To Taiwan

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On reaching the arrivals lobby we quickly went in search of some cash so that we could pay for the bus. Having no idea about the exchange rate I hesitatingly withdrew $NT5000 which turned out to be about 80 quid. Dave then went to the information desk to inquire about where to get the bus to Tainan. When I asked him what they said he replied, "no idea? They didn't speak a word of English". Fantastic!

We headed to the other side of the lobby and saw some signs for short distance buses. Thankfully the bus service windows were still open at 2:30am and Dave went to ask about our bus. He came running screaming to me in the toilets that we had to go now! I didn't hesitate and we were soon on the bus, settling down to what I assumed would be a long journey. The seats were like big leather armchairs and were rather comfortable. Strangely only 1 seat on each side so they obviously don't tend to have many passengers.

After about 45 minutes we stopped at what looked like a service station and were all booted off. Rather tired and bewildered we sat on the side of the road wondering what was going on. We obviously had to sit and wait here for our connecting bus to Tainan. After about 20 minutes the first bus turned up, alas not bound for Tainan but curiously Taipei which I thought was weird as I assumed we were already there? We must have been the entertainment as the entire top deck was starring and waving at us. We waved back and they seemed happy, whilst I was tired and miserable sitting in the road. They obviously don't get many tourists in Taiwan?

Another 20 minutes later our bus turned up. It was nearly empty and I got 2 seats to myself. I settled in and tried to get comfortable for the 3 hour journey ahead, and hopefully get some sleep. For a while it seemed likely but in the end sadly not. Every 10 minutes we arrived at a toll booth, which proved incredibly bumpy and very noisy as the driver pushed a load of buttons. I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn't sleep and just closed my eyes, for it hurt to keep them open.

At 7am we stopped in some random car park that bore no resemblance to a bus station. Were we there? Apparantly so as everyone got off and we were greeted by a taxi driver. Having a total lack of Chinese it proved difficult telling him where we needed to go, especially as we had no idea. Graeme, Daves brother, had provided us with his address in Chinese characters via an email but no places we had been had printers. Dave had to phone him.

Thankfully he was awake and told the driver exactly where to go. We arrived at Graemes apartment shortly after 7:30, shattered and in need of sleep but it was obvious that wasn't going to happen as Graeme had a big day of sightseeing planned. So a quick shower to refresh and wake up and we were promptly back in a taxi, headed to a local temple.

The first little temple was pretty funny. It was lovely and colourful and we spent about 30 mins walking around. I think it was called Chickan or something. There seemed to be a couple of small classes going on inside and the teacher told the kids to smile and wave at us! We then visited a smaller temple round the corner which had loads of incense and smoke everywhere, and fake money to throw into a fire for the Gods.

We headed next for the office in Tainan to meet his workmates. Although Graeme works from home they still need an office for the people who drop by. The company, UKEAS, basically helps the locals find a place at university in the UK. Here we met Tim, the office manager. Tim may be 43 but he has the energy of a teenager. He drives a modified Chysler Neon, with neons and DJ's at some local clubs. Quick lunch later before we headed off in a taxi to a massive temple on the outskirts. Spent about an hour walking around feeling really bad about taking photos of people saying their prayers on each floor before trying to take a taxi back to town. The road seemed deserted and thank God Graeme spoke Chinese or we would never have had a clue how to order a taxi.

Once back in town we went to a small Confucious temple before heading to a small rooftop cafe for a bowl of nacho and a beer.

Back at the apartment we set about making full use of the facilities. The residents have full access to a gym, squash and tennis courts, basketball court, sauna, spa and best of all a swimming pool. I had been dying for a swim for days and jumped straight in, not before buying a swimming hat first as they are compulsory in Taiwan for some reason?

After the swim we met up with Graeme's missus, Cindy, and headed off to dinner at a nearby American restaurant for a great plate of fajitas. We then set abut playing table football and I managed to demolish Graeme and Cindy 10-0! Feeling absolutely dead after no sleep in 2 days we headed back and I slept like a baby.
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