Monday, August 28, 2006

Our living room pre almost anything Posted by Picasa

Local temple just down from us  Posted by Picasa

Looking from the back of the music office to the east over the sports fields at TAS Posted by Picasa

More pagoda Posted by Picasa

Our apt with the towels to guide you Posted by Picasa

The stream and pagoda just right of our apt Posted by Picasa

Local "color" Posted by Picasa

The cat who bit me! Posted by Picasa

View in TAS between the choir room and Music office Posted by Picasa

The entrance to TAS school with my classroom just above it Posted by Picasa

The square in front of CKS hall adn the Memorial gate Posted by Picasa

The corner of Chiang kai shek Memorial Concert Hall Posted by Picasa

The entrance to our Tian he park and the apt Posted by Picasa

Our kitchen before our new stove Posted by Picasa

Dragon Fruit YUMMMM Posted by Picasa

First Pictures From Taipei,  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 27, 2006

August 26, (er, 27th) - Carol

August 25, --Carol

This weekend’s installment is a little early, (well, so much for that, it’s actually late!!) as I think we’ve got a lot on our metaphorical plates and I don’t want to miss it. Like all of them so far, it’s been full of lots of new experiences.

Home-wise, I just keep trying to make the apartment ours, curtains and cushions and all that stuff, but in between, lots of expeditions. On Monday morning early, my friend Kathleen and I hiked up the “thousand steps” to Yangmingshan National Park. Actually, it’s 1,500 steps! Then you get a little rest to look at gorgeous butterflies and falls, etc., before continuing around the mountain looking vistas of tea fields, horse farms, other hills and mountains as well as views of Taipei itself. On a clearer day you can apparently see all the way to Taipei 101 downtown, but it was a little hazy so I’m looking forward to that view as well later. The reward for this effort is a little settlement of more affluent homes up on the mountain which receive more breezes and cleaner air. The best part is the Starbuck’s to revive one’s caffeine level and rest the feet before the descent by foot or taxi. (I’m not telling!) There are huge multi-colored butterflies everywhere, even on our front balcony, big black swallowtails, luna moths, and those little bright blue sulphur moths. The birds are harder to identify, I just got a little bird guide and hope to figure out some of them. They are just not the same as home. The beautiful little white heron in our park is a Little Egret and we have discovered a sort of quail, fairly large, which won a pitched battle with a 12” worm after a recent rainstorm. He consumed it all in one extended swallow! Speaking of rain, we have now experienced a couple examples of the local variety of “Taiwan weather”! It doesn’t exactly rain so much as the heavens open and dump a large quantity of water on you! Then, it stops. Everything steams for a little while, the sun comes out usually, and the umbrellas now are sunshades! Just don’t forget the parasol ANY time you leave the shelter of your home.

We just received the sad news that our stove has seen its last days……by lighting the top burners by hand we can still cook, but the oven’s a goner, so tonight’s entertainment will be negotiating for a new, proper, Taiwanese Magic Chef model that parts can be obtained for! It truly owed us nothing, as we did not pay very much for any of the appliances that we got from the previous tenants, and so far, with the exception of the 110V clothes “dryer”, which actually only toys with the wet laundry, they have performed quite adequately. I have an ingenious mechanism which lowers and raises the laundry line in our back storage-cum utility area, so it really isn’t a big deal to hang out the laundry when the temperature is always 75-85 degrees F. It is already beginning to seem pleasant at 20-25C, hot above 30C, and an item at $NT1000 will not blast the family budget for the month! However, the repair man refused payment for the house call to deliver the bad news…..

Oh, there goes a beautiful black butterfly with turquoise spots all the way down both sets of wings—I’ve only seem a photo of it before!

Tuesday afternoon we were treated to a lovely concert given at the school by two TAS alums who will be returning to the States to school next week. They played Paganini, Britten, and Beethoven. Tea and cakes were served, flowers were presented, all in all, very excellently performed. The student accompanists were also amazingly gifted, I will be pleased to hear them in solo works as well this year.

Wednesday we had an outing which I recommend highly to any other faculty groups wishing to bond. The entire music faculty K-12, made our way up the mountain about 10 minutes to a restaurant called Palm Tree SPA Hot Spring Restaurant! Dinner was a lovely communal Chinese dinner in a private room complete with karaoke set-up for after dinner entertainment, stunning décor, and the grand finale—each couple had a private hot spring Jacuzzi bath! There were huge koi in the pond and fountain, hopefully not destined for the extensive sushi bar available, and apparently a group pool is available for men and women (separately) for more social types! The water is very hot, the jets VERY strong, a cold water shower is provided above the stone tub in case you get overheated and need to cool down, and to shower afterwards as well. The sulphur is very pronounced and turned our sterling jewelry, which we forgot to remove, an astounding shade of coffee! Another reason for the post-soak shower! This evening ran us around $15US per person. We oozed into bed mindlessly.

Thursday the power was to be off for four hours in the morning, for reasons untranslatable to us, so an expedition to Taipei downtown and the 101 tower was mounted. Kathleen and I did not go up the world’s tallest building, as apparently the best time is actually right at sunset for the views, but we did window shop. Believe me, only window-shopping was feasible as the first sweater, a little Missoni knit number was a mere $1,000!!!! US! Fortunately, our goal was the PageOne bookstore which had a substantial number of titles in English, the first real choice we’ve seen, and they will apparently order anything in as well. It is like Barnes and Noble or Borders, and is comforting to rely on for all kinds of accessible reading. A lot of the things we are enjoying are relatively new to Taiwan, within the last 2-5 years, so we really are fortunate to be reaping the benefits of growth. We had lunch at Shannon’s Irish Pub, very nice, listening to old-style Bossa Nova, talk about your fusion experiences! I struggled home from IKEA with pillows and actual dishes, only to return to school for a TGIT. In another of those “where am I?” moments, the Upper School faculty was invited for a little wine and nibble TGIF party in the kindergarten classroom area. I wanted to go back to kindergarten desperately after seeing their days! Actually, with all the little tiny computer stations, I probably would be right at their technological level!

Friday was the fruitless search for a stove—no one uses an actual stove-oven combination here very often, only foreigners, so Costco, 3C, B&Q, Hola, Carrefour, etc, not to mention a couple of actual appliance stores proved frustratingly free of such a cooking device! In the end, we just had our fine Mr. Fix-it get one for us. It is to be installed at 6:00 PM on Saturday evening. Just in time for our first guests tomorrow we hope! Breakfast was easily solved by a trip to “Jake’s Country Kitchen”. This funny little place has quite creditable American, British and Mexican style breakfasts and good home-style cooking in all three cuisines for the other meals as well. They are definitely the place to go for homesick, comfort-food-seeking expats.

The “Class of 2005” threw a welcome party at a faculty home on Saturday night, and was a blast. Tons of conversation, tons of shoes in the hallway and on the stairs outside, tons of good pot-luck food and drink and a decibel level not experienced by these elderly party-goers in about 5 decades! I had spent the morning at the orientation for volunteers at the orphanage up the hill from us. What an impressive organization! Most of the children are adopted to the Netherlands or Australia, and are so darling. They love to see the volunteer smocks coming because they know they’re in for cuddling and attention. The entire facility is just fabulous. I will be helping with Kindermusik, and probably just heading up the hill when “empty arms syndrome” hits, it’s a win-win all around. We took a brief jaunt to Taipei 101 since Bill had not been there and I had, and browsed the bookstore, but took a taxi back as a huge thunder and lightning storm brewed while we were inside, and we would have drowned on the street! Even the scooter brigade took for shelter!

More soon, we remain enchanted by all the new experiences and delighted by our contacts in the school and community. We think of you all at home, and talk often. Keep in touch!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

August 20th Carol Says:

Sunday, August 20—Carol

I can’t believe it’s been another whole week! Every day is just stuffed it seems. We’ve had lots of new experiences and Bill is just so happy teaching at TAS, his blood pressure must be down a lot, I know mine is! We walk constantly, almost always before or after dinner exploring the neighborhoods, to provision, to school, to really almost everything unless it’s really out of the question distance-wise, and then we mostly bus and MRT.
It’s getting easier to figure out, but we do keep our handy-dandy home address written out in Chinese and laminated in our pockets, just in case we have to fall back on a taxi if we get lost. I have even struck out on my own for a 3-hour ramble. Yesterday I took a quick afternoon nap and awoke to find that Bill had gone on a 3-hour jaunt of his own—no watch band repair—but the discovery of a hardware-type store a little closer than the big B&Q Home Depot store which does require transport!

Bill has introduced me to the delights of “bubble milk tea”! Believe it or not, it is iced tea with milk and sugar served with a LARGE straw, which is used to suck up the giant black balls of taro tapioca which are cooked and served in the bottom! What a wild sensation, it’s really good, but it apparently has lots of calories so it won’t become a regular habit. Our friend Lesley says that when she was in the States she found a place in Boston that served it and so of course they told her friends that it was frog eyes in it, because that’s just what it looks like!

Friday night we bought our first Asian artifacts and we are so excited. We found a small polychrome chest which is now the lamp table between our chairs and a gorgeous lamp which was made by the owner of the gallery. It is a old carving about 16’’X 9’’of a dragon and a flower which is now surrounded by a small thin metal frame and topped with a large rectangular shade of shirred silk. It is just wonderful, and even a couple of things help to make our place look now quite so bare. I am still working on a coverlet for the bed, and a few other things, like curtains.

We actually took our courage in our two hands and went out to a real Chinese restaurant on Thursday night for dinner. We were the only non-Asians in the place, and they kindly found a menu with some English on it, so by hook, crook and good will on their part managed to put together a locally acceptable meal. It was fantastic and only worries me that we will be really spoiled when we get home. The surprising thing is the number of dishes that are ordered by the other diners. Depending on the number at the table, course after course just keeps arriving, with everyone sharing tastes of everything. We are absolute pikers by comparison!! Things all smell great and look so beautiful. It is very visual as well.

To sort of revitalize the balcony garden plants which we inherited from the previous tenants, it was time to make a pilgrimage to the smaller WenLin flower and garden market. It is a grouping of several, perhaps a dozen, garden shops and vendors all lined up next to each other. Compost, peat moss, and some hand gardening implements were the goal, but 2 orchids and a red ribbon dracaena found their way into the purchase, and when I returned from retrieving one of the orchids found Bill loading a 4-foot orange tree complete with about 24 5-inch green oranges into the taxi! We earned our dinner last night lugging all of that through the park, up the stairs and through the apartment to the balconies. This morning we transplanted several, did a bunch of weeding and feeding and things look much different.

Today we spent a wonderful afternoon at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The admission is about $1 each, so with the bus rides, all told, it puts the day at $4! It is a huge, very modernistic building with primarily changing exhibitions, although one of our favorite, about landscape, was created totally from works in their permanent collections. We were simply entranced. The variety of the works, from ultra-modern performance and interactive pieces, to an installation of very whimsical and thought-provoking pieces about attitudes toward life in urban environments, specifically Taipei, were so much fun and really engaged the museum goers in the process, it was not at all a passive observational experience! We cried “uncle” after about 4 hours, so are glad there’s more to see.

Well, one last comment. This week I was approached on the street to audition for a Taiwanese TV commercial! They were looking for an older foreign couple for a car commercial. They wanted to know if Bill might be interested, because as they showed me the script, it involved the older couple driving, then kissing, and the young salesman in the back reacting. The young producer asked me if I would feel more comfortable if I could “make mash” with my own husband?!? Unfortunately, Bill is prohibited from such activity by his contract, and now that I’m a legal, work-permitted substitute at TAS as well, I may be as well, so we declined with thanks. However, she e-mailed me yesterday asking if I would be available for a shoe commercial! Who knows, my true calling may yet to be revealed! My sister has probably not stopped laughing since I told her!

Our best to everyone, we miss you all. We’ll write again soon. Bill tried to get pictures on this weekend, but did too many and the attempt failed. We won’t give up, we’d love to share the beauty. For now, the words will just have to try…..

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bill adds his $2.50 to the blog

Hello from Bill

Well school is GREAT! Loaded with conflict and fear at upper levels but with the kids it is great. And the opportunities for teaching are beyond my imagination. Here are the school “bullets”.
There are no bells and yet the kids get to class on time. They wait outside the door until invited in and stay quiet and cool. There are kids everywhere in the common spaces. If they do not have a class, they can go to the entry commons, outside to the many courtyards and secluded benches, or to the dining room where the snack bar opens at 7:30 am and stays open until 4:30 pm. I may shrink a lunch menu for the week so you can see what is offered these kids.

Western Entrée
Ham, Macaroniand Cheese
Chicken Pot Pei
Meat Loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy
Chicken ala King

Chinese Curry
Assorted Fried Noodles
Stir fried Chicken
Stir-fried Scallops
Deep Fried Pork Chop with rice

Beef with w/carrots & Celery



Mixed Vegetables

Baby Carrots
Cauliflower & Cheese
Baked Beans
Sweet Peas
Sweet Corn
Green Beans
Cucumber Sticks
Mashed Potatoes
Irish Potatoes
Egg Plant with basil
Celery Sticks
Carrot Sticks
Chinese Broccoli
Chinese Cabbage

Orange Sections
Fresh Melon
Orange Sections
Fruit Cocktail

Mexican Wedding cakes
Pie Crust Sticks
Ginger Cookie
Choc. Dirty Pudding

Sunkist 100% apple, grape and orange juice, peach juice, Vitality lemonade, skim, 2% & chocolate milk,

soy milk, unsweetened iced tea, Lipton sweetened lemon tea, coke, sprite and Fanta orange.

Pizza Bar
Available by the slice or the whole pie.

Varieties offered are: pepperoni, sausage, Hawaiian, double cheese, vegetable and supreme.

Salad Bar
Over thirty food items are available to create your signature salad

An assortment of dressings are available

Potato Bar
Various items are offered as toppings for your fresh baked potato.

The cafeteria, potato bar and salad bar are open from 10:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. school days
Service Hours
Pizza Bar
The pizza bar is open from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. school days and Saturdays

Snack Bar
The snack bar is open from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. school days.

Ok so that is a lot of space but this is the hub for the kids. There is a HUGE room with dozens of wash basins for them to wash hands before entering. Lots of hand washing around here.
The attitude towards teachers is really different from public school. We are not beggars for jobs but rather the admin team comes and recruits what they believe are the best. It changes the attitude because they want to make you welcome and seem to treat you with respect. Case in point. The teachers’ dining room was appropriated for the temp library so they established another faculty room, made sure they ordered all the international papers for the room, put tables, chairs and patio umbrellas so faculty could sit outside and then bought a new fridge and soda machine. Anything else “just ask”.
Kids seem very shy to talk but sing loudly and really want to be in the classes. No discipline issues.
New teachers were introduced at an assembly and given flowers. One girl stopped my on the way out of school that day and said, ‘Welcome to our school.” To bad she is not in my classes.
I have written about Grace our music secretary before but she continues to astonish me with her willingness to do what I thought was my job re: secretarial items.
The music library needs LOTS of work. I would give a lot for my boxes of single copies. The previous folks were pop and show tunes with sacred music mixed in and not well.
Did I mention that the school bus for the kids is a series of long range tour busses like Greyhound on steroids?
The Board of education gave a party for teachers and staff at the American Club in China. WELLLLLLL!!!!! Free beer and wine in vast amounts. A dessert table with tiramisu et al, and five stations staffed with wait staff full of finger foods including Peking duck and and and. Not exactly what I am used to.
Carol is going to substitute teach dance this coming Friday and has been volunteered, for pay, to chaperone the 7th grade Camp Taiwan for a week later in Sept. She will get to see great sights in the central mountains of the country.

Other stuff
People do not eat sandwiches with their hands but cut it and fork each quarter and eat it off the backwards fork. They do not like to touch their food.
There is some aspect of design or art work in almost every moment of the environment. The guard railings are cement poured and often painted to look like bamboo posts. The man hole covers depict the sky, the earth and the sea with fishes in it. The new sidewalk in our area is grey, red and green concrete tiles laid in a pleasing manner. There is tons of community contemporary sculpture in median strips and in every roundabout.
Carol goes to the pagoda in our little park often to see how the gold (BIG) fish are doing. It is such a peaceful place if only it was a little cooler now so we could enjoy it more.
We have succulent Asiatic white lilies in an arrangement and an achingly beautiful collection of blooming grape colored orchid stems in another grouping in our living room. It is truly like being in NYC with availability being a major characteristic. What do you want? It is here, with the exception of clock radios.
When we were in London, the Orange Julius store was the “lets think about USA bolthole.” Here I think it will be Chilies restaurant which we loathed in the states but like here. Carol and I laughed because Thursday nite we were sitting in a Japanese department store ( Shin Kong Mitsukosi) eating Tex Mex food, in Taiwan drinking beer from Singapore 92 for 1). Wow! Doesn’t that mess with your head?
Again with the clean! The MRT (subway) tracks are so spotless that there is not one scrap and I really mean NOT ONE scrap of paper or cigarette butt or anything around the tracks. The concrete is not grease/oil stained at all and the 3rd rail looks like it gets cleaned and degreased daily. Nothing!
Carol is feeling so much better after her sinus yuck and feeling so rung out. Thank heavens because there is too much to look at and enjoy being not well.
Funny sights: Scooter people who ride 2,3, up to 4 up. We say a little kid riding in front with a helmet and a battery powered fan for when they had to stop.

Okay this is really really really great. We just got totally wired with ADSL at the fastest up and down load rate, a powerful wireless router and Skype. If you do not know what Skype is, please go online and look at it. For example, I can call US for $.021 US cents per minute from here. That is less than the ATT card rate of $.34 per minute I had in the states. I establish a Skypein phone # for $38/year in the 317 and another in the 860 area code so both parents can make a local call and get me here. If I do not answer on the computer here, it then transfers to my cell phone. This cost about $.08 a minute.
So the bottomline is, if you are a skype customer, and let us know what your skype name is, we can TALK for free. This is great

Well so long for now. I am off to try and post some pictures on this blog so it will be more than blog, blog blog.

Love to you all and keep in touch. It is important!


Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 13, 2006 - Carol

August 13, 2006-Carol

I can’t believe 3 days have passed since my last entry, but I can’t even get to my art journal or actual word journaling for all the activity—how did I ever find time to work 7 days a week in the States!!??

The apartment is really coming along, at least we don’t look like we’re camping quite so much, hope to get pix on the site this weekend. Bill is an absolute whirlwind of technological futzing, since we now have our ADSL, wireless router, cell phones, and Skype set-ups complete. It’s absolutely amazing that we can talk to the US, complete with video on our computers for about 2.3 cents a minute! I even saw Miche’s adorable little cat butt on the computer when Pat called him onto her lap. He apparently loves to “help” her on the computer by unauthorized keyboarding, but she seems to forgive him that lapse since he now lays by the hour on her chest like he used to do to me! The boys’ comfort and security are absolute!

Meanwhile, we keep exploring, learning and generally settling in. Bill went three (3) rounds with a cockroach the size of a small fieldmouse a couple of nights ago, and emerged, we believe, the victor, but with that species who knows? Angela, our amah, is gradually getting us whipped into shape, including initiating us into the mysteries of Taiwanese garbage disposal and recycling. Let me tell you, they are SERIOUS about recycling over here!!! There is: 1) General trash, 2) Food pigs can eat, 3) Food pigs cannot eat, which will be composted, 4) ALL plastic, including Styrofoam, plastic wrap, washed, and any other kind of plastic, 5) All paper, except with food waste, etc. on it, and 6) Plastic bottles, cans, and glass. This is all separate, placed outside the apartment in a specified location, collected by our local apartment garbage managers on strictly specified days, for which we pay about $16 US a month. (Plus, of course, the Chinese New Year bonus of one month’s pay, which is required of all employers in any situation, it seems.) The trash must be in government approved and expensive trash bags, the cost of which is figured into the cost of recycling in our neighborhood, although in other districts it can be figured on the basis of your water bill, etc.

There is no tipping of any kind, although we do leave a small tip at Chili’s, which is our fallback restaurant when we are desperate just to have an enormous salad without cleaning veggies for an hour. We split one and it’s really quite economical and plenty to eat. Taxes are figured into the cost of goods, it seems, so we don’t have to think about that either!

Friday I had a real treat. The wife of the US counselor, who is from Minnesota and actually graduated from Henry Sibley HS, where Bill taught in the 80’s! took me to the DiHua St. fabric market, which is essentially the entire second floor of a large building like the wholesale markets in NY and LA, one stall after another. I was in Heaven! Getting some fabric was beginning to be a real priority as I need to get some curtains made for the bedroom window, otherwise the local residents are going to be seeing much too much of America! I absolutely went like a shot to some beautiful red fabric with Asian designs in several patterns but all with the same bright red background. After securing a few yards for my stash in hopes of making a duvet cover for our down comforter, we discovered yesterday at the Museum of Natural History that it is the signature of Taiwan! It’s good to know my instincts have not deserted me!

Friday evening we went to the welcome evening for the whole faculty and board of directors of the school at the American Club of China. It was a wonderful affair by the pool, lots of lovely hors d’oeuvres, from Peking duck pancakes, samosas, wraps, etc., and wine, Taiwan beer, fresh orange juice, the faculty band and lots of fun conversation.

Yesterday we set out “in search of “ the National Botanical Garden with its gigantic lotus pond. It apparently will only be blooming for a few more days, so didn’t want to miss it! Imagine a pond the size of about two and a half football fields! We went all the way around it through the gardens and saw an elderly artist who had created a lovely traditional Chinese painting of the lotus and a crane, which we did not see. In order to get a better view from above and also to see it, we went into the Natural History Museum and were enchanted by the exhibits, which apparently change a great deal. We saw calligraphy, straw weaving, traditional Taiwanese furniture, polychrome Tang pottery, Buddhist steles, and a complete 10-course banquet and multiple other displays of food all created out of semi-precious stones. It was beautiful, literally soup to nuts! We decided to have a bite in the museum café, and they insisted on moving us so that we could look at the view of the garden while we ate. As we left, they presented us with little coasters with museum exhibits on them. It was so kind. We found the Indian homestore called Ikat, but did not find what we were looking for. I had wanted to see it ever since they sent us the Taipei Living book when we took the job, so it was a pilgrimage. We needed a few more things at IKEA, so went back and also browsed at FNAC, which is a media store par excellence. I got a DVD of Taiwan’s most famous modern dance group called Cloud Gate and one of the Royal Ballet. We also saw the most astounding TVs for children and other young minds, they are LCDs in apples, trains, basketballs, anything you can imagine, so that it actually becomes part of the room décor! We will probably pass on those, but definitely are coveting a flat-screen TV, as the one we brought is pretty tiny and I’m thinking we will be enjoying DVDS. I got a Blockbuster card and rented our first video, but because it was a Chinese film, called “The Promise” which we had been wanting to see, we were disappointed. It’s only in Chinese! No help yet.

Hope everyone is well, e-mails always welcome! Carol

Thursday, August 10, 2006

August 10th 2006 Carol

August 10, 2006 – Carol

At last I’m up, connected, I think, and reasonably healthy. Little by little we are pulling life together around the edges. Today was Bill’s first day with the kids. He called happy to have met them. His partner teacher does not have a teaching license, but lots of college vocal pedagogy and piano experience, and his 30 years of teaching experience and the sound of the SBHS choirs’ CDs seem to reassure her that this will be a good match. She is from Texas and lots of fun. They seem to really enjoy each other and will be a shift in practices, attitudes, and almost everything else from the previous vocal folks at TAS.

I have just worked setting up today, but had to stay home for the ADSL man, and a delivery from “Hola”, which is sort of connected to the Home Depot-style store B&Q, but more like a Penney’s or Sears. We bought a beautiful and not expensive chest of drawers cum sideboard, and it was the now customary 7 to 8 phone calls (only one with an English-speaking rep) about how to find our place to get it delivered! Survival Mandarin can’t start soon enough for me!!!!! (or, I suspect, fast enough for the Taiwanese who have to deal with us!) My nest brilliant plan is a Map to be translated into Chinese to be attached to all future orders for delivery!! All is well, finally installed and looking perfect. We figured a few less expensive pieces for practicality will leave us some leeway for real Asian art. Naturally, we’re already finding wonderful, beautiful things even in our own neighborhood, which is not that surprising since the area is affluent ex-pats, nationals, and we TAS folk. We do get great discounts everywhere we go, though, it’s like a secret password and suddenly the “special deal” appears!

Bill arrived bearing some gorgeous Asiatic lilies and a small pink rose. The lilies were from him, but the school had a welcome assembly for the new students and teachers where each was introduced with projected photo by a student government member, given a rose by another member and handshakes all around with administration. He said seniors and juniors sat on the risers and underclassmen on the floor, completely orderly and respectful and was greeted by an unknown student later with “Welcome to our school, I hope you enjoy it here!”

We took off for a pre-prandial walk and are amazed at how like Mexico it is in the evenings. That is the time for walking, (except the early morning crew!), shopping casually and looking, and dining out. Much cooler, and slower. We purchased some “Carol” tea at a beautiful tea shop called Lupicia, there must have been at least 200 different teas, all for sampling by scent and several served by a lovely shop assistant and packaged so artistically that you would take them for the wrappings alone! I’ll report on the flavor when we brew it!

The typhoons have so far only dumped lots of rain on us, but Eastern China is really getting slammed, big evacuations, etc. It’s hurricane season in this part of the world and we really watch the weather news faithfully. So far, so good.