People are strange when your a stranger

4 Nov

Where to start ?! In a coutnry where your vocabulary is simply “hello” and “thank you”, combined with pointing and smiling, even getting lunch is an adventure. My first troubles after leaving John and Karri was getting a train, but after some wrangling I got a slow train out to Haulien, a port city on the coast. Arriving there I quickly found a cheap hotel with cable TV, and went hunting for food to watch MTV with. But my efforts ended up with a confused look around shops for hours and finally some beef jerky, crisps and a beer. Not the best dinner ever…

The next day got out to Toroko gorge which is an absolutley breath taking national park. Driving through cliff-side roads looking up at the endless marble walls next to me made me really glad I had made it out here. I spent a couple of days here doing what walking trails I could. All the trails had a large “uphill” element to them and my legs are trobbing even now. One trail had an observation platform where I almost “observed” a young Taiwanese couple getting a little over-friendly… Seeing the girl die of embarrasment and the guy beam with pride I quickly moved on and left them to it. Moving on, all the other views along the trails were even more breath-taking and quite spectacular – expect lots of digital pics curteousy of John’s camera (mine appears to have broken down again…)

Buses turned out to be a little troublesome, but if there is one thing travelling has taught me is that everything works out somehow. Especially in a country as friendly as Taiwan – a couple of easy hitches and I even got to see some hot springs I hadn’t thought I could get too in time ! I left Toroko the next day utterly walked out and headed back in Haulien where I stayed in the older part of town. This turned out to be a great move, as I found a great hostel with “joined up” beds, meaning I could use the length of two single beds to stretch out… so good ! My food missions were getting better too – I managed to pick up some horrible looking sloppy dumplings and a little pizza, which of course tasted the opposite to how they looked, the pizza cardboardy and the dumpings heavenly. As always, my meal was accompanied by the local brew, Taiwan beer. Quite nice, and a bargin and a quid a large bottle.

Cost of living is qutie good out here – 20 quid a day and you can eat well and bag a decent room in a hostel, as well as pay to see the sights. Cds are also about 6 quid an album which isn’t too bad. Only problem seems to be the lack of communication out here as most people can only say “Hello” in English (my Chinese being the same, of course). I appear to have started talking to myself and singing as a walk around to compensate for the lack of conversation. Can’t be good. Hopefully these effects are temporary, until then I need to get some better songs in my head…

Thanks for all your mails – it’s slow going typing on chinese keyboards so I will offer a quick group response of I look forward to seeing those at home and miss those far away. Will reply to all your mails soon – promise ! Ben.

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