Monday Montage: Settling In – HuaHin Edition

We are now all settled into our villa here in HuaHin. In between swimming, exploring, and getting used to driving on the left hand side of the road I have taken a few pictures. I hope you like them!

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My favorite breakfast at Yummy Cafe, the Issan breakfast (Issan sausage, a potato pancake, sticky rice and a spicy chili sauce… so delicious).

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A statue of Predator made from bike chains  that was in front of some random local video store. 

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I ate the eyes of this delectable sweet and sour fried fish. It was surprisingly good.

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Funny story, while getting used to driving on the left side of the road, I decided in my mind that the directions had switched, right was now left. I confused Chad numerous times telling him to turn left at the light, when we actually had to turn right. Sometimes I really miss being blonde.

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I just love the way that Thai writing looks. This is part of one of the restaurants on the beach near our house.

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An amazing piece of art at Cicada Weekend Market

CKS Memorial Hall and Liberty Square

This past Sunday was a gorgeous day that made us want to be out of the house, which is not normal for us. Sundays are usually our lazy days, but with our time dwindling in Taipei and the wonderful warm weather, we had to take the opportunity to see more of the city. Chad had the idea to go to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall here in Taipei and walk around.

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Just to start with a little background information… Chiang Kai-Shek (CKS) was the President in China until the communist party started a gruesome civil war with him. He retreated to Taiwan when China was no longer safe for him and ruled for over 30 years under martial law. That is just my badly summarized version of his life, if you want the full story, check it out here.

When CKS died in 1975 The Taiwanese government began planning a memorial hall for him. They started building the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial on what would have been his 90th birthday in 1976. It was completed in 1980 on the anniversary of his death.

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Chad, Zoë, and I arrived at the CKS Memorial Plaza, now called “Liberty Square” that houses the memorial early in the afternoon. It was an easy metro ride straight into the park (CKS Memorial hall stop on the green line). We walked through the beautiful gardens lackadaisical, taking in all the scenery while letting Z run around and tell us about all the new things she saw along the way.

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The garden on the way from the metro to the plaza

We came up to the actual entrance to the Liberty Square, an enormous white gateway topped with a purple roof that looks like an open wall of a pagoda. There were many people milling about, most were taking pictures, but there were also a bunch of teenagers practicing their hip hop dancing. I really wish I had a video of the teens, they were decidedly serious about their dance moves. I would have watched them longer, but there was no stopping Zoë for even a moment. She wanted to go, go, go!

The entrance to the plaza

The entrance to the plaza

We continued walking towards the CKS memorial hall, which took us between the National Concert Hall and the National Theater. These matched buildings were impressive to say the least. I will let the picture of them do the talking as I would hate to bore you with flowery adjectives that I found on thesaurus.com.

The National Theater  Photo credit here

The National Theater-
Photo credit here

The National Concert Hall Photo Credit Here

The National Concert Hall- Photo Credit Here

As we were walking past the palatial and stately (okay, so I used the thesaurus a little) twins, we noticed a walkway beneath them. We decided to explore and found that there are restaurants, shops, and a coffee shop. We grabbed a coffee to give ourselves the much-needed energy to keep up with our excited, and extremely active toddler.

Running towards the CKS Memorial Hall

Running towards the CKS Memorial Hall

We resumed our trek down the plaza toward the massive white and purple octagonal building that houses the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. We walked up the sets of stairs quickly, well Z hopped “liked Tigger” up them, and looked upon the likeness of the controversial and loved former President . The gigantic statue of Chiang Kai-Shek reminded me of the Lincoln Memorial, I think it was the fact that they are both sitting and have similar positioning. We happily realized that we had arrived just in time to watch the changing of the guards. We took some pictures of what turned out to be an exceedingly long performance and ducked out before the show was over. It was interesting, but not enough to hold our attention that long.

Hopping "like Tigger" up the stairs

Hopping “like Tigger” up the stairs

Changing of the guard in front of the CKS Statue

Changing of the guard in front of the CKS Statue

We walked down the stairs on the left of the memorial hall and realized that this building also had a secret entrance below it. Okay, so it wasn’t really a secret, but in all the times I had been to the site in the past (quite a few actually when we lived here before) I had never noticed it. Inside were some souvenir shops, a post office, a museum, and a few food and snack places. We walked though and exited out the other side, deciding to make our way back to the metro station to head home.

Along the way we came to a pond that was full of Koi fish. Lucky for us there were statures that looked like Koi as tall as me selling fish food for just 10 NT. Z fed the fish a few times while I sat and took in the surroundings. There was a quaint white bridge over the pond and the foliage surrounding it made it feel like you were in some sort of Chinese impressionist painting.

Feeding the Fish

Feeding the Fish

The little bridge over the pond

The little bridge over the pond

The plaza was one of the most magnificent and enjoyable memorials I have been to in Taipei or anywhere. The natural and man-made aspects of the area fit together perfectly and make it so that no matter where you look it is pleasing to the eye. So take a day, or an hour, pack a picnic, or grab a meal in one of the restaurants located in the grandiose buildings, no matter what you do here, it will be a lovely experience.

Flexibility

There are many situations in life that teach us that we must be emotionally and mentally flexible.

For example, I had planned on writing a wonderful post about Eslite, a fantastic chain of bookstores here in Taiwan that are known as the some of the best in the world. Zoë and I visited one earlier this week in preparation for this post. We both enjoyed it immensely.

Unfortunately, that post will have to wait until next week. If you had a chance to read my last post about Zoë’s febrile seizure (if you haven’t, you can check it out here) on Wednesday afternoon, you may understand why the Eslite post must wait. Zoë’s fever has continued and we have had to be hyper-vigilant to keep her temperature down in the normal range. So Chad and I are running on little sleep, much stress, and even more prayer. This momma is tired and I don’t want to write a “thing to do” post while my brain is running on low fuel. I am praying that Zoë is fever free as of today and that our lives will return to normal. If you would send your prayers or good thoughts that would be much appreciated!

One thing about travel of any kind, whether it is long-term or short, with or without children, you learn quickly to be flexible. This week has been an emotionally draining and scary lesson in flexibility. But in all the things that we experience on this trip, whether bad or good, I am still incredibly thankful to be on this journey.

Thank you again for following us along our adventures!

Typhoons, Tailbones, and Time

So I have to admit that we did nothing this week that could be considered touristy. We lived a blessed life this week again, for sure. But I have nothing special to write about, as far as what you should see or do in Taipei. The “typhoon” (I use quotation marks because honestly I have seen far worse storms in California), my bruised tailbone from my fall down the stairs, and my subsequent paranoia about falling again in the rain prevented us from doing much this week.

When you travel long term, it is important to take time to do normal, real-life things sometimes. One cannot bustle around and be on the go all the time, especially with a toddler (I blame having a kid, but in reality, I need the down time more than her probably).

Despite the fact that we didn’t see any sights, or take any pictures of monuments, we did do some things that I do feel everyone should experience. They may seem mundane to you, but I feel refreshed and renewed for the new week because of them.

1) We had housecleaners come and do a deep clean of the house we are renting.

I have never had professionals clean my house. The house that we are renting previously belonged to three cats. Chad is allergic to cats and he has been suffering in silence. Yes, I could have done the work myself, but at the price of $20 an hour, we were both willing to let someone else do it for me. I am thankful that I was able to partake in this luxury. I know that in the States it is much more expensive, but I think everyone should enjoy this at least once. Especially all you hard working momma’s out there!

2) We stayed in and had a game night with good friends.

Last night after the babe went to bed, our friends came to our jungle oasis bearing gifts of hamburgers and fries (I know, awesome friends right?!). We sat and played the Battlestar Galactica board game until the wee hours of the morning (hence the lateness of this post). What a great time it was! I was the cylon and I ended up winning. I promise that is all the details I will go into about the game, Battlestar Galactica is not exciting to everyone I am sure, but I sure do love it!.

Regardless of what game we played, it was nice to relax and spend time with good friends. Last night I was Jenny, not just Zz’s mom, as she loves to call me lately. I think it is very important for every parent to take time to just be themselves occasionally. I know that it seems like that would go without saying, but I know many parents who never do so, or feel guilty when they do (I am totally pointing my finger at myself right now).

3) We spent a whole day in the house, just us three, and enjoyed each others company.

The typhoon day was such a blessing. Both Chad and I were nervous that many of the trees surrounding our house seemed like they may fall and break through our roof at the slightest breeze, but the Lord kept us safe in the wimpy torrential rainstorm. It ended up being a great day of togetherness!

Having Chad and Zoë with me all day, every day for the most part, I often forget to actually connect with each of them. I just end up going through the motions. I am so glad that there was a day that we were forced to stay in with each other, so I could reconnect with my two favorite people.

Make sure to take time and have a “typhoon day” with the ones you love too.

Next week I promise that I will write more about the wonders of Taiwan. Until then, what are some of the ordinary yet exceptional things that you would recommend that everyone do this week?