Sunday, September 19, 2010

Asian Invasion: Part 1

Kristen and I decided to celebrate our one year anniversary by visiting my aunt and uncle who are living in Hong Kong. But we decided that we couldn't go all the way to Hong Kong and not visit the island where so many of my greatest friendships were formed. Taiwan was the place I was enchanted with when I first met Kristen and she needed to see what it was all about. And in order to recreate the experience, we decided to rekindle the manship and invite Joseph along with us.

We started off the adventure in Taipei. Joe, myself and the rest of the Berhaners had visited Taipei a handful of times and yet it seemed that Joe and I never managed to see quite as much as the girls did. Everywhere I looked I saw something I had never seen before. I really began to wonder if this was a city I had taken for granted.

The Longshan Temple is one of the prettiest in Taipei and somehow I had never managed to get there before. The day we went there was a festival going on and people were chanting as we toured the temple.

I also decided that it was time to buck up and pay the $12 to get to the top of the 2nd tallest building in the world. I had been to the mall below Taipei 101 a few times before but never had a good enough reason to go to the top. While the view was spectacular and the company was great, I must admit that I was completely disoriented. I had no idea what anything was from where we were standing. I managed to take enough photos to capture everything of importance and now it will just be a process of deciphering the pictures.

The Berhan girls decided to take a trip to Wulai and for months Joseph and I talked about going there and checking out the obstacle course. This time we were determined to do it and even though it was super humid we made our way up the mountain and acted like monkeys.

This is a classic example of all the wonderful Chinglish we found in our travels. Don't ask me what it means, just accept it.
No trip to Taipei would be complete without a trip to the Taiwan Taipei LDS Temple. It was so great to be back with two of my best friends and especially to show Kristen around.

Ever since seeing the above picture, Kristen always mentions how much she enjoyed seeing it. I thought it time to take a photo of her with the same creature. Maybe someday we'll create bookends and use these photos.

After Taipei we took a train to Taichung to attend church. We got to see many of the members from two years ago and meet the new additions to the branch. Joseph and I were lucky enough to get asked to bless the sacrament, so it felt like old times. Being able to see old friends really made the trip worth taking. The humidity might have been horrendous but now I only have photos to prove that I was constantly hot.

Gerald, one of the owners of Berhan, was kind enough to drive us back to Fengyuan so we could spend dinner with Thomas Hu.

He is the man that tried to teach me Chinese two years ago, bless his heart. Luckily our friendship overcame my inability to speak Chinese and we were able to share dinner with him and the family who owns the Berhan Language Institute.

Frances is the owner of Berhan and her two children, Seth and Angelica are students there. Two years ago Angelica was my kindergartner and couldn't read...

We were also able to meet up with Gloria, one of the secretaries who worked at Berhan while we were teachers. She took us on a beautiful hike, which overlooks the city.

No visit to Berhan would be complete without a visit to past students. Sadly the kindergartners had no idea who I was and were not interested in finding out, hence the absence of photos. My KBR class did remember me though and also remembered all the conversations we had about girls. They were insistent that Kristen and I kiss and then they decided I should kiss their teacher, which did not happen. It was great to see them and good to know that there were no hard feelings after I had told them I would be sending packages and then forgetting to.

We also went to Le Che's for dumplings and fried rice. Every bit as good as I remember it being, but once again I overdosed on soy sauce and ruined the meal.

Luckily we went for bingshas afterwards and boy were they tasty!

Whitney insisted that we go by The Net in an effort to find matching shirts once again. This time we thought we'd try on an entire outfit. We didn't end up purchasing here, but had better luck at the store where Joseph took the picture below.

Frances, the school owner, told Joseph that it was time for him to go on the hunt for a wife. She tends to be a bit bolder than most Taiwanese women, which made for some interesting conversation while in Taiwan. We thought Frances would approve of this shirt.

We also had the good fortune of running into one of Kristen's Jerusalem roommates. It was amazing to hear Sister Cooper rattle off Chinese like she knew what she was saying, I was a little jealous.

The last stop was in Lukang to have a fan made and take Kristen down the narrow alleyways. It was fun to show Kristen where so many memories had been made and give her a greater appreciation of everything we had done while living in Taiwan. The first leg of the Asian Invasion was a success and got us excited for part two...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just a thought

I came across a quote today as I was packing up my bedroom at my parents house, getting ready to join Steve in Ohio. As I read it, I couldn't help but think of what a great man I married just over a year ago...

"Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you the freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy."
-President Gordon B. Hinckley

My favorite part of that quote is the part about finding someone who will "give you the freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents." Based on the evidence, I'm pretty sure Steve took that to heart without hesitation. And I'm so glad he did.
We have certainly had an amazing first year of marriage, but what's most important is that I've felt the result of all the things mentioned by Pres. Hinckley - immense happiness. That has truly been the basis of our friendship, courtship, and now, marriage.

I took charge of blogging about the European adventure, but Steve has promised to blog about the latest and greatest from Asia, which is where we celebrated the following: completing my graduate program / our first anniversary / Steve going back to school / quality time with the one and only Joseph Castleton / Steve and Joe's reunion with the kiddos at the Berhan Language Institute / seasonal typhoons in Taiwan (what is it with us and natural disasters? First the Icelandic volcano, and then a Taiwanese typhoon.)/ etc.

The pictures are a sneak peak of the trip in chronological order, which Steve will elaborate on in an upcoming post.

TAIWAN (Taipei/Fengyuan/Lugang)

CHINA (Guilin)

Us on our anniversary:


Stay tuned..