July 19, 2014
Due to my lovely jet lag I awoke at 6:00am on my free day before teacher training started. Thank you eleven-hour time change! This gave me a chance to chat with family and friends back home, but I was still very tired. I knew I wasn’t going to get much more sleep so friends and I made plans to go exploring for an electronics store called, NOVA, and a 24-hour bookstore called, Eslite. My two friends had looked up the directions for both stores and they were all walking distance from the First Hotel. As usual it was hot in Taipei, and I was only kind of over the hot and humid weather that Taiwan had to offer. We very easily found NOVA, Alex bought the laptop he wanted, and we were on our way to the next destination Eslite. You know that feeling like you know where you are and then all of a sudden every round about and street starts looking the same? Well that is exactly what started happening. None of our phones were working yet and we did not have a very good map, so within 30 minutes we were lost. At least I would say we were lost, but Oliver and Alex would tell you, “We knew where we were, just not how to get to the bookstore”. By the time we stopped to ask someone for directions we had walked 5 miles. Along the way we had found Peace Park, which was very peaceful and had nice walking paths.
The first person we stopped to ask for directions pointed us in a direction. When we got to what was supposed to be an Eslite bookstore we were actually at a hospital. By that point I had had it. My feet hurt, I was thirsty, and it was soooo hot. I did not think we were going to be doing that much walking; otherwise I would have decided to wear other shoes than my TOMS. We finally stopped another person to ask them for help. Oliver asked him if he knew where the bookstore was, and with the help of our Mandarin phrasebook he was able to tell this man that we were lost. I was a little worried because this man had a wrist brace on and was walking towards the hospital, so I felt like we were holding him from being able to go to his doctor’s appointment. He pulled up a Google maps on his phone to show us where Eslite was. We were not even close! The man asked us how we were going to get there and we told him that we would probably take a bus or cab. He asked if we even knew which one to take and we said no. Then he was like, “I will drive you”. Oliver, Alex, and I all looked at each other and were like uhhhhhh okay. If this had been anywhere but Taiwan I would have been like, “Hell no!”. But there are very kind people in Taiwan. Most of the people you would meet here would go out of their way to help you, and that is exactly how we met Dennis. On the way to Eslite Dennis shared through very broken English that he was on his way to visit his mother-in-law in the hospital before we had stopped to ask for help. When we asked him what he likes to do for fun he said drink beer and hangout. Once we arrived to the bookstore I tried offering Dennis gas money, which he refused to take. So instead he took a picture with us. Dennis drove off and we all looked at each other in disbelief. I said, “Did that really happen?” because if that situation had been anywhere else we probably would be dead or pimped out by the next day.
The Eslite actually ended up being this department store building where each floor was a different product, so we went to the floor with all the books. It was pretty neat and they had quite a few English books. All of them were overpriced though, probably due to import costs. So a book that would normally cost me 10 USD would cost me 12 USD for a paper copy in Taiwan.
What was supposed to be an easy and simple walk ended up taking us many more extra hours. Eslite ended up being super close to Taipei 101 so we decided to walk over there and catch the MRT back to the hotel. Along the way we saw performance and random music events going on. That is the great thing about Taipei, there always seems to be something happening wherever you turn. But then I came upon the most good-looking man I had seen all day, the one and only Silver Fox himself, George Clooney.
We wander down onto the MRT and went back to our hotel. After freshening up and putting food in our bellies we all decided that it had been a long but good day. If we had not been lost foreigners we never would have met Dennis! Also, I checked the pedometer that I have on my phone. We walked a total of 9 miles that day. While the experience was great I would never walk that far in TOMS again! After such a long day we all deserved some shut eye because the next day teacher training would begin.