|photo: the paper boats that some Taiwanese primary students made and gave me|
Long time no see!
It’s been ages since I last posted something here. My life in Taiwan has been so good so far, just a little too busy.
In the past few months, apart from studying, I also worked for a cultural and educational project to promote culture exchanges in Taiwan. I got the chance to go to a primary school in Chiayi County to have some activities with the kids there. That was probably my most memorable journey in Taiwan until now.
I also made friends with many people, mostly Taiwanese, and shared lots of nice memories with them. Of course there were bad things happening too (it’s impossible to live our lives without some conflicts in daily life anyway), yet overall I am very thankful for the life that I’m having.
It’s winter in Taiwan now. Yet the weather is so unexpected. The average temperature today is 26 degree while that of tomorrow will be 15 degree… My body had a hard time getting used to this, so I am having Chinese medicine three times per day now ;__; I heard that it would get colder in Jan, though.
In Taiwan, whenever you buy something from a store, they will give you a receipt with a 8-digit number on it. Each receipt is a lottery ticket and the government will announce the winners every two months. For Sep-Oct, I had 5 winning tickets and got 1000 NTD ~ It was nothing big, yet very fun ^_* I spent that amount on buying coffee and chocolates for my housemates and classmates (and myself, too :3).
I am in the second semester now. My new teacher happens to not really like me, which is sad because I like her quite a lot. Life is not always easy -“-. There is a Chinese composition contest in my school right now and I have composed a Chinese poem as my entry there. However I strongly believe that by the end of this academic year, I would cry in shame when I re-read this very poem (if I dare to do so at that time) hahaha.
Some notes on daily expenses in Taipei (1 USD = 32 NTD now)
- an average meal for student: 50 – 150 NTD
- a cup of tea/ coffee: 30 – 60 NTD
- a glass of beer in a bar: 150 – 300 NTD
- an apple/ kiwi: 10 – 20 NTD
- city bus fare: 15 NTD/ way
- metro fare: 16 – 55 NTD/ way depends on the distance
- public bike: 5 NTD for the first 30 mins of every ride, 10 NTD/ 30 mins later on
Photo: The sunset on Tamsui River at the North of Taipei
I do not update often these days; which is not due to any difficulty in accessing the Internet, thankfully. I just got a little too caught up in the life here and that’s it.
School stuff has been kind to me. My class consists of 7 students: 1 American, 2 Canadians, 2 Japaneses, 1 Filipino and 1 Alien Meo :)))))))). My teacher is Taiwanese and a lovely woman. I have quite a good time with them every weekday morning. Above all, I love learning Mandarin and that’s what that matters the most.
I kinda fell in love with the library in my university. Honestly I was not really interested at first. I’m a devoted minimalist and it’s always my priority to go digital with my reading. Yet it turned out that I was charmed. I’m now basically spending the whole afternoon part of my days there, even on Saturday.
I shared my house with 8 more people and my room with a Taiwanese roommate. Things are better than what it may sound and there are nothing much to complain about.
A day of mine is spent in this sequence: Get up at 6 -> study some French -> leave the house at 7:45 -> grab a quick breakfast at a Taiwanese restaurant nearby -> walk to my school where classes start at 8:20 -> get a lunch at the canteen or not -> go to the library’s study room and finish my homework there -> move to the English Literature section in that very same library and read some books of Oscar Wilde -> get back home at around 16:00 to take a shower and some idle time -> change to my night outfit and get out to discover the city -> get back and sleep at 23:00
If there is any problem with my current life, it is that I’ve been receiving too many requests/ invitations for hanging out. And I’m never an extrovert. On the utmost contrary, I’m an introvert from the very core of my being and therefore need a lot of time for myself. The maximum number of the hanging-out type of appointments that I can enjoy a week is 2. Each should not last more than 4 hours. I had far more than that in the last 14 days that I’ve been in Taipei and now I’m suffering an emotional downfall as a consequence. It is a nice feeling to know that there are people wanting me to be with them, but I just need to be alone often. Very often.
I would love to share my tips on living in Taipei. But it should be saved for a delightful day. Now I probably need sometimes hiding myself from the world, both physically and mentally.
Photo: Taoyuan Airport in the morning
Yesterday I encountered 2 students from my home country in the campus. They surprised me by how they spent their time in Taiwan. They only hang out with people from the same country. The language that they talk every day is still our mother tongue, not English or Mandarin. They don’t make any local friends or friends from other countries. They don’t go out if there is not another experienced one accompanying them. They are more willing to join a group of people they don’t know just because of the “same country” excuse than to go around the city on their own.
Then why why why do you come here in the first place?
Please tell me why…
Study abroad is not just about changing location, it’s about experiencing a new life, making new friends, eating new food, absorbing new cultures… If you’re not ready for that, stay at home.
I have met people coming back from abroad with their mind narrowed down because they had limited themselves to a certain bunch of people during several years. If they hadn’t gone abroad, maybe they would have been better. At least while staying in our country, they would have had a wider circle of acquaintances.
Okay, everyone can live as they want to. Yet I’m pretty sure I won’t join these guys any longer. Wandering alone in a night market and enjoying local food would be much better for me than sitting there listening to them gossiping about the private life of a model back in our home country.
No… No… No… We are not meant to be with each other. Bye, guy. And no “see ya”.
Photo: The Ecological Pond Inside Da’An Park, Taipei
So I guess I’ve been out a little too much in the past few days. The sun and the heat in Taipei are surely no jokes and my skin is suffering quite a lot. Right now I’m in my shared house with two layers of olive oil applied onto my face with the hope to soothe the pain from sunburns and dehydration.
Anyway, back to Taipei. This city, and the whole country in general, is filled with green things. Trees are everywhere and being the naturalist that I am, I love this endlessly. My favourite should be Dunhua street and Da’an Park.
- Dunhua street is right in the center of the city and you can probably call it the “bank street” of Taipei. All kinds of banks are there, from huge international banks to small local ones. The trees here are extremely lovely and they form somewhat a small park along the street.
- Da’an Park is the biggest green space in Taipei. It is not that big (like what I had imagined) though, considering that the whole country is a small island. Still it is clean and is a nice place to enjoy a walk and come into contact with nature. The ecological pond in the park is home to numerous kinds of birds and I have a good time watching them.
Yesterday I went to Maokong, which would have been a wonderful trip if the weather hadn’t been that tough. The restaurants and coffee shops there are just too expensive T_T A simple cup of Alishan Oolong Tea costs as much as 2 meals in Taipei city (it’s worthy though since the taste is pretty good). T_T Yet I did enjoy myself quite a lot with:
- several cups of tea with some elder people in the Tea Exhibition Center. I don’t quite understand what they talk to me but that does not prevent us from having a good time together
- many walking trails through beautiful landscapes.
- a long rest in the maple forest
- very nice cakes from a local bakery (it’s a shop right next to the Tian-en-kong Temple, and I definitely recommend you to try the “niunai mantou” there)
Visiting Maokong is all about walking and hiking. It’s obvious that I came at the wrong time. So I will wait for the weather to cool down a bit before getting there and discover the place all over again.
Last night I slept for around 9 hours and that’s the longest sleep I’ve had in Taiwan. Today I really have to stay in to give my body, especially my skin, sometimes to recover.
In the photo: An alley in the ancient town of Wanhua District, Taipei
Yesterday I had a walk with Like It Formosa, which offers pretty cool tours of Taipei in English (some among them are free, the rest are very reasonably priced). Walking from 10:00 to 13:00 under the heat of Taiwan summer was so damn challenging to me, yet the tour is definitely worth joining.
We went through:
- Longshan Temple which does not interest me because I’m not much of a temple fan.
- The ancient town of Wanhua District: Ancient alleys, ancient hotels, ancient stores… The town was built from red bricks so it looks more or less “aztec” under the sunshine.
- The Ximen Red House: An old building by the Japanese when they were in this island. It looks, to me, somewhat like the Notre-Dame de Saigon.
- Some LGBT places. Taipei has always been famous for its open welcome towards the LGBT community. I’ll take a deeper look at this side of the city sooner or later.
- The President’s Palace.
- Cheng Kai Shek’s Memorial Hall.
- National Theater and National Concert Hall.
I would recommend this tour for any visitors to Taipei. Yet it should be a better decision to choose the evening slot. Walking 3 hours under the August sun in Taipei is not-at-all comfortable.
P/S: Today is the registration day at my school X”D
In the pictures: Taipei City Hall, where people are showing their best efforts in preparing for the Universiade 2017. I really look forward to watch the games there X”D
From Taoyuan Airport, I took the City Air Bus (Bus Code: 1960) to the Taipei City Hall. The last station is right next to this building yet the weather was so lovely that I decided to get off some stations earlier – at the Taipei 101 – and take a little walk there. It normally doesn’t look like a good idea to walk around with a suitcase yet I just felt as wonderful as I was taking my puppy out for a stroll haha. The hall seems quite interesting, I think I’ll take another visit soon (without my 20-kg puppy XD).
About my flight (which is not the worst one I’ve taken, but surely the weirdest one):
- I was placed at the emergency exit row and therefore could NOT keep anything with me in front or under my seat. The light attendant simply took everything I had and put it in the luggage compartment. I had to make a little effort so that they give me back my phone, wallet and passport T____T Yet I couldn’t just hold everything in my hands during the flight so I had to take off my coat and wrapped it around these things to form a small pillow then hugged it or put it under my neck sometimes. The guy next to me was even in a worse situation. He was given some handicraft gifts from his friends and didn’t want them to get damaged in the luggage compartment so he stayed up all night holding them in his hands… T___T I used to think I have no problems with whichever seat they give me, but this time I was proved wrong. So, mental note: next time you’re on a cheap flight, pay some more bucks to get a good seat T_T
- There was this weirdo who kept on standing up, opening all the luggage compartments nearby his seat (which was unfortunately very close to mine) and looking inside. The thing was that he left the compartment open and move to another one, and then another one. I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if the plan was shaking and some suitcases fell down. I wanted to alert the crew about this but they were nowhere to be seen and there was no button to call them… Okay, cheap flights have its drawbacks… The third time this guy stood up and began his crazy action again, I told him to find the flight attendants to help instead of doing it on his own. He gave me a dark look which should have been threatening if I were a kid X”D At that time a crew member finally showed up and the man was led back to his seat. But after she was gone, he stood up again (!), coming to my place, opening up the compartment right above me and slamming the lift back, casting me a dark look to give me a threat that works with kids again. Nice try, weirdo LOL
- When we landed, all the customs counters were closed and we had to wait 1,5 hours to finally finish the flight.
Despite all of these, I was (and am) extremely happy to be in Taipei.
My arms still hurt a bit but mentally, after a sleep from 8 PM – 2AM, I now feel better than ever XD
So I’m in Taipei now. The weather is perfect today.
I’m dead-tired due to almost no sleep last night and a very weird flight, yet my mind and my heart are filled with joy and excitement.
In the picture: Taipei 101, the most famous landmark in Taiwan. This is the second time I visit this place, yet my feeling is the same: it is for admiring from a certain distance only. Maybe I will go there again by night to see if it is attractive enough for me to want to go up hehe ^_^ It is very near my house anyway.
My house is shared by 9 people from at least 4 countries. Most of my housemates are out for a weekend away so I only met one of them until now. It feels good here and I hope it will keep on being this way haha.
I have finished unpacking, arranging and cleaning my room, doing a quick shopping for groceries and having a very very tasty dinner at a traditional Taiwanese restaurant nearby my house. I have missed those dishes so much during the last 11 months X”D
My legs, feet, arms and hands are going to suffer tonight because of all the traveling from last night (and I only pack 20kg + 7 kg with me! I can’t imagine how people with 60 or 80 kg of luggage will survive hahaha).
Just like before, today I received the extremely warm help from at least 5 Taiwanese persons… I love you and your people, Taiwan!!!
Tomorrow I’m gonna go for a historic tour around the ancient buildings of Taipei.
But for now, I need to go to bed. My body is screaming for rest XD.