Monday, 26 October 2009

At home!

Well, I'm at home :). Journey back was a very long one!!! Involved an 1 1/2 flight from Taipei to Hong Kong at 6.30am followed by a 2 hour wait in Hong Kong. After this I then borded a plane to London from Hong Kong which took 14 hours!!!! It felt very long and as it was a day flight I struggled to sleep so watched three films and lots of tv programmes, followed by listening to some music and reading my magazine. Eventually, we arrived at London Heathrow where we waited 4 hours before getting a plane back to Manchester. 24 hours later, I arrived in Manchester to be greeted by the family and Nathan with a bunch of flowers :). I was so pleased to be home but absolutly shattered!! Hence the reason I haven't managed to blog until now! I've had a fantastic trip with some fantastic memories that I'll remember for the rest of my life! Thanks for following me and giving me much encouragement throughout! Speak soon! Kathryn xxx

Friday, 23 October 2009

Day 9: My last day!

Well, its the final one! :( and :). I've got mixed feelings really, I'm sad because I've had a good time but happy cos I miss home, family an Nathan so so much! Today was very chilled out! Started with breakfast which was American, fried ham, pancakes and egg, yummy! :) We were then picked up at 10 and taken to an archeology museum which to be perfectly honest I found really boring and spent the whole time trying to find funny ways to place monkey in the photo with Paul (before we got told off! :p). Next we went to Danshui on a boat over the river where we saw flying fish :D which were very cool and fun to watch, tried to get a video but not sure if I'll be able to see anything! Once in the village we had a walk down but as it was throwing it down (because the typhoon is passing) we soon went into a cafe to have something to eat. Food was very yummy and was like salad and meat so was nice. We had a good chat when eating food which good company. After this we just strolled through the shops, called in at local exhibition about one of the first missionaries that came to Taiwan, George Mackay. I found it really moving in there and gave me lots to think about as far as this trip. I kind of walked for a bit then in silence thinking things over that have happened on this trip. We finally reached our destination of Carys's house absolutly soaking where we had coffee and cake before getting the metro back to Taipei main station. We then returned to the hotel where we packed up and had a small chat about our thoughts on the trip. I think we all feel so priviliged to have been given this opportunity and can't wait to share our experience with others when we get back home (although most people know through this blog!). Me and Angela popped out an ended up with Mc Donalds as didn't have a clue what anything else was lol and ate it in the hotel room and now I'm here blogging as usual and about to go to bed as have to be up at 3am :( for a very long journey home. I will write one more blog when I arrive back in England to let everyone know I'm home safe and then that will be it! :( xx

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Day 8: Taipei

helllloooooo!! I'm so amazed at how many people are reading this blog, not that I'm complaining like! Well today started with a journey down to Taipei as this is where we are staying until we go home. The journey involved 1 1/2 hours on the High Speed Rail which went at 296 km/h. Was quite a nice journey but it was raining when we got to Taipei. We walked to the YMCA which is where we are staying for the next 2 nights. It is quite nice, smaller than the other place and not as grand but still pleasant. The bed doesn't feel very comfy but it will be alright for 1 1/2 nights (gotta be up at 3am on Saturday). Well when we got there we went for lunch with Ben & Stephen in the restaurant in the hotel which is an American diner so I had a rice omelette with a hamburger which was yummy but bizarre. After lunch we said goodbye to Ben & Stephen which was sad as they are the two who have looked after us the most but they had to get back because there has been an earthquake this morning in Chaiyi (where we were staying). After lunch we settled into the hotel for an hour before being picked up by the General Assembly where they took us for a tour of the city. They showed us the grand hotel on the tour which was pretty impressive and had some nice views. After our tour we went back to the General Assembly Offices where we met with the General Assembly Secretary who answered any questions about the Presbyterian Church as a whole and showed us a video on the general work they do. He was quite interesting but kind of difficult to listen to as he barely moved his lips when talking so meant that he mumbled a bit. However, his English was very good and definately better than my Taiwanese. After his talk, we met Caris and Paul so that was quite good talking to other English people!! We all chatted before walking to the restaurant which was a mixture of Taiwanese and Burmese and very nice indeed! Here I had quite a long conversation with Paul and a bit of a laugh about some of the things that have happened whilst we've been here so that was good! After dinner we got the MEtro back to the hotel and said goodbye for the night. Me and Angela then finished the night with a trip to buy a new hand luggage bag thats bigger as we have no room or weight to spare and a trip to Starbucks :) Am now in the hotel room after a lot of trouble with the internet chilling out after what seems like a busy day but actually we've not really done that much!! xx

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Day 7: Returning to Chaiyi and Night Market

Well today was quite a quiet day to be honest!! It started with a lie in! Yay! 8.30 wake up call but then 2 hours to get ready :). Packed up as I was leaving the host families house today so therefore back to having internet at the hotel! We went to the church that Marion and Melanie had been staying at and had to wait an hour because everyone was late so I sat watching the old women play a game which seemed to be a mixture of boules and croquet, was good fun actually! Next, we went to lunch which was at a local coffee shop and I had a bacon butty :D was very excited and also very yummy! They then took us back to Chaiyi and later took us out for a light bite to eat of chicken and rice before returning us back to our hotel. We unpacked and chilled out for an hour before being picked up to go to the night market. This was loads of fun :). We walked around all the stalls taking in the sights, sounds and smells. Could even of bought Millie a scarf but decided she would probably just eat it anyway lol! We had sme fine noodles which were very tasty, but won't stand too close to anyone tomorrow as they were coated very heavily in garlic!! I bought a ourse and resisted the urge to buy a handbag and a pair of shoes! :) Think I did quite well considering. We are now back in the hotel but not for long as we leave for Taipei in the morning at 9.20 (2.20am for all you back in England) where we will check into a new hotel for 2 nights which I'm sure will have internet so will speak to you all again tomorrow!
P.S thank you for all your nice comments, have made this trip a lot easier when missing home. I hadn't realised so many people were reading but can't work out how to comment back! lol.

Day 6: All the Education

Again, apologies for this being late. This morning started with a quiet drive to meet the others as the family I’m staying with can’t really speak English! Here, we attended part of a bible group that was happening in the church where they spoke of the traditions about temples and clothing from Exodus. We weren’t able to stay for all of this because we had to drive to the Christian University where we were meeting the principle. He gave us a brief introduction to the ~University and its history before giving us a tour of the uni (starting to sound familiar?). After this we went for lunch, today I was given a special meat dish (yay!) whilst everyone else continued to eat crab, shark fin soup and full fish. The dinner was with the principle and deputy principle and an English teacher from the Christian High School we would be visiting after dinner. When we arrived we soon realised how large it was when they told us they had 5000 students there. Again we had a short introduction/history before being given a tour. Included in the tour was a tour of their museums that they have at the school – Presbytery Church & School, Taiwanese things, Fossils, Shells and butterflies. Amongst this tours we stopped off for the toilet where everyone forgot about me and so I ended up lost in the middle of the school(!). Luckily enough, I only had to wait 5/10 minutes before someone found me and took me back to the group. After the visit of the school we got back on the bus and returned to the church we started off at and were picked up by our host families. I was taken to a restaurant where I was promised no seafood however when I arrived only 1 dish did not contain seafood but it was nice so I ate the 1 dish. When we were at the restaurant, one of their friends was principle at an English school so he translated any questions that I needed answering and vice versa. This was really good getting to know their friends and family. Part way through the meal I was told that I would be attending a worship at their house where 20/30 people were waiting to meet me so I was quite nervous. When I arrived, all 25 people clapped as I entered the room :S. I later found out that this was a type of prayer group which travels round the homes of those involved giving a family blessing depending on who’s house they are at. I thought this was a really nice idea and maybe something that could be used in our churches. The pastor gave a short talk and then it was my turn, I was asked to talk about myself, family and my church before being asked questions- i felt like i was on a tv show! Everyone seemed to appreciate and enjoy what I said so it must of been the right thing. I’m currently in bed, quite cold as the air con is blaring out(!) but tired so am going to go to sleep.
One last thing; I had a conversation with Marion on the bus today which seemed to really speak to me. There have been times during my trip where I have questioned why I am here as I am really homesick but its made me think that maybe I’m here for a reason. Even if that is just to pass on the Taiwanese dream of becoming an independent country or purely just to build my own self esteem and confidence – i don’t know but surely I wouldn’t be put through this if there wasn’t a reason why. Anyway I guess I’ll find out eventually, miss everyone terribly! Home soon though :) x

Day 5: A trip to Tainan

Well, firstly I must apologise for the lack of blogging due to having no internet at the house where I have been staying for the past 2 nights so this is a catch up one! We started Monday with firstly driving down to Tainan where we firstly visited a theological college. Here we met the president of the college and she gave a talk about the history of the school and an introduction to what they do. We then went into the chapel where we heard the organ being played by one of the students studying a degree in Christian Music. This gave us time to reflect on our journey so far and I began to think more deeply about the disasters etc and what I could do about it when I get back to England. After this, we took a walk around there grounds before going next door to the Christian Newspaper offices. They also explained briefly the history of the newspaper and how they liked to involve evangelism within their publications. We were shown samples of the newspaper before being taken to their bookshop where we could purchase various gifts etc. Next was dinner time! We picked up an elder from the local church and went to the oldest street in Tainan where we ate (apparently) traditional Taiwanese food. I avoided all fish this time as every time I’ve eaten it, I have been ill! We all sat around on little chairs very close to the floor and I felt like I’d gone back to primary school! After dinner, the elder from the church took us on a history tour of Tainan as it is the oldest city in Taiwan still to be in good condition. It is where the country began. This was very interesting but also very hot as it reached around 32⁰c. We later went for iced coffee as we needed a chance to cool down. The next stop was at something known as “the old tree house”, this was a winding tree which forced itself around the house to make it look like a tree house(pictures on facebook are probably better to explain this!). It had been transformed so you could walk up into the trees and also across the pond, which was fascinating. Also with the tree house, was an exhibition on how Taiwan began with the trade and immigrants etc. We were soon rushed off to meet the president of the local Christian hospital and also some surgeons etc. When we arrived, again we were treated very fondly and we were given our own honory member seat badge. We heard the history of the hospital before being given a tour of the medical museum. Next, we were taken out to dinner by these medical experts in a very posh Japanese restaurant where we were in a private room being waited on by staff. Felt very humble to be there and wondered if they had the wrong person! Finally, we left the restaurant and went to a church where I was picked up by my host family. They are very friendly but don’t speak a lot of English which is interesting. Bed is very uncomfy so looking forward to going back to the hotel on Wednesday!!