It isn't like me to let two weeks go by without updating. And I can't really keep secrets, so I decided to post something now letting you know that Focus on the Good is moving. I have been working with a friend to get my blog hosted on an independent domain and its taken a while, but is getting close to finished! My friend has helped me create a website out of nothing and I am so excited to finally see it coming together. I'm afraid to put a link up yet, because its not totally ready, but be patient, please. Big changes are just around the corner...
In November I did something I had never done before, signing up for the Nectar Collective's Snail Mail Collective, a blogger exchange.
I love mail. I love getting it (who doesn't?), but I adore sending it. I stop by the stationery store weekly to browse - Asia, as a rule, as the absolute best letter sets. I send letters out every other week, postcards with quick notes to full on packages. It brings me joy to touch something, hold it, and carry it around with me, to write out my love and ship it away to the other side of the world. So when I saw their Snail Mail Collective, I knew I was committed. They are wonderful and organize it all, picking a theme and pairing people up. Our theme for November was, of course, gratitude. We're given blog links and email addresses and about 2 weeks to connect via email. The limit is $5 per package which makes it affordable for anyone to participate.
I was paired with Lauren, from My Passion Journey. I had a hard time deciding just what I should send her, because there are just so many things I am grateful for. I'm not sure if she has received my package yet, so I really don't want to give it away! But, I can tell you wrapping her package gave me lots of wrapping inspiration and I used the same theme for my family gifts this year, which are already flying across the world as I write this.
Lauren is really sweet. We discussed traveling, her recent trip through Europe made me really want to go back! She gave me lots of inspiration for different life plans, which I am always seeking out. She mailed me what she is grateful for, her favorite lip balms, and an adorable little notebook. I've been using it to take notes on bus times and train stations since its small enough to tuck into my bag or pocket. Check out her blog if you want to follow her weekly search for beauty in the every day, uplifting quotes, and her regular chronicles of goals and dreams that remind readers to be constantly seeking improvement.I especially loved her post on the reasons to move to Phoenix! I'm always looking for an excuse to move, and she gives plenty!
If you're sold on signing up for the next Snail Mail Collective exchange, check this link. This will be the last one that they host, so sign up before December 7th to get in! The theme will be travel, so it will be hard for me to resist participating again.
I have had the north coast of Taiwan on my list for a while, especially Nanya Rock Formations. They are a little out of the way, and I couldn't figure out if there was a bus there or if it was only reachable by taxi and private cars. Since I didn't really know where to go, I didn't know the best train to take and ultimately I bought a train ticket to Keelung thinking I could get a bus to the rock formations easily. I didn't realize Ruifang would have been a better choice or just how far that bus ride would be. But, when the bus pulled onto the expressway along the ocean, I just got off. It was so beautiful there, I couldn't stand to be waiting for something better. I didn't know where I was or how I'd get back to catch my return train, but the weather warmed up, almost 75F, and the skies were blue. I decided there was absolutely no where more important for me to get to than the ocean and that it would sort itself out. And I was right. I spent the day watching the waves come in, the fisherman carefully balancing on the rocks, and children running around flying kites. I wandered from the very edge of Keelung, by the Wanghai Fishing Harbor to the Fish Market. I grabbed a bus to return to the train station just in time to get whisked away.
I found it surprising how many lights the fishing boats have, but yesterday I discovered why. I'll be posting an entry all about this soon.
I love these rocks, the colors are just perfect.
I'm not sure why this is here, as neither side is accessible by a road intended for people. I found it beautiful and spent a long time relaxing here, reading my book.
The water from Keelung is really beautiful. I have heard Hsinchu's port is not as pretty, so I will probably procrastinate that trip to stave off disappointment. This will be hard to beat as I really loved Keelung.
If you keep up on Detroit news, you probably saw that the third Heidelberg house in under a month went up in flames today. If not, you can read about it here (link). You will notice that it says an investigation revealed what we all suspected, its arson. Someone is targeting one of my favorite places and destroying public, accessible art that transformed a strip of abandoned homes. I think its shameful and wrong on so many levels. I implore you to think about the value art has to you, the value freedom of expression, the value rebirth and revitalization has to you. Donate what you can afford to get the Heidelberg the security it needs to preserve the remaining houses. Donate at indiegogo (link)!
Part of the reason I wanted to post this was a similar artist's transformation of their own home community in Taichung, Taiwan. See the photos I posted recently (link).
Want more information on the project? Check out their website (link).
And one more time, in case you changed your mind... donate at indiegogo (link)!
Remember when you were like 19 and could pull all nighters and just live like a zombie on coffee and red bull for a week or so? Turns out that sort of behavior is not necessarily just for students. Teachers may be doing the same thing. For example, a ridiculously over-ambitious science teacher who is determined to teach a subject for which there are no books in Taiwan. I've learned that sometimes involves staying at work until almost 11 pm trying to write your own book, because there is just nothing suitable there.
On the bright side, this gives me plenty of opportunities to see out my window in all sorts of light. Here is 4 am creeping up outside my window and spoiling my sleep schedule for the rest of the week, I am sure.
Look familiar? Maybe you recognize the view from my bedroom window from this post.
Trying to pick out which pictures to put on my blog from my trip to Taichung's Rainbow Village was impossible. Look at these photos! So inspiring and cheerful; I want to go buy some paint and transform my living room.
At first glance they seem simple and I start to imagine being able to do it myself... but when you look closer you can see the tiny detailing, the layers and layers of pain that make each character a little more three dimensional. Amazing. It is completely amazing.
I especially love how the art moves from the walls to the floor seamlessly.
All of this is done by one man, Rainbow Grandpa. He is 91 years old and transformed his drab, depressing, military-dependent housing into his own, one-of-a-kind museum. The housing was set to be demolished, but the Rainbow Grandpa's memorable paint job and newly created photo site for Taiwanese tourists apparently convinced them otherwise. When I went he was casually seated behind a folding table selling postcards and shaking hands, smiling constantly. He has a limited selection of things for sale with his art on it, and also takes donations to buy more paint to continue the project.
I found posts and blogs about the Rainbow Village when I lived in Korea. I've had it saved and bookmarked, a backburner adventure waiting for the right time. It reminded me of the Heidelberg Project, which I realized I have never posted about on here. What a shame! It is absolutely amazing, and probably three times the size of the Rainbow Village. It will be one of my next 5 for Friday posts, without a doubt.
There was a man posing with tourists for photos, all dressed in rainbow. I went alone and initially turned him down when he gestured me over to take a picture. I didn't want to have to ask someone to take a picture of me and all of that.. maybe an hour later when I was about to leave he stopped me. He had found a man who spoke English and insisted that I pose. They grabbed my camera, handed me a ukulele, and took a few shots of us together. As much as I hate being that tourist, they really end up getting the best photos. I'm grateful to be coerced into inclusion, even when I resist it.
Side realization: I have so, so many photos of amazing, beautiful places with just the tips of feet snuck in. I should probably collaborate all of them into a video or something. And yes, Mom, these are still the chucks that Diesel the destructive doberman tried to eat.So, I've decided to forgive him, since they're alright.
Getting there is easy enough: take the train to Taichung. Leave the train station and cross the street to the large bus stop - not the one that is directly in front of the station! There you will find lots of buses, take the 30 or 40 until everyone gets off. It will be the last stop and it will take a while. They will drop you off down the street, so just keep walking on the road and you will run right into the start of the village. None of the tourist maps from Taichung's Tourist Info had it listed or featured there. But, they are well aware of it and were more than happy to help me find the village.