Friday, June 29, 2012

Bike Trip Part 2 (Day One)

We started riding at 4:30pm with our bikes roped with things to the side and back of it, from Shovels to skateboards and giant jugs of water.

(I didn't take as many pictures this time just because I wanted to experiment with video.)

It wasn't long before we weren't 100% where we were. After following the sun we managed to get stuck on the wrong side of a river shooting us far west instead of south. After a long bike trail someone guided us to a bridge to get across the river.
7:30pm (25.4km) - Jake began dragging behind, only to find out he had a flat tire. He just replaced the tire the day before.

After walking across the bridge and too the first Family Mart (like a 7-11) we saw, we managed to get help to find a bike shop. The Family Mart employee showed us the way. While there with the very friendly bicyclist mechanics, Jake decided to get new handle bars, a new higher seat bar, replaced a broken peddle, replaced the back tire air tube and the front wheel entirely.

We continued to ride until about 1:30am going a total of 61.1km, for the day. We found a place nice place at Fuhai Park to camp, 16km south of Lugang.

Point A - Starting Point
Point G - Wrong turn that got us stuck on the wrong side of the river sending us North West.
Point I - Jake gets a flat tire
Point K - Our Camp site

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Taiwanese Women Pulling Cart

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Go Skateboarding Day Taiwan (June 23)

In Taiwan for some reason they don't like to celebrate during the week. So instead of having Go Skateboarding Day on June 21st which is a Thursday, they celebrated two days later on Saturday.

This year there was a lot more objects to skate and a lot better. Sadly I was pretty tired and not skating to my potential. But I enjoyed meeting new people and hanging out with everyone.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day After - Go Skateboarding Day 6/22

The day before Taiwan celebrates Go Skateboarding Day, I headed up to Taipei for an early skate. We started out just warming up under the bridge as Mike wall rode all morning, waiting for everyone to meet up to go skate.

The plan was to skate this airplane. It began to rain, so we walked around for hours. By the time we found where the airplane was, there was only an empty space where it once existed.
We managed to find a nice indoor place to skate for a while since the weather was awful. In an old badly needing repaired theater.

Photo by 春艷春艷 (Eric)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Taiwan Drivers License

After staying in Taiwan over a year my international driver's license expired, making it illegal for me to drive. It became time for me to get my own driver's license in Taiwan.  After studying and trying to work around a busy schedule, the test kept getting pushed back. Eventually I finally made it out to the test. Part of the hassle is the times for the test and the drive to where you can take the test is almost an hour away.

The first part of the test is the written test. I went to the 2nd floor of the building sat down at the computer and began answer multiple choice questions. The English translation is quite difficult to get through for some of the question. One of the question I received had one wrong answer and then the first to answers were written exactly the same. I put my finger to each word to check if I read it right, and every word was the same. Do I choose right answer A or right answer B? I went with B. At the end of the test I received one more question wrong then I was aloud to make. Failing the test really isn't a big deal seeing as it only cost me $13 to take the test and the next time I try to take it, it will only cost $8. The part that makes it painful is the distance.

Finally after another month or two, the day came were it was time to go get this test finished. I studied a little more using the Online Practice Test (You can click the link to try the test for yourself), rounded up my translator and headed out to the testing grounds. I ended up arriving 5 min late. I had to wait 2 hours now to take the test. Instead of driving all the way back home only to return, I went out for some lunch.

We sat in the breakfast shop until is was starting to close, we had about one hour left to kill. Amy and I decided to go to the hair salon. If you get your hair washed they will also give you a shoulder massage all for about $4.

Finally the time came, we returned to the testing facilities, I sat down at the computer desk and began taking the test. About three of the question asked me a question like this, "When driving on the freeway you are to follow the road regulations and signs." True or False. Well, that was easy. Along with all the other questions I received. Last time it was asking me stuff like, "If you run a red light and your seat belt isn't on you will... A: have to pay a $3,000NT. fine B: have to pay a $5,000NT fine. or C: have to pay a $6,000NT fine. Those kind of question become a blur while studying, because you are use knowing how much the fines are in America.

I finished my test and passed with an 85%. Then it was onto the driving test. The funny thing is, that Taiwan's driving test  doesn't really relate to the road. The test is taken in an area that has been designed for a driving test, with a car that has the mirrors positioned at the ground in a way that is effect for the test but not for driving on the road. You never go out on the road even in drivers Ed (from my understanding). The first part of the test you have to do an S curve.  If you get to close to the yellow line a sensor will go off. The guy before me hit the sensor while going around the second corner of the S curve automatically failing the test.

I got in the car drove slowly around the curve and made it, but the hard part was going backwards. I paid to practice at a facility that mimics the actually test (strangely it cost more to do the practice then the actually driver's test). The S curve backwards was always the difficult part for me. However, I made it through.

The second part of the test is parking. The first one is backing up into a parking space (everything has sensors). I didn't start turning quite soon enough causing my back tire to slightly hit the yellow line. I received 16 points off. That leaves me with 84 points, if you get a 70 or lower you fail. Then you have to parallel park. I accomplished that one just fine. After continuing out of the parking section you have to stop at a stop light and go when it turns green.

The fourth part of the test you have to drive up a bridge thing with each of your wheels between to 2 groups of sensor lines, 2 lines for each side of your car. Once you are close to the top but still on the hill you have to stop with your car on a red line, put on the hand break then proceed with out only back roll.

Then you go over the hill and have to stop at an imaginary train crossing, and then an imaginary crosswalk. After that your almost done, then you drive down a narrow straightaway with sensors on both sides of the car. After that you are done. And I passed! Now I am ready to drive on the Taiwan roads in either a car of 50cc scooter.

More Information on getting your License in Taiwan

Video of the Driving Test Course

Monday, June 11, 2012

Taiwan gets hit with Flooding and Earthquakes

Photo from China Post

After getting hit with a 6.5 earthquake (which I didn't feel), the rain began pouring down the past 3 days. The mountains have very soft soil creating many landslides, destroying roads in the mountains, and stranding over 1,000 people. There has also been a lot of flooding from the 400 millimeters of rain. The area I am in has not been effected by either the earthquake or flooding. But you can pray for those that have been.

If you would like to read more you can go to these articles; Jakarta Post, China Post, Taipei Times

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Case of the Missing Mattress

We loaded up the van full of stuff to be moved to the new apartment (SYME Dorm), however we didn't have enough room left in the van. After leaning the extra mattress up against a wall along the sidewalk, we left to unload the vehicle. It was only about 10 min before we returned for the mattress. It was gone. The shop that we left it in front of had a security camera, on the tape you can see two guys picking it up and moving it. Rather if this is a mistake or a couple thiefs we have a mystery to solve.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bike Trip Part 1 (Intro)

Jacob and I are leaving for a 3 1/2 day bike trip, today. We will ride from Taichung with the plan to reach Kaohsiung. According to google maps it should take me 1 day and 9 hours non-stop walking. Though if our exploratory minds take hold, we may not even go to Kaohsiung. This trip is open to changes along the way. We will be sleeping in tents making our own food, bringing money only for emergencies. Below is the rest of the packing list.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June work at SYME

During the month of June, we do not have students coming to SYME. In a way we kinda have the whole month off from teaching English (except for the tutoring I do on the side). However there is still much work to be done. Every term we get new dorms because our student size changes. So we have to re-set up bunk beds that we had to take down from previous terms, fix things, clean up around SYME facilities and other projects (Picture to the left is the list of most of the things we will do). However, we do also get a one week vacation to have some fun.

New Apartment

Working on unpacking all our stuff.
Jake and I moved into a small three story home being rented by a few different foreigners. The "headmaster", Dave has been renting the house for about 5 years. He makes croutons for some local Italian restaurants, writes articles for multiple magazines, teaches English and also has a son living in Taiwan who owns a small local magazine.

For the past year after working all day at SYME, Jacob and I would go home to not really get away from work but to enter work throughout the night, teaching English and trying to interact the best we could. It was a lot of fun, but after being here for over a year you need to be able to go home to relax from the 7:30am-8pm day. It has also allowed us to meet a lot of new people that we would have never met before.