(I wrote the following post a week ago. It wasn’t supposed to still describe my current situation…and yet here I am.)
I’m not really sure when it happened, but I’ve recently started living in Taiwan. I’m not talking about arriving here by airplane on August 6th; I’m talking about an unconscious transition between backpacking around a country and living there. Gradually I’ve started to fall into routines, get comfortable, carry my laptop around more than my camera, and (as much as I hate to admit it) washing my own laundry in a washing machine. This has to stop…
Half a year. Six months. 186 days. Regardless of how you want to define it, this trip has now gone on longer than I ever expected it to. Along the way there have been a number of ridiculous (and potentially previously unmentioned) stories. Today seems like a great day to make a summary of the last 186 days and share some details of the stories that have previously remained secret. Perhaps “summary” isn’t the best way to describe this – there are a lot of pictures, some old stories, some new stories, and then more pictures.
It’s been another successful week in Taiwan: I watched it rain for two straight days, ate dozens of dumplings, explored a few new MRT stations, took a day trip and got completely lost, took tons of pictures, got a $3 haircut, downloaded more RAM, and had my backup hard drive randomly crash. All in all – a completely productive week of living abroad.
My time in Taiwan hasn’t been constant doom and gloom; there may have even been a three day period where it didn’t rain at all. That said, even when it’s not raining in Taiwan there is moisture in the air – at least in late summer. The average high temperature in August is 91F (34C) and the average low is 80F (27C), but that’s only half the story; in actuality that’s 91 degrees with a 50% chance of thunderstorm and a 100% chance of ungodly humidity. So, in case of an emergency and the sun does come out – what’s a guy to do?
It didn’t take me too long to come up with a movie idea when trying to think of a creative title for my third typhoon related post. Interestingly enough, both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars used the same naming convention for their ‘third.’ although Peter Jackson seemed to like the word “the” slightly more than George Lucas. Mix in a little “Toy Story” – the only other worthy ‘third’ and now we’ve got a title. (Speaking of ‘thirds’, Ender was a pretty good third too…but now I’m getting myself off track.)
One week after being unceremoniously dumped in Taipei’s city center an hour after midnight, I’ve felt this massive city shrink in scale as I’ve familiarized myself with its public transportation system and started to explore. I’ve also started to get a feeling for how small Taiwan is itself – taking a 3.5 hour train ride halfway down the eastern coast of the country to visit one of Taiwan’s most scenic destinations …and then a Typhoon crossed my path.
Cairns. It’s quite possibly the second most difficult word to correctly pronounce in the entire Australian vocabulary. Sure – I’ll admit that I’ve heard grammar rules in my life about what to do when two vowels are together in a word, but I’ve never found any rules about silent r’s being added just for fun. Subsequently, I cannot tell you why “Cairns” is pronounced as “Cans,” but I can tell you that I hate that stupid “r.”
“You’ve got to dive this wreck,” Greg says, gushing enthusiastically about the Yongala, “it’s one of the best wreck sites in the world. Get in touch with YongalaDive and they’ll hook you up with everything you need.” Thus begins the story of the time I went diving around a shipwreck over 100 years old off the east coast of Australia. I met Greg at my hostel in Singapore. He’s from Australia, lives in Indonesia running a dive shop, but happens to be in Singapore on his way to the Philippines where he’s spending a month island hopping and diving. Greg clearly knows his diving – I write down ‘YongalaDive’ in my notebook with the intention of checking into the company once I reach Australia. A few weeks later my teeth are clattering and my body shivering – 25 meters below water in a 5mm wetsuit submerged in 72 degree water and cursing Greg …and myself.
I assume that years from now I’m going to look back on this entire adventure and wonder what in the hell was going through my mind. What encourages someone to undertake the journey I’ve had over a 2.5 day period – perhaps someone will have to write a psychology book about it someday.