Published: April 12th 2009April 12th 2009
Thailand from the plane
Taiwan…wow, you are not Thailand!
Our time in Thailand has come and gone already! Claire and I had a great time exploring, learning to teach, making new friends, learning Thai (barely) and learning to live in a very different culture from ours. We learned more than we can explain. Most importantly we made a lot of great friends we hope to see many more times before China takes over the world.
And speaking of that part of the world, we’re now in Taiwan!
But let’s backtrack for a moment.
My parents just came to Thailand to visit. It was great. We hung out in Chiang Mai for a while and then hit Bangkok for a few days. There will be a blog about it in the near future. Claire’s dad also visited in October and her mom and sister visited in November. We have blogs for those too, but they are still unpublished because we got busy planning this whole Taiwan thing. They’ll all be up soon.
So, my parents left Bangkok on the 25th of March while we went back to Chiang Mai to get our stuff. We left Chiang Mai the next day for
Rain on our street
The big brick buildings are where we live
Taipei. We paid dearly for bringing too much stuff with us (16,800 Baht; and that was after they gave us a break!).
We arrived in Taipei. I had picked up a slight cold a few days before and felt a little bit off. As Claire and I made our way towards immigration I noticed a cool looking flat screen computer monitor on the wall by a station staffed with nurses. Everybody walking by appeared to have their body scanned by something. Everybody was gray. When Claire and I passed through I saw that she was gray and I was gray…with red blotches on my neck? Oh crap. The nurses are rushing towards me and putting masks on. This can’t be good.
“Oh sir, are you feeling ok” the nurse asked me. “Uh, yeah” I said (another nurse takes my temperature with an ear thermometer). “You have a temperature of 38.4 degrees” she says. “Oh?” I say. “And is that bad, cause I’m from America and I’m not too familiar with the Centigrade scale” I add (seriously America can we switch now? I felt like a moron)
By that time I figured out the rough calculation in my
View from by the elevator
head that my temp was a little over 100 F. I guess that’s why I didn’t feel 100% on the plane ride.
The nurse said “You have a fever” and then asks, “Where are you coming from”. “Thailand” I said.
“How long were you there?”
“Oh! One year!” She exclaimed.
By then I had a Michael Jackson mask over my nose too. She went on to explain some stuff about Dengue Fever (yes, Dengue keeps inconveniencing Claire and I; it just doesn’t stop!) Then she says they’re going to quarantine me. Claire’s been ushered outside for the time being to wait for me. A minute of confusion ensued, but after it was clear that quarantine just meant they wanted to take my blood for testing, I felt a little better. The nurse was really nice, and I assured her that I had not been cavorting with chickens, live or recently slaughtered, nor had I been playing with pigs anytime recently. There was also some bird flu talk, hence the chicken thing.
So she took my blood, gave me a free mosquito net and told me they’d e-mail me the test results in a week. All
Claire's Kindi Kids
The Easter egg hunt
in all it was a crappy way to come into the country, but I got a free mosquito net which will be really useful while hiking in Taiwan.
I already got my test results back and I’m proud to report that I am Dengue Fever and Malaria free. I could have saved them the money, but I guess when a country has a SARS outbreak they get a little concerned with people bringing disease into the country. Taipei is the second most densely populated place in the world next to Bangladesh. Not that we are staying in Taipei.
Alright, that’s the long part of the story.
We found our driver and luggage (not in that order) and made the two hour journey to our new home Chia Yi (Jia Yi).
First impression of Taiwan: seems like America. They’re driving on the right; well constructed freeways. This is not at all like Thailand.
We made it to our new city and met our boss and a few people at the school we’re working at. The next day we observed at the school the whole day and learned that it seemed pretty cool. The teaching situation is
The only building in Chiayi with design
One downside of Taiwan is that many of the buildings are not too creative. Mostly boxy type things. The temples are cool. Wish I had some pics to show you
much different (mostly for the better) than Thailand. We went out that night to a bar that serves a ton of imported Belgian beers. It was about four dollars a beer which is a great price for that stuff. We also found out that prices really are just about the same as Thailand (except we make way more money now; woo hoo!).
We were out very, very late…and ate McDonald’s. It was a good first Friday.
Right now our experience is shaping up to be very different from Thailand. Chia Yi is a smaller city of about 275,000 people and only 150 of them are foreigners. The English level of younger people is pretty good. Mandarin is the official language although Taiwanese is spoken too (more so in the south). We’re located in the middle western part of the country. We’re at the base of a national forest park thingy. They have lots of hot springs in the country and great hiking. We’re excited.
We’ll be starting Mandarin classes soon. Learning some Thai seems to have paid off as Mandarin doesn’t sound too intimidating. The character/writing thing is a pain though. We already have one Taiwanese friend
It's not bad. A three bedroom for just Claire and I. Lots of space and pigeons roosting outside one of the bedroom windows. Fun.
who is very cool and I can see we’ll have a few more from the teachers at the school. The other foreign teachers at the school are good too. There are two other couples and they are recent arrivals as well. We all live in the same large apartment building. We have a roof and a barbecue. It’s going to be nice.
We’ll try to do a better job of keeping the blog up to date this time around. Internet is way faster here (which was one of the issues in uploading pics in Thailand), so we should be cool.
UPDATE: It took a little over a week to get this blog up because we keep forgetting to bring our camera anywhere. We’re still doing good in Taiwan. The job is good and the city is good. We haven’t explored a whole lot because we don’t a bicycles or a motorbike yet. Hopefully we’ll find one or both soon.
We’ll keep you updated, and we’ll take lots of pictures. There’s tons of interesting stuff here. Bye.
There are more photos below