i've arrived in taiwan. it still seems quite unreal, but here i am. my friend jessica and i were once talking about pictures and traveling, and how she likes to take huge amounts of pictures of all of her first impressions. that is the blessing of digital photography: you can take tons of pictures and weed through them later. so here is the best of my first impressions of taiwan.
it was a long trip to get here. our first flight out of salt lake city to our connecting flight in san francisco was delayed about 2 hours. luckily we still made the flight to taiwan with some time to spare. our flight was a red-eye, and some of us were basically bolting to the next gate, so there wasn't anything like time to poke around s.f., which is a bit of a shame. but that great city isn't going anywhere for awhile.
the flight to taiwan was as comfortable as it could be. i actually slept for 6-7 hours after taking two fat advil pms and considered any kind of sleep i got to be a small miracle. i was also entertained by the movies and the tv show "victoria bekham in america" which i found entertaining because in some ways i find posh spice more genuine and endearing than most other self-obsessed celebrities, but in others just as guilty guilty guilty as the rest of them. but my views on victoria bekham is not why i am writing this blog.
taiwan is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. as we flew in early saturday morning--because even though we left san fran friday a.m., we had lost a day during our time over the pacific ocean--i felt that i have never seen anything more gorgeous. blue, blue ocean covered with greenery all around. i was stunned and before we exited the plane managed to find some guts to take out the camera and snap a few pictures. most weren't that good, except for the one of this little guy who sat behind me. as the plane descended from the depths of the thick cotton clouds and towards the lush greenery, i felt truely excited for the upcoming six months and very grateful to be here. i felt at peace--for all the trouble of the application processes, the headaches and the stresses, i felt like it had been worth it.
the plane touched land and when we disembarked i felt like i had stepped into an aquarium. not like being a fish in a tank, but you know when you tour a city aquarium and you go down to the tanks to see the dolphins and belugas and such, you know that heavy settlement that the air gets? yes, that is the air in taiwan.
we took a bus from taiwan to the major city closest to where we will be teaching, tai chung. needless to say, hauling around luggage was a major adventure. the idea was to have 2 bags of a maximum of 50 pounds each. but when you are packing for a job for six months, that suggestion is, well, kind of like a guideline. i think the pictures can better explain what i'm trying to convey.
so we eventually got set up in the dorms in our school, the berhan english institute. they provided us with a lunch of bubble tea and pizza. i just about flipped when i saw the bubble tea: i absolutely adore the stuff. we went shopping for groceries at a market called asia go for pillows and some food.
you know, before leaving for taiwan, i didn't give too much thought to learning the language, other than learning how to get around. the last time i went abroad, to paris, i was pretty comfortable with french. i think i took for granted what a blessing it is to be able to speak the native language. while shopping for groceries, i wanted to ask people questions, or just be able to have pleasant conversations with the cashier and the people that weighed and priced my produce. but i was completely lost on everything they said to me. our boss was able to help us out for this first trip, but he won't always be there to grocery shop with us. i am now more interested, and motivated, than ever to learn chinese.
the school has given us bicycles as a means of transportation. we took ours out last night for a brief spin around the block. yes, the rumors of traffic being completely insane in taiwan are absolutely true. i have never really ever felt nervous in traffic before except when i was learning to drive. so now that i am feeling that again, i promise that i will use exersice caution.
and integrity. the branch president gave us an orientation of taiwan to us today and remarked that most people do not follow traffic rules. he said though, that as foreigners and as members of the church, it is important that we follow the traffic laws because people are watching us. that is for sure. i guess a group of foreigners would draw attention anywhere, but people in traffic regularly turn their heads to stare at my friends and i. it's kind of a cool feeling.
the picture above is of erin and shannon drinking some taiwanese coca cola! it's sweeter than the u.s. version, as is the peanut butter. the peanut butter may even be too sweet for me, as it tastes like reese's pieces.
i am still recovering from jet lag. our boss teased us yesterday that we looked like the walking dead, and i am still feeling a little like it. so that is why i look the way i do in pictures for the next few days :). but i am really happy to be here. i have a feeling that my experience here is going to be amazing.