It was about past 5:00 PM and my pocket only has Php 1,600.00 (US $30), it wasn’t even enough to pay the travel tax at the airport.
“Bo Ruach Elohim” I whispered a prayer in the air asking for divine intervention. After a couple of minutes my prayer was answered additional funding for my trip came. God was showing his photo finish moves again! he’s really awesome!
I was able to leave the house by 6:00 PM just as I have planned. Rode a bus to the metro station and took the train to Taft Station where I bought some dried mangoes as a gift. Taking a cab was out of the question with my limited budget. So I took a jeep going to NAIA Terminal 3 where you’ll be dropped off in front of the airport parking lot where you can just walk to the terminal building.
The line at the check in counter for Taipei was running long so I fell in line before it got any longer. All I have was my backpack and camera bag with me waiting for my turn. I getting bored waiting so I stroke a conversation with the lady behind me.
Sometimes I think of what my personality really is, I could be really shy but then again brave on another minute. I guess boredom was the key. Robee (pronounced as Robbie) and I had a good conversation talking about Taiwan and what was there to expect. I admire this girl because at a very young age, when she was still 23 she ventured outside of the country to earn a living so she could provide her family a good life. She is one very brave girl . I told her that she would go places and become more successful with her attitude towards life, not afraid of going out of her comfort zone.
Robee gave me a lot of information about Taipei and how the public transportation works. She also told me about what are the things that I should be cautious of while on the road.
English signs are written along with Chinese characters so you’d find your way around the airport easily. But finding specific shops like the money changer got a little challenging for me, specially that the airport is being renovated.
I looked for the money changer after passing through customs. I asked around and with was directed by the airport staff to the waiting area. Not all of them speak English but they are very eager to help you.
Unfortunately the Money changer was closed and would resume operations by 10am. It tried withdrawing money from the ATM but it wouldn’t dispense an amount lower than NT $1,000.00. I didn’t want to withdraw that much because I had cash with me anyways and as you know if you have cash it flies like you never had it.
A Taiwanese couple approached me and asked me if I was having trouble changing money, the guy even offered to change some just so I could buy my bus ticket. We didn’t noticed but his girlfriend went out of her way and looked for an open Money Changer. Since she can speak Mandarin she easily found one for me.
After changing my money I went back to the waiting area and bid goodbye to Robee. She quickly handed me a bunch of $10 coins and told me to keep it for my bus and mrt rides. We parted ways with her taking the service car from her job broker and me looking for the bus ticketing booths.
I was able to track the ticketing booths easily by following the signs. I bought a ticket from the Kuo Kuang Bus Company for $125 which will take me to the Taipei Main Station. This is one thing that I liked about their airport I don’t have to take chances with buses as they are conveniently stationed outside of the terminal.
As I boarded the bus and saw the couple that helped me I thanked them with a smile and told them that it was a “Success” (me changing money).Travel time between the airport and the Taipei City was about 1-1.5 hours since the bus took the free way and there was not much traffic as it was so early in the morning.
We all got off the bus at the end of the route, I decided to hang around the bus stop to think of my next move. The first option that was in my mind was to look for a coffee shop and kill some time there. The second option is… well I really didn’t get the chance to think about it at that time, maybe I could have just stayed at the bus stop and wait for the MRT. I felt safe at the bus stop since there was a line of taxi men waiting for passengers there.
Conversations In A Bus Stop
I don’t actually remember who started it, but I just found my self into a great conversation with the couple. I finally had a chance to introduce my self and so did they. They are Ching and Chiang a very cute couple that works as a graphic illustrator in Taipei, they are just the coolest couple I’ve ever known. I also learned that they just came back from a backpacking trip to Sagada, Banaue and Baguio.
I tried to send a SMS to my host to let him know that I have arrived in Taipei, but upon hitting the send button it failed! My phone was not working even though I had a signal. Well into the conversation they asked me where I was going to stay, I lied. I told them that I was just waiting for my host’s reply and that I don’t want to wake him up because he might have classes in the morning, but the truth was my phone was not really working. I didn’t want to hassle them that’s why I told them that.
After a while I told them that they could go ahead if they need to and I’ll just wait for my host’s reply but they insisted in staying with me. Then Ching had a crazy idea, why crazy? She offered me to stay at their house so I could rest for a while knowing that I’ll be doing a lot of walking that day. I mean who would let a stranger from another country that you just met and knew in a bus stop into their house! I told them that it was too much of them to offer me their home, but again they insisted. God bless this couple for their kind heart!
We took a taxi to their home in a nearby district, we got off at a 7-11 first where we bought some snacks and walked to their flat. Houses in Taiwan can be deceiving, their exterior are somewhat rough and kinda small yet when you get inside, the units offer huge spaces. Their house is so stylish as if it was like out of a series I watch on TV. They showed me around the house and taught me how to use the heater in case I wanted to take a hot shower.
The couple was so kind to have the names of the places where I am going to written down in Mandarin so I could just show them to locals and they would easily understand them. Unlike in the Peoples Republic of China (P.R.C) that propagates the use of Pinyin (a romanization system of the Chinese language) the Republic of China (R.O.C) better known as Taiwan, encourages the use of traditional Mandarin in writing. Though signs are written in Pinyin for the benefit of tourists most of R.O.C’s population still use traditional Mandarin.
Finally we called it a day after Chiang and I hd a great conversation at their balcony while smoking. Chiang fixed me a bed with their big couch at the living room, turns out that my first couchsurfing experience wasn’t because of couch surfing at all!
I couldn’t be more grateful to this couple who have let me into their homes and have help me with this travel, so I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Ching and Chiang for being my angels in Taiwan.
TRIP TIME CHECK: 0530HRS
To be continued.
This post is part of my Taiwan Series