I was alone on a subway in this unfamiliar land but it felt so comfortable as if I have been living in it for quite sometime. I alighted at Taipei City Hall Station and looked for a public phone, my mobile wasn’t working right and I needed to contact my host.
My host wasn’t picking up so I looked for a a wifi signal and messaged him. I tried calling him again and luckily he answered. He was still out with some friends celebrating so we just decided to meet up again later that night.
Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Back to the subway I walked buying a ticket going to Jiantan Station for the Shilin Night Market. I love the night market culture of Taiwan and not to mention the great price of the stuff they are selling.
After so much tasting of different local food I was already filled I guess that was dinner for me. I was surprised how different some of the Chinese food that I taste here in Manila from the ones that I tried.
You can find lots of stuff in Shilin and you’d love getting lost at this night market. I was even surprised to find a temple at the middle of the night market. After taking some photos I continued to walk along the narrow alleys of the market till I realized that it was time to go back to the city.
I went back to Taipei City Hall Station to meet up with my Host. He was actually waiting for me quite a while at the exit with one of the best things that I have experienced in Taipei, riding a scooter around Xinyi District just like a real local.
Simon, my host who is my “official” first ever couchsurfing host and I talked about a lot of stuff specially about the multimedia arts. See, Simon is a student who still manages to make short films and travel on the side. By the way his short films are really good! here’s one of them.
We talked about our similar interest about the visual arts and his recent trip to Japan while I on the other hand introduced him to the Philippines. The night seemed not to be long enough be we had to call it a day.
Day 2 0900HRS
Things That Should Not Happen Abroad
Woke up late in the morning headed to the bathroom for a shower. Now taking a bath in the morning is a real challenge specially during winter/spring when it is really chilly. Thank God, God gave humans the knowledge to build water heaters!
After fixing up out selves we went down his apartment to eat breakfast. On our way down I tried to locate my wallet then the thing that I was scared of happening dawned to me! I LOST MY WALLET!
I should have trusted my premonition about me loosing that wallet! My bank cards Philippine and Taiwanese Money were all in that container! Lesson learned for me, not to bring a wallet any more. I don’t really use wallets!
We search for it at Simon’s house and at the MRT station where I remember last pulling it out of my pocket. Unfortunately it wasn’t there. We talked with help desk at the station and Simon filled up a form for me so they could give it back in case somebody would give it back to the police.
Lesson learned for me not to use a wallet when I am comfortable and much more secured with my money scattered around my things.
Calming Down Over Breakfast
We haven’t had breakfast and my host offered to treat me to breakfast. Well it was quite embarrassing but I had no choice. He asked me if I’d like to have something sweet or salty well I wouldn’t be pinoy if I didn’t choose sweet! hahaha so he ordered for me and man the food was such a delight!
A lot of people taught that I am of Chinese decent thought I don’t have the eyes to prove it, even Filipinos at the malls in Manila think I am some japanese kid. Maybe it is because of my hair then, I got lots of statements from other people because of my hair, from the man that I saw while walking in Beitou to the lady who cooked out our breakfast. She told Simon that I have a cool hair or did she say weird and Simon just said it nicer….. Simon? hahaha…
Well that breakfast was great and I am craving for it right at this very moment that I am writing about that bread. It was heavenly! So off we go back to his apartment so I could contact someone in the Philippines.
I started sending messages to friends and family and at this point I am glad that, that incident happened to me. Why? I found out who my friends really are. I could not believe that the people that you thought who were your friends would abandon you at the middle of a crisis. Yes it was financial in nature but they could have just told me that they don’t want or cannot help me and not just left me hanging.
Up to this day I still can’t imagine that I was abandoned.
Paciderm Mode On
Abandoned by friends and families unreachable! My host needs to leave for school and I need to be somewhere else! I had no choice, with an embarrassed voice I asked him if I could borrow $200 NT from him and I’ll just leave one of my things as a collateral.
Simon refused and just lend me his money to me. Thank God I was with a good person! It was really embarrassing but I couldn’t think of any other way. So again my deepest thanks. xiè xiè nǐ de bāng zhù Simon! má fan nín le, duō xiè!
Seeing Taipei City With NT$200
Simon took me to the Xinyi Assembly Hall a former Military housing turned into an artsy facility. Simon showed me around and told me about Taiwan’s history which was as intriguing as much as it is interesting. After showing me around Simon went off to school and I went on roaming around the complex
I hanged around on a bench outside the compound for a while, that is one thing more that I like about Taipei they have lots of open spaces for the public to enjoy unlike the New York wanna be mega Manila that seems to prefer high rises over greenery.
It was almost lunch time and I had to budget the money that I have, which is $45 for lunch. I had to save $155 for the bus ride going back to the airport. So I walked around Taipei city and it seem like me not having much money to be a blessing in disguise. Since I didn’t have much I searched every alley that had food stalls, I actually found some but the language barrier came in I should have learned some basic Mandarin so I could at least ask the vendors what kind of food do they serve.
After walking for several minutes I came across this guy cooking something on a flat pan that looked like an omelet. I tried talking to him in English along with the best of body language I manage to buy a part of what he cooked.
I ate the “omelet” while sitting on a bench on a side walk and it felt really nice to do such things that I can’t do in Manila. I wish we could have more human friendly roads and lesser pollution.
Trying to kill time, I decided to walk around the district some more. While walking I always enjoy watching people ride their scooters, I even let stop lights go by just to watch them speed their way!
Honestly, it felt like having not much money in Taipei is not that much of a disadvantage if you wanna see the city and enjoy. Taipei is a very walkable city as pollution from vehicles is tolerable and sidewalks are wide.
Walking without any direction I found my self at the gates of the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial which was built in memory of Taiwan’s founder Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.
The memorial not only houses a statue of the late Dr. Sun but also a couple of museums about contemporary art and Taiwan’s history. Good thing that there were no entrance fees for this so I got to roam around freely. I was also so lucky to see the recessional parade of the honor guards that afternoon.
After seeing the momorial I decided to walk back to the bus station just to make sure that I wont miss my flight back. On my way to the bus station I noticed that my location was near the book store that Ching and Chiang told me about which is the Eslite Book store. I roamed around and looked for interesting things unfortunately there wasn’t much English literature available on that branch so I wandered around the department store and then headed to the bus station.
It was still too early for me to leave for the airport so I hanged out first at the benches outside the bus station. The World passing by fast in front of me as I watch people come and go. I was amazed how efficient and organized the transport system in this city and most specially how disciplined the drivers were which was a far cry from the drivers we have in Manila.
Saying Goodbye To Taipei
The hardest part in traveling is saying goodbye to a place that you have just started to get to know. 48 hours is not enough to know a place by any standard but this trip to Taipei of mine have taught me so much. Within a short span of time I learned so many about its people, how extremely helpful and kind they are that broke the stereo type in my head.
I bought a ticket for an 8:30 PM trip to the airport which takes about less than two hours just to make sure that I won’t miss my plane, I can’t afford for that to happen I have lost my bank cards and cash already in one day.
I used the washroom before I boarded and took some pictures of the station as well. But then another nightmare happened I broke my lens’s lock!
I was quite amazed the bus left the station on time even if it was just me in it. Later on I learned that the bus still had to go through a route to pick up passengers
As soon as I stepped inside the airport I searched for the check in counter and found out that I was very early, 4 hours early actually.
I sat beside with some Filipino OFWs who are on their way back to the Philippines as well. Some of them were surprise that I am FIlipino and thought that I was of other nationality so they didn’t try to speak to me until I asked them a question.
I got the chance to talk to them about their experiences as an OFW and was touched with their stories. I got to be seat neighbors with ate Romelyn in the plane back to Manila so with talked a bit more on our journey back.
Romelyn offered to change Taiwan money so I could get more out of it as she learned that I lost all of my money. I helped her with her big baggage going out of the Terminal, I was surprised when she suddenly handed me a hundred peso bill! She insisted for me to take it, I was embarrassed to take it but yeah I did took it just to make sure that I could get home.
I thank God for letting me experience all of this. Imagine, up to the last minute of my trip He gave people to help me in my dilemma. He showed me how kind the world is and that there are good people around us, we just have to open our hearts and let them be good to us. Of course being cautious should be always there if you feel uncomfortable let them know. But my point is the world is beautiful! And as a line in a movie said Smile to the World and the World will smile back at you, Be nice to the World and the World will be nice to you.
This post is part of my Taiwan Series
- Taiwan: My 48 Hours In Taipei (Part 1)
- Taiwan: My 48 Hours In Taipei (Part 2)
- Taiwan: My 48 Hours In Taipei (Part 3)