Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tropical Heat Waves

Today we got up early and went to the Tainan University Hospital to get our health exams done so that we can successfully gain employment here in this country. It was a lot of waiting in line and jumping through hoops, but after a few hrs we were done and decided to scooter out to the beach. It took about 20 mins in city traffic but is very close and well worth the trip. It has been no less than 26 degrees here since we arrived and that is only from dusk til dawn. The rest of the time has been about 35 plus and 100% humidity. The beads of sweat havent stopped since we arrived. The water at the beach was as warm as it was in Mexico, so it wasnt much of a relief, but still pleasant nonetheless.
The beachfront was a mess from the typhoon we missed by exactly two days, but the water and waves more than made up for it. well, hafta go, much drink to be consumed, as today is to be a celebration of Johnny's last day here!

Monday, July 25, 2005

New Digs

Today we are proud new renters of a cool little deco-mod apt, complete with A/C, high speed internet, a japanese style sliding door bedroom, blue leather furniture, and a fully stocked in-living room bar. We are going to be living in the nicest part of town, right next to the most famous temple in Taiwan. The rent will be $220CDN, plus bills. The guy who was living there had a family emergency and had to go back to New York. We lucked out as we were the first to see the apt. We also got hooked up with cell fones. They're really cheap here, and absolutely crucial to have. We are looking at scooters tommorrow, and will be able to get a good used one each and pay less than $1000CDN for the two of them. I'm still on the fence about driving here though. It's indescribable to someone who's never been here, you have to be always watching your back, even when you're just walking, or you will be hit by a scooter. See, there are no sidewalks to speak of, and all traffic (pedestrians included)is on the road. It's the insanest thing i've ever seen. Extremely dangerous, yet you can't get by very easily without one. I guess we'll hafta buck up and learn to go with the flow. There are no rules of the road, and red lights are mere suggestions. It's nothing to see piles of scooters take a left turn on a red without so much as a shrug. Sounds easy enough, but add 10,000 cars and rows upon rows of scooters into the mix and watch the mayhem that unfolds.
The city of Tainan is like nothing i've ever layed eyes on. We are driving around with Aaron and Johnny and Angela on the backs of their scooters for miles and miles and the city just never ends. Its like Times Squre in NY times a million, in every direction. I'm not sure if i could ever get used to that, but i'm sure as hell gonna try.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Taiwan a rock and roll all night...

What a trip! I spent eighteen and a half hours with my knees pressed up against the seats of the people in front of me. I could barely walk when we landed in Taiwan. Karen and I were the only people on our flight that had our luggage lost. Three out of four bags were sent god knows where. We hopped on a bus from the airport a whole lot lighter than we expected to be with the missing luggage. We travelled for five hours fuming about the mix up and landed in Tainan around noon. Johnny and his friend Angela met us at the bus stop and took us back to Aaron's pad where Karen and I washed the stink of the last two days off of us, and then walked to a nice restaurant and had dinner.
Karen and I took a nap while everyone else went back to work and woke up at around ten o'clock. Dave M had arrived with Cindy and we had a few beer with Dave, Johnny,Aaron,Kelly,Angela and Cindy. Dave and Cindy took off early, as Dave had to take the bus to Taipei early the next day to play soccer. The rest of us went to the Armoury, a bar usually frequented by expats. This bar stays open all night and beer is very cheap. We met some locals who bought us beer just to test out thier english skills. We left at around four A.M and went to an amazing park in the middle of the city. There was a public washroom I named the gekko house, due to the large number of gekko's on the wall. It was there that I urinated in my first hole in the floor. We took a leisurely stroll through the rest of the park and ended the night watching the sun come up from the empty streets next to Aaron and Kelly's place. It was a great first night, and our welcome party is tomorrow. So far, so good as far as our time in Tainan, We are looking forward to getting our own place and settling in. Tomorrow we go look at Johnny's old place and if everything goes well we will move in as soon as possible.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Taiwan Bound

So it has officially begun. This trip that we have been eagerly anticipating for what seems to be years now. No more jumping through hoops, no more scrimping and saving, no more tiresome paperwork, no more planning and preparing, and most importantly- no backing out now.
There we sat nervously, at the Halifax airport, baggage in tow and the Merlins at our side. We had already said our goodbyes to everyone else, and had just finished our final meal before our journey. We then sadly went our seperate ways, and made our way to the boarding gate.
Once there, we were advised that our flight had been delayed 20 mins, no big deal. We then proceeded to board the plane and make our way down the runway, where we had stopped and were advised by the captain of further delays at JFK in New York. Apparantly NY was experiencing T-storms and due to construction there were only 2 lanes open instead of 4, so JFK was backed up and we had to wait 50 mins to take off. Now this wouldnt be that bad, except for that the plane we were on was a 3 seater, 10 aisles long, and no room to stand up straight without bumping your head. And as always, the plane came complete with a screaming colicy newborn 2 seats up from us.
Finally we were given clearance and arrived in JFK about 1 1/2 hrs later. After much confusion about where to go, we made it to customs, along with the other 21 planes that had also just landed there. The scene there was horrifying, 1500 bodies hearded in a the longest line-up i'd ever seen, in a small, non-air conditioned area. It took us 2 hrs to navigate through that line, neck in neck with hot and sweaty strangers. We were sweating profusely, and there were actually people passing out from the heat and exhaustion of carrying too many bags. We originally had a 6 hr stopover there, but that quickly dwindled. Once we did get to the gate, we had about an hr to wait. There was nothing open, no vending machines and no water.
The plane we were about to board was operated by China Air, a jumbo double decker jet with 2 levels and a lounge. We were happy to learn that there were tv's on the backs of all the seats that played all the recent movies for free and had pre-recorded tv shows like the Simpsons, etc. The rows across were 3, 4, and 3, and aboout 50 rows back. The 7.5 hr flight to Anchorage, Alaska went quite smoothly, save for some minor turbulence. It turned out we were allowed off the plane there in the 1.5 hrs while it re-fueled, which was a welcome oppertunity to stretch our cramped legs. We were finally able to get bottled water there, a great deal at $10 US for four. The airline wouldnt sell us any water, and their tap water tasted like swamp water.
Once again we board the plane for the 9.5 hrs to Taipei. Another long stretch with minor and frequent turbulence over the water. We woke up at 5:45am local time to the captain announcing our near arrival and current local temperature of 28 degrees and clear skys. NICE!!!!!!!!
The experience in the airport however, was not as pleasant. We were soon to learn that only 1 of our 4 checked bags had arrived with us. It would seem that they had lost most of our luggage.
After much emotion and hesitation, we left the airport almost bagless, and boarded the comfy bus for a 4 hr ride to Tainan. The views were foriegn and tropical. There were tons of rice fields and palm trees to be seen. We had to change buses once, but boy was i glad we did. This last bus had comsisted of nothing but big leather reclining lazy-boys, equipped with tv's, nintendo, and in-chair massagers. Heaven compared to the last 2 days.
We arrived in Tainan at about 12:30pm local time, to a massive parking lot filled with screaming cabbies and mounds of parked scooters. At last, we finally made it!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


All the parties are over and the goodbye’s have been said, the only thing left to do now is leave. My Godparents who also happen to be my aunt and uncle, put on a great going away party for us, there was lots of food and drink with family that I will miss immediately. It started early and ended early, leaving us in decent shape for the party the next day with my friends.
Kelly and Joe went all out (dartmouthrockcity.blogspot.com) and organised a wonderful send off party for us. There were a lot of people there, some who just dropped by and others who stayed and drank in to the morning with us. The guitars came out, as would be expected and there was some drunken sing-a-longs lead by Jay, Mike and Mole for the most part. We tore in to ‘er oldschool and the beer didn’t last that long. Karen and I brought a 24 and Kelly and Joe had 24 and most people had their own stock, so it wasn’t for lack of supplies. Everyone seemed to have a good time and I am glad I got to spend that last night with all of the people I will miss so much.
I would like to say it ended respectfully at Kelly’s, but I would be a bald faced liar if I did. Larry, Sara, Amy, Mike, Jay, Bruce, Karen and I ended up at the Liquor Dome. We got gleefully drunk and ended the night on the dance floor, wallowing in our own shame. Kelly, Joe and most of the other folks had the common sense to call it a night before it came to that. Oh well, it couldn’t have ended any other way as far as I’m concerned. My only complaint is it wasn’t a Dartmouth bar that we closed down. I said it last night, and I will say it again now. Thank you Kelly and Joe for the amazing bar-b-que and party. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was, as always, a pleasure. Thank you Dave and Judy for the t-shirts and your generous card. And thank you every one else who came out to see us off. We will be thinking of you often, and keep in touch. I speak for both of us when I say goodbye and we love you all. See you in a while.

Ed & Karen.

Bon Voyage pics