Welcome to Taipei

Well I never said I’d win any prizes for creative titles anytime soon…

Okay so I’m still not sure how this post will turn out in terms of a broad overview of Taipei or an unorganized day-to-day summary of the past week. WE SHALL SOON SEE.

I’ll start with the heat, because that was the one thing all people had warned me about time again. With good reason. I left Taoyuan airport at 7am and as soon as I stepped out to greet the new earth I was literally enveloped in a heavy thick sheet of warm air and humidity. For me this has been the toughest adjustment not only because I’m from a moderate climate but because I’ve always been extremely sensitive to heat. There’s barely any breeze and even at night it stays at around 28 degrees Celsius. Every twenty minutes outside I need to run into one of the billion 7-11’s to find solace in air conditioning.

But on the bright side it’s been liberating to not have to wear make-up. When at home in summer I would put just on a smidge for cover from acne scars. Taipei doesn’t even give me that option it’s just all “Nope you’re going to sweat today. And tomorrow. And forever.”
Which is a really nice change from the need I sometimes feel to look nice when going out from back in Vancouver.

Now if any of you find yourselves in Taipei someday you are going to stay at Eight Elephants hostel. K? K. I met people studying at MTC like me within the first few minutes of me sitting in the common room. And now we’re tight. Likethis (Yes the lack of space bar is on purpose). Plus the staff go above and beyond any form of service I’ve ever experienced and it truly is as if everyone staying here is part of one big family.

Taiwanese people put the Canadians to shame when it comes to politeness. I’ve had people walk me five minutes to a place I was looking for rather than just pointing and telling me. When the language barrier has been an issue the other person has done everything in their power to write and use gestures to try and communicate with me instead of just walking away. To be unselfish and put other’s needs before yourself is a huge part of the culture here and it is truly heartwarming to see this in the world. Compared to Vancouver this is a nice welcome change of social attitudes.

Even the language barrier the adjustment has not been that bad. With complicated questions I’ve been lucky enough to find that most people speak English. However I still use my limited Mandarin skills as much as possible, mainly in regards to buying food. In all honesty I do feel that it’s improving because I’m in a situation where I need to speak and listen and read every day. There are no breaks in stimuli like there would be back in Vancouver.

I’ve seen so much and still have so much to see. I’m still not used to the situation of being in a foreign country for more than a few weeks. It’s fun to remember I could cancel my own plans to sightsee and that it’s okay to do so.

I honestly thought that homesickness would be a huge issue for me. While there’s a sad pang here and there the people I’ve already met and the city itself are making me feel right at home.

Well it turned into a broad overview of Taipei after all! Which means the next post will pretty much be a picture and descriptive list of the sights I’ve seen.
再见!

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One Week In And…

Holy moly I feel as if I’ve lived through three lifetimes already. There’s no way it’s only been seven days. I need to reevaluate the life choice of only blogging once a week…

Having just returned from a two day trip to Tainan I’ll focus this post on that and then compile my first few Taipei days a bit later. Capiche?

Tainan City is located in Southern Taiwan and is the oldest city in Taiwan. Me and two other people took the 7am train and arrived just before noon. Our hostel had the most adorable backyard which, for me, was a good sign. A happy camper indeed (Can I use that saying in regards to a hostel?)

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Appropriately called “Bike Tainan Hostel” due to most guests choosing to rent the bikes and cycle the city, we rented some ourselves and headed off to see the town. Our first atop was Chihkan Tower, built on the remains of the 17th century Dutch Fort Provintia. After that we were on our way again and found cafes, temples, street art, and other historical buildings.

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I got a bit of heat exhaustion mixed with lack of food, but our hostel owner, Kate, was more than helpful and within half an hour of returning all the other guests in the hostel (Us included) were planning to bike together the next day.

And we did. We got breakfast. Had a bike mishap. Fixed the bike mishap. Then we biked.
And biked.
And biked.
And biked.

I was not in charge of a map so I don’t know the specifics. TL;DR we got lost. In the middle of the day under the ruthless sun. We took a long break at a temple and I took a quick nap in a shaded area.

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We were originally trying to head for a beach in Anping, and ended up taking the scenic route. Quite literally. So when we actually found the ocean we were nothing less than giddy.

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Hello water I have missed thee

After six hours of cycling (NOT STRAIGHT I’M NOT THAT CRAZY) we had finally found the beach to watch the sunset.

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First Taiwanese sunset

Long day. Very long two days. I’m so proud of myself for not dying from biking both the streets of Tainan and six hours in the sun. I almost feel as if the term “adventure” is inaccurate to describe this trip. Having never travelled alone I find myself thriving in minimal routine and from being surrounded by new friendly people. It was a time. Good and bad and tiring and fulfilling and all in all, a time.

Here’s to more times to be had.

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Anping, Tainan City, Taiwan

To the Fatherland

If you had asked me one year ago if I could envision future me traveling alone chances are past me would have laughed in your face.

“Are you crazy? Adults travel alone. Adults cross oceans to travel different countries. Those with no fear choose to live in said country. Those with major wanderlust live in different countries for months on end. Travel where English can’t be relied on as a safety? Haha yeah maybe with family or at least two friends.”

Fast forward one year:

I am an adult. I am about to cross the Pacific to travel to Taiwan. I’ll be living there. For two months. Everything I hear and read will be in Mandarin. I’m doing this alone.

I’m scared. Really scared. Already a tad homesick. Have no idea how I’ll survive this red eye 2am flight. Excited. Super excited. Majorly anxious. Beyond stoked.

To the fatherland I go. Here’s to new beginnings.