Hong Kong 2016

My school had a four day break and we decided to take advantage of our location in Asia by taking a short, less than two hour plane ride to Hong Kong. But before getting into my favorite city in China, here is a short description of the day we left Taiwan. TAIPEI 2:37 pm

The following passage is slightly fictional. Just slightly.

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"Loic may you please go down to the office, you are going home. Don't forget to go to your locker for your backpack. See you at camp next week!" This was the last sentence I heard before I was zooming down the deserted streets trying to avoid the full impact of the incoming typhoon. Just as an afterthought, I probably should not have taken my bike home just before the largest typhoon in Taiwan history (and the largest in the world since 2002) was about to hit the capital so hard that half a million homes would be evacuated. Anyways, I arrived home about 17 minutes later, a personal best because of the winds pushing me from behind, and proceeded to change into dry clothes.

A few minutes later, we were in the taxi heading to the airport. We arrived at Taoyuan airport just early enough to make a pit stop at the lounge. This was especially exciting as there was an abundance of extremely healthy food that taunted my taste buds so much that I just couldn't resist. (For reference, the only reason we go to the lounge is for the food:) I started off with a large cheese hot dog, a side of organic cheese pop corn, and most importantly, a 4 scoop ice cream sundae with extra caramel sauce. And just as I finished my first YouTube video, my plate was completely empty. And guess what I did? I went to the buffet-style food court and got another hot dog, some more popcorn, and another 3 scoop ice cream sundae. The only difference this time was that I added mini chocolate cookies on top of the sundae and took a couple of Cokes out of the mini bar. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a third hot dog as we were asked to board via the loudspeaker just as I finished the last bite of my extravagant meal.

Then came the best part of my day... The airplane ride. No we didn't get upgraded to first class, no we didn't get to fly the plane, but we got to experience a flight through a typhoon! We were delayed for just about an hour due to winds over the allowed limit of 80 km/hr and then the winds dropped down to 75 for about 10 minutes and that is exactly when we left. They went back up to 100 just after takeoff. The taxi was already turbulent as the wind kept pushing us to the left thus putting the plane off balance; soon afterward we were in the air. It actually kind of felt like a trampoline park. You know the constant up and down feeling to your stomach and the occasional kid smashing into you except here it felt like a boulder had just hit the rear end of the plane thus catapulting those at the front, including my family and I, directly to the roof of the plane. This process repeated itself for about 40 minutes and then, unfortunately, we were too high for the typhoon to touch us so the free roller coaster ride had ended.  The only downside to this flight was that the seat belt fastened sign was never taken down for the entirety of the first half of the flight. Upon arriving in Hong Kong, we took the train directly from the airport to the station in the central part of the town and then took a taxi to the apartment. We were home!

Here is the video that quickly recaps our weekend and it you want to see even more feel free to check out all the pictures and comments below. Make sure to adjust the quality of the video in the bottom right-hand corner and set it to 1080p.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbU208dZ55w

I know the video was a little short but it it is only my second video ever so I am still learning!hong-kong-china-city-skyline-3677.jpg

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These were the scenes in our apartment as we learned how to operate the endless gadgets throughout the room.DSC02125

My makeshift room! With a view!

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View from the back of the apartment.

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Our apartment owner was an airplane fanatic thus suggesting his job as a pilot.

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Some stores can be creative to encouralike this toilet store!

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We found this amazing glass bridge connecting two large shopping malls where we could observe the large skyscrapers such as the one below. Hong Kong loves ice cream too :)

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The Lippo twin towers.

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We visited many tea houses, this being one of them. They provide contrast compared to the modern city looming above.img_9265

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Tea is also a prominent part of normal citizens too!

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Tea drying in the city!

img_9368We went across the water to watch the fireworks one night!

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But what amazes me is that the city is so different at night!

On our way home from the night show, we decided to calmly take a walking route back to our apartment. Surprisingly enough it was everything but calm and we did everything except walk. We ran into a dragon festival. It was complete chaos! We even met a Franco-Chinese woman who explained everything to us

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After our first short break, we then thought we were done for the night. However in Hong Kong that never happens! We stumbled upon a stadium for horse racing, the national sport, and decided to take a closer look. Inside there was game of rugby, played by expats.

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We didn't even plan for it but the lantern festival was in full swing and my mom was loving it!

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Beautiful pork shop, or chop :) in a small street! Hong Kong is unpredictable sometimes. Basket of meat lying in the middle of a sidewalk.

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Cute little sculpture in a store

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Hong Kong temples are very different from Taiwanese ones!

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Mandarin Calligraphy that is very common throughout Hong Kong and China

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Lower level breakfast shop in the middle of the city

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The outside of a nice restaurant in mural town HK.

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What a view!!!

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These escalators make commuting up and down the hill much easier for many Hong Kong citizens

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Beautiful mosque gate in the downtown district.DSC01880

As we walked through the more remote places of the city, we noticed the rich people that lived tucked away from the busy streets, wanting to take a break from the hustling life.

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The view from the top of the Victoria Mountain.

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My dad loves his selfies!!!

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As we hiked to the top of the mountain, we saw mammals such as this little guy which we couldn't identify

The second day we headed out to the Hong Kong country side to go on a hike with some French friends that we knew from Arizona: Lea used to be in French class with me.

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Although this was our last excursion in the city of Hong Kong, we had one last surprise waiting for us at the airport!

DSC02129We started off by taking a quick pit stop at my favorite part of any airport, the lounge. Anyone likes free food and drink! Then just as we were heading out, the attendants took us with a golf cart to the gate where we were surprised with business class tickets because of my dads status! The plane was an A330 so we did not have the 1-2-1 formation but it was still a great ride! img_9445img_9434DSC02147img_9502

 

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Arriving back in Taiwan! Clean after the typhoon!

Model United Nations (Singapore)

Ever since I arrived at Taipei American School, I had the dream of traveling to another country with a competitive traveling team. I did not know if it was going to be sports, speech and debate, or an art competition. I just knew it was going to happen. Upon arriving to the school, I quickly realized that sports were not a major priority in middle school so that was already scratched off my list but what I didn't know was that there was a program involving the United Nations. The school clearly spend much time and resources to compete internationally because almost every teacher was involved one way or another with the program. I had never heard of this club and was pretty intimidated by the kids who already had several years of practice and experience behind them, but I knew I had a background of international relations and travelling all over the world so I went along forward and tried the application process anyways. Luckily, my dream came true about 6 months ago, October 2016, when I got accepted in the traveling MUN team. This prestigious program consists of a team of 14 kids, all from the 8th grade, which participates in a competition at the International School of Singapore in Singapore to debate against kids from all over the Asia. 27 schools to be exact. International school of Kuala Lumpur, American School in Amman Jordan, and Shanghai American School to name a few.

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So back to life before the conference itself. We practiced twice a week, 2 hours each session, from beginning of November until February 24, the day before our departure for the conference. It was not just us kids debating by ourselves after school. We were accompanied by two teachers, one from the IT department from the school and another from the lower school English department. Both were very experienced and thoroughly explained the basics of MUN along with many other useful skills. But this is not where the team of people coming along us stopped. There were 2 high schoolers, both part of the very extensive MUN program in Upper School, that were here as mentors to guide the debate and make sure that all of our work was well crafted, composed with general ideas not just pinpointed issues, and most importantly correctly formatted. These high schoolers, Brent and Dylan, were the driving force that made us want to spend those Friday nights completing our final clauses or final points of our against speech. Without these playful leaders, the team would have less energy overall and we would not have completed as much as we did over the course of our 4-month journey. They also came on the trip because they would be chairs (I will explain later) at the conference along with high schoolers from all around Asia as this is a Middle School only conference. Apart from their serious MUN duties, they were some of the funniest people I have ever met with jokes and made up phrases that will stay with me until the next time I spend time with them where I will hear some more of these thrilling jokes.

Brent Lin                                                                         Dylan Sun

I especially got along with Brent as he is an Eagle Scout and I went to his Eagle project the year before this conference:

IMG_2399 (1).JPGNow to the first day of the actual trip:

It was 11 am when we were all in the bus and headed to the airport. It was a rainy and drowsy day which just added to the excitement of leaving Taiwan. Most kids just saw this as a regular trip, but this weekend’s trip would not only mark my first trip while traveling on a school team but also my 45th country I had been to overall. The list keeps on growing! So we arrived at the airport, did the usual check in with Singapore Airlines and then headed to customs.

The candy that we received at the check-in counter

I took the pictures by the way with a tin foil background, and i thought it would look cool but it didn't really work out :)

Everything went smoothly and not soon afterward we were in the food court, calming our growling stomachs. Everyone started to order so I quickly grabbed some of my favorite noodles with sour chicken and sat down with the rest of the group.

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We then headed to the gate which featured an unusual model plane as you enter. The airplane ride was especially nice as the movie selection was excellent featuring Mullan and Lala Land. TV shows featured the Simsons and the Big Bang Theory. The electronic setup didn't stop here as every seat had a USB charge port and a 3 plug charger below the seat. Image result for singapore airline tv

Four hours later, we arrived at the best airport in the world, Changi Airport, and off we were to the hotel.

Our hotel had a beautiful view on a marvelous waterpark with slides up to 20 meters but unfortunately it is school policy that we are not allowed to swim on school trips. So we checked into our rooms and headed out for dinner. The rooms in hotel were very intricately detailed such as the ones below:

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We all went to the mall and searched for our favorite restaurants. My two roommates and I found a nice halal shop where they sold excellent rice with chunks of chicken inside. IMG_2373 (2).JPGIMG_2374.JPGWe went back to the hotel, put our computers to charge, and went to sleep. My friends and I talked a bit and finally went to bed at 2:30 am!

Here is a screenshot of mt Fitbit tracker showing my lack of sleep:

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Team bonding was clearly not a problem as shown in this picture:IMG_2372.JPG

And yes the kid who is not smiling was one of my two roommates who also did not sleep very much during the trip. The other roommate is the Indian child in the front. He always smiles!

We woke up towards 8 am and headed to the lobby for breakfast. Although today was not the first official day of debate, we would still go to the school to participate in the opening ceremony and then do some quick icebreakers to know everyone else better. We had some time to spare before heading to the school so we all decided to practice our opening speeches. These would be very influential to our reputation as a delegate as it was really our first impression to other delegates. Here are some picture of us practicing below:

IMG_2338We boarded the bus towards 1pm and headed to the school. Singapore Overseas Family School is located in east Singapore and is a pretty large campus. 3 spacious buildings, each 11 stories tall all encircling several soccer fields. And then, in a hangar type structure, tens of basketball courts all sheltered from the rain, a very imminent issue in any south east Asian country.

Image result for pasir risUnfortunately, today was a rainy day so playing soccer was not an option. Anyways, we went into the large amphitheater, and commenced the opening ceremony. It started off with a nice song from the choir, completely uncorrelated to the topic of MUN, but nonetheless very a nice start to the event. Then the president of the school came to talk and mentioned how his whole career in public speaking began at  7th grade conference and how much it benefited him as a whole. Now it was time to walk into our committee rooms, away from all my friends, and meet some new people. We started off with several presentations, vaguely reminding delegates on how the procedures work and when to ask certain points. Some of these include motion to move to previous question, which makes the house skip to the next procedure and point of personal provide audibility which suggests that the speaker speaks in a more audible tone. After finishing this, we headed to the more fun part of the day. Quizzes. Since everyone in the room had some kind of electronic device, we played this game called Kahoot where everyone in rooms can respond to a quiz hosted by the chair and we try to get every question correct. So we started off with a flag quiz. I completely crushed everyone else by a score of 13000 when the 2nd best had a mere 4000. We then went to type of birds where I only placed 4th but then we came back to my strong game of airline logos where I got another 13000. Image result for kahoot logoIt was now 5:30 and we headed back to the hotel for a quick dinner before heading to sleep. Just as a side note, we were more reasonable tonight and slept at 2 am :))

This still had an affect on me as I was extremely tired the next day. This picture pretty much sums up the whole situation:IMG_2559 (1).JPG

It was 7 o’clock when we woke up and headed to the hotel breakfast. It consisted of some sausage, eggs, toast, and some orange juice. We all discussed our excitement for the competition and immediately after finishing breakfast, we all went around the hotel in search of kids from different schools and talking about the upcoming conference. This was pretty easy as every single school that came from abroad stayed at this hotel.

About 30 minutes later, we headed to the school and searched for our committee rooms. My organization, the World Health Organization, was located on the 11th floor of one of the 3 immense buildings. We started off by all presenting our opening speeches which briefly outlined our country stance, which one of the 4 topics we had chosen to do research on and then we all finished by the same sentence that read: this delegate is excited about a weekend of fruitful debates and wishes good luck to all other delegates. If you haven’t noticed yet, in MUN there are certain words that are repeated millions of times. Fruitful, well-crafted and in an attempt are just a few of these words. Now it was time for lobbying.

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In MUN, about 2 months before the conference starts, the school hosting the competition publishes a document stating all four of the topics that will be debated in the conference for each committee. These topics are usually final but in certain special cases such as one of the topics of my friend, the topic had already been debated in the real United Nations so he had to choose a new one. Anyway, each delegate then chooses one of the topics to research on and after doing several tens of hours of research, we put it into a document where the delegate proposes several original solutions that address the issue. This document is called a resolution. You are only required to choose one topic and write one resolution but since our school loves to over-prepare its participants, we all wrote a resolution for 3 out of the 4 topics. Not only does this help us to write better resolutions in the future, but also the debate is more interesting as you actually have done research and know what is happening during debate. And if you really think that one of the clauses in you resolution would enhance the resolution debated, you can submit an amendment where you propose your idea and then the houses debates on it for a certain period of time.

My resolution just for an example: World Health Orginization resolution Loic Bosch (1)

Writing resolutions is a very effective way to prepare and that is why some of us even wrote a fourth one just for fun to enhance our experience. What we did not know was that some delegates from other schools had not even written ONE full resolution. They had no idea what was happening and only hurt the debate as when they were required to make a speech, it was utterly bad and annoyed the delegates who had actually prepared. Next came the lobbying: everyone separates in 4 groups depending on the topic they chose, and then the small group creates a google doc and everyone puts their resolution in the doc. The people then agree on which clauses are good and then the delegate with the most good clauses is determined as the main submitter. This title is very prestigious and many delegates fight for it by saying that their grade for MUN depends on this. This is because many schools have MUN as a class but this way of main submitting as a guaranteed good grade makes no logical sense as I am sure that the directors of the schools prefer that their students contribute to the debate overall instead of main submitting a bad resolution. Anyways, we now started on lobbying. My first topic was measures to eradicate mosquito-borne diseases but when I saw the majority of people heading for that topic, I decided to switch to one of my backup topics of measures to make dental health worldwide and inexpensive as I knew that I would not only be main submitter but I would also have the chance to educate the rest of committee.

Some pictures of our time during the trip:

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Thank You for reading the entire post on this incredible experience!!!

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Upside Down House!!!

Taipei, Taiwan March 19 2016 Upside Down House

Today we decided to explore Taipei by taking a 30 minute metro ride down to the Huashan Creative Park located in the Zhongzheng District. Once a tobacco factory, this renovated warehouse complex is in the middle of some pretty prime real estate. Instead of demolishing this piece of history, the city of Taipei used this empty space to put a museum and install a relatively large scale art project, the upside down house. This unique piece of "modern and contemporary art"  is a traditional American house with a porch and all. When you enter by the "back door" situated on the second floor, you instantly feel that something is different, very different. While navigating through the occasional lighting surging from the floor, you notice a dining table hanging from the wooden ceiling. Then after waiting for your turn to take pictures, you continue into the garage where a Toyota Camry is hanging from the ceiling. But where I took the best picture was in the bathroom where I stood upside down with one hand on the edge of the bathtub! That was my first and last time doing a handstand on one hand!

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After leaving the over-touristed house since the CNN and BBC coverage, we went to a nearby shaved mango ice cream shop which was perfect for a warm day. They take a large block of mango ice and slowly shave it into a bowl where fresh mangoes and a scoop of mango sorbet are added on top. Dont forget the mango flavored marshmallows!IMG_5189

All in all, i really enjoy Taipei for many reasons but what excites me most is the possibility of going almost anywhere in the city with just a short trip with the clean and inexpensive metro, the MRT.

-Loic Boehler-Bosch

Taipei Volunteering with INTEL

Taiwan 2016

This blog is in French. I will try to alternate between both languages from now on

Ce blog est en Francais. Je vais essayer d'alterner entre le francais et l'anglais.

Notre premier weekend a Taiwan. Aux Etats-Unis nos weekends √©taient toujours tr√®s occup√©s.¬† Arriv√©s dans une ville o√Ļ nous ne connaissions personne avec un weekend de libre, nous avons trouv√© une opportunit√© de faire du volontariat avec la compagnie de mon Papa. Ma famille et quelques autres personnes sont all√©es en montagne dans une r√©serve naturelle qui faisait partie d‚Äôune ONG pour aider √† enlever des plantes nuisiblea. Alors nous avons commenc√© par manger un 'rice ball', une boule de riz avec un peu de saumon ou de poulet au milieu. La route pour y aller √©tait un peu tortueuse mais quand nous sommes arriv√©s √ßa valait le coup. La vue dans les montagnes √©tait spectaculaire √† cause de la brume et du soleil, incroyable. Enfin, nous avons enfil√© des super grosses bottes qui montaient jusqu‚Äô√† la taille pour que l‚Äôeau ne rentre pas. Nous sommes all√©s dans des petits bassins¬†d‚Äôeau boueuse ou le monsieur cultivait des plantes qu‚Äôil protegait. Notre job √©tait d‚Äôenlever des petites plantes qui envahissaient ses cultures. Ensuite nous avons visit√© une rivi√®re glaciale mais comme nous avions encore nos bottes il ne faisait pas froid! Quand nous avons fini, un bus est venu nous chercher et nous sommes repartis pour la ville de Taipei. Dans le bus nous avons rencontr√© une jeune fille qui travaille pour une ONG qui prot√®ge les tortue de mers. Elle s‚Äôappeler Shi-lin et elle nous a montre un tr√©s beau temple bouddhiste qui s'apelle Xingtian!

aaaaaaaaaaaaaNotre groupe

aaaa.PNGJe suis tres content!