Yilan City is roughly a 25 minute scooter ride from Luodong. I visit at least twice a week for Chinese classes and work. Yilan is home to Fo Guang University, a Buddhist school, where I have 4 hours of Chinese tutoring each week.
Yilan is also home to 6 of my colleagues, our advisors and the Yilan County Teacher Training Center. Wednesdays we all meet at the center to discuss County wide initiatives and group projects. On the table for the moment is the development of Yilan County's first ever English Village (a simulated English only environment, the merits of which are debated by Second Language Acquisition experts), as well as the initiation of a "Let's Go! Yilan!" project, intended to leave a tangible lasting influence on English education in the county. This is also the site for professional development and teacher training workshops.
I make the drive on my scooter: 8 years old, maroon and scratched but fully functional scooter (wearing, mother and concerned, a full-size, at least mid-shelf helmet - as opposed to the upside down bowls most people wear; death-caps, they were called by one American in Taipei, alive today after a bad wreck because of his full-sizer). Scooters are to Taiwan what bicycles are to China. The amount of stuff people can stack up on them here is amazing. I will post soon (I always say that) on the scooter culture. My favorites are 1) newborn babies in arms (better than the one I saw in the basket of a bicycle the other night) 2) families of dogs at the drivers feet 3) boxes of pomelos, and so on.
Here is a taste of what I encounter on some of the Road to Yilan:
****Always digging around with something near the river****
****Protective Spirits - My scooter has been officially blessed at a temple and carries with it a talisman of the protection that a whole pantheon of gods have to offer. Most Taiwanese will bless their bikes when getting a new one (or so I'm told)****
****Kitty Prowling the Fields****
****Watery agriculture fields stand in between all sorts of buildings, in the cities and out country roads****
****MSG - yup. I'm sure this was unintentional. I think the "P" stands for "pai", the last character in red, which is kind of like patty. So, MSG chicken patty.****
****These white fellows find plenty to eat****
****Knee deep in mud on a Hot Day****
****And one for all worried mothers out there!****