ALL YOU CAN DRINK BOTTLED SODA!?!?!?!?!?!? That is right my friends! We were invited by a friend of ours to go out to eat with her and some of her friends. It is called "hot pot". It is one of the best ways to eat in Taiwan. You have a big pot at your table, with boiling water in it. You then go up to the buffet of frozen raw meat, vegetables, and things we have never seen before (the mystery foods). We takes those back to our table and proceed to cook them in our boiling pot. Finish it off with some heavenly garlic and soy sauce mixture, you have perfection. When we did think it could get any better. Jenifer told us there was free ice cream and free soda. JACKPOT!!!
Although Laura and I were master chiefs back in America we had not had an opportunity to use our skills until one glorious night. We discovered a lonely box of pancake mix in our local grocery store. It was begging us to take it home. We said sure and it said we had to bring its friend Maple Syrup with it. SO WE DID! That night we had the ultimate pancake feast!
One thing that we have learned here is to never take anything for granted. This includes a lot of things, but one that you might not think of is weekly laundry. We were blessed with a washing machine, outside our apartment and down the hall. Sadly though, it is the Taiwanese way to hang your clothes up outside to dry. It is amazing how much you will appreciate the way your clothes used to fit after going through the dryer, when your entire t-shirt collection is two sizes larger than they used to be. This prompted us to have an exciting adventure to our local laundry mat. Good times were had.
Our final story we want to share with you is about our trip to the beach. Our wonderful friend, Terry, had invited us to ride up to the north coast with him on our scooter. It was a beautiful ride and we brought our swim suits for a grad adventure. Unfortunately, the beach we went to had a "no swimming" rule. Oh well. I built a sand castle around Laura's feet instead. It was a relaxing day, and it was nice to see the ocean and its vastness, compared to the forever busy Taipei.
Update from the church: Last night we attended the youth Christmas service. There was a great turn out of new students from the ages of 13 to 2oish. The Youth group presented Christ in an amazing way through song, skits, and games. Toward the end a local youth pastor spoke which is when many new people came to Christ. Please keep all of them in your prayers, and also thank you for your continued prayers for us.
Here is the amazing Christmas miracle that happened to us this week. Laura and I were starting to feel like we were missing all of the Christmas fun back at home. This was beginning to make us a little sad. Amazingly, when we got home from teaching English at the church tonight our apartment had a Christmas tree and Christmas lights. IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!... Okay it might have of been a surprise that I set up for Laura, but still a Christmas miracle all the same.
So, we had our tree and it came with a pack of blinking lights. We had to use our Mcgiver skills to think up some other decoration ideas. I had bought a thing of popcorn. It was sort of like Jiffy Pop, but no top to catch the kernels as they popped. It was a mix of excitement and fear. It was like war but with the smell of butter... Laura may have some butter burns. If you mix popcorn with our sowing kit we bought at 7-11 you get..... POPCORN STRINGS!!!!
Finally, we found some colored beads and string. With these two tools we fashioned ourselves some make-shift ordainments. They remind me a little of those bead keychains we made when we were in the 4th grade. The picture on the right is a picture of our first glorious Christmas tree together as husband and wife.
We are definitely going to miss our family a lot this Christmas season, but it is nice to have a little bit of Christmas here. We love and miss you all so much and we hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.
So apparently, when you live on the first floor of an apartment building, there are some things you should expect. First, there will be cockroaches. Second, you may see a cute little lizard running along your wall every once and awhile (we named him Frank). Finally, HUGE KILLER SPIDERS THAT TRY TO ATTACK YOU AND LAY THEIR EGGS IN YOUR TOWEL!!!!!! So here is what happened. Laura was casually drying off her hair, after her lovely shower. She looked up, and who was there to greet her? A HUGE KILLER SPIDER THAT TRIES TO ATTACK YOU AND LAY ITS EGGS IN YOUR TOWEL!!!! Now, on a normal day and with a normal spider, Laura would kill it herself, with her bare hands, but this was no ordinary spider. So, she tried to get Zach's attention. At this point, the spider decided to run across the wall into the kitchen. Conveniently, we have way too many doors in our apartment. So, we went to the kitchen through the shower/bedroom door, with mop and toilet brush in hand, ready for a fight. From a distance the spider saw we were coming and ran back into the bathroom, through the kitchen/bathroom door. The first attack was made here, but it was unsuccessful. The HUGE KILLER SPIDER THAT TRIES TO ATTACK YOU AND LAY ITS EGGS IN YOUR TOWEL continued to run. Attack number two and number three were still unsuccessful to kill this beast.
It then ran through our bathroom/shower door trapping Zach in a corner. In a panic state of rage Zach stabbed with the mop... ONCE! TWICE! It charged! Zach retreated then stabbed one last time... The battle had ended with that blow. We were safe again... at least untill the next HUGE KILLER SPIDER THAT TRIES TO ATTACK YOU AND LAY ITS EGGS IN YOUR TOWEL comes around. The only advice we recieved from our Taiwanese friends was, "With the next spider, be careful, because it may be pregnate, and when you smash it the babies will run everywhere.".................. awesome.....
Ok. So, we need to first apologize. We are sorry that we have not been blogging for a long time. The main reason is that we hate you all. No, but seriously, our internet is not strong enough to upload videos and pictures. Right now, we are sitting in a little tea house, enjoying some delish drinks and free internet. So, where should we start? The picture to the right may look like a discusting, deseased, cement/tile bathtub, but it is not! It represents an hour of relaxing, purely natureal hotspring... just it is rerouted to the tub by pipes (sort of natural). However the relaxation was not the best part. The host of this trip was our host mom, Jou Ma Ma, and she was next door with our good friend Molly. Little bit of info, in Taiwan swim suits are not usually needed aparently.... poor Molly... After we heard Jou Ma Ma give Molly an hour long Chinese lesson we began to hear slapping. Later that night, Molly delightfully explained to us, that the noise we heard was her slapping Jou Ma Ma's back. Aparently, this is some sort of muscle relaxer, and is a must after sitting in the hotsprings. What a night.
So when it rains here in Taiwan, it RAINS!!!! Laura has gone to work many times looking like she had peed her pants down to her ankles. Yes, the ponchos we are wearing on the right may look like they would keep us dry, but they really are just good for making us look cool and cutting our bodies off from all oxygen.
One beautiful Saturday, we went on an adventure to "Something" Memorial Hall. It was was there that we found the Abraham Lincoln of Taiwan. We would tell you his name but it is the same name in the title of the place... It was also here that we realized Taiwanese people don't like to smile in pictures. So, Zach tried to make up for all of their sad faces. You can't see it but behind Laura there are a lot of Taiwanese looking at Zach weirdly. It was a really fun place to explore. The walls the building were HUGE! The day we went there was also some sort of marching band/military practice on the grounds. They were really fun to watch.
Another great adventure we went was to a small place called Window On China. It was a small theme park with a bunch of miniatures of world landmarks. Such as the Statue of Liberty, The Great Wall of China, The White House, and so on. If you want to see more of our pictures just look at http://picasaweb.google.com/LauraRCarpenter/Taiwan
In conclusion, we wanted to show you a little video of some fun things we have seen and done this last month. We love you all. Thanks for your prayers
Well, our dreams have finally come true. Laura and I have been looking for a scooter to buy since we have arrived here in Taiwan. When Laura told me stories about the traffic here, I was not so sure about driving a scooter. Once we were here and I saw it for myself, it was not as intimidating as I thought it would be. We talked to our friend Terry about our desire for a scooter, and asked where a good place to buy one would be. He said there was a guy in the church who owned a scooter shop, and he would introduce us to him. That Sunday we talked to him about buying a scooter. By the end of the conversation he had offered us a scooter to borrow for the year... FOR FREE!!! THE PEOPLE HERE ARE SO NICE!!! Now we just had to wait a few weeks while he had it all worked out for us. On Tuesday of this week Terry called me and said the scooter was ready to be picked up. So he picked me up at our place and we started our epic ride to the scooter shop. The ride that I thought was only going to take twenty minutes tops, ended up taking almost three hours. Apparently the scooter shop is on the opposite side of Taipei City from where we live. It was a good crash course on riding a scooter in Taiwan. I had to ride back home, following the experienced Terry (with a helmet that bobbled around my head with every bump).
We have had her now for four days, and she has become apart of our family. We named her Vivian. She is a sweet ride. So far we have rode her on nice days and crazy rain storms with our beautiful yellow garbage bag like ponchos on. It only costs three dollars to fill her up and she gets us where we need to go way faster then the bus system can. So here are pictures of her all you people demanding pictures.
The night life in Taiwan is totally different from back in America. There are so many things to do. Last night Laura and I were sitting around, not knowing what to do with our time and suddenly the phone rings. It was our host brother/father (confusing I know) Andrew. He wanted to know if we were interested in going to IKEA (or as they pronounce it... EKEA) and then go get some dinner. Let me tell you a secret... it is hard to talk on the phone with someone that does not know English as well as we do, but we love them and know it is probably just as hard to talk to us in English. To make a long phone conversation short, we said yes, called Molly to invite her to come along, and eagerly began to wait for Andrew to come and pick us up.
The first half of our grand adventure that night consisted of going to IKEA and looking at all the great stuff that we could not buy. If you have never been to an IKEA you are missing out. We spent a long time walking around and dreaming dreams of houses we may buy some day and rooms we could 'IKEA'fy. After we dreamed these dreams for awhile, Andrew told us we should maybe get to the restaurant, in case it was closing any time soon. The adventure was beginning to reach its climatic moment. The place we went to eat was like nothing I have ever experienced. It was an all you can eat buffet (very American you may think) where you cook your own food at the table you sit.
The first step in the process is going to a buffet of raw fish, crab, vegetables, and many surprises. After filling up your plate you return to your table and toss it all into a pot of boiling water in front of you. I was quite embarrassed to find out I was cooking my food wrong when Andrew instructed me that I was putting everything in the pot in the incorrect order... but in the end my food still tasted great. There were so many new things we discovered that night. First, soy sauce and garlic mixed together is probably what God dips his food in. Second, chopsticks work muscles that we Americans never use (my hand and forearm were cramping all Sunday morning and Laura's hand was tender in every spot that the sticks touched). Finally, I discovered that boiled squid is really good. If any of you are in Taiwan or somewhere where you can try it, DO IT! It feels like you are chewing rubber and make sure you get the ink pocket out first or your mouth with turn black.
By the end of the night it was way past Molly and Laura's bedtime, and they were "acting drunk" says Essence. It was a night to be remembered.
Well, there is some more of our grand adventures. Please keep praying for us and go here http://picasaweb.google.com/LauraRCarpenter to see some of our pictures we have taken so far.
We are writing this blog from inside a little Tea House on Youth Street, which is next to a huge amazing park, drinking two huge ice coffees (by huge we mean bigger then a Starbucks Venti). Just so you know the ice coffee here beats any ice coffee we have had in America. Any who...
As we are thinking over all the great stories we could tell just from the last three days, we do not know where to start.
Here is a list of funny things we have discovered here in Taiwan 1. They play club music in nice stake houses. (Back Street Boys could rock my world forever) 2. Apparently, if you are going to walk 4 hours or more in a day... heels are still a must. 3. Microwaves are bo hau (not good) for your body. 4. 6 year old kids are brilliant. 5. Traffic laws are just a suggestion. (the lines on the road mean nothing, so speed up or get out of the way) 6. The locals consider Taipei to be a small city... I guess we are crazy to think 2.6 million people is on the larger scale, for a city. weird...
We love it here! It is pretty and the people are so nice.
We love you all and will post more later about our fun times. Please continue to pray for us and for all the people we will meet.
This entry to the blog is very over due. It has been a crazy month! Laura and I are one day away from being married for one whole month. The last month has been a month of glorious fun and relaxation. I will start at the beginning. After we got back from our honeymoon in Ashland, where we saw Brian Regan and spent a whole day at a spa, we met Laura's family at Green Peter reservoir. This is where Laura's family has been camping every summer for the last 18 years (I am not sure of the exact number of years they have been there, but 18 sounds close). This was a new adventure for me since this was the first time I have braved the wild outdoors with the Bodenstab family. Also, coming from the style of camping my family does, campground and motor home, but I was excited non the less.
The week was a week of complete relaxation. The common schedule for the day was as follows: We would wake up whenever we felt like it, then eventually we would make our way down to the main camp area. The morning was usually full of sugar cereal and reading. After the delicious breakfast, Mark would head out in his boat to catch us lunch on the beautiful lake. Meanwhile, we would all stay in the camping area and read, talk, swim, play games, or take naps. Eventually mark would return with fish for lunch. Lunch was always so good. Laura's family likes to eat their fish on crackers covered in cream cheese with a good helping of lemon pepper (if you haven't ever had it, TRY IT). Then after lunch the routine would continue with reading, talking, swimming, playing games, and/or taking naps. We would do this till dinner time which was different every night. We would then read more or play games until it got to dark to see and we would start a fire and who's ever designated night it was would lead a devotion around the fire. That is really the week of Green Peter rapped up in a nut shell. The picture though is not really important except for one time I was reading and a little inch worm fell on my book and we liked him or her so I thought I would make him or her famous in our blog.
So after the week of camping, Laura and I spent a week with Laura's parents in Roseburg. We went shopping a little with some of our wedding money, went and picked cherries/raspberries/blueberries, read, and took naps. On the Monday before we left, we were invited along with Laura's parents to go play golf with some of the people from Laura's church. It was a lot of fun. Laura's parents played with another couple while I play with two other guys. This might sound like a great day, and it was, except for one small thing we forgot..... Sunscreen... We played a whole 18 wholes with no sunscreen on. We came off the course with tan lines so bad it looked like we had just been spray painted pink. The good news is that I don't know if I have ever hit my driver better then I did that day. At the end of the week though we were sad to leave Laura's family, but we were excited to spend time with mine.
The first week that we spent with my parents was spent camping at Laevenworth. This is the same place that my family has been going camping for the last 13 or so years. The camping schedule was close to the same as Green Peter. We read a lot, swam, took naps, and ate. The only difference is the showers that we would take in the mornings, but we were around more people there than we were at Green Peter, so it was more of a curtisy for the people around us. We went shopping in town, went to a movie (we saw Wall-E, it is good), and we saw a great play called Sugar. We also went golfing, which was a lot of fun because I love golfing, except for the fact that on this day of golfing I did not hit my drive the best I had ever hit it. Also, for some odd reason my golf balls seems drawn by some magical force to the trees on the course. As you can see in the picture I was ready to kill the trees because of this mysterious force I could not explain. After our week in Leavenworth, Laura and I were able to go spend some time in Seattle (courteous of her loving aunt and uncle, which we cannot thank enough). While in Seattle we walked enough to kill a person. While walking around we went and visited Pike St Market and bought some of my favorite little doughnut at the market. Also, if you are ever in Seattle and find a little soup stand in some building (I cannot remember the name of the place) get some soup there. It is really good! We basically did all that we possibly could without spending too much money. I think our favorite "adventure" that came from this great trip was on our last night... We were sitting in a nice little coffee shop and saw a nice flyer that advertised for a cinema called SIFF Cinema. The key feature to this cinema is that it plays "classic" old black and white movies. Laura and I now understand that a "classic" movie might mean something totally different to differnt people. The first trailer to the movie was all in French, this is when I turned to Laura and said... "This movie better not be in French." To make a long story short, we improved our skills at watching a movie and reading at that same time. To top that, the movie did not make any sense at all! If you do not believe me, fly to France, ask them for their most confusing movie ever, and watch it.
Sense then we have been relaxing with my parents at home and getting ready for our move to Taiwan. If you would like to see the rest of our picture from our month long honeymoon check out http://picasaweb.google.com/LauraRCarpenter/OneMonthHoneymoon. Also, we did one more thing before we left Seattle, and that is why I leave you with our most recent Vlog.
This last weekend I went on an amazing fishing trip with Laura's dad and some guys from the church here in Roseburg. It was a lot of fun but the only down side was... no fish seems to exist within the waters we dropped our lines. It was a beautiful day though. The lake we went fishing on was called Diamond Lake. It was really gorgeous, it was a shame Laura was not able to be there. Laura was in Portland with her mom and sister for a wedding shower that was thrown by her relatives. So this was Mark and my time to bond. We got up at 5am to get up to the lake and have all day to catch plenty of fish. The thing that scared me the most was that Diamond Lake is in the mountains. When I first got out of the truck, when we reached the lake, it was way colder than I had anticipated. Luckily Mark had seen that I dress a little light and packed an extra jacket and stocking cap for me. As you can see in our first picture, after I received the extra jacket and hat I was good to go. All together, I think there were 21 guys on the trip and we had 5 boats. I did not take us long before we had all of our boats in the water, poles ready, and we set off into the lake.
This is where everything went differently than I had expected. First, the weather was way better than I thought it would have been. In the mater of probably a couple hours, the sun had come out and I had reason to shed my outer jacket. Second, as I mentioned before, no fish were biting. We were out for probably an hour or two before suddenly a pole bounced. Sadly, the source of the bounce vanished just as suddenly. After awhile, we reached a great time of the day. Lunch time! Mark and I dove into the sandwiches that we had made the night before. They were so good! After our good lunches we started to feel tired, seems we were not really being kept awake by the high amount of fish catching that was going on in the boat. So we decided to take some naps. As you can see in the picture, Mark has mastered the skill of keeping his line in the water while resting up a little.
Finally, after a good amount of waiting, I had a fish take the bait on my pole. I woke up, grabbed my pole, and started to reel. The fish actually put up a fight that I was not expecting. After a good game of tug-a-war with the fish we got him... or her... (I don't really know, I just want to be gender inclusive) into the boat. It was the biggest fish I had ever caught in my life. an 18" rainbow trout (You can see it in the last picture). I know that is not really that big but I have only ever caught 12" trout before.
All and all our boat only caught 2 in the entire day. The whole group of guys only caught 7, many boats did not even get a bite from a fish all day, and we were out there from 10am-3pm. It was a really great day and I had a lot of fun with Mark, but I bet he wishes he caught a fish. Anyway, thanks for the good times Mark.