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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Say click, take a pic

It's over.

After more years doing so than I care to let on, I am officially no longer employed as an English language instructor. This morning was my last shift at the kindergarten, and the students in Big Class (the ones who'll be starting elementary school in the fall), along with my wonderful co-teacher Ann, gave me a very warm sendoff. 

Being an English teacher has been an interesting experience, but it's time to move on and do other things. While I hope I will never have to return to the classroom in order to make a living, I have no regrets about ever starting out on this line of work. If it wasn't for teaching, I would never had made it to North East Asia, and my life would've been far less interesting as a result. Being a 先生 in Japan or a 老師 in Taiwan has enabled me to meet an incredible variety of people from so many different parts of the globe that I never would've run across had I stayed in Sacramento. To all my co-workers (both staff and teachers) at all the schools where I've taught, as well as all the students (young and old) who attended my classes, be they in Tōkyō 東京, Yokkaichi 四日市, T'aichung (Tái​zhōng) 台中 or Fēng​yuán 豐原, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making my life a much more enriching experience. 

どうもありがとうございます and 謝謝.

So what's next? Well, from tomorrow I'm off to Japan for a one-week break from all the moving preparations. I'll be visiting Hiroshima 広島, Miyajima 宮島, Iwakuni 岩国, Onomichi 尾道 and a couple of islands in the Inland Sea 瀬戸内海, Ikuchi-jima 生口島 and Ōmishima 大三島. If the weather holds up (a big "if", as the extended forecast calls for rain for half the time during my stay), I hope to do some hiking and cycling, and perhaps even catch a baseball and/or soccer game. As part of the preparations for this trip, on the weekend I bought a new digital camera, a Nikon ニコン Coolpix s2800. After work this morning, I rode my scooter over to the Chungcheng Park (Zhōng​zhèng gōng​yuán) 中正公園 area for a bit of exercise, both for my body and the new camera. Here are a few of the results:

OK, I cheated. This night shot was taken yesterday evening. It isn't the camera's fault there isn't much to see in Fengyuan after dark.

The overcast sky didn't provide the most ideal of lighting conditions for the new camera. The blame for the architecture can't be laid at the camera's feet, either.

The Nikon has an easy-to-use panorama function that I hope to make good use of when I'm in Miyajima this Thursday.

As I wrote above, the atmospheric conditions this afternoon were far from ideal, and I lack the technical knowledge to adjust the camera settings in these situations. One thing I'm going to miss about both Japan and Taiwan are the mountains and the lush vegetation.

Don't ask me why this chicken was crossing the road - I have no idea.

The ground was littered in places with blossoms from Tung trees (tónghuā) 桐花. In a couple of places, people had arranged the flowers on the ground into the shapes of hearts.

Even if I knew what I was doing with a camera in my hand, I don't think I could've done anything to make this temple look remotely attractive or charming.

Amber in front of the culture center in Fengyuan. Her skinned left knee was the result of her not yet mastering the fine art of applying the brakes on her bicycle.

This July will mark the ten-year point in our marriage, and Pamela thought it'd be a good idea to have some portrait pictures taken this evening. And just who is that is suave, debonair gentleman reflected in the mirror behind her? Obviously not a vampire.

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