A Travellerspoint blog

June 2010

Parting Gifts

Joe and I got up way early in the morning and headed down the street to the metro... which was closed! Wow, that would have been a good thing to know about. What to do, what to do, the metro was closed, we had no idea how to get to the bus now that takes you to the station... TAXI! I saw a taxi, called it out to Joe, and he ran into traffic (at this time in the morning, he ran in front of the one taxi). We loaded our stuff and I gave Joe the pamphlet with the bus schedule on it. Joe explained to the taxi that we only wanted him to take us to the airport bus, not all the way to the airport itself, and the guy was surprisingly understanding, helpful, and really nice. Then when we got to the bus station I had just enough change to pay for 2 tickets on the bus! But the info Carla gave me was about 20 cents off. “20 cents?” Joe started asking the people behind us. They had the 20 cents, and let us use it. Things were panning out, the day was looking like it was going to be pretty good!

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At the airport we got in without a hitch, we even checked all our bags without having to pay extra!

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Now all we had to do was wait. Then I notice something in my pocket. We had about $4 extra bucks. So what do we do with our time? I hop on the free computers they had out and Joe popped into the prayer rooms. I hope nobody tried to come in there while he was doing his stuff.

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I told Joe that it was about time for us to head to our gate, but he said 5 more mintues, so I ran to spend my $4 on a beer since that seemed to calm me last time I was on a flight. When I got back I really told Joe that I was getting on the plane with or without him, and the two of us practically ran to the gate. We were the last ones to board! And when we got to our seats, they were taken! “Sumimasen,” I got the attention of the stewardess and showed her my ticket. She took Joe and I to my beautiful window seat and there was a family of 3 already there. I guess one of them had the isle seat, and when they saw that Joe and I weren't coming, the mom and the toddler came to sit with the dad. “E-A” I told the stewardess as she was splitting the family back up. “Watachitashi” ummm, yeah, all I had at the moment was “no”, and “we.” I started shaking my head, and pointing to other empty seats, then to myself and Joe. “Ohhh, Arigato!” She figured it out, and they put Joe a few rows back, and me on the other side of the middle 5 seater row. Then a Japanese girl came over to me and pointed to her seat directly in front of Joe's seat. All and all, everyone was moving around, but we all ended up in good places I guess (but I didn't get my window. Stupid toddler.)

Abut 30 minutes into the flight while I was disliking the movie about the end of the world (maybe b/c the airplane was in constant turbulence and I realized how close I was to the same fate), with Denzel Washington, The Book of Elija or something, anyways, the food came out. I got an omelet thing, and gave Joe all my meat. I thought I was stressed by the movie, or maybe a little air sick, so I switched movies to that Leonardio Dicaprio movie Shutter Island. Maybe about halfway into that movie I realized that it wasn't making me feel any better, and the shaking of the screen was not making the shaking of the plane any better. I was sick, and I think it had to be b/c I was scared with how terrible the pilot was navigating the wind currents. I tried to relax, accept my death. I had done a lot in my life. I was in a pretty good place. It wouldn't be like Lost, if we hit the ocean, odds are it would just be over. No drowning, no freaking out, just dead. I played the scenario over and over in my head until I was calm while experiencing it.
Now my hands and feet were tingling as if they had lost circulation at some point. I took in deep breaths and attempted not to think about throwing up. Joe tapped me on the shoulder occasionally to ask me something, of which I usually replied to with a brush off my shoulder and a wave of my hand. Something funny, I needed something funny, I turned on a aromatic comedy with that girl from Veronica Mars. After 2 minutes I couldn't take it anymore. They were ripping her apart to make it so much better when she gets put together latter, but I just wasn't in the mood. I switched to music. No good, I needed something visual to keep my mind off the heat flashes I was getting. Now I was dizzy. Now I was having moments where my eyes get dark with black spots. This was more than a fear of crashing or some air sickness. Something was wrong. Now I was worried.

I wanted to hold Joe's hand, but I couldn't find the courage to move around in my seat to ask him. The plane was landing soon. I could hold out. I stuck my head into the aisle and watched the plane move forward through the 50 seats ahead of me. The tube shook with turbulence, this did not help. I got the barf bag out from the seat ahead of mine. I attempted to discretely rip it open to not alarm the person sitting next to me. Land already!

shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, shaking, CRASH, shaking, shaking, shaking, CRASH, JERK SIDE TO SIDE AND UP AND DOWN, evening out, slowing down...

The nausea had really settled in, but once I stood up I felt I was in control of it. I leaned my body over my chair back and turned to Joe. "I'm not okay." was all I could manage to get out. He tried to talk to me about it, but I couldn't seem to gain the ability to tell him anything without the possibility of opening my moth for something other than words to expel. I got out my notebook and pen. First I would write the word phonetically in Japanese, then I would write the English word next to it. Byo-in = Hospital, "E" tie = Hurt, Me - ru = See, I was just about to teach him how to say "Can't see" when he stopped me. "Whats going on?" I very quickly explained to him that I was possibly going to pass out, and only get me to a hospital if I do. He nodded and helped me off the plane. Then things started getting really dodgy. The room was not spinning, but I felt drugged. The world was not as stable as it should be. My head hurt tremendously. I needed to lie down. We came to a resting place, but no chairs. "Lie down on the ground right here." "You lie down on the ground!" I told him as I kept walking. I did not want to make a scene. I would find a bench to lie down on and pretend to be relaxing. Joe caught up with me and helped me stand on the one way people mover (escalator w/o stairs). At the end of the path there was an entrance for people to get their temperatures taken if they had a fever before boarding the plane. I didn't want to go b/c I thought it might keep me from entering the country, but when Joe said lets go, I couldn't help but feel relieved.

The doctors and nurses didn't speak much english, so I found myself bursting out with words when they would get stuck with Joe. Now I was lying down, and feeling much better. My sight was coming back from the little black circles it was plagued with before. The doctor took my temperature, and apparently I didn't have one. He seemed to be saying that I could take a wheel chair to the hospital next to the airport. Hell no! I was feeling better, not good, but not wheel me past customs to the hospital sick. I stood up and left. Joe protested and kept asking the doctor if it was okay if I just took a few minutes more time to recover, but in my opinion, they didn't want me there. I wasn't their problem. They weren't real doctors. They were only medical staff placed there to take peoples temperatures. They took mine, and now they wanted me to move on. I moved on.

Joe helped me through the line, but made sure I was ready to walk on my own, answer the questions I had to answer coherently, and get through customs all on my own. I did. After that we picked up our bags and Joe took me to lie down at the nearest row of seats. "I am going to go see if I can get my citi card to work." He saw that Japan has Citi ATM's, so he was going to give it a try. I hooked one leg around our cart with all our stuff, and I closed my eyes.

An hour later I finally felt like standing again, so I went looking for Joe. When I found the Citi ATM's I sat back down and called him over. He was having no luck, and I needed out of this airport. "Lets get a hotel!" The airport had Wifi, but you had to buy it, so we paid $10 with a credit card to have 24 hour access, and we booked the nearest hotel with a free airport shuttle. "Do you need the internet?" Our hotel may not have internet, so we decided to do everything we needed at the airport. "Yeah, I could check a few things before we go." Then he left to go do some kung fu somewhere for some amount of time. After an hour, I started fading again. I leaned my upper body over on to the seat next to me, and I tried not to move. Things seemed better that way. Next thing I know I have several Japanese people over me asking if I was okay. I dropped the laptop on the ground. I think the base now has some screw issues. "Diejobu des, ano, nemui." I think I told them that I was okay, but I wanted to sleep. They seemed okay with this explanation, and moved on.

After all the people left, I burst into tears. I was so tired, so sick, and I had no way of finding Joe. Why would he leave me alone for so long? It was over an hour ago now that he left. Why wouldn't he check up on me? Check in every 20 minutes at the lest? He seemed so concerned before... I felt so alone.

Finally when Joe came back we left to find some dinner since we weren't sure where the hotel would be in terms of food. I also purchased a Japanese - English picture guide that turned out to be very handy.

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We ate some food we bought at a bagel shop near the fountains, and then we searched for the busses. The shuttle to the hotel came about every 30 minutes, so the wait wasn't bad. The drive was also amazing! Houses, real 2 story houses, speckled everywhere like a real urban city! I felt almost like we were back in the USA, except for all the roofs being traditional Japanese style, and most of the windows looking like paper sliding doors.

We checked into the hotel, and I promptly passed out. It was now 8pm, a far later bed time than I had hopped for. We agreed that in the morning, depending on how I felt, we would decide if I needed to go to the hospital. For now, sleep.

Posted by - Rain 05:28 Comments (0)

Solution to the Global Economic Crisis...

Puppies!

(This video was given to us by Joe's older brother Nate. Thats right Nate, I'm not taking credit for finding this.)

Channa got up around 8am to bring in the new Couchsurfer. About 30 minutes later in came Carla. She was planning on staying in Taiwan a whole year and study Chinese. She told me that her reasoning for wanting to learn Chinese was lame, but eventually I got it out of her. She thought the characters were beautiful. Well, why do people like to learn French or Italian rather than German or Spanish? Because French and Italian sound beautiful. It is just an added bonus that most people who like the language also like the country.

We started telling her about our travels, and she told us that she was so glad that we didn't end up going to Mexico on the motorcycle. She was either part Mexican, and her parents travel back to Mexico with her often, and she said that even she wouldn't ride a bike though Mexico. So, there you have it.

Channa had to head out to a doctors appointment, and Carla had to be at a meeting about getting settled into Taiwan in a few hours, so until then she said she could walk around with us a bit while we did some last minute shopping before going to Japan. First on the list Joe wanted to get some new shoes. The first store we walked into we actually found the exact same sandals that I was wearing! These were the sandals I bought in the Sedona, and they even had the little Native Indian symbol on the heel of the hand with the swirl! However, they were $30, and I only got mine for $20 (but they were on sale from $80, but I think that was just the Sedona markup price). I contemplated it a long time, but in the end I decided to same the money. My sandals were pathetic looking, but they still functioned, and all I was going to do was destroy this new pair too. Then we stocked up on toiletries so we wouldn't have to pay Japan prices for those, and Carla had to head out.

Part 2: Internet. But wait, whats this? Theres magic in the air! Whats this? Theres music everywhere! Whats this?

Puppies!

In the window of this pet shop were the cutest puppies! I wish I had a video of Joe playing follow my hand up and down the glass with this white shaggy haired puppy. The atmosphere of the day just seemed to sing with the store keeper came back and opened the store. He let us unlock the cages, and at first the puppies were terrifies and ran away. Come on guys! You were so excited to lick the glass pretending it was really our fingers like two seconds ago! But then they warmed up to the idea, and Joe and I both fell absolutely in love with this little black one. It was the puppy I was trying to explain to Joe that I wanted all the way in the Boarders back in... what state was that? I had the car, and Joe had the bike, and Joe got really sick, and we got the churros at the Mexican Supermarket... this sounds like California. We looked at a dog book in California and I couldn't find this dog, but this was the Beany Buddy dog that I fell in love with and never knew what kind of dog it was. As it turned out, this was exactly the dog Joe wanted too. “Lets get him! Come on, lets just do it!” I'm pretty sure he was serious. “You see those people with the little dog carriers on planes! And it would be so good for him to go walking with us everyday while we tour!” “Yeah, and what about when the temples say no dogs, or there are signs on the metros, or the parks, and what about dog food, and dog poop?” “I've had a dog, I can do this.” He finished with his voice trailing off as if he knew what he was saying a part of him didn't even believe. “But when we settle down, we are getting this dog!” “Okay!” Then I told Joe that he had to give the white one in the other cage some love too b/c she was whimpering, and after he did that, the black one started making the cutest little barks! It was the first time any of them had made a sound, they were so well behaved! Anyways, enough about the dogs! I'm freaking out about them b/c it really was the highlight of our day.

Well, that, or maybe the store we stoped in next which had some magic in it as well, a decently priced battery for Joe's old as poo camera! Of course they had memorie sticks for it too, but a 256mb memory stick for his camera cost about 4 times as much as the 4GB stick for the newer models. So we settled for the battery, and guess what! Now we have enough batteries to use the zoom and flash again! With Joe's old battery some where in America we lost the ability to use either of those functions even with a newly charged battery. And to top it off, Joe's memory stick had failed somewhere in China and we could only access about ½ of the 128mb, which was great b/c that ass in Hawaii stole Joe's other memory card, but now with the new batterie all of the sudden the memory stick is allowing us to access the other half of the card! Now, back to the other half of reality (I don't want to say back to reality, because good things and happy things happen in reality too, we just forget that sometimes b/c the bad things are what we remember and what loom in our minds, darkening memories and seeping in to every other range of emotion causing a stillness to settle in like mixing paints from rainbow to dark brown).

We looked and we looked and we looked for internet. Walked into every coffee shop, including Starbucks, and we had no luck. Unfortunately I had already bought a coffee at that point, so we paid kinda for nothing b/c the coffee was really bad. It was my absolute favorite flavor, black sesame, which works amazing for frapaccinos, but toasts and feels like someone dropped dirt into your mug. The hot liquid did not mix with the sesame, so they just floated and swished around in an unnatural manner for blended coffee.

Posters outside of Starbucks:

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Eventually we just broke down and went to the Insomnia cafe that was really expensive, but we knew had wifi.

Joe playing in the automated mist system:
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Puppy art on the walls:
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Then what happens after we order 3 beers b/c it was buy 2 get one free... we can't log on. We had the bar tender/ waiter guy helping us, and another girl trying to get us online, and it just wasn't working. She finally just told me to use her computer that was able to log on, so I did my business. Guess what? My mom emailed me, the JR pass to Japan was rejected b/c you can't sen JR passes to Japan! So they sent it to the NY office. Then the NY office called my mom. "Do you know you have one JR pass for 2 weeks and one for 3 weeks, being sent to different locations, do you want them both sent to you? And do you want them for different times?" "Yes!" My mom kept the times the way I had planned them, she tried to contact me about it, but we were not able to get her emails in time to help her make the decision. Then on a whim she gave them a call back the this night and sorted out evereything. She mentioned that Joe and I were flying out the next morning for Japan, and they guy made sure that the passes were approved and stamped by this evening, even though they were closing in 10 minutes! B/c if they weren't stamped in NY that evening, then the next day Joe and I would have landed in Japan before they opened (Japan really is the land of the rising sun) and the passes would have been invalid b/c they were stamped after we landed in the country! Thank god! Or my mother! Jesus Christ! (God again, my mom is Georgi), I would have been $1,000 less richer, and with no way of traveling around Japan! Yay for people who still want to talk with us back home after everything we've put them through!

Then quickly called Joe to come over to her table and get what he needed done. But when I went back to our Mac I noticed that it miraculous fixed its problem all by itself (b/c thats what Macs do), and we were online. I think Joe spent the next 3 or 4 hours on the computer, and again, I couldn't sit that long. So I went out shopping and I found Jem and the Hollogram's earrings at the night market! They were plastic crap, not just the red stars, but the park that sticks into your ear was crap plastic too, but they were only $1, so I figured if I loose them, I loose them. The point was I was going to be super cool for at least the next week or two. Now it was getting really late and I begged Joe to shoe me where he found the hair salons. Everyone talked me into getting a Taiwanese hair cut rather than a Japanese one b/c it would be ½ the price, and the same quality. But, after checkin out one salon and going to the Sholin salon, they told us to come back in the morning. Everything but the nigh markets in Taiwan close really early.

So we headed back to Channa's and found the two of them in starvation mode. Time for dinner! But where to go? None of us were making decisions, but then when the other would decide, we would all go, “Well, I don't really feel like that.” We walked to about 3 different places, realized that they were either only lunch or breakfast shops, and then headed to where Channa had suggested in the first place, Eddy's Burgers. It was like a TGI Fridays, but with only burgers on the menu. I thought Joe and I were going to split like usual, but I guess we really hadn't eaten much of anything all day, so we each got our own huge burger with a mountain of fries. It was so good! But way too much food! But it was so good! I think I decided not to eat for the rest of the week after that mistake. Joe coudn't even finsish my food for me to give me the excuse to not keep going. I was so high off of food that I knew I should go to sleep so I would be ready to leave for the airport early tomorrow morning, but I needed to work off this food. So Joe headed back to the apartment hoping that one of the roommates would let him in, and the 3 of us girls hit up the 7-11 for some alcohol. I really didn't want any more bread, even if it was only liquid bread (beer), so I got a really good vodka and grape juice, and we drank under one of those park awnings made out of a tree that vines over the pillars.

Here, this is what I'm talking about:

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See? Make sense now? Come on, how would you describe it?

Posted by - Rain 05:06 Comments (0)

Girls Night In

Early continental breakfast, then more skyping wth my mom and Citi Bank. When it was time for check out, the deed was still not done, so Joe allowed me to have the laptop, check out, and then sit in the lobby wile using my computer, and he continued to work with my mom on the computer upstairs (pretty snazzy place to have personal computers on every floor with internet). He came down to ask me questions every now again, but then he headed right back up stairs where I had no way of reaching him b/c we weren't smart enough for us to both log onto skype or gmail so we could chat (whats wrong with us?) He ended up buying our plane tickets out of Japan, one for him on the 25th of June, and one for me on the 7th of July. We were thinking it would be good for me to get to spend more time in Japan, and for Joe to spend more time looking at colleges, so we tried to give me an extra 2 weeks, but we had to go with when the cheep flights were. Also, we thought the time apart would do us some real good, just like when he had his week in the wild in Arizona when I toured around New Mexico.

When we were finally ready to leave it was raining really hard, but I didn't mind too much b/c but my bum did start to hurt from sitting too long. I really couldn't believe that Joe could keep going so long either, b/c usually he is the first to poop out from a long day of lounging. Yesterday Channa send out an emergency couch request to her friends for us, and we had one response. We could have stayed with him last night, but we had no way of knowing that w/o a phone or internet, and if we stayed with him tonight we would have to leave his place at 7:30 am the next day b/c thats when he has to leave for work, and he couldn't host us the next night b/c his work was out of town. We only had 2 more days in Taiwan, and we were desperate, so we told Channa that we would stay with him Today, and maybe we could stay with her tomorrow? “Crappers guys, I have another couchsurfer coming in tomorrow, you remember, the one bringing me lush?” Channa had gotten a request from someone coming straight from the US, and Channa's face cream line Lush just stopped being sold in Taiwan. She needed its amazing organic goodness, so she told the girl that she could couchsurf, but she did have one request.

“But, if you guys don't mind both sleeping on the floor, you guys should totally stay with me tonight and tomorrow night.” I guess Sunday didn't really count as the weekend anymore, and, that settled that. Yay Channa! And in celebration the 3 of us went out for pizza dinner (very yummy, but expensive, and all 3 of us had to order something or they were going to kick us out of their half full restaurant). Afterwards we ploped down in front of the television and started watching Spiderman 4 (thats the one with the sand guy right? I can't remember a 3, so maybe this one was 3, whatever, it sucked), then on commercials which cut out really suddenly so at first you think your still watching the movie, we changed to In Her Shoes. I was the only one who had ever seen it, so I had to keep filling them in, and then Joe would struggle with the remote to turn off the twaddle, but Channa was hooked (what can I say, she was a girl, and it was a chick flick). The funny thing was that Channa isn't what you would call a chick flick kind of a girl, so the whole time she just kept calling out how lame it was, but at the same time she couldn't look away, and she couldn't stop asking me really interested questions. “So are they going to do it? They are aren't they, they are going to get it on tonight! Right?” “I'm not going to tell you.” “Look, just tell me so we can get over with it quicker.” “I don't really remember,” “Yes you do! Just please! Tell me! Do they Fuck!” “Yes, I know they do that, but I'm not sure if its this montage of dates or not.” “Okay then, thats all I asked.” Then True Lies came on, and we of course couldn't stop watching that one either.

The whole night we 3 were all bickering like old men. It was a blast! (BTW, I think the term is old women, but for some reason it just rolls of the tongue better this way.) Channa was freaking out on Joe for being a remote controller, I was freaking out on Channa about how she always says I should be more patient with him, then Joe was freaking out on Channa for asking too many questions, and I was freaking out on the movies about how I don't think Christin Dunst is pritty, only after Joe brought it up, and then moved onto how replacing Katie Holms with Maggie Jillinhal in Batman was a way bad idea. “You are beautiful!” Heath Ledger says to her as he circles her like a predator. “Yeah right! Maybe if you slept for a few months or got Opra's makeup artist to fill in those bags under your eyes!” But the worst of all is by far the mom in Tue Lies, I just hate that actress. Sure, she has a great body, especially for her age, but I just think there are way more talented and good looking people out there who would die for some of her roles. And thank god for Elisha Dushcue, who was also in True Lies, so I could say that I thought someone was talented and beautiful, even though she was still only like 13 at the time. And side note, “Did you know that she had a show called True Calling? Coincidence?” Whatever, it was a total girl night, and yes, I count Joe as one of us.

Posted by - Rain 05:01 Comments (0)

Belia, Day 2

Today we left for the train station fairly early in the morning to head back to Yilan. On our way from Taipei to Hualien we passed through Yilan, so we gave Belia a call and asked if we took a train to Yilan would she be up for hanging out? She emailed us back a little too late telling us that yesterday she was free the whole day, but today she had plans in the afternoon. But she said if we wanted to get an early start that we could catch some more really good vegan breakfast in Yilan, and then she could drive us into Taipei to go the the museum. This was the place that everyone kept telling us that we had to go see when we were in Taiwan because they have all the old Chinese artifacts that may have been lost after the cultural revolution if it wasn't for most of them being taken oversees to Taiwan.

But first, before breakfast, Belia took us back to her office for some real, real, real real real real real coffee.

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Then she took us to a little shop where we got some rice milk and breakfast. Here we ran into some of her friends, and the one held an actual tea ceremony with us! He was really cool, and he had us drink hot water to clean our pallets, and then he would give us little little tea cups filled with tea he just brewed. Then when we finished he would refill our tea as his grandson kept trying to grab the tea pot. Belia eventually had to take him into her lap to keep him from burning himself. “How old are you?” Joe asked him in Chinese. The little boy wouldn't answer, but his grandmoth said that he was 2. I would have guessed 4 going on 5. They agreed that he was gargantuan for his age, and they blamed it on that his father is a milk drinker.

After breakfast Belia drove us back through the mountains into Taipei.

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I love how everyone walks with umbrellas on sunny days like old England and how children and dogs can ride on the scooters just the same as a shit ton of boxes and luggage.

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post man:

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101:

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The Chinese would be appalled by this sign:

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This is a restarunt:

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power boxes:

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7-11 (They are everywhere! Even in trees!)

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Squirl:

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Tunnel:

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The museum! And there were tons of people! Why are there so many people? Then Belia read us the sign. “Ohhhhh,” she said as she scrunched up her face. “This weekend is National Museum day.” The crapy part was we lost each other about 40 bajillion times and were pushed and prodded by throngs of people. The good think was that we got in for half off! (And yes, my money is again, worthless today.)

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We couldn't take pictures inside, but you know what thats going to look like. Lots of glass boxes with pots, jewels, paintings, books and woodworking (ridiculously intricate woodworking though. I thought at one point that this box was made of ivory with a fine lace mesh inside lacing the walls. No, it was all ivory! Ivory carved down so fine and detailed that it looked like a flower designed lace). So least for the ivory section, it wasn't anything that you wouldn't expect. Our favort wood carvings was the one called “Life's 4 Greatest Pleasures.” They were 4 individually carved little men. One was stretching his arms out real wide, the other was picking his ear, another scratching his back, and the last was digging for gold... in his nose.

About 15 minutes into the museum Belia mentions that we maybe should buy the headphones everyone else was wearing to get the full detail about what is in the exhibits (that, and have a detailed English translation). I told her that I was fine, but Joe you could tell wanted them. So after a little moving the head side to side with squinted eyes, he told her that he would really like that. So we ran back downstaris, got the headphones, and then ran back upstairs where Joe immediately takes control of his newly acquired map of where the audio will play, and we had to go exactly in order to make sure that we didn't miss a thing! This method of seeing the meuseum ended up taking a very long time, and so we didn't make it out of the museum until almost 4pm which was when Belia had to leave to make it to the next city over where she was meeting her husband for dinner.

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“We have time,” she insisted and took us to lunch. But, the vegetarian restaurants she tried were all closed already for the after lunch pre dinner setup. “Don't worry!” She told us, and she drove us to Costco's. I thought that we were going to split some bulk food for lunch, but then she took us to the mall right next door. “As long as we spend $1 at one of the shops in this parking area, parking is free!” So we parked at the Costco's and she took us to the mall food court. Then she asked us where we were staying. Well, Channa couldn't take us in on the weekend, and we were still waiting to hear back from Ashley's boyfriend about couchsurfing with him. This was unacceptable for Belia, so she ran out to the car, got her laptop, and started searching the internet for a hostel. But, all the ones she called were booked. “Belia, don't worry about us, we can stay in the hotel we stayed at last time near our friend Channa's place. Then we will stay with her tomorrow. Go meet you husband!” She was hesitant, but I finally convinced her that we weren't all together helpless, but she said that she had to at least drop us off at the metro. Us with Bilia just outside the metro:

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Joe had to go to the bathroom, so I waited for him inside the station. 10 minutes later, we were ready to go. About 30 of traveling went by when Joe realized that he left his secret pouch in the bathroom! “How! How could you loose that!” He takes the lanyard off when he gos #2 to keep it from sitting in his lap, but then he forgot to put it back on! It had his passport and all his money and important things in it! But his passport! Not again! And now it was getting late and we wouldn't make it to the hotel before it was probably booked too! Joe had a plan. We were goig to split up. He would go back to the first station, and I would go onto the next station where the hotel was. In Taiwan you pay for your exit, so as long as Joe never left the station, we wouldn't have to pay again (not that it really mattered at this point). He said that he would meet me at the hotel.

When I got to the hotel, the only room they had left was the Family suit. Fuck! I walked outside and sat next to the building. All the other hotels around here were more expensive than this one! And this one was already pushing it! for about 15 minutes I freaked out about what to do. When would Joe be here? How can I contact him to meet me somewhere else? Where should we go? I calmed down and walked right back into the hotel and asked her (knowing what the answer was last time), if there were any other hotels around, cheeper or not. She gave me directions for 2 different hotels, one in each direction. As I power walked to the first hotel I got out my American phone and called my mom. $3 a minute be damned! “Can you find out if there is a hotel with space available in Taipei?” We kept it short, and I explained to her that Joe may have also lost his passport, so that was why I was freaking out a little more than necessary with this hotel thing. After about 20 minutes I found the hotel, and it was actually about $10 cheeper than the one we stayed at last time, and they had space. “Can you hold this for me while I go to an ATM?” Sure, they said, and I booked it back to the first hotel. “Mom, I got a room for $55.” “Great, all I could find was $80.” She told me to call her when I know if Joe has his passport. Back at the hotel Joe was surfing on their internet for hotels. “I thought you'd come back, so I just waited here.” “Great! Lets go! I have a hotel holding a room in walking distance or we can waste money on one stop on the subway.” Joe agreed to walk, and we had a slight feasco trying to find an ATM that 1. Was in service, and 2. took Visa (not everywhere I want to be... but close. Good job guys. Way to be the McDonalds of credit cards).

The hotel had resonantly priced beer in the fridge, so I had one while I took a bath! This was the first bathtub I had seen in over 3 months! It even had the curvature of the tub to have an nice angle for your head to rest! Joe, on the other hand, had some credit card problems of his won to deal with. He was on the internet with my mom, skyping with his citi card customer service, pretending that she was his mother attempting to help him unlock his internet account so he can access his money over seas. Yeah, if that didn't throw up a red flag of SCAM, then Citi just wasn't doing its job. However, thats all the props I can give them b/c I don't know how many times after this phone call they told Joe that everything would be working in an hour, or by the next morning, and it never was.

Taiwan Chinglish of the trip:

Delicious in Agile

Posted by - Rain 04:39 Comments (0)

This – Is – Cake Town!

Today is our last day with a scooter, so of course we took it back to the gorge.

Leaving Hualien:

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Doesn't Joe look like one of the guys from 300? (- 4 packs)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNqiSkd1M6k
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We had this temple all to ourselves for about an hour, so we filmed 4 of the Daoist postures, The 2 red birds and the 2 black turtles:

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Then, back on the bike for maybe 5, 10 minutes, then as if a jolt of lightning just struck Joe (and conveniently avoided me), the scooter came to a screeching halt!

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Joe: "Waterfall!"

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Here we are at 9 Turns Trail. It used to be for driving traffic, but then they decided that the cars were spoiling the view for all the hikers. So they built another tunnel into the mountain that is closed off from the gorge so people could walk the gorge without breathing in exhaust gasses. Also, this section of the gorge is famous for the special wind current that blows through it causing the birds to act like daredevils riding the waves.

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Then on the way back into town to turn the bike back in Joe needed to make a pit stop to see this one of these ridiculously bright looking temples. We've seen them scattered along the coast as we took the train, and we've seen them as we drive past on the bike, but we have yet to see one of these Taiwanese temples, so while we still had our freedom to go where we please, we went.

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After turning in the bike we walked to this cafe and Joe got a typical Chinese dinner and I got waffles and fruit! It only came with half of a waffle (what did they do with the other half?) and a few slices of fruit with some melted ice cream rather than the huge plate of waffles loaded with a fruit salad, but it was still better than eating any more fried food. Sure waffle makers can be considered frying, but they are not deep frying at least, so I was happy. And we got the best banana milk and papaya milk smoothies! I'm pretty sure that after we ate at this place, even though we were only staying in Hualien maybe one more day, that we got banana milk and papaya milk smoothies about 3 or 4 more times.

Back at the hostel we realized that we had gotten back kinda late to move our stuff to the other dorm. Last night we moved into the 6 person dorm again b/c our single room was booked for the rest of our stay by the couple from Singapore, but tonight we had to move to the 10 person dorm b/c a group of kids from Taipei university booked the whole room like 2 months ago. When got back though the girl who was working there (the hostel lady's first day off in a week!) had already put our things in the 10 person dorm for us (up 3 flights of stairs, I felt kinda bad). But she didn't seem to mind, and was in fact more worried that we would be upset that she moved our things. I didn't mind. She missed a bag or tow, but that wasn't a problem.

This evening Joe was really set to “party” so he awkwardly asked some guys if they were “partying tonight.” Then he said that he was almost done with the computer, so we could go out soon. I cringe at the thought. I suppose it was Joe's awkward social interaction with strangers was one of the things that attracted me to him after a while. At first I found him ridiculous shy, so much so that when Marge, our Kung Fu schools most senior student, asked me to see if I could get Joe talking and part of the group... I really didn't want to. “Why me?” “Because you are always breaking the ice with everyone! I've never seen you not go up to some brand new person and treat them like you've know them your whole life.” “Yeah, but I've talked to Joe... he's kinda off a bit.” (As I discover later, he thought I was mentally unstable, touche.) Then I got to know him, and started to get him to come over “The Kent House” (the place where me and my 5 closest friends lived) for parties, and watching him try to make friends was endearing. My favorite line of his was when we were teaching him to play Never Have I Ever. We shouldn't have let him be the first one to do it, but he pulled the fist Jack, which for those rules, meant you had to play Never Have I Ever. Joe: “Never Have I Ever... eaten 5 pounds of food.” We all stared at him in wonder (what was he thinking?), and so he elaborated. “All at one sitting!” This didn't make it any better. So then Laura gave him an example, and if I have ever seen Joe blush, it was right then. Anyways, I really digress.

Now I don't find it so nice because at parties when he would say things in a strange manner, we just thought Joe was strange. But now, if he says something on this trip, it is immediately reflected upon me. Nobody looks at the two of us sitting at the table together and thinks, wow, whats up with that guy? They look at both of us and thin, wow, whats up with those two? Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I was facing them and saw the leaned in whispering after Joe turned back around to work on the computer. And to top it off, I didn't even want to “party.” Joe likes partying when we fight, while I... I don't like anything while we fight. I guess thats just one of the many things thats pulling us apart, these small differences that get in your face when you spend 24-7 (does this line of blogging sound familiar? Southwest trip? Maybe?)

We didn't end up going out with those two guys b/c I got to talking with one of the student's from Taipei University, Ala I believe, and made it pretty simple for us to tag along for dinner. We wanted to find a good restaurant to eat at, but we got lost a bit and ended up at a vegetarian attempting to order some meat. Then when we figured that one out we ordered some fried rice (well, the Swedish guys and the French girl did), and they came out with a huge bowl of soup, which may have been fine if they didn't just eat a bunch of really bad soup for lunch. I saw the look in their eyes, the look that says I'm so hungry, and I don't speak the language, and I really was excited about the fried rice, and I would really almost eat anything but soup right now! I singled to them not to make any more, and that the one was fine.

After an uncomfortable dinner where only half of us ate we ended up going to McDonalds. “I hate being that foreigner, you know?” Ala said, and I couldn't agree more. So I took my chance to hide from the crowd at the counter and I went upstairs to use the restroom. I got stuck. Inside the stall with a door that only had about ½ opening at the top, and about the same on the bottom, and no openings along the walls, I was stuck. I couldn't figure out how to open the door. I was panicking! Claustrophobia set in like the evil menace it always is, on top of not wanting to be that foreigner knocking on the door for help w/o knowing how to say help, or I'm locked in; and even if I could get that across, I wouldn't be able to follow their instructions on how to get out! Then I had visions of getting stuck on the bathroom ground trying to pull myself through the opening under the door. “Yeah, if you didn't eat so much McDonalds, maybe you would fit!” I could see them say, and I wouldn't even know that was what they were saying because it would be in Chinese. I was all alone in the bathroom a the moment, and I was ready to do the only thing I could think of. I was going to tear this mother fucking door down! I started with the lock. It was circular with a rectangular hole cut into it. I tried turning the circle by placing my fingers into the rectangular hole and twisting. I could feel plastic start to crack under the pressure. But it wasn't enough, I would really have to tear into it to break it, and then I might really be locked in. So I calmed myself, thought rationally. Sure, it was an unfamiliar lock and handle, but there was a way to get it to work. I reached my hand inside the hole again and felt for something. Something to pull, something to push, something to unlatch, and on the far left side of the hole I felt that the plastic was a different texture than the other inner walls. I couldn't see it b/c it was about an inch deeper to the left of the opening, but I applied pressure to it, and it gave way! Pushing harder the door unlocked, and I rushed to the sink to splash my face with cold water. I felt the room spin a little, and then I was okay. Outside at the table Joe had a McFlurry for us to split, and the world was a little less scary.

Posted by - Rain 06:45 Comments (0)

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