Planes, Trains, and Automobiles!!
Trip Start Aug 24, 2010
54Trip End Sep 01, 2011
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From Nanaimo ferry terminal to Vancouver via boat, then bus to downtown, followed by the skytrain to the airport, then our 12.5 hour flight to Beijing, where we had a three hour layover, then another 3.5 hour flight to Taipei....our journey was over...wait a minute, no it wasn't!! Once in Taipei, we had to catch a one hour bus ride to Taipei main station, then wait an hour and a half to catch the next "unsold out" train to Hualien, three hours later, we arrived in our new city....took a taxi to our apartment, signed the lease and 36 hours since we left Canada....we were finally able to shower and go to bed!! Not to mention that we completed all levels of the tree course at Wild Play that morning. My mom took us on an adventure to start the day and celebrate my birthday....which only really lasted for about 12 hours since we flew across the time zone and jumped ahead a day. I don’t really think its right that I’m a year older when my birthday didn’t even exist for a full 24 hours this year!! The tree course was frightening, thrilling, and amazingly challenging!
Looking out the kitchen window of our apartment, we can see the luscious, green mountains of Taiwan! We are mixed among various lots filled with corn fields, melons, and banana trees. Out the dining room window, we see the Senior High School dormitory surrounded by cement walls, topped with broken glass shards and razor wire fencing! So close, that we also get the 6am wakeup call over the loudspeaker (from across the street...or should I say lane?). All in all, the place is clean, comfortable, and rather cheap (7000nt). As we speak, the landlady just showed up at our door bearing fresh fruit. It’s only 9:30, but jetlag and our miles of walking today in plus 30 weather had Jay passed out and me in my pajamas! Of course....I’m not answering the door in my pajamas....and with not expecting any guests, Jay was quite rudely awakened (by me) to answer the door....good thing it was only the landlady.
Day one in Hualien proved to be a tough one!!...on the feet that is!! In the afternoon, we decided to try to walk to our school to register....which is right across the street and down one block...so close!!!! After about a half hour of wondering through the magnificent structures and gardens of the Tzu Chi University, we met with the Dean of Academics, Mr. Chin. Mr. Chin’s English was amazing and we had a lengthy conversation with him...in which he advised us that this school campus...which is right across from our apartment, isn’t in fact “our” school campus! He arranged for a security guard to drive us over to the other campus...which definitely is NOT within walking distance!! Mr. Chin is a wealth of information and between offering us jobs at the University teaching English (which I’m trying to convince Jay that it’s a good idea) and advising us that the famous Betelnut is made with limestone powder, he very kindly demonstrated the amazing and extremely friendly culture of Taiwan.
We found the appropriate department on the correct campus, which is also stunningly beautiful and directly below a mountain, and were greeted by some more extremely friendly and genuine Taiwanese people! They helped us to register, served us tea, took our money, and fitted us for our uniforms! The uniform, thank goodness turned out to only be a blue T-shirt!! Thinking that we knew how to get back home from the school, we tried our way at walking....when we finally gave up, about 2 hours later, we hopped in a taxi, only to find out that we had gone the wrong way and could have been home an hour earlier!!...lol.
This was after we spent the whole morning....I mean whole morning....walking around and exploring....trying to find a city map (which obviously isn’t detailed enough for us...lol), an internet cafe that has a printer, and a bank that will let us use our Canadian bank cards to withdraw funds! I believe I lost about 10 pounds in sweat today....by golly it’s hot!! I love it!!
I could write forever about the wonderful food, amazing people, and awesome tea that we have experienced today. Our dinner cost $190nt for both of us to eat, and we ended up with enough food to feed 4! The two of us could have shared one meal and spent about $3 Canadian...and that was our “eating out at a nice restaurant” meal! All in all, Taiwan is amazing and we are enjoying every minute of it! School starts on Monday...and will be interesting!