Make your own free website on

Miaoli in 2001.

Early 2001. Our long stint in Taiwan came to an end with a month's self-indulgence as we paid our 5th visit to Thailand before returning for another month in Taiwan, which we spent arranging a second stint in South Korea. That started in May...


Chinese New Year...

HERE BE DRAGONS. Chinese New Year is always noisy. The streets are full of teams of blokes snaking around in lines carrying huge 'dragons', beating drums and gongs, and setting off thousands of fireworks, all in pursuit of what they call Renao - loosely translated as 'heat and energy', I think.These teams of dragon-carriers stream around and visit businesses every evening for almost ten days, collecting hong bao (red envelopes stuffed with money) from people who believe that this is the time to be generous and that giving now means that you will receive good luck later. What actually HAPPENS to that cash is anyone's guess, but it's a good excuse to rush out of class every now and then to meet whichever 'dragon' happens to be breathing heavily in the school courtyard... ME WITH DRAGON AND MATTHEW
LANTERNS FOR AFRICA - ER, ASIA. The end of Chinese New Year means that it's time for the Lantern Festival. Every main street of every town on the island is strung with thousands of red Chinese lanterns, which gives a place quite a nice atmosphere. This is a view of Nanmiao (South Miaoli) one afternoon, showing the view just outside Reggie McD's (that's McDonald's) - a.k.a 'The US Embassy' - showing the red chain of lanterns strung above the yellow chain of ever-present taxis.  The road in this pic is Chung Jen Lu (Chiang Kai Shek Road, I think) and leads straight off towards the intersection where you can either turn right to our school or left under the railway line to our flat. LANTERNS IN NAN-MIAO

The farewells begin...

BYE BYE, BLOKES. We took the chance one weekend evening to have a farewell dinner with Steve Miller and Matthew Sparkes, our soon-to-be former colleagues. Laetitia and I headed up to the city of Hsinchu (where Matt and Steve lived) for an Italian nosh-up at a pretty decent restaurant there. There was wine, there were women (well, just the one) and there was song (courtesy of the Luciano Paverotten CD they were playing in the background). Whoopie. We had a very nice evening and it was a pleasantly laid-back way for the four of us to begin the process of putting Miaoli and the island behind us.


See You Tomorrow? Nope!

WHAT? NO GOLD WATCH?!? My last day at work in Taiwan with a group of students, colleagues and friends. On my left is former student Rachel, our former boss May, and Carrie, a long-time student of Laetitia's. On the right is the mom of one of MY permanent kids Jenny.This was was after I'd taught my very last, final, ultimate, not-to-be-repeated, last-of-all, end of the line, student in Miaoli City. It felt really strange to walk out after almost two and a half years and NOT say 'See you tomorrow!' To tell you the truth, it felt BRILLIANT to be unemployed! It gives me SO much time to do nothing.



FOND FAREWELLS. While Laetitia was in South Africa, I spent the month of March doing a lot of eating with a lot of friends. All these 'farewell' munchies took their toll and I'm sure that I've gained at least 2kg. Here is a picture of me with former colleagues Linda and Doris. Linda was our school manager more than a year previously and her husband works at a high-tech facility in mainland China so she would be moving to Beijing quite soon. Doris, our former receptionist and computer wiz, moved to become the P.A for Nissan, Taiwan. WITH DORIS AND LINDA

THAT'LL BE THE CLAY. On my first day of post-employment, I went down to the southern city of Taichung to see an exhibition of life-size terracotta soldiers from the Chinese mainland. These pottery types are world-famous, seeing as they are part of one of the biggest archaeological finds ever (in the mid-70s, a farmer noticed a couple of clay heads getting in the way of his plough and reported it so a team of experts arrived and started digging to discover about 12 000 life-size terracotta soldiers and horses buried in what turned out to be the tomb of the first Ching Dynasty emperor). 

In this pic, I ponder the meaning of 'terracotta' on Taichung station. I was on the way back after lunch with a friend of ours, Ella Liu, who'd done some home cooking and invited me over for the afternoon. It was her family with whom we'd spent Chinese New Year in the southern hamlet of Meinung - go here for those pictures.  KYLE THINKS ABOUT CLAY FIGURES...

Jobless - but not for long.

PACKING IT IN. Suddenly we were BOTH jobless - and LOVING it! I was lucky enough to be lumped with the job of packing up the contents of our flat. True to form, I had a month but waited until the very last moment to finish everything. In fact, it was the last night I was in the country - I spent about 14 hours straight throwing things into boxes and rubbish bags. No sleep, natch. I felt like 14 kinds of crap the next day - but at least everything was done.  PACKING UP IN TAIWAN
APRIL IN PHUKET. We spend a month doing less than nothing on the Thai island of Phuket. See that page here. OUR FAVOURITE BEACH, KATA, ON PHUKET ISLAND
MAY: BACK ON THE CHAIN GANG.  The beginning of May saw us back in Taiwan for longer than expected, due to the fact that the Korean Government had changed their work visa regulations and we weren't quite sure what the new laws stated - NOBODY knew and their Immigration Department wasn't saying anything official. Ah well - 'best laid plans' and all that. We had originally planned to be in Seoul (now officially home to about 20 million people) by the beginning of May 2001 but the murky Korean Immigration regulation changes put a real spanner in the works and we had to put our planned move back to Seoul on the back-burner a tad while the situation there clarified. 


Kyle Prospects The Korean Situation...

Never being one to let the grass grow under my feet (it's illegal here, anyway), I decided to spend most of May in that Korean megalopolis checking things out while Laetitia continued to bring home the bacon at our old school in Taiwan.  Once I'd tracked down the gen (and the right jobs), I zipped back to Taiwan for a few days at the end of the month to wrap things up again and then we flew to Korea sometime in the first week of June. In the meantime, life continued as we got used to the fact that I'd been jobless and loving it for almost 2 months! Whoopee!


MAY 24 - I RETURNED FROM TWO WEEKS IN KOREA. I spent a fortnight job-seeking in  Seoul, where I stayed in the newly-built satellite city of Bundang, which is about an hour from central Seoul, with a friend of ours - Kim Knight, originally responsible for getting us our first jobs in Asia at the end of 1997. She was about to leave her Samsung job for a new career in North America, just as Laetitia and I were getting back to Seoul. While there, I had the chance to see our former boss Myoung-Soo Kim (who's now a politician) and his wife, Yun-Mi, who we lived with during our first year there. They complimented me on the fact that my face didn't look so thin anymore - was this REALLY good to hear?

As it is, we were hoping that we wouldn't run into any any Korean work-visa hassles, which had to be approved for our new posts at a British company called Direct English . I also spent two days scouting for a flat in the area where we'd be working, which just happened to be probably the most expensive part of the city to live. Kangnam is something like the Beverley Hills of the city, where you'll pay about $500 a month for a one-bedroomed flat - and that's after you've put down more than $10 000 as deposit just for the privilege of being able to RENT the place for a year. This way of doing things stems from about 1950, when most of Seoul was destroyed three times over during the course of the Korean War and what little accommodation remained was naturally available only for extortionate amounts of money. This 'tradition' has persisted, despite the fact that there's now a glut in the housing market there. 


Signed, Sealed, Delivered...

JUNE. Success! We sorted everything out and started our new jobs in Seoul, with Direct English. This turned out to be one of the best jobs one can imagine, and we really settled in nicely. We moved into a radically expensive one-roomed flat and started the whole process of getting a household together again. US IN SEOUL WORK GEAR 2001
OTHER THINGS. We visited Japan, were burgled for the first time, and my first digital camera packed in the towel for good. Other than that, we didn't have an awful rest of the year at all. HAMMING IT UP IN OUR KIMONOS, JAPAN.


You've got here via our Homepage (logically), but there's more...
Catch up with things Hannan-wise on our latest news page. 
 Trawl our exhaustive, multi-picced News Archive.  
See more about the Countries we've visited. 
Find out more about Us and Ours.
And since you're here, why not
send us a quick note by 
clicking right here.


COPYRIGHT. Wotcher. Almost everything on these pages belongs to US. It's ours and we do not allow you to use it unless we've told you you could. If there's anything here that you think belongs to you, then contact us and tell us. Otherwise. hard cheese.