Chris and I got on the “express” train to Taidong. Originally we were going to road trip with some friends of mine but that didn’t work so that’s how we found ourselves sitting amongst 5-10 other people in the back of a train for….wait for it….6 hours. Chris and I got on the train about 20 minutes early and staked out some room. It was hilarious but we both had our sleeping bags and backpacks and we settled in for the journey. I had brought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to entertain myself and despite being cramped up and losing feeling in my legs countless times, alas we made it to our destination: Taimali. Chris and I crawled off the train, not having any solid idea what we would be doing with the last 2 hours of 2014 or if our legs still worked but were elated to find out that we were less than a half mile from the beach and we ran into our friends Phoebe and Christian on the way.
We bought some snacks and celebratory juice and met up with 4 other ETA’s from Kaohsiung who were in the process of building a fire. On the windy beach we were on building a fire was QUITE a process but finally they had a little fire going. From this we discovered if we were in the Hunger Games we would all want to be matched with Fay.
There was a huge concert and dance stage set up at the beginning of the beach and what looked like a finish line: all for the night’s activities. We placed ourselves a ways away from all that though to talk and soak up the warmth from the fire. As we sat and chatted spontaneously various different firecrackers were set off on the beach.
Midnight happened and then everyone set off fireworks. Everyone. So there were fireworks going off all along the beach. It was incredible. A while later a Taiwanese woman asked if we wouldn’t mind taking a picture with them. They wanted to spell “HAPPY NEW YEAR.” Turned out pretty accurate:
Around 1 or 2 our group began to disperse. Our fire went out and then it was just Phoebe, Christian, Chris and I. We, having planned all of this last minute, planned to sleep on the beach. If you know me at all, you know I have never camped before so that is a BIG step for me. However in the moment, slightly tipsy and quite exhausted, it seemed fairly logical. With a sleeping bag I had borrowed from my co-worker I was able to promptly fall asleep.
So a huge reason for coming to Taimali is that, in addition to a literally-all-night- party, Taimali is suppose to have the most beautiful sunrises in Taiwan. So, we woke up at 6 AM SO READY to see the gosh darn sunrise….but…
Soooo we went back to sleep till 9. Then Chris and I decided we would join Phoebe and Christian for a day at the hot springs in Zhiben. This place was amazing. Had three different pools with varying temperatures, a sauna, and steam room.
It was crazy because by the time we got to the hot springs we all probably looked like shells of humans, but when we finally got out and showered to go back to Kaohsiung we all felt SO much better. Which was a big change from the I-slept-on-pine-needles-and-not-for-long feel from earlier. Anyway we hopped on a train and got back to Kaohsiung, had some hibachi and passed out until Friday.
The four of us struggle-bused awake and made it to the Phoebe and Christian’s favorite brunch spot. I was SO blown away at how incredible it was. Dang near Atlanta brunch level of tasty.
After brunch Chris and I parted ways with Phoebe/Christian and made our way to Cijin, the small island in Kaohsiung’s harbor. I have been once previously to vamos ala playa, but Chris and I wanted to hike to the old fort and lighthouse, and just explore a little more.
After hiking to both the fort and lighthouse Chris and I meandered through Cijin’s night market and beach for a couple hours, then headed back to Phoebe and Christian’s apartment to pick up our stuff. We hopped on a train and a few hours later rolled into Taichung where we promptly passed out.
I woke up ungodly early on Saturday, very confused. 6:50? What the heck was going on? Resigning myself to my fate I decided to finish up my book from the weekend and go about my day. After lunch however, I found myself incredibly exhausted. Went to sleep but that didn’t seem to make a difference? Woke up and thought I was going to die. Then proceeded to have a very terrible version of the flu or food poisoning. Jury’s still out on that one.
It’s so humbling how quickly my body falls apart. I went from bopping around an island to barely being able to make it to the toilet without fainting in less than 24 hours. Being crazy sick here is a whole other bear. If I had wanted to go to the doctor I would have had to walk down my *5* flights of stairs, successfully, and then call a cab to take me to a doctor. Not to mention having to walk up *5* flights of stairs on the way back.
Luckily, I have a guardian angel in the form of a roommate who not only got me mad amounts of crackers and sprite, but also set up my space heater when I had the “chills” version of my fever and even drove to the pharmacy when my coordinator suggested some medicine.
I honestly have no idea what I would have done without her. A 101 degree fever makes me a baby.
On the road to recovery! I woke up and my fever had broke. I still felt exhausted but was able to get up and take a shower, etc.
Today I feel almost normal, besides being pretty tired, and I think this week will go by pretty smoothly. I really had an incredible time in Kaohsiung and Taimali and I’m so glad I went but I can’t help but feel like my head is still spinning from the whirlwind that was my weekend.
Here’s to a year that has all of that adventure with maybe none of that sickness?
Cheers to 2015!