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Post your trip reports, travel experiences, and updates abroad. Or your expat story if you already live overseas. Note: To post photos and images, insert the image URL between the tags [img]and[/img] after uploading them to a third party site.
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Some may say that life in Taiwan lacks the feeling of adventure around the next corner. I would agree to a certain extent. If you want to have an adventure here, you probably have to work for it. Here are a couple of recent experiences which I thought Winston, Rock, Momopi et al. may find interesting.
Yesterday I had a pretty good day. I caught the bus from Taipei down to Yilan and planned to hire a bike and head for the coast. At the station I asked a lady working there where I could hire a bike - she answered all my questions with ‘yes’ which wasn’t much help. So I googled and found a bike hire shop walking distance away. When I got there the guy said he had no bikes (there were quite a few bikes in the shop though) and I would have to go to the nearby city of Luodong to get one. I thought f**k that and began to walk to the coast. Soon I found a bike track by the river with fields on either side. Farmers were making hay and I noticed a lot of what looked like pumpkin patches. It was about thirty-five degrees, but there was a nice breeze. Unfortunately I got some kind of grass spore in my mouth, which was hard to remove and caused one of my lymph nodes to swell. I may see the doctor tomorrow, but with health insurance here, I’m not dreading it.
After about three hours of walking I made it to the coast. I was surprised to see the sand was black much like in a lot of New Zealand. There was hardly anybody there, and while the beach was a bit dirty there were decent views of the attractive Turtle Island. After walking along the beach for an hour, I decided to go back to Yilan station. I lamented not being in Indonesia where motorbike taxis abound. I saw no choice but to do another 3 hour walk - there didn’t seem to be any bus stops around. I started along a dark road by the side of a different river. After about half an hour - what I would expect to happen in Indo, happened. A nice looking car stopped and a lady poked her head out and asked if I could speak Chinese. I said yes, and then her husband lent over from the driver's seat and asked me where I was going. I said the main station. He told me the road was dangerous to walk along at night (not sure about that) and I should get in. I got in the back with his two small boys. To cut a long story short they took me to the night market and bought me a whole lot of food and then dropped me at the station. The guy, who works in search and rescue, then wrote this post on Facebook (which I include for those who read Chinese, translation below):
Translation: After finishing work I had a chance encounter with El Caudillo, a New Zealander working in Taiwan. It was already after seven, driving on a dark road I saw out of the corner of my glasses what seemed to be a foreigner walking along. At first I thought my eyes had a problem, but I gradually realised that wasn’t the case, a person walking on that road alone was dangerous so I decided to turn my head and take a better look, to see if it really was a foreigner. I called out to him and luckily he could speak Chinese. He said he arrived in Yilan at 2pm and had spent three hours walking to the coast. Then he decided to walk back to the station, I thought that was amazing, so I decided to give him a lift. In the car I asked him if he had eaten. He said no and that he was tired. I took him to the nightmarket and he ate….(list of local foods). Then I took him to the bus station. Very pleased to meet you.
Well quite a detailed write up from him. He and his wife were about the same age as me, late thirties. He told me to come back to Yilan and we could hang out. So I think it is possible to make friends here in Taiwan...just be wandering in the middle of nowhere at night-time and hope for the best…
I think it’s true to say here that the girls won’t come to you - you need to go to them. They will almost never give you eye-contact here, so you have to go in dead cold, which has never been my style in the past (but hey you need to talk to somebody right!?). I’m over the bar scene (I’m a reformed heavy drinker) and not too impressed by it here anyway. I don’t particularly like being involved in large social circles either. I’ve been on dates with a few people I met online here but I didn’t find that a great use of my time. So, I’ve decided that my competitive advantage here is approaching people during the day - it makes sense for a tall white guy in his late thirties who speaks decent Chinese. So for about a week I was just sounding women out by asking them for directions. Then on Friday I was in the food court at the mall and saw two girls eating lunch. Once was cute and the other fairly average. I approached the cute one and asked where she bought her shoes because I wanted to get some like them for my sister. Anyway I ended up chatting to them for a while, and of course the average one has more personality, she works as a secretary. She has been texting me and seems kind of curious - but a lot of her questions seem to be about work and money. I guess she is about twenty-seven. I’m not really looking to be anybody’s sugar daddy, certainly not for anything less than a 9 out of 10 girl. (And well I’m a 2000 USD a month English teacher right now) I teach a lot of classes in the 101 building and usually the attractive secretaries there seem to like me - I’m wondering about that as an angle? One thing is for sure I think there are possibilities but you’ll have to work hard for them. To give a little background on me I’ve been an expat for ten of the last fifteen years and my time has been split between South America and Asia. Out of the two I prefer South America, but Asia is a better economic choice. I've been in Taiwan three months and I haven't had many of the experiences like those above. Probably if I were in Thailand I'd already have hundreds - but for me it's all about how I feel about myself. I'm not sure I will stay in Taiwan long term, but it has a certain charm.
I'm impress that you can speak Chinese. How did you do it? And how long did it take?
Bottom line is you have to make the best of your situation but I think for some guys certain countries is not a fit for them. I think as a tall white guy you stand out in Taiwan and not sure if that would help Winston who is middle -short height older Asian guy in Taiwan.
I've been learning Chinese on and off since 2001. I still can't read the newspaper. I have decent verbal skills, and can text people in Chinese. I lived in China for over three years when I was in my twenties. As a comparison I also spent three and a half years in South America in my twenties - early thirties, I started learning Spanish in 2004. I now read books in Spanish, including literary novels. I still make mistakes in Spanish when it comes to masculine and feminine, but I am definitely advanced. You see Europeans from Switzerland etc. picking up Spanish like a piece of cake - but for me as an Anglo-New Zealander it hasn't been easy. Back to Chinese - yea well improving slowly, not really doing any formal study - but speaking a lot and using google translate etc. to learn new words when needed.
Sometimes I too think I'd be up for living in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia (I did a year and a half in Indo)...but there is something to be said for LIVING in an organised place, where once can't get into too much trouble;). Travel is a different issue. If I really had a choice I'd probably try living in the North of Argentina for a year, then Colombia and maybe even Ecuador. Portugal would be a great place to be a digital expat too I'd say. In 2013-2014 I earned some of my income online, but I'm back to teaching as sole source of income now.