For years I had wanted to go to Australia. Twice I planned to fly into Sydney for New Years Eve, and twice those plans fell through. When I started this trip, I knew there was always a possibility that I’d end up in Australia, but I knew there were so many reasons why I shouldn’t go. Who goes to Australia in the winter? Do they even have a winter? Where do you go after flying all the way down there? Eventually I found the answer to all of those questions and more.
In addition to not having a longterm “plan” for what would I would do in Asia, I hadn’t even considered what would happen at the “end” of Thailand. Go home? Keep traveling? But where!? Eventually I decided to hop on a southbound train to Malaysia, although ironically I wasn’t even sure what city that train was taking me to.
As I mentioned in my last post, I had no clear vision for what I would do in South East Asia – or even what the major ‘tourist attractions’ were within each of the countries. I knew Vietnam for its war, Cambodia from a Dead Kennedys song, and Thailand for its world-famous ladyboys. Today? I could tell you the best place to get a Vietnamese visa in under two hours, recommend coffee shops in Phnom Penh, and have seen enough breast implant scars on ladyboys to last a lifetime.
The American Psychological Association’s website indicates that burnout is emotional exhaustion resulting from overwhelming stress at work. It may be caused by a hostile work environment or fears about job security, but it often results from long hours, stressful deadlines, high expectations, worrying about a project, or taking on more work than you can handle—in other words, working too hard. It can lead to serious conditions, such as depression and heart disease, and you should seek professional help if you are experiencing burnout.
Professional help? Haha. I decided to quit. Best. Decision. Ever.
I suppose that after four months of being in Taiwan, I’ve more than crossed the line between traveler and expatriate. At some point I’ll have to look at my passport, because I think I’ve been living here almost as long as I lived in Argentina. Living here for this long has given me the ability to really dig in and learn about the in’s-and-out’s of daily life in a small section of Taipei. Below are a series of observations and stories.
Twenty-five days ago I left Taiwan in search of adventure in Malaysian Borneo. There would be endless possibilities for excitement – Kota Kinabalu (the highest mountain in South East Asia), Sipadan (considered the best diving in the world), Survivor Island/Pulau Tiga (where the first season of Survivor was filmed), Orangutang Sanctuaries, Jungle Treks, Caves, and a stop into Brunei to add another country to this trip.
I should have seen this coming from a mile away, but I didn’t. It’s my last day in Taiwan and there’s a typhoon on the eastern coast casting rain showers in my general direction. This is the fifth typhoon to come through in the two months I’ve been here – fortunately none have been more than a nuisance. Typhoon aside – my final week in Taiwan was a huge success. I jumped into a bus and rode south to Kaohsiung – the second most populated city in Taiwan – and had a pretty great time.
It’s Sunday night and yet again I’m at a coffee shop. A few feet away at the tables to my left, right, and the one directly behind me, are groups of people studying the pages of their bibles. In front of me are two tables of people having conversations with each other over lattes and frappuccinos. Over in the corner, there’s a girl sitting below two large panes of glass that let the red and white lights of the city train illuminate the darkness in the background as her boyfriend snaps another picture with his camera. The two girls on my right now have their heads down in prayer while one reads from a devotional book. Taipei may technically be a part of the Far East, but at times it’s as Western as any other city I’ve visited on this trip.
(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…
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.