Wrong Gate, Right Time
My summer vacation nearly ended before it even began. I arrived at the bus station early. I waited at Gate 3 (Incheon). My bus was set to depart at 11 AM, so when no bus pulled in at that time, I panicked. A man saw that I looked stressed and offered to help. I explained my situation, and he took me to the ticket window. The woman spoke English surprisingly well. She said I missed my bus. I should have been waiting at Gate 6 (Incheon Airport). She refunded my old ticket so I could buy a new one. I was on the next bus to the airport at 11:30 AM.
The man who helped me happened to be on my bus. He was sitting directly in front of me. I didn’t notice until everybody got out at the rest stop. He was from Vietnam. Because I had been to Ho Chi Minh, we had something to talk about.
I arrived at the airport right on time, and everything leading up to my flight went smoothly. It was my first time flying with Thai Airways, and it was an enjoyable experience.
Your Lucky Numbers Are: 1968, 18, 22, 120.
The host of my AirBnB instructed me to take Bus #1968 to the metro station. Two local women on the bus (mother and daughter) said they were getting off at the same stop as me, and offered to guide me from there.
The bus ride was about an hour long. At some point I looked out the window and saw fireworks in the distance. In disbelief–It was August after all–I asked, “Are those fireworks?” The older woman said yes, they were. “It’s Chinese Valentine’s Day.” I didn’t realize they had their own Valentine’s Day, and I didn’t bother to ask why it was celebrated during a different month than the rest of the world. She then asked me, quite casually, “Do you have a lover?” I said no, to which she replied, “Meet someone.”
When we got off the bus, I showed them the map and directions I had printed. We ended up taking the same metro line, and they got off only one stop before me.
According to my map, the street number for my hostel was #18, but that turned out to be incorrect. A local woman helped me find it. I was actually staying at #22, and the code to enter the hostel was 120. I had a comfortable bunkbed with curtains for privacy. Also, as you can see in this picture, I discovered that Taiwan has the same outlets as the USA.
It poured down rain heavily on and off throughout my first full day in Taiwan. The first place I went was the Xingtian Temple, which was when it rained the hardest. With my poncho on, I was able to go out and get some decent pictures. Next I went to the Xianse Temple. This was a Sunday, and I got to hear some monks chanting.
While looking for the Shandao Temple, I accidentally discovered Upside Down House, which is exactly what it sounds like. After taking several pictures of an upside down house, I went to the Wrong Gallery, which displayed some unique art, memorabilia, and costumes for anyone who is a fan of comic books and superhero movies.
For dinner I ate my favorite dish, Pad Thai, at a restaurant called Thai Town Cuisine. It’s hard to find good Pad Thai outside of Thailand, but they did a great job.
I ended my first full day by taking pictures of Taipei 101 all lit up at night.
I discovered, when he commented on a picture I posted, that one of my friends from EPIK Orientation was also in Taiwan for summer vacation–and on exactly the same days as me, too! We decided to meet up at the Shilin Night Market.
The first thing I did that day was go to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. I knew nothing about it. I went because a friend recommended it. There are two buildings with yellow roofs that resemble temples. They were performance halls. The blue and white temple-looking building is a museum dedicated to the life of President Chiang Kai-Shek. Inside was a souvenir store across from a post office, so I bought a postcard and sent it to my mom. While walking back to the metro, I met three female Korean middle-school teachers, one of whom is from my current city Daegu.
Next I went to Ximen (Little Tokyo). There I ate at Cold Stone Creamy, something I miss from America. After exploring the area for a while, I returned to my hostel to rest before meeting my friend. On the subway train home, I saw my reflection and realized I had been sunburned.
That night I arrived at the Shilin Metro Station at 7:15 pm. I looked around and didn’t see him, after waiting for a few minutes, I walked to the market. I looked for an hour before I found him. Actually, I didn’t see him at first. His girlfriend saw me and called out my name. He said he arrived at the station at 7:15 and didn’t see me.
They introduced me to two new things: bubble tea and flame-grilled beef. I didn’t like bubble tea at first because of the texture, but I grew to love it. I got my dinner from a street vender. A guy cooked raw beef with a blow-torch. It cost $100 NTD.