So, July 31st basically didn’t exist for me since I was traveling from 1:30 pm CST on the 30th of July till 6 AM August 1st Taiwan time. I’ve never known how many days there are in a given month so I honestly didn’t know there was a 31st of July until someone told me I would be missing it. Whoops!
This is my first blog from Taiwan! Getting here was crazy.To set the scene, my parents drove me to St. Louis, then I flew to Minneapolis, then LA, then Taipei, THEN we took a bus to Taichung. There were a few classic crazy moments en route. My layover in Minneapolis was less than 30 minutes and I initially went to the wrong terminal so I was running college kid with backpack style all through the airport WHILE talking to my sister (who I hadn’t talked to in a week) on the phone. Pretty hysterical.
Then, when I got to LA and waited through a 150 person line to get my last ticket, I discovered that somehow the travel agent hadn’t actually gotten me a seat on the plane I was supposed to be one. Appropriate chaos ensued. When I finally got a ticket and got on the plane it wasn’t too bad. I slept a solid 5 hours of the 12.5 hours flight.
The first day was a blur! Our coordinator Iris, who is an angel, picked us up from the airport and we bussed to Taichung. Immediately we were dropped off at our temporary apartments. I am staying in a relatively spacious apartment with two other girls, Diane and Catherine. Diane is from Chicago and Catherine is from New York. We’ve actually got a decent amount of the U.S. covered between the 10 ETA’s in Taichung. Anyway, we each have our own room and we drew lots and I got the master bedroom for the month (hahaha). We have a really spacious living room and a decently sized dining room, kitchen and outside laundry area, and two bathrooms! Its really not a bad set up but the A.C. TOTALLY has a mind of its own. We’ve had a couple battles already.
Anyway, the first day we went to get our year long visa’s, which involved us filling out two forms and waiting around for a couple hours BUT eventually we went outside and checked out the surrounding shops and happened upon a farmers market. THIS is where I used my Chinese for the first time. Shouldn’t be so exciting, but it was. Sadly, the few people I talked to said I had great Chinese, which means I don’t quite yet (oxymoron, I know…) but either way it was fun to practice.
Next we went shopping for household things like tissue paper, etc at this French supermarket. Ironically, everything was still in Chinese. It was pretty overwhelming because there were brightly colored signs everyone and I didn’t really recognize much. Not exactly your local Hen House or Publix.
After dropping off our shopping goods we went to get dinner at this really fancy restaurant and had Hot Pot. It was phenomenal. I ordered the fish option. So they bring out this plate with cabbage and cantaloupe and squid (struggled with that staring at me) and tofu and several other things that you are supposed to put into this boiling pot. Eventually you eat those things and then also cook your meat in the boiling pot so it gives the meat more flavor. There was also a sauce bar so after cooking your meat you could dip it in sauce. Altogether, this was a really fun activity but we were all deliriously exhausted by this point.
Needless to say we all slept soundly.
Yesterday we tried to get phones set up for the group. Half of us, myself included, it didn’t work for. Essentially I have to pay to have it unlocked here which costs about $126 USD..then pay for a sim card/ plan. It won’t be too expensive in the end but waiting around at the phone store for 2.5 hours yesterday also made us all delirious.
After attempting to set up phones we went to Taichung’s main Night Market. THIS was an incredible experience. I tried my first Dan Bing, or egg crepe, which Taichung is known for. I also was reacquainted with the smell of Stinky Tofu and legit thought I was going to hurl, right there on the crazy crowded street. But besides the Stinky tofu the experience was really cool. Overstimulating, but very cool.
After a couple days the biggest thing I have decided is that I will have to A) either get reallll adventurous with food or B) lose a lot of weight. Yesterday I had oatmeal for breakfast, then a small vegetarian noodle plate for lunch, then a really small egg crepe for dinner. I don’t really know what to order because when I’ve had the option to spring for ethnic food in the U.S. it is normally Ethiopian, Thai, or Indian. Almost never Chinese. Anyone have suggestions?
Today we are hiking and checking out a few other parts of the city, and then tomorrow we open up our bank accounts and start orientation. It is pretty surreal to be here but I am so grateful to have the other ETAs to process this with. I desperately need to go shower (running in 62% humidity at 8 AM strugs) but I will try to get up another post in a few days!