Midnight Rodeo
Ray's Retiring
Workshop Reports
Asia Cruise 2008
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SUNDAY NIGHT - We have just finished dancing here in Taipei with Scott, Rachael, Simon, Craig, Niels, Kate, Jo and John Kinser, at Judy Chen’s WOW event, and WOW, what a lineup of choreographers! The selection of dances taught this weekend was the best ever and I hope many of them will be shared by other instructors.

Rachael: Back in time, Spoiled, What Love Is, Wake up Little Susie, Ding Dang Darn It, Boys will be Boys, Gold Digger, All She Wants, Will You Still Love Me

Scott: Loving You, Through the Fire, Meltdown, Back It Up, Jenkins Sisters Jam, Nice & Slow, Loving You

Simon: Hairspray, Larger Than Life, Morning Glory, Bang Bang, Beautiful in My Eyes, I Won’t Let You Go, Ray of Light, Sweet Temptation.

Craig: Timebomb, Call Me Maybe, Dance Again, Dancing on the Ceiling, Jump, Last Dance, World Go Round, Right About Now.

Niels: What are Words, Love Trouble, Drunk in the Morning, Someday, Summer Paradise, Next to Me, Heavy on My Heart, All I Need, Promise,

Kate: Black Heart, Night Nurse, All Good, Heart of My Mind, Good Time Baby, Straight to Memphis, All Good, Sideway Shuffle, Radioactive, Dancing with Cupid, Party On, Soul 2 Soul

Jo and John: Point of No Return, Your Song, Drive By, Everybody Dance, No Tu No, U Stole It. ,

Marilyn: Mix of Choreographers: His Only Need (Ria Vos), Bound to You (Maria Maag), 50 Ways (Pat Stott), Ssshhhh(Rob Fowler) Cool Catz(Daniel Whittaker), Brand New Day(Ria Vos), Merry Way(Michele Perron).

Louie doubled as Master DJ and Hall Monitor. Music selection for dance parties was perfect. Everyone danced a lot.

The farewell dance party on Sunday was huge! Dancers from several different countries attended and it always amazes me how we all know the same dances. It was a thrill to see and to dance again with those we met 2& 4 years ago in Asia. Your kindness inspires me, your happiness is contagious, and your dancing is just beautiful. Thank you for the many gifts and expressions of friendship. I will not forget your generosity and thoughtfulness.

The weekend ended with a beautiful Asian dinner. We all enjoyed the food and fellowship as we once again said goodbye. Thank you Daniel, for arranging our transportation and finding our way there!

Judy surprised Dr. Lim, Rachael, Craig and Jo with a birthday cake for each, in four different flavors and we celebrated!! It was a perfect ending to a most rewarding weekend with great people. Ray and I had a wonderful time with everyone and I truly appreciate this opportunity to be a part of Judy’s staff and to enjoy dancing with all of you. I hope to see you again soon!

The event is over, the other instructors have returned home, and we are about to start a 7 day tour of Taiwan. We are a perfect group of adventurous and compatible people. Everyone is ready on time and attentive to our excellent guide, Allan, whose stories are colorful and informative. Two of Judy’s sisters joined us, Fu Yung(aka Carol), Fu Hung and her friend Doe Doe, who owns a famous Hot Pot restaurant in Taipei, where we will dine on the last night. As always, Judy directs and looks over us. This will be an exceptional week!

MONDAY – TOUR OF CHANIG KAI SHEK MEMORIAL HALL. The museum itself is so big that one would need more time than we have to explore it all. The story of his life is quite amazing as is the history of his achievements. We watched the very impressive Changing of the Guard which is hard to imagine without being present. On to Yangmingshan Park, Dansui Old Street., and an exceptional lunch in African inspired Five Dime Restaurant. Visited the National Palace Museum. Stayed at Howard Civil Service International House and went to the Night Markets for shopping!

TUESDAY – Tour included visiting San Shia Old Street, famous for its croissants, which we sampled. LUNCH was a highlight as we dined in the Pottery district.

The music playing during lunch was American 50's, so we all chimed in to those old songs and inadvertantly entertained the other patrons. Almost like Karaoke!

In Hakka Village, we made our own Tea from scratch, enjoyed ginger cookies (had to bring some of these home), and visited a shopping section of shops with amazing sculptures.

Dinner in a VERY cool 50’s type, Hard Rock Café type restaurant – local Hakka food, playful décor and a good time! Beer drinkers even had their very own table! Stayed tonight at Taichung Forte Orange Hotel, a little night market shopping followed by a good night’s sleep.

Note of interest is remembering the time change when writing home. We leave around 8AM here each morning, which is 8PM the day BEFORE at home, and get to our hotel around 9PM, which is 9AM the SAME day at home. I think!

More to follow as we continue this journey. Tomorrow we leave for Sun Moon Lake. Goodnight, or Good Morning!

A pleasant morning spent cruising on the lake, then on to Holy Monk Shrine, and Leo Ho Night Market. Kaohsiung Howard Plaze Hotel tonight.

THURSDAY – FOKUNGSHAN TEMPLE, which was a favorite stop so far. We were greeted by a monk originally from Austria, who was charming, witty and full of information. We had an amazing vegetarian lunch in this Buddhist temple. I rested in a quite garden area, after climbing mountain of steps to reach just one plateau. Others continued climbing, and Ray said it was a highlight of the tour for him, listening to this Master. A feeling of tranquility surrounds you here, and it is easy to shed our anxieties and accept the gift of calm, quiet, peace.

Worship is present everywhere, not just in temples. Religion is a mix of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism. Mandarin is the common language, but there are many, many others spoken here. Listening to our Asian friends all talk at once, laughing and enjoying each other’s company, reminds me of this kind of family atmosphere growing up in an Italian household as a young child. Universally, it is still all about family.

Traveled through mountains to the beautiful beach areas, visited several very pretty sites and drove for many hours both east and north. We are in Aborigine country for dinner and a lovely hotel. No night markets here in this poorer section of Taiwan. We are off at 8am.

FRIDAY – Breakfast, long bus ride, stopped to feed wild monkeys, chatting with this awesome group of travelers, interesting conversations, learning much.

Visited several beach sites along the beautiful east coast, with lunch stop at JOKI restaurant, a famous artist’s café with unique works of art. Beautiful view of the Pacific ocean as we at lunch and now a two hour journey, listening to line dance music from the workshop along the way. Lodged at Hualien Chateau De Chine Hotel.

SATURDAY – On the road at 8AM again to Taroko Gorge. We will stay at Dong Shan Villa Yilan tonight. We walked thru the mountain tunnels, looking at this beautiful gorge and took many pictures. The cool air was welcomed by all of us, as it has been SO hot. Listening to 70’s music while we rest and travel on, serenaded by Carol as she sang “Oh Carol” to us, and she was GOOD!

Through the mountains again, where the roads are too narrow, too curvy, too high and I can’t look! Weather report warned of a Typhoon in the area, which is relative to a category 3 Hurricane. NOT good! Mountains, ocean, this is a beautiful part of Taiwan. We have an excellent driver, and we are thankful for him, as this drive was frightening for me, while others slept peacefully! We arrive safely at the National Center for Traditional Arts and lodged at Forte Dong-Shan Villa inside the institute. Lovely Japanese styled villas.

SUNDAY MORNING – Typhoon is north of us in Japan. The weather is overcast and windy, but it’s not hot today, and that’s good. We should all be okay to fly home our separate ways tomorrow.

First stop was the Ong Shan organic tea farm, where we picked tea leaves, smoked eggs and purchased some tea to take home. On to an Orchid Garden. We are returning to Taipei through a mountain tunnel, and will arrive shortly for lunch at the Grand Hotel.

Grand Hotel was really grand, very old, and very special. We shopped for a while, but prices are not so good here. Tonight we will dine at Doe Doe’s famous hot pot restaurant Khublai Khan.

8PM. We can’t eat one more bite of ANYthing, we are so stuffed. We were treated royally by Doe Doe with a sumptuous dinner as the restaurant bustled with happy customers on this Sunday night. This hot spot is always busy, and we understand why. The food is fresh, you cook it yourself, and it was all delicious! Walked around this high end area for a little while, but now have to pack to return home. Tonight we are at the beautiful Howard Plaza Hotel. Everyone is returning home.

We are thankful for this wonderful trip and the people who participated. Ray and I personally want to thank Judy, her sisters and Doe Doe for the VIP treatment every single day. Our traveling companions were great fun, kind and considerate and we are grateful to know each one.

Judy is always one step ahead of us, setting up the best possible arrangements to meet her high standard of hospitality. She thinks of everything. We realize now that her family has those same standards. Her generous spirit is constant. Dance has brought us all together. Respect for each person’s individual life is the common thread that weaves our lives together, so we can appreciate and enjoy each other. Friendship is a true gift.

Thanks to all of you for this memorable trip. We look forward to meeting again!
Ray and Marilyn

Pictures soon!

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