We miss you all! Some of you we miss incredibly — and you know who you are, you furry puppy — and some of you we miss simply because you have made our lives wonderful. To friends, family, and those whom we think about often, we hope you enjoy a very warm and merry holiday. We wish we could be close to you too, but it was simply not in the cards this year.
Instead, to celebrate the occasion, Steve and I are off tomorrow to five days in Hong Kong, where I will continue to recuperate at a nice hotel in Mong Kok, and we will eat Indian food at our favorite Indian restaurant ever and do a bit of light hiking on Victoria Peak. Then we’ll return to Kaohsiung for another two weeks before jetting off to Tainan, and then lands unknown.
On Monday, a nurse asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Taiwan. I told her we came from the U.S., and we were here for travel.
“How did you end up here, then?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “The hospital was not on the sight-seeing agenda.”
There , in a nutshell, is the story of the past three weeks. To drag the telling out is kind of monotonous, and I’ve already had to live through it once. So the short version is that I fell sick with a high fever, and we spent a whole week hoping it would go away, taking lots of Tylenol, drinking water, and visiting a local clinic and getting what Steve called “Dr. Feelgood’s Pills,” because they were just a packet of unmarked fever pills. Finally, we went to the nearby public hospital, and they took my temperature (40 degrees Celsius, or a balmy 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and promptly admitted me.
A long time ago, when Steve and I first conceived of our world trip (okay about 8-9 months ago for real) we brainstormed all sorts of ways to earn our keep. Most of them revolved around me getting a job in Asia that would utilize my language abilities, but in the end, we decided against most of them for a) not being in my career plan and b) not being conducive to a life of flexible travel, which was what we were most interested in. What we settled on was that Steve would try to do some contract work, like making mobile apps or websites, and I would try to tutor English. I even made some spiffy business cards and picked them up before I left Chicago. While we hoped to earn some cash, we would operate at a net loss overall, and sure, spend a large amount of our savings, but the trade-off, we theorized, was being able to do exactly what we wanted.
Fast forward to the beginning of our third month abroad, and since we arrived in Taiwan, we’ve been buried under personal projects, a crushing inability to get out of bed before 10 am, trying to make our social lives work in a country 14 hours ahead of most of our friends, and a lot of graduate school applications (okay, that’s just me). So far in Kaohsiung, I have succeeded in passing out a sum total of two business cards. So it came as a surprise that our first opportunity for honest income was today!
Living in Taiwan, it can be oddly easy to forget that we are on an island, albeit one that is very large. In each city we have spent a bit of time in, we have never been far from the ocean. A map of Taiwan reveals about a ring of a dozen big cities which hugs the coastline. The middle of Taiwan is mountainous and features just two roads which cross from the east to the west coast. That being said, sometimes it’s easy to forget because we barely budge from our apartment in the middle of Kaohsiung, hemmed in by low-rise apartments and large boulevards and streets.
That all changed when we finally visited Cijin Island. Long one of the attractions of Kaohsiung, it will horrify most residents when they hear how long it took us to finally make our way to Cijin (about three weeks, all right?). Right off one end of the MRT’s Orange Line, at Xizihwan Station, one can take a five minute stroll to Gushan Ferry, and board the shortest ferry ride in the whole world (approximately 4 minutes sailing) and disembark 15NT the poorer on Cijin Island, a long spit immediately off the coast of the city. It actually used to be a peninsula, but was severed at the southern end to create a second port of entry for Kaohsiung, which is Taiwan’s second largest city and 9th largest port, as Steve has become fond of noting.