Bringing in the New Year

December 31, 2015-January 3, 2016

I am not going to lie. I have always thought bringing in the new year was a little lame. People make such a big deal out of it, or it is just another excuse to get drunk. Despite feeling this way I always feel lame if I don’t do anything for New Years Eve. I blame peer pressure. This year I wasn’t going to let that get to me and I was just going to do something chill. I ended up having Kristen, Conor, and Anthony over for drinks and pizza. We watched fireworks on the roof and then played Catch Phrase. I enjoyed a glass of wine…or two…and had a very relaxing evening.

New Years Day I had brunch with Kristen and then tutored. Nothing better than spending a day off just lounging.

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I started my new school year in Taiwan with the goal of wanting to see more of the Taichung area. With not a lot of money to spend on traveling it was the perfect time to take day trips. These day trips would include a lot of time on my scooter.

First stop was the Shigang District Dam. This dam was affected in the 9.21 Earthquake that struck Taiwan in 1991. When you look at the dam it looks perfectly fine until your eyes reach the very end. A section of the dam is completely broken off. The broken section of the dam leaves the structure only half as effective, if it can be used at all. I had heard about the huge earthquake before, but seeing the damages it caused in person really put the destruction the country must have faced into perspective.

After walking around the dam I got back on my scooter and headed into Puli. This is a district that is towards the middle of Taiwan. It was almost a two-hour drive to Chung Tai Chan Monastery. At one point I was so tired of driving in the mountains and kind of wanted to just go home, but the view was so worth it, so I am glad I kept driving.

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Look at that view!

Thanks to Google Maps, finding the monastery was fairly easy. The thing was huge! That was a pleasant surprise and made the drive much more worth it. I had a great lunch in their cafe, checked out their gift shop and then walked around the monastery grounds. Everyone that worked there was sooo nice and were speaking English to me. It really made my time at the monastery that much better because they were so welcoming. At one point I even made a friend with a stray dog. It started following me around in the rain and tried to get me to play. Then it barked at me when I started to leave.

It had started to rain while I was walking around. I hoped that if I stayed long enough the rain would stop. It didn’t. I made the choice to drive around Taichung instead of back through the mountain in the rain. I had been driving for an hour when I saw a sign for the 9.21 Earthquake Museum. I had wanted to go, but didn’t think I would get there before it closed. My bottom was sore after an hour of driving so I figured I could pop into the museum and check it out really quick. I am glad I did. The museum had information on how many people and homes had been affected by the earthquake. It was built on an old school area that was destroyed from the earthquake. The school was just leaning over. If it didn’t have supports I am sure it would fall over in due time.

The museum closed and I drove home. Kristen made tacos, so Anthony and I joined her and had a delicious dinner. Then Alex got home from China, so we got to hear all about her trip. We all made a plan that night to go to Costco the next day.

Sunday was my last day to do another short day trip before school started back up again the next day. This time I drove to Taichung to Tung Hai University. Of course when I got halfway there it started raining. Determined to see the campus through the rain I kept all my rain gear on when I arrived and took out my umbrella. This campus was so green and peaceful. It seemed almost impossible that the hustle and bustle of Taichung was just a few blocks away from where I stood on campus. I made my way around and found the Luce Chapel. It is a cute, little, triangular church on the campus. It looked even cuter in the rain. I couldn’t go inside because people were already there for Sunday service. I still had time to walk around before I would have to meet Alex and Anthony at Costco, so I set out to find the cows that the campus supposedly have. I found them and it was almost embarrassing how happy seeing cows made me feel. I miss farm animals more than I thought. I finished my tour of the campus and ended my day trips weekend. I wonder where I should go for my next day trip?

Happy New Year!