Tag: GYA16

Three Months Mandarin Immersion in Taiwan – Was it Worth It?

We’ve been back for 3 weeks now.  Ironically, life in the States is faster paced.  There are so many more chores and various other “life” activities that need to be taken care of.  The kids don’t have built in daily playdates anymore, requiring way more conscious scheduling and driving time.

Before our daily routine overwhelms me and I forget completely, I thought I should look back on our trip in Taiwan.

So was three months mandarin immersion in Taiwan worth it?

The short answer is a resounding yes.

At the 1.5 month mark, I was questioning whether or not we were seeing any effect.   But since returning, I have noticed how Astroboy would spout new vocabulary that I hadn’t heard out of his mouth before.   The taxi driver on our way to the airport said that the children’s Chinese are more fluid than 3 months ago.  Definitely Astroboy‘s listening comprehension and range of vocabulary is much better.  We listened to Magic Treehouse in the car the other day and he didn’t get bored like before.

Was it Taiwan?  Because he wasn’t interacting with local children daily.  Or was it the huge amount of cartoon they watched in the last month?  Was it the fact that he had to speak Chinese to random people daily, other than me?  That even the little amount helped?  Who knows.  But now, just like three years ago, his overall language development went up because we were only doing one language for three months, instead of two languages here.  That’s just my conjecture.


GYA16: Taking a Break

Things have quieted down here the last week or two because all the classes we signed up for started.   Last week, we had 4 art class, 2 writing class, 1 homeschool group outing, and 1 science class.

Other than Monday, which is our quietest day because we have to stay home for our milk deliveries and can’t schedule classes, we had something going on every day.

On top of that, by Friday morning I woke up with a severe back ache.  I have herniated discs and once in awhile it flairs up to the point where every step is painful.  By the middle of the day I knew this was one of those times and made an appointment to see the PT.

Three years ago it cost $500 each time to see a PT without insurance.   This time it costs $1000.  Sigh.

On top of PT, I basically stayed in bed most of Friday and Saturday.  Fleur was very nice and took the kids out most of Saturday and cooked.   Thank goodness we had art class already scheduled and that just takes up half a day.

In any case, here are other random life slice of life stuff…


Art Lessons at Soho Art

Two years ago, thanks to Eclectic Mama, I attended a demo class at Soho Art in the US.  During the demo class, the parents had to sit through a lecture on how they teach art.  I fell in love when they mentioned that the children are only provided with 5 colors to work with: red, blue, yellow, black, and white.

Unfortunately, the class is an 1-2 hours drive away and at 5pm.  Plus the cost was very high for 1.5 hours.  So I vowed when I get back to Taiwan I’d sign the kids up for the class.  (They started in Taiwan and now have classes in China and the US.)

Taking the Class

In our branch in Taiwan, you have to take 16 introductory classes, where for 8 of them (啟蒙) parents need to sit through a video presentation on how Soho Art teaches art.  After the class, the teacher will also call all the parents in to tell them what the children did this week.  Part of the goal is for the parents to know how to talk to their children about the art they’re doing.

Classes are taught at 5 or 7pm Mon-Fri, and Saturday all day.  However, they may be willing to start a class for you at an earlier time if you get a minimum of 5 kids.


GYA16: Hiking Up Elephant Mountain 象山步道

Itinerary: Elephant Mountain 象山, Coco Curry, Ice Monster, Shin Kong Mitsubishi

The weather is turning warmer once again after a few days of rain last week.  It was so sunny this morning when I went out to buy some hash browns for my weekly pancake breakfast, I decided we ought to go hiking!  I’d been wanting to go to 象山 for 3 years ever since I saw my cousin’s post about hiking up there to get a free view of Taipei and Taipei 101.

We took MRT to the end of red line and followed the directions to 象山.  Thankfully, we chose the 20 minute hike instead of 40 minute one.  Because, wow, it’s basically a series of steep stairs!


GYA16: Making Tofu at Yilan

Itinerary: Goat Farm 宜農牧羊場, Making Tofu Pudding and Tofu at 羅東農會

The weather has turned rainy and cold (60s!) again and after a weekend of activities, I took it easy Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday I took a friend, Rain, who is visiting from the US to a bookstore.  By now, I think it’s a bad idea to go book shopping with me.  People always leave with tons of books.  Though thank goodness Rain already knew the books she wanted so it wasn’t all me suggesting books.

We stayed home all day Tuesday.  I had some trouble buying the Puyuma train tickets and learned that you can’t buy more than 5 tickets at a time via the train app.  And also that even if it says it’s out of tickets, they actually release more the day of.

Wednesday morning, we rushed out the door at 8:15am to make it to the train station on time because we had to buy 7 tickets in person.  Thankfully there were seats that were mostly together.

Rain took us to visit her friend in 羅東 Luodon, which is 1 train stop south of 宜蘭 Yilan.  We had such a fantastic time today.  The best part is that all the locations are super close to the train station.  I love to travel with locals.  They never take me to the super touristy places and it’s always way interesting.


GYA16: Chun Shui Tang and Asian Pacific Cultural Day 春水堂和亞太文化節

Itinerary: looking for tutors, Chun Shui Tang, 中山地下街, Asian Pacific Cultural Day, sushi boat

The children and I had a wonderful mindful day together.  Well, at least the first half.  Then they got distracted by the cultural day events.  Still, it was really nice that we actually paid attention to each other.

I had a little talk with Thumper the other day about how she needs to let me know if she doesn’t agree with whatever is on her work plan and not passive aggressively choose not to do them.  She’s been great about learning herself the last two days.  I spent the time talking to Chinese tutors.  Astroboy, on the other hand, spent the morning eating breakfast and snacks while I was on the phone.



GYA16: Theater Show and Marukame Udon 影子牆 和 丸龜製麵

Itinerary: Children’s theater @ 文山劇場, 景美生煎包, Marukame Udon, Browsing for home electronics

Finally!  A day I’ve been looking forward to!   I highly recommend everyone to take their kids to a local theater show when they are in Taiwan.  My dream is the Ciao Hu stage production one they have yearly in the summer and fall.  But those are pricey and sell out quickly.

We got tickets to see 影子牆 at the Wan Shan Theater.  I took all 4 kids with me.  There were some issues with our tickets so we had to wait till 5 minutes before our show to go in.  To pass time, I bribed them with some baked goods from 85 Degrees Cafe, which is across the street, while I relieved the stress of being responsible for other people’s children by having some delicious Grapefruit Honey Tea.


GYA16: Herbal Doc and LoveReadBook 中醫和愛閱書坊

Itinerary: Herbal Doc, LoveReadBook, Socks, Sesame Paste

Did you know that pigs get fed moldy cake in Taiwan?

We went to toss our trash tonight and I was all ready to dump the moldy birthday cake in the compost bin.  But the guy sitting in the back of the trash truck saw the cake, picked it out, and tossed it into the “For pigs” bin.

I’m assuming it’s for pigs, that’s what the recycle poster tells you, that there’s a compost bin (堆肥) and one for pigs (養豬廚餘).  All I can say is, I hope the pigs from HUCC 主婦聯盟 don’t eat those cake.

Astroboy has been sick the last few days and it’s now progressed to his chest.  So time to go to the herbal doc my aunt goes to and get some 百合膏.  It’s like that 川貝枇杷膏 Chinese medicine thing you buy when you’re coughing, but made of Lily?

Fleur took Thumper to EP bookstore while Astroboy and I looked for the herbal doc, who opens at 2pm.  I still find it very strange that docs open in the afternoon and work till 9 or 10pm.  In any case, EP bookstore is this free “library”, with a $100 entry fee, which includes unlimited drinks.  You can’t buy books, you can’t borrow books, you can read books there.  The draw is the nice space with new books to read.


GYA16: Afternoon Bubble Tea

Itinerary: 翰林茶館 Hanlin Tea,大安運動中心 Daan Sports Center

The temperature dropped 10 degrees and it’s the low 70s today.  I even pulled out my long sleeves.  Yay!  Finally some cool weather!

After a morning where I buzzed around doing a bit of this and a bit of that and then felt like I got nothing accomplished, we headed out for some Afternoon English Tea at Cutty Sark.  We had wanted to go yesterday but decided last minute that with antsy children it may not be the best choice.

Basically, my tummy has been tempting me to go out every day.

We took the MRT to Taipei 101 to go to Att 4 Fun mall.  However, the darn Cutty Sark was closed!  That’s the English afternoon tea place I tried 3 years ago.  The one we tried to go to yesterday was closed too.  Since it was already 2pm, we decided to go to Hanlin Tea instead.  This is one of the 2 stores that claim to be the one who invented the bubbles in bubble tea.

hanlin (more…)

GYA16: Halloween and Bookstar

Itinerary: Children’s Amusement Park, 市立大學 Taipei City College, 曉食堂, Bookstar Bookstore

We got a late start today because we got home so late last night.  Though I was tempted to stay home all day, I felt bad because the kids have been talking about Halloween non-stop and we did buy them cat costumes at Yabook.

So I did some research and found out that all the big Halloween activities already happened this weekend.  Oops!  The biggest one is apparently the one in Tianmu 天母.  Not surprising since that’s where the international schools are.

Thankfully, the Children’s Amusement Park supposedly had an event where you can beg for candies so we went that route.  However, after lining up at 3pm to follow some little witch around the park, we found out the candy giving part was actually this morning at 10am.