Gone fishing.

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Dear patient readers of my writing. I have moved away from Taiwan and will no longer be updating this with Taiwan relevant posts. I have started another travel blog for my travels outside Asia, visit it if you have any interest in Hawaii or Australia. Click here to see what I am up to next! https://crumblezabroad.wordpress.com/

If you find yourself in Kaohsiung and in need of an English-speaking doctor I recommend these offices which were all kind and attentive to me. The last is the tax office if you need information on tax returns for teaching English. Good luck and pleasant travels!

dentaldoceyetax

My favorite excuse

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“I’m sorry I can’t come to your party! I’ll be out of the country.” No apology has ever been more ingenuine, in my opinion. This is my excuse in two weeks when I plan to jet over to Thailand for ten days of Bangkok and beaches.

Following that I have roughly a month and a half left in Taiwan, before heading to Australia for whatever my future holds. It’s a strange limbo as I have watched friend after friend leave the island, and finally it’s my turn and I don’t feel like I have many friends left to celebrate my absence. Which is alright, I have enough personal interactions to distract me, to the point of falling on my face tonight while night running. I never do that.

  1. Issue: new guy I like, that is probably a bad idea and definitely a cruel attachment to form since I plan on leaving.
  2. Issue: my roommate’s girlfriend, friendly, but keeps calling me to ask where her boyfriend is,  if I took her raincoat and can I let her in. Dude, so many reasons not to have a girlfriend.
  3. Issue: renewing my visa in Taiwan, shouldn’t be problematic just red tape and waiting in lines.
  4. Issue: scheduling wisdom teeth removal, I’m terrified of finding a good English-speaking doctor here.
  5. Issue: should I work constantly to save for travel or try to enjoy my last few months in Asia?
  6. Issue: international bank accounts, how and why is it so complicated?
  7. Issue: should I be fading out of my friendships to wean people away from me, or just cold turkey it?

If I’ve learned anything from my research of oral surgery, extraction is difficult and painful. I hope I can handle it with as much poise as possible

Image credit to Jim I'll Paint it. http://jimllpaintit.bigcartel.com/

Image credit to Jim’ll Paint It. http://jimllpaintit.bigcartel.com/

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Sweet Nothings: around the island

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I recently read NPR’s show This American Life is the most listened to radio show on the air in the United States. Consequently, I believe at least a few people have heard the show about having someone’s back and what it means to have a support network.

Last weekend celebrated Mid-Autumn Festival in Taiwan, known as 中秋節 or Moon Festival. If you are Taiwanese this three-day weekend  means traveling back to celebrate eating with your family, and if you are an English teacher it means going on a longer trip that wouldn’t be possible on a normal two-day weekend.

I loved Moon Festival last year. I was invited to a Taiwanese BBQ by a new friend and spent the afternoon and evening eating myself silly on all sorts of grilled delicacies with her family. The night was spent staring at the full moon from the road, and playing with fireworks that were purchased in the general store down the road.

My Chinese teacher told me the Taiwanese tradition of barbecuing over this festival is based upon the success of a soy sauce advertising campaign in the 1980s. I found it fascinating that over the past thirty years a brand of soy sauce could change the way a population celebrates a traditional Chinese holiday.

This year, since I had experienced the family celebrations of Taiwanese Moon Festival I thought I would head out of town and go camping as an homage to the classic American Labor Day camping trip. I wanted my two closest friends to accompany me in this venture, the idea was to take a train to an ecological park near mountains and scooter around to find the best camping spot.

As you may have guessed this didn’t happen, my friends didn’t have my back in this case. One told me reticently she had already agreed to go with her yoga group and invited me along. The other made plans weeks in advance with me looking at train time tables and hostels, and then on the Friday night we were supposed to leave town unexpectedly backed out. 

I was surprised how much that hurt. As Barry Schwartz from TED talks will tell you, “The key to happiness is low expectations.” But these are my best friends I am talking about, my inner circle so maybe I am doing this friendship thing wrong. I understand it was mostly logistical misunderstandings, but it stung because I got this impression I had been overlooked in favor of a better offer.

It is one thing to be stood up by a prospective love interest, it is another thing to be stood up by close friends. My point being, if I can’t have expectations of close friends then I can’t have expectations of anyone. I can only expect them to act selfishly, which is a saddening thought. I don’t expect everyone to be there all the time; I do expect someone to be there sometimes.

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Beidawu Shan (北大武山) and lots of rain on all our scooters, my sleeping bag was soaked!

So, what did I do after my dear friends left me for dead? I joined another group of friends of course, a group that planned to climb a mountain with only a few acquaintances and many strangers. It was an interesting mix of crazy Eastern European men and Taiwanese women cram school teachers. We set off late to the mountain on Sunday morning and as soon as we arrived it started pouring rain, this continued for another two hours as we huddled in an aboriginal village near the trailhead.

The good news was my biking friend who had invited me to bike to Beidawu Shan 北大武山 was also discovered huddling in the same village so I got to spend a few hours catching up with him about his impending trip to Brazil. As the rain thundered down monsoon-style, the aboriginal lady at the open air restaurant offered to let us sit in her living room until the rain stopped and we spent some time talking and looking at wedding photos in her home. A touching example of Taiwanese hospitality, not only towards foreigners but to each other. (See photo at the top.)

It was getting dark and it was looking unpromising as a damp destination to spend the night, so the travel group improvised by heading to a nearby Sihjhongsi Hot Springs. We ate a banquet of food in town and then camped out in a park near the public pools. The next morning after very little sleep, the group was looking a bit ragged and we had to pick between visiting a waterfall or the beaches of Kenting that were not far from the hot springs.

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Celebrating at the hot springs with a few sparklers, who knew they would still light after being soaked.

 

So we once more got on our scooters and rode to the beach to relax for the afternoon. On the way home Monday evening we stopped by a Buddhist restaurant and were served seven courses of delicious vegetarian food while overlooking the water during the sunset. It was an ideal ending to a weekend of improvisation.

Party Train Kaohsiung to Taipei

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Last Friday my roommate Chen, having an affinity for trains booked a whole car on one of the trains from Main Kaohsiung station up to Taipei. A whole caboose car: with three compartments, a small section of normal seats, a dining car with a bar and a lounge with open space and cushy chairs and a small balcony overlooking the tracks in the back.

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The dining car quickly established itself as an amateurs gambling room with card games. The lounge became a dance floor, favored by the smokers because of the easy access to the balcony.

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Pulling into the station in Taipei at 6 a.m. most of the party headed to a nearby hot springs to soak and recalibrate our internal clocks. However, I didn’t anticipate the nakedness of the hot springs we attended.

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I have soaked in many hot springs over here in Taiwan, up north in Tainan and down south in Pingtung. This was my first nude hot springs experience, and the only thing questionable about it was the way it had separated sexes so you couldn’t talk to all of your friends.

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