Thursday, 5 June 2008

Maolin (茂林) Aborigines. Last English lesson in Taiwan.

Philippine plans

Only five days until I go to the Philippines for the 6th time. Unbelievably, Zi Ting is coming with me this time. She's engineered nine days off work and she can't remember the last time she had a holiday. She arrives three days after me so I'll have to wait for her in Manila before heading off to more exotic locations. I think she's in for quite a shock! I can't wait to see her at Manila airport next week. She'll be like a little lost lamb - I can be her knight in shining armour, or knightmare in shining armour.

Don's found a new two-bedroom place in Sabang, Puerto Galera, near the floating bar. I'll be living in paradise for a few months until the ship job starts. The rent is a scandalous £30/month each. He's just bought a mattress and fan for my room - sound as a pound!


Yesterday we went to Maolin National Scenic Area. It started out a little precariously as Zi Ting's navigational prowess was put under the spotlight. 

To demonstrate how women are crap with directions all over the world I knocked up a little map to illustrate the point. We started off at A intending to go to B. However, we ended up at C - Kaosiung, Taiwan's second city. Not exactly the mountain tranquility we were after. The black line was our route. I told her we were going the wrong way but she wouldn't believe me. Even as we were driving around Kaosiung city when we should've been in the mountains she still thought she was going the 'right' way! Hehe.

It's OK though because when we finally arrived this map cleared everything up.

This is  龍頭山 (LongTouShan) or Dragon's Head. It looks like a sleeping dragon with its head resting in the foreground as its spiny back snakes away behind. Quite a nice shot. The dense vegetation was a luxurious shade of green on this wet humid day. The cloud shrouding the mountains had me very excited. A nice change from the flat, drab West coast plains.

After seeing this ridiculously high and long swing bridge I knew it was next on the agenda. It's very high up. The camera doesn't really give you a feeling of height.

Random scenery shots. A huge eagle soared above here. I've ran out of superlatives to describe this place. I think I'll go for breathtaking this time.

You're now in aborigine country. No ethnic Han Chinese here. The locals don't have the Chinese appearance, they look more like Polynesians. The area is rich in slate. Similar to North Wales. The locals have been putting this abundant material to use for eons. I am not sure who lives here though? Perhaps there is an aboriginal midget community?

Slate carving.

You can never be too old for dick jokes! 

Into Duona village. It feels like you're in a different country. The people don't look Chinese, don't act Chinese. The houses look nothing like Chinese style homes. The food even smells different.

Here's three kids looking more Filipino than Taiwanese. They are the original inhabitants of this land. Their Polynesian ancestors probably arrived from the Pacific islands thousands of years ago. The two lasses look a little apprehensive. Probably thinking 'Don't get too close to this strange bloke'.

He was like a little limpet. 

A view down the valley from Duona village. This place was brilliantly situated. Surrounded by impossibly large, green mountains. I would love to live there. I wonder if the school needs an English teacher?

Here's a nice bit of Chinglish for you. This is a sign near the top of a big, steep hill. I can read the Chinese here and explain how they arrived at the meaningless 'To oil fast up to'.

加油= jia you. Literally means 'add oil' but is translated as 'Go on'. Here, it would be translated as 'Keep going'. Confusingly, you also use this term when filling your car with petrol.

快到了= kauidaole. Literally means 'fast to' but is translated as 'almost there'.

So, the English in the sign should say "Keep going! Almost there." But, they've gone with the nonsense "To oil fast up to". The 'up' bit comes from going up the hill. There, some more useless bollicks for you.

Wor lasses hobby is belly dancing? Here she is with her friends. I've never seen her do it though. She's too embarrassed!


Tonight I have my last English class ever. Maybe not ever - you can never say never! I'll happily receive my final salary of 28,200NTD (£470) for 47 hours of headache-inducing torment.

As Marx's Das Kapital will tell you £470 is the market value of my labour capacity. This is fine because Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations tells us "Every man is rich or poor according to the degree in which he can afford to enjoy the necessaries, conveniences, and amusements of human life."

I don't know where these economic principles put me exactly. I take from this that, like most Westerners, I'm neither rich nor poor.

I'm thinking of money stuff because Bradford and Bingley have put out a share issue. This is a means of creating more shares for existing shareholders to buy (at a cheaper price) to generate more funds. Basically, it means the bank is in a spot of bother. Why am I bothered? All my savings are locked away with them. If these latest announcements are the first cracks in the dam and the bank later collapses, I'll be ruined and my dream life will mutate into a nightmare one instead.

Obviously, I'm hoping it won't come to that. If it does, perhaps the generous tax payer can bail them out like they did with Northern Rock. After all, isn't it only right that the proletariat pay for the incompetence and greed of rich bankers?

Anyway, I'll change the 28,200NTD into approx $940 at Kaohsiung airport for subsequent change to 40,000PHP in Manila. This amount should easily see me through June.

Last lesson

I'm relieved to be escaping employment but I feel a little sad to be seeing these kids for the last time. As much as some of them got on my nerves, I'll think of them fondly in the future. I got a little thank you card from one of the smarter kids.

Dear Teacher Steve:

I'm Eric. I have a good time with you. Sometimes I will be better. Sometimes I'm be terrible. But, I will said "Goodbye teacher, thankyou teacher!"

I was touched.

However, look at the mistakes. Nevermind. This is actually written to a very good standard. Eric was the smartest student. To me, teaching English was a little difficult. I don't think I have the required patience for it. If I end up doing something like this again I think I'll have to do something like Maths or Science for older kids.


I had my haircut yesterday. Afterwards, while sitting on the bog and playing with the clippers, I got a bit carried away. Suffice to say I now have no hair whatsoever down there. Feels a little weird today.

I arrived in Taiwan at the end of August 2007. I've spent nine months here with brief trips to the Philippines. Not much variety. This time last year I was driving a motorbike from Chiang Mai to Pai in Thailand. Beautiful. I need to be doing stuff like that again. I might do the 4-day SCUBA-diving course in the Philippines this time. Having said that, once Don and I find a bar close enough to home.

Zaijian Taiwan

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