Transportation. Perhaps one of the most striking differences between Taiwan and the U.S.. I think a big part of this program for me is having the ability to learn how to scooter and use it as transportation. There are buses which are (mostly) free but they are not always the most consistent. Currently, Taichung is creating a MRT, or a railway throughout the city, but it won’t be open until after I leave. Taxi’s are also a viable option for travel at times. Traveling to the train station and mall (which seems to be the center point for the city) the cab ride is $5 USD, which you can split 3 or 4 ways. Ridiculously cheap.
Every morning on the way to orientation my roomies and I ride a bus. Just in front and to the right of the bus are legions of scooters going through the motions of their daily commute. Initially I thought that getting and riding a scooter here sounded like a ludicrous idea. I have been to China. I have seen people break all sorts of traffic rules, however (take a breath Mom and Dad) rules are followed more here (from what I can tell) and it seems do able. There is still a LOT of traffic. But it is really just a situation where I would want to take side streets and avoid driving during the busiest hours, but that is consistent any major city. If anything, driving stick in Atlanta might have helped prepared me for this, or at least here’s hoping it did.
Scooter practice has been so fun. The first day I volunteered to go first. It really wasn’t too difficult but it does take some getting used to. Everyone was so nervous! We must have sounded ridiculous with all our nervous chatting and giggling. What I think I’ve determined is that it takes a certain amount of balance and confidence. I think mostly confidence.
The second time we tried (that is, today) we used a larger scooter than our first try and every single person looked more confident and could do more tricky things like turn, successfully. We have decided, sort of facetiously, to call our group the Hello Kitty Scooter Gang, so it is imperative that at least some of us learn how to ride.
I think currently scooter practice is one of the bigger highlights of my day because it has the promise of mobility and adventure.
I’m about to crash (hahaha) but will post again soon on food!