Fred & Chi Chan's letter January 26, 2008

Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2008 12:55 AM
Subject: Greetings from the Chan clan from Oz

Dear Friends and Relatives,

Happy New Year! We wish you all a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Rat.

Apologies for not getting around to sending out Chrissie cards at the end of last year, and the lateness of this greeting. The Chan clan went on a 5 week holiday to Taiwan and we only got back to Melbourne earlier in the week, just in time for Nathan and Belinda to start a new school year next week.

Chan clan w/
Chi's mum
Everyone here is doing fine. Nathan is starting high school this year (middle school for the yanks) and Belinda moving to Grade 5 in primary school. Fortunately we live in an area with good public schools (thus saving on private school fees), and the high school is right next door to the primary school. In fact, the kindergarten, primary and high schools are right next to each other. So if things don't change, Nathan and Belinda would be spending 14 school years each basically at the same location, which is only a 7 minute walk from home. Music still plays a big part, with Nathan completing his Grade 4 piano, Grade 2 trumpet and Grade 3 theory, and Belinda completing her Grade 2 piano and Grade 1 theory. Fitted around this are still Chinese school, Australian Children's choir and tennis.

Chi's parents moved back to Taiwan in the middle of the year after having been in Oz for 17 years, hence our Taiwan trip (but more on this later). We are already
Deep in a
limestone cave
missing having them as baby-sitters every Saturday. Chi has been helping out more at school and Fred is still working at the Victorian state Department of Infrastructure. Fred's brother got married (finally) and his aunt and her family from LA stayed with us for a couple of weeks in November.

The highlight for the year was a 5 week trip to Taiwan. Nathan and Belinda left school a week before school finished, and Fred managed to wangle enough leave from work. Fun and adventure was had by all. We visited a lot of night markets from Taipei, Keelung, Tainan, Taichung, Kaoshiung and ate a lot of food, which were both good and cheap. (unfortunate for the waistline). Fred and Chi's youngest brother went on a quest for the perfect '10' in 'stinky tofu'. Still didn't find it yet although we did find a '8'. Taiwan has a high speed train now which is similar to Japan's bullet train, fast, clean and efficient and getting up to speeds of 300km/hr.
The girls
We used it for the some of the inter-city trips, and from one end of Taiwan to the other is only 1.5 hours. On a trip down the south, we rented a car with Fred doing most of the driving which was exciting given the traffic conditions in Taiwan. 1000's of scooters weaving around traffic, red lights don't also necessarily mean that cars will stop, plus streets that were not designed to handle anything bigger than a mini. We survived! Talking about scooters , we rented motor scooters in a small town and rode around with the kids hanging on for their lives in the back. Ah, you only live once... The weather was relatively mild for their winter, and on a trip up a mountain range it was still 10deg C even though we were over 3200 meters above sea level. We also visited two outdoor hot springs, soaking in pools and communing with nature. We're now back in Melbourne. If you're ever coming down here, just send us an email or give us a call +61 3 9859 0827. (Please note email change, so time to update your address book) Our address is still 147 Maud Street, North Balwyn, Victoria, Australia 3104. We'd love to have you stay over, or just catch up if you're passing by.

Well, take care for now!

Best Wishes from the Chan clan from Oz.

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