Friday, March 18, 2011

A weekend in Malaysia

I recently had to do a "visa run".  Which means leave the country and come back to automatically extend my visa for another 60 days.  At first, I saw this as a big inconvenience, but now I realize this is actually a blessing in disguise.  Who wouldn't want a unexpected weekend at the beach?!  This is the first time I've had to do this, because last time I already had plans to go home for Christmas.  I had been putting off booking my flight because I didn't really know where I wanted to go and wasn't excited about paying for airfare.  I ended up in Kota Kinabalu (the cheapest place Air Asia flies from Taipei).

Malaysia has the best sunsets I've seen anywhere in the world

My long weekend turned out better than expected. I found a cheap place to stay (about $10/night) and started reading about KK so I could figure out the best way to spend my 3 days there.  It turns out there is a collection of islands just off the coast that make up a national park.  You can catch a ferry in the morning to the island of your choice and swim, snorkel, and hike during the day.  I wish I had more time to get to some of the places outside of the city, but I can always go back sometime in the future.

Relaxing on the beach I discovered... no tourists here!
Things have not slowed down at all since Chinese New Year.  My roommate pirated a copy of the Rosetta Stone so we've both been trying to do it every day.  Initially I had hoped to learn Chinese, but I have lost motivation a bit because it's so difficult.  I'm still doing a weekly language exchange, but I'm probably learning more about Taiwanese culture from my language partner than actually learning the language.  I have been using the Rosetta Stone to keep up with my Spanish however!

One of my friends here owns an art gallery and this weekend I started a drawing and painting class there.  I've taken some art courses at home, but they tend to be expensive and I've decided to take advantage of as many classes as I can while I'm here because they're much cheaper.  In the winter I took a French class at the association where my roommate teaches, and I'm thinking of enrolling in one of their summer courses as well.

I also started playing soccer this past weekend with a group of expats in a league, finally!  I was on the fence about bringing my soccer stuff to Taiwan and I'm really glad I did.  I've been playing on and off when I've been home but I really miss playing competitively on a team.  The day after the first practice just sitting down was a challenge but I haven't forgotten how quickly sore muscles recover.  They practice twice a week and I would need to be selected to play in the league, but regardless of whether I end up playing in the official games or not I'm happy just to be kicking a ball around again!

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