The river is wide and empties to the ocean. There are many mountains around and also a lot of very modern, tall buildings. It reminded me a bit of Seattle!
Earlier in the week and closer to home I was documenting the fact that spring has arrived. These flowers are at the entrance to our church.

Last weekend we had 3 days of sunshine and temps in the low 80's - heaven in my book. The kids wanted to get in the pool. I initially said no because the water is still freezing, but then I thought if they were crazy enough to want to get in the water it wouldn't hurt anything so I said yes. In fact they were NOT crazy enough to want to get in the water but they thought they could get ON the water. (Ethan fell in 3 times.)
On Tuesday I accompanied Sandra to the Botanical Gardens. There wasn't much to see in the way of gardens. The area has large ponds which fill with Lotus flowers in June and July. I will go back then, I hope, to take pictures. However, there are many other wonderful things to see in and around the Botanical Gardens. One thing which wowed me was an old style Chinese house. Sandra told me that she grew up in something similar to this and as we walked through she shared a few of her childhood memories. Priceless tour - not something you could get from any paid tour!

My excuse for poor photos THIS time is that Sandra is giving me whirlwind overview tours so doesn't stop long for me to take pictures. The idea is that if I like something I can go back on my own and explore further. I will definitely be going back here. There is much to explore.

This is inside a beautiful and very large room of the house. In the far back of the picture are door which enter into the homes courtyard. As I understand it, various family members would have lived in separate rooms on either side of the courtyard. The parents and/or grandparents lived at the far side - across from the courtyard entrance. Maybe, HOPEFULLY, I will post take some nice pictures someday and post them with a more complete explanation.
A pretty little waterfall within the Botanical Gardens.
Part of the walkway through the gardens. Sandra said tourists never go to this park - only locals. It is wonderfully peaceful.
There were a few Iris near the edge of the ponds.
There is also an art museum. These paintings are hung OUTSIDE. I loved looking at them, although I had to hurry past most.
We did linger in front of this painting because, similar to the building we toured this depicts the way Chinese lived in the past. Sandra took quite a bit of time explaining it all to me.
This is the South Gate of Taiwan, erected during the time of Chiang Kai Shek for protection. Originally there were soldiers with guns up there, ready to shoot any attackers. Now it is surrounded on all sides by very busy streets.
And this is Sandra, my new friend. I have been greatly blessed by wonderful friends this week - old and new.
Just a few more "spring shots" - all taken at our home.

Happy Spring!