(12/23) Carter Arrives in Taiwan!

It’s been a while since I wrote a post because I’ve been busy preparing for the holidays and planning for my family and Carter to come to Taiwan! And finally, the long-anticipated arrival of Carter and the family is here 🙂

12/18 Luggage in Japan?

I met Carter at the airport on Wednesday the 18th. He took FOREVER to come out and I couldn’t possibly figure out what could be taking him so long until he informed me that his luggage was still in the airport in Japan. He had been trying to negotiate with the people at the desk to figure out where to deliver his luggage to, but he had no idea what my address was so he advised them to call me. Unfortunately, even though I had contacted the English speaking line, the person on the other end didn’t speak English so well so we did almost all of the communicating in Chinese, despite my very limited language skills. Throughout this whole process we were also trying to get back to the hostel, and we ended up getting on the wrong train, it was a whole mess. But we made it! All that mattered to me was finally get to see Carter again after such a long time.

The next morning we left bright and early so I could make it back in time for work (and by that I mean that it actually wasn’t “bright” and early because it was still dark outside). When we arrived in Hualien, Carter and I split so he could wait for his luggage (which unfortunately never came) and I could go to school. That night I took Carter to the climbing gym to meet all my friends there and show him my new skills (even though he still showed me up…).

Carter takes on Fu Shi

The next day was a long anticipated day for my school, the day my coworkers and students got to meet the infamous Carter! Since the first day of school all my students were constantly asking me whether or not I had a boyfriend, what he looked like and when they found out that I did they would not stop pestering me to find out if he would visit. When I finally told them when, they could hardly contain their excitement. Two of my fifth graders found out that their birthday coincided with Carter’s arrival and when I informed them that I would bring him to school, they were ecstatic for what they thought was the best birthday present ever.

Carter and I rolled up to school fresh and ready to teach (although Carter was looking a bit rumpled because he was going on day three + in the same clothes). We made a beeline for the office and looked out the window to see 70 faces, essentially the whole school, peering into the office to catch a glimpse of Carter. It didn’t take long for the students to overcome their initial shyness, and within the first period they were flocking him. I always joke with Carter that I have to take a fighting stance when I leave the office so that I don’t topple over when my kids run from every direction to hug me, and he couldn’t agree more. The younger kids were clinging to his legs and he was constantly surrounded by a mass of kids yelling at him in Chinese. The office wasn’t even a safe zone as students lined up to come to my desk and ask me to sign off on their English passport book. Some of my coworkers actually had to tell the students to wait outside because the line was too long. Around lunchtime, we suddenly were swarmed with first and second grade students who I don’t even teach. They were running into the office with little Christmas cards that they had made in art class, and to my surprise they were giving them all to Carter! Even though they don’t have English class, their homeroom teachers had taught them to spell “Welcome to Taiwan” and “Hello!” in English. In total Carter got about 15 cards, more than half of the 1st and 2nd grade classes. Throughout the rest of the day, cards kept coming from other students.

Takoyaki and Buddha Heads

When we arrived back to my apartment, we anxiously awaited the arrival of Carters missing luggage. It was 4:55 and we had a train to catch at 5:26 to Taitung. We waited and waited, and I called the delivery guy who insisted that he was only a few minutes away. The luggage finally arrived at 5:20. Carter grabbed the bag, threw it on his shoulders, and together we sprinted to the train. We managed to just barely make it and arrived just as the last people were climbing aboard. I was huffing and puffing, and my bag wasn’t even that heavy! Carter’s however, weighed a million pounds because of all the food and gifts he had brought from the US for me so he was a little grumpy. But we were off to Green Island!

When we arrived in Taitung, we flagged down a taxi driver. He insisted on becoming our personal chauffeur for the rest of the weekend and brought us to the ferry, back to our hostel, and then back to the train station. We stayed at the same hostel as before, the “Enjoy Sleep” hostel with the very sweet owners. They helped us set up our tickets to the boat, our hostel on the island, and a scooter to rent. Because we got into Taitung a bit late, we decided to hit up the Night Market for dinner. As we were walking around exploring, we ran into three students who were filming a video for a school assignment. They practically attacked us and asked us if we would help them with their project. They were all in graduate school studying tourism, and their assignment was to introduce a non-local to some aspect of local culture. We quickly agreed and they dragged us all around the night market buying us Takoyaki fried Octopus balls (章魚燒), flower tea, and a delicious Custard apple, or Buddha head fruit (荔枝). I even got to help make the Takoyaki! It was awesome, and all the food was free! I sure hope they get an A+ on their assignment, Carter and my acting skills alone should have given them at least a B+….


Green Island Pt. 2: Pony the Trusty Steed

The next morning we took off for Green Island on the ferry. The weather was stunningly beautiful, warmer than it had been for several weeks. However, the seas were definitely more rocky than the last time we had traveled to Green Island. Carter and I were fine outside on the deck but many people were getting seasick and throwing up on the boat. Towards the end Carter was getting a bit nauseous but we we made it! When we arrived some people from the hostel picked us up and brought us right to the hostel. It was a great location with awesome facilities, and the hostel was also a dive school! They gave us a quick introduction to the area and then we got our scooter for the trip. The first thing we did was tour the island. We took off and went to all the viewpoints and down to the beaches. We hiked across the mountain and picnicked on the rocks. It was an adventure to drive Carter around on our small scooter which we fondly named 小馬 or pony. She was quite a sport and took us all over the island. In the evening, we watched the sunset and stopped at the saltwater hot springs (one of two in the whole world!)

Day two we decided we would give snorkeling a try. The hostel took us to the same place I had been at before, but this time it appeared to be only Carter, me, and one other girl. It was her first time swimming so the instructor devoted most of his energy to her. Meanwhile, Carter and I swam off on our own. This time, because there were so few of us in the water, the fish swam so close to us and we had an unobstructed view. It was amazing! When we finished, we only had a few hours left before we had to go so we grabbed some lunch, and took 小馬 for a last adventure around the island. The trip back to the mainland was less choppy than before but just as warm and sunny. When we got back, we wandered on the beach for a bit and got some delicious scallion pancakes.

Returning to Hualien

The time flew by and suddenly it was time to head back to Hualien to meet the rest of my family who were also coming out to visit Taiwan over the holidays! Thankfully, luck had been on our side for our adventure. Carter’s bag made it just in time for our adventure and we had amazing weather for our two day mini-vacation. Looking back, showing Carter around my school and taking him to one of my favorite places in Taiwan has become one of the best memories I’ve had so far. Although I doubt I’ll be back to Green Island, I’ll always think of it as a little paradise and getaway adventure spot here in Taiwan. 

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