July 25, 2011

It Finally Snowed in Christchurch

I woke up this morning to find everything covered in snow. Tree branches were coated in crystal ice, houses in my neigbourhood had snow caps on the roofs and everything else was blanketed in white. I couldn’t believe it was happening because I had waited 2 winters to experience this snow-vaganza. When it finally happened, it just felt magical. What I enjoyed the most was watching large snowflakes fall from the sky. It is the most beautiful sight I've ever seen.

It stopped snowing a few hours ago but I am still at awe watching the snow melting away. As I am typing this, my little snowman which is a bit crooked now, is melting to death. Goodbye my little friend. It was a pleasure making and dressing you. What a time we had while it snowed!

This is one winter I will remember forever. I leave you with these photos taken around the neighbourhood and city centre :)

July 23, 2011


Wow. It has been ages since I have updated this poor blog. If it weren’t for one reader who asked me “no new blog entry?”, I wouldn’t have been motivated to write anything. Thanks for the nudge, Dee.
My life has been totally chaotic the past couple of months. In April, I was busy writing my thesis and preparing a presentation for a colloquium. In May, I went to a conference in Taiwan and left the kids for 6 days. In June, when Alden started school, I had to support his transition by popping in during recess, every day. What else? Oh! Earlier this month, before mum went back to KK, we brought her to Queenstown and then to Dunedin where I attended a colloquium. So yeah. Things were pretty crazy for me.
For this post, let me just talk about my Taiwan trip okay?
My first few hours in Taiwan was a near-disaster.  I arrived  as scheduled but it took me ages to get my luggage and go through immigration. After that was done, I started on my mission to see my sister. She was in Taipei on a company trip and was staying at Rainbow Hotel in Xi Men Ting. 

A guy at the airport information centre told me  the best way to get there was via a shuttle bus. His English wasn't perfect but he managed to tell me which bus to get and how long the journey would take. What the dude forgot to mention was that at some point in Taipei, I was supposed to get down and board a connecting bus to Xi Men Ting.

The bus ride to Taipei was quite pleasant and relaxing. After an hour journey, we arrived at Taipei’s cosmopolitan area. Without warning, the driver stopped at Point X and asked me to get off immediately. This freaked me out cos it sounded more like “THERE'S A BOMB IN THE BUS!” When I asked  “che pen is Rainbow Hotel?”, he responded in a Chinese dialect I couldn't understand. It was a good thing he pointed at the bus in front of us cos that's how I figured out what he meant.

I got off quickly and so did a Japanese girl who sat behind me. She looked lost so I told her my big revelation: we needed to catch the white bus. She nodded and said ‘Oh’. When we finally got on it, I asked the driver whether he was heading to Xi Men Ting. To my relief, he said yes. Finally, I was on the right track. I quickly sat on the second row behind the driver while Jap Girl picked a seat across from me.  
I began to relax a little and started texting sis. Moments later, the driver told us there were more passengers coming in so we had to wait a wee bit longer. Consumed by boredom, I turned my attention to the Jap Girl. When I thought she wasn't looking, I stared at her nails, hair and make-up. It was hard not to gawk cos she was a walking piece of art. She's got these beautiful fake eyelashes that made her smoky eyes pop dramatically. She also had these gorgeous acrylic nails decorated with beads and tiny diamonds.  Her toes had the same design too. But that wasn't half as interesting as her footwear. She was wearing a pair of animal-printed, 5-inch, strappy platform heels. I was totally wowed.  How could she walk around on those??? Oh well. At least they matched her animal-printed handbag. She must be travelling light cos that's the only thing she carried. Where's her luggage? I wondered.

Wait a minute...Where's MY luggage??

Like a woman possessed, I stormed out of my seat to talk to the driver:

WO TE BAG!!!! Wo wang chi wo te bag  (sign language)  Ni ming pai ma?  Luggage? (sign language) wo luggage chai na ke bus !!!! (more sign language)

My Mandarin must be really atrocious cos his face showed no sign of comprehension. Luckily there was a passenger who understood me. He told the driver why I was acting like a madwoman and what the sign language meant.  I never felt so stupid in my life. The driver made a call and told the other driver to hand over the luggage at Point Y. Phew! I could suddenly breathe again. 

After a lapse of 7 or 8 minutes, Jap Girl stood up, came to me and said "Oh!! My luggage too!". Now she remembers? Doi dogo. I quickly told the guy who spoke English to tell the driver to tell the other driver about Jap Girl's luggage. Driver 1 probably had a meltdown after that. Anyway, everything turned out fine in the end. We both got our luggage back.
Soon afterwards, the bus stopped at Xi Men Ting. I got off and walked to the hotel which was only a few yards away from the stop. From that point onwards, everything went uphill for me.

I finally found my sister and we had a great time catching up. It was so wonderful to see her cos her presence felt like home. We had dinner together and even spent some time shopping at the night market.

The next day, I took the high speed train to Taichung before taking a cab to the  National Changhua University.

My presentation went well and I met quite a number of interesting people at the conference.

After the conference, I checked-in at Holiday Inn Taichung Park.

and later that evening, I went for a stroll through Fong Jia night market.

I left the very next day and spent the rest of my trip in KL.
With Nina, my ex-coursemate

I guess that wraps up my entire trip. My time in Taiwan was short and chaotic but it did not lack in experiences. The most important lesson learnt was to never ever, EVER forget my luggage again. I know what my sister is saying: Good luck with that! :)