ivman's blague rotating header image loading ... please wait....

Bastille Day and the Market

Since today was Bastille Day, our class topic was the French Revolution, Franco-American relations, and the story of the structure built to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution - the Eiffel Tower. We viewed a great video I had brought along that told the story of the building of the tower and many historical facts surrounding the tower since its building.

This afternoon, since Ruth had an errand in the old section of town, we went along to see what it was like. One of the interesting things we saw there was the open air street market. There were sights and smells that were totally resistable!!!

In keeping with the tradition of a picture being worth a thousand words, I'll post some pictures below with minimal comment.

One street in the market area...

Open air market

The fresh produce was much nicer than the fresh (?) meat...

Fresh meat

Dried meats of all kinds were abundant, like the dried fish below...

Dried fish of all sorts

When I saw a basket of one of their delicacies, I had to snap a picture.

Chicken feet - a real delicacy here

In case you can't tell, that's chicken feet!

Some people prefer to buy live animals and prepare them themselves. We saw live creatures in cages and swimming in containers - chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons, rabbits, house cat (seriously!), fish, many varieties of turtle, eel, and even snakes...

You can\'t get your snake much fresher...

... or if you prefer the convenience of dried snakes, all tied up in a pretty pink ribbon...

unless, of course you prefer the convenience or taste of dried snake

More updates will follow as situations present themselves to us.

Lunchtime and Teatime

We have come to enjoy very much the canteen at the university's School of Tourism. The prices are great, the food is delicious, and it saves us precious time in the middle of the day. The man whose food we enjoy specializes in Taiwanese cuisine. Below is a picture of lunch on Tuesday of this week. Carter is an 11 year old boy whose English is already quite good - so good that he is Ruth's teaching assistant in her summer school course in English for children ages 8-12.

Ruth and her teaching assistant Carter in the canteen

Three young men in my class asked me today if they could take Becka and me to a teahouse to be able to spend some time with us practicing their conversational English. The teahouse where they took us still serves according to the traditional tea culture. Below are two pictures from this experience:

the tea service

tea service at tea room

the girl preparing our tea.

tea culture enjoyed with Mark, Spring, and Peter

Friday’s Special Meals

I've copied and pasted parts of an email we sent to our family this morning, but I've added some details about our restaurant meals Friday that I told the fam they'd need to check out on the blog instead.

It is Sunday morning here. We are at Ruth's and will hear from Drew later this morning via cassette.

Our meals on Friday were very different from each other and very good and enjoyable. We had lunch with the couple from France who have been teaching French here at the university for the past year. Since they were flying back home to France on Friday afternoon, we were fortunate to be able to have lunch with them. We went to Nicolas' favorite place - "JiaoZi King." Since he speaks Chinese, he did the ordering. "JiaoZi" is a kind of Chinese dumpling. You can order whatever kind of filling and cooking method you want. So we had three kinds, each with different meats and veggies inside - one type boiled, one baked, and one fried. There were also several side vegetables - a cucumber salad and some cooked eggplant that was to die for! Below are two pictures - our little group and the food we enjoyed together. Believe it or not, the five of us ate the food below for $6.00 total!

our group at the resto

the JiaoZi dumplings

We really enjoyed getting to meet Laure and Nicolas and hearing about their time here. They gave us some good insights for what lies ahead. We hope that their transition back into life in France will be easy.

Friday evening we were taken by taxi to a hotel in town. At its restaurant we were in our own little dining room. The table setting was elaborate and the school officials were very nice. The food was delicious, plentiful, and extremely varied. I could not begin to describe for you all the things on the menu, but among the ones I recall were some green vegetables, mutton, sea fish, beef, and some bread called "straw hat". It was a good opportunity for the four foreign faculty for summer school to get to know several deans and vice-deans, some people from the office that deals with the foreign faculty and students, and one of the financial officers. Below is a picture of our group.

our group at the hotel restaurant

Tonight we will go to yet another restaurant and eat with some friends of Ruth's. One surprise that we have had so far is that we have eaten very little rice. We had rice at the first restaurant that we went to, and at the dinner with the university officials we tasted a sweet rice and fruit dish, kind of like a molded pudding.

Tomorrow morning our classes start. There will be a general assembly where we will introduce ourselves and then Becka and I will have our classes meet together and show the video from our daughter Megan's wedding to introduce our students to our family.

It's so nice to be able to write to you all like this! It certainly lessens the feeling of being literally on the other side of the world.

I have re-opened the comments feature of the blog and I will post any comments that I am able to. Since in this country I am responsible for the content of my blog, I must make sure that everything on it meets with their legal requirements. I am sure you understand.

More after classes get underway! Thanks for every remembrance of us. We have done remarkably well in adjusting to the time difference. Our jetlag has been absolutely minimal! Please keep us in your thoughts!

Power Outage

We learned this evening that the power will be out here in town most of Saturday, so I'll post more news once that's past. Also since the French couple left this afternoon to return to France, we are going to spend the day tomorrow moving into their old apartment. It has some nice features missing in our current one, including a real kitchen sink! We may have an English computer with Internet access by Monday evening. That will be nice.

Well, we're going to toddle back to our apartment. Next time I write, I'll tell about the great meals we enjoyed today. My brain is too non-functioning as we approach 10 p.m. Whoa! That's pretty good for us. We just hope that we'll sleep long enough to get a good night's rest!


Greetings from “the End of the Earth”!

We did better last night - we managed to stay up till 8:40 p.m. and didn't get up till 4:30 a.m. We figure that if we can keep shifting the times an hour a day, we should be pretty well adjusted soon.

We were met at the airport by two men from the university who drove us to our apartment. I'll try to describe our little apartment for you. It's on the second floor of a building on campus in which foreign faculty are housed. In the apartment immediately above ours is our friend Ruth. Upon entering the door of our apartment, you're in our living room. This room contains a low buffet on which sit the drinking water dispenser (drinking water? Yes, tap water is not safe for drinking) and the TV. There's also a fridge with a freezer in the one corner and a matching wooden chair, love seat, and coffee table. The bedroom is off the living room. It contains a wardrobe with several drawers (the wardrobe easily holds the clothes we brought in our luggage, all of which made it here on our flight - Ruth reminds us we had lots of "ground support"), a vanity with a mirror, a small night stand, and the bed. Ruth strongly urged us to bring an eggshell mattress, and we're soooo glad we did! She also purchased for us a mosquito netting "pup tent" to go over our bed, which we're soooo glad she did! After crawling into the tent last night and killing the two mosquitos who had gotten into it earlier, we slept bug-free all night. We were thankful too for a bedroom with AC. When I walked out into the living room this morning, my glasses actually fogged up! Believe me, it's humid here! 😎

We share the apartment with a number of mosquitos, and we cannot imagine how many mosquitos we'd have if the windows didn't have screens! Fortunately we also share the apartment with some little lizards - hope they eat mosquitos! 😛 < -- tongue sticking out.... On to the dining room... that's where I'm writing this update. The computer in the dining room has Windows XP (in Chinese! - this has made things interesting). There's a large hutch in which we've stored our teaching materials, a wooden table and chairs. At the end of the apartment where the plumbing is located are the kitchen, bathroom, and a little space with a washing machine and a shelf above it with a microwave. The kitchen is tiny, but in the wall there's a little cupboard with screen doors. Under the window there's a gas hot plate with two burners, and the sink and counter area are quite small. The "sink" is actually like a box with no lid, sunken down in the counter, completely made of tile, with a faucet and a drain. The bathroom consists of a western-style toilet (not the Turkish kind like we used at the restaurant yesterday), a shower hose, and a drain in the corner. You just stand in the corner and get yourself wet first, turn off the water, soap up, and then rinse off. Our first "shower" last night felt so good after the heat of the day! The washing machine is just outside the bathroom door, and the drainage pipe for it is interesting - it goes through the wall into the bathroom and drains onto the floor. The floor has enough of a slope that the water must all flow to the drain in the corner (see shower info above). We've not done any laundry yet, but with this arrangement, it seems as if we won't have to mop the bathroom. That could be a real time saver! Off of the dining room is a small balcony. Beside our building are coconut trees with coconuts on them. Pretty cool, huh?! (see picture below)

the coconuts growing beside our balcony

Today (Friday) we're scheduled to have lunch with the couple from Lyon, France who have been teaching French here this past school year. Then tonight we're having dinner with the dean and other dignitaries at the university. Breakfast this morning was yogurt, banana and some sort of Asian melon (tasted like something between watermelon and cantaloupe), and grits. (You can take the boy out of the South, but....) We brought them with us since we were pretty sure they weren't local fare.

Well, this update has gone long, but I thought it would fill you in on how things look from half way around the world. We know we're in the thoughts of many.

Below are several pictures from our apartment (worth a thousand words)

our kitchen and sink...

our kitchen counter and sink

the inside of the sink (sunk?)...

ever get that sinking feeling?

our bed, complete with mosquito netting...

our bed, complete with mosquito netting