Sunday the 22nd of June 2014
I’ve been testing various potential souvenirs out today, mainly dried fish and beef. Admittedly, I am a huge fan of both. I think my parents will like it too. I’m going to get my brother and sister to take some back for them. My parents brought biltong back when they went to South Africa; biltong is delicious, especially when it’s a little spicy. I bought a pint of blueberries and cream Häagen-Dazs today too; I then proceeded to eat all of it because I felt like it. I think having given it a try that I prefer chocolate; caramel or coffee based ice creams. Unless it’s sorbet, I prefer sorbet to ice cream. I think this combination of blueberries and cream is why I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped. I would’ve preferred to have just been blueberry sorbet I suppose. I preferred my Christmas luxy list ice cream choice.
Apart from the little shopping trip I took today, I’ve done nothing but copious amounts of additional school work, which I don’t get paid for. I turned an entire text book into a series of listening stories with questions, I wrote two classes worth of presentation or report cards and organised work sheets etc. for future lessons. The other teachers went to the beach for a summer solstice weekend and Nantou waterfalls. I definitely think I made the right decision staying in, especially as my travelling siblings are now in Kyoto, Japan. Next on their list is Tokyo, Japan followed by a trip to Taiwan… a trip which I need to make sure I have enough money for! I have saved a decent amount but it’s not exactly easy when you have to work to live and by live I mean, afford food and pay rent. I also had all this work to do with my (unpaid) holiday starting on Thursday.
My legs have got bigger, cycling every day since December (I think) has had the opposite effect to what I expected. I have got really muscular legs, not slender, just muscular, athletic I suppose. It doesn’t exactly boost my confidence amongst the overly feminine women of Taiwan. The rest of me is the same, more slender around the waist which isn’t that bad… the legs though, I wanted to go down a jean size, not up one… I feel like Wonder Woman, or one of the other Amazons no human clothes (in Asia) fit me. Anyway, personal self-consciousness issues aside, I think I must be fitter (health wise) than I was in the UK, even though I walked more in the UK. I can’t wait to live somewhere with pavements, which is a weird thing to say but almost inexplicable unless you’ve lived here, without them.
Game of Thrones has finished again and I need to find something new to watch. I’ve heard Orange is the New Black is good but it just hasn’t appealed to me yet. The thought of a show set in a women’s prison sounds a bit… meh… Maybe one day I’ll give it a try. I was sceptical about a few TV shows initially before actually getting into them. There’s so much more that I could be doing at the moment and yet my energy levels are pretty low right now. I’m not sure what’s wrong with me but something doesn’t feel right. I hate feeling unproductive.
Tuesday the 17th of June 2014
How long does it take to get used to silence? I wake up every morning to the sounds of motorcycles and scooters being revved up outside my window, the slamming of the metal gate, the hum of my buildings elevator, dogs barking, advertising trucks with their megaphones blaring and a host of other unusual noises. In my room, despite all the noise that occurs in the street or in the corridor, it’s silent. The fan in my bathroom whirs, the fridge cracks and occasionally, the air conditioner can be heard, yet it’s still silent. The lack of another human being seems to initiate the constant reminder that you are alone within a space, alone with your thoughts or lack of thoughts, you can watch TV or videos online, listen to music, sing and the space remains silent.
I was left alone in the teacher’s room for some time yesterday; I managed to get a lot of work done. I went in early for that sole reason. I knew that had I attempted to complete the work at home it would’ve proved difficult. It’s a shame that I leave in two months and it’s taken me this long to figure out a suitable work life balance which works for me. The teacher’s room was silent. The air conditioner was on which helped to drown out the sound of a pregnant TA vomiting, children crying and screaming, noises from the surrounding streets etc. I listened to a lecture (one of my absolute favourites) by Marianne Talbot (University of Oxford) on my iPad. I listened to it without headphones; her shrill and interesting voice filled the space. It was a lecture that worked well as I wrote out my hand over notes. Hand over notes take a considerable amount of time and I have ten different classes of students, all of whose names I remember and who I was required to write about for the new teacher.
Anyway, I feel as though I’ve gone off on a tangent. I eventually turned off the lecture when the other teachers returned as the dynamic didn’t work, I couldn’t focus. I had fallen into what I like to refer to as a trance like philosophical state and could hardly string sentences together. It’s at times like that I could use a piece of paper and pure silence. I used to be able to type over ten thousand words in a day. I used to write pages of notes, ideas, concepts, theories. I stopped because it seems that working the way I do here in Taiwan has somehow limited my abilities. Last weekend, I decided that I need to start writing again. I’m a published writer, an award winning blogger and I’m technically an art critic, so why is it that here, in the middle of a tiny island, do I feel like none of that matters. Is it perhaps because it doesn’t? My need to survive, to get paid, to buy food, to eat, to sleep have taken over from what was once a pure desire for knowledge, where I didn’t care whether or not I was taking care of myself as long as I was writing.
It’s raining. The typhoon we were expecting over the weekend, is perhaps more likely to come about this week. Cycling through a typhoon is difficult. Working in rain soaked clothes is also difficult. I wear a waterproof jacket but I would have to invest in waterproof trousers if I cared enough about getting wet, which incidentally, I don’t think I do.
On Saturday, I bought turmeric tablets from a pharmacy in the city. The bottle contains 240mg of turmeric x100. I decided that taking turmeric would be a good idea as there are a lot of benefits to it. I have been taken two capsules or 480mg a day. It’s a sort of experiment really and I have to say so far, my skin has improved, I have been waking up earlier and my body (although I had a headache this morning) doesn’t ache in quite the same way. I’m not sure how much or how little turmeric one is supposed to take if attempting to improve their overall health but I feel as though this is a fairly decent amount.
Turmeric contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs. If you do get a cold, a cough or the flu, you can feel better sooner by mixing one teaspoon of turmeric powder in a glass of warm milk and drinking it once daily.
Turmeric, also known as curcuma longa, is a very common herb. Often referred to as the “Queen of Spices,” its main characteristics are a pepper-like aroma, sharp taste and golden colour. People across the globe use this herb in their cooking. According to the Journal of the American Chemical Society, turmeric contains a wide range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic, antimutagenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also loaded with many healthy nutrients such as protein, dietary fibre, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, sodium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. Due to all these factors, turmeric is often used to treat a wide variety of health problems.
Turmeric can help prevent prostate cancer, stop the growth of existing prostate cancer and even destroy cancer cells. Multiple researchers have found that the active components in turmeric make it one of the best protectors against radiation-induced tumours. It also has a preventive effect against tumour cells such as T-cell leukaemia, colon carcinomas and breast carcinomas.
The anti-inflammatory properties in turmeric are great for treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, turmeric’s antioxidant property destroys free radicals in the body that damage body cells. It has been found that those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who consume turmeric on a regular basis experience much relief from the moderate to mild joint pains as well as joint inflammation.
Turmeric can be used in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate insulin levels. It also improves glucose control and increases the effect of medications used to treat diabetes. Another significant benefit is turmeric’s effectiveness in helping reduce insulin resistance, which may prevent the onset of Type-2 diabetes. However, when combined with strong medications, turmeric can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is best to consult a healthcare professional before taking turmeric capsules. Research has proven that simply using turmeric as a food seasoning can reduce serum cholesterol levels. It is a known fact that high cholesterol can lead to other serious health problems. Maintaining a proper cholesterol level can prevent many cardiovascular diseases. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can be used as an effective disinfectant. If you have a cut or burn, you can sprinkle turmeric powder on the affected area to speed up the healing process. Turmeric also helps repair damaged skin and may be used to treat psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions.
(Top 10 Home Remedies, Date Unknown)
I hope you enjoyed the information about turmeric. I think it’s interesting how nature can often provide us with an answer to our problems better than medicine can. Yesterday, after school, I went to the grocery store, the woman who is always at the checkout smiled at me, she always asks if I want ice cream (in Chinese), I always shake my head. I bought salt, eggs, cereal, cinnamon, apples, carrots and various other groceries last night in an attempt to make wiser choices when it comes to my eating habits here. I also bought two boxes of cereal as I have a ton (exaggeration) of powdered milk I want to use up, I can’t bring myself to waste it and by the time my brother and sister get here I will be buying the fresh (or as close to fresh as it’s possible to get here) so that they can have nice cups of tea or coffee without the dreading powdered milk trail at the bottom of the cup.
Anon. (Date Unknown) ‘10 Health Benefits of Turmeric’ Top 10 Home Remedies [Online]. Available from: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-health-benefits-of-turmeric.html (Accessed: 17th June 2014)
Roots and Sprouts (11th February 2015) 'The Many Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin' [Online] Available from: http://rootandsprouts.com/the-many-benefits-of-turmeric-and-curcumin/ (Accessed: 4th April 2015)
Monday the 2nd of June 2014
I woke up late again today, it was almost 3PM. I pottered around in my room, drinking strawberry milk tea and eating chocolate. I might make myself a cup of tea. Despite feeling like I’ve had a rather unproductive weekend, I did manage to give myself an Internet language lesson. By that I mean, using various YouTube videos and websites to teach myself Polish. I took one of my empty notebooks from my suitcase and wrote the Polish alphabet on the first page, I then starting researching pronunciation, spelling, writing etc. It was quite good. I’m really looking forward to moving to Warsaw in August. Here’s a little bit about the school I’ll be working with in Warsaw, Poland as of September 2014:
This weekend was actually a long weekend and Dragon Boat Festival or 端午节. ‘Dragon Boat Festival is said to commemorate the sacrifice of Qu Yuan, a legendary Chinese poet. In Mi Lo River around 2000 years ago, he drowned himself to protest against the rulers and to stop corruption. As respect to the poet, people throw dumplings into the river to stop fish from feeding on the poet’s body as well as make noise to scare the fish away.’ I was supposed to go on a trip to Tainan (臺南 or 台南) with some of the other teachers but on Saturday I was so exhausted I could hardly move. I hoped it went well for everyone though. I’m still tired; it’s almost 10PM here in Taiwan. I want to watch yesterday’s Game of Thrones episode but my boyfriend isn’t online and we usually watch it together whilst on Skype. I ate McDonalds and watched Men in Black II last night, which was fun. The air raid siren went off again on Thursday; I have to admit, it really freaks me out. I was later told by a friend that it’s actually a national air defence drill, an annual event and that the all-clear should be sounding as he commented under my status update. He told me not worry. I was still a little worried. I haven’t felt anymore earthquakes though which is good. I’m definitely not a fan of those. One of my neighbours dries laundry on their scooter. I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook as I found it really interesting for some reason. I have a garbage bag in my apartment I need to get rid of, it smells like rotten apples.
I can’t wait to get back to Europe. I like Taiwan and it is such a fascinating experience being here but I just find it so hard to live what I’d like to consider ‘a normal life’. I want to listen to Chopin on a park bench whilst eating a giant pretzel without having to worry if the ground is going to start shaking or if cockroaches and spiders are going to crawl all over me as I sleep.