Monday, July 03, 2006

Starting my trip

I am not on wireless right now, but the thought was that I can start typing away on trains and buses, then upload the entries when I get wireless (again, having wireless is a rule). This might make a few entries a collection of locations, and perhaps, very very long.
Not only am I not on wireless, I am not on my seat. I am in that look nook between trains, the one next to the bathroom. I adopted a Taiwanese guy's strategy of propping myself up within the door frame (however he got the door that is not being use, I didn't). I have a seat, one that I paid for and everything, however I don't feel inclined to chase down justice from the thirty-something year old woman sitting in my seat. The cabin is otherwise full, half the people are sleeping, and I am carrying a shameful amount of luggage. Again, its just not worth it. If it was at a stop I would have enforced, but it was during mid-trip (I was told to stand until one station and then sit down at the next).
I don't mean to write so much on this issue but it actually says a lot about me traveling. Even last year, I would not have cared. Now I don't care, but I did think about kicking her out. This would be rather silly, as when I am sitting down and see that a woman is standing, I typically offer my seat (I have debated whether this is chivalry or some obscure form of masochism).
What this shows is that I am getting to be a softer traveler. I think I still have the potential to sleep in terrible hostels and have eighty stop overs for an otherwise hour long flight. To save money, I would do anything, putting myself in a mind of inconvience not being a big deal.
Now I am down right posh. I like nicer hotels. Those buses I took in Mexico? Hell no. I am not up to my students level of "why don't you fly to Taipei?" but I will spend more to sit down in, you know, a seat.
This is my first train alone on a pretty long trip. I left Tainan on Saturday and it was hectic, and shall I say, stupid. I really whipped things together, partially because I had so much to do. I was trying to say bye to a city that treated me very well, take classes, teach classes, give final tests, grade final tests, pack, prepare for China, prepare for Taiwan, and keep up with Kung Fu all at the same time. It got ugly and corners got cut.

PTI: [present tense interjection] this is a new creation for something made at the time of original writing, I ran into moments like this a lot, and this is a new notation system for them]. A new guy joined are little stairwell group and he keeps staring at me. Its clear he wants to talk, but he is afriad I don't speak Chinese. Mind you, he looks very nice (Taiwanese are not intimidating, save the worrying for China). Anyway, I would talk to him, but I am not sure what I would say, plus I really want to write some of this blog out).

So one of the corners that got cut was that throwing stuff away was hectic and fast. This included throwing away the plane tickets that my mom dutifuly sent to Taiwan. I did not realize this until we got to the Tainan trainstation, requiring a tri8p back to my home, a search through my recycling, and a trip back to the station.
That said, I have them, and hopefully I have my stuidities behind me. To be honest, I am a little scarred. I have had so many different kinds of people tell me to "be careful in China." The Taiwanese people have real trust issues with mainlanders, and I heard 小心 (careful) more times than I could possible count, and from all kinds of people too. Furthermore, its my year. I am a dog, and when it turned to dog year, I was pretty psyched. I assumed that your year should kick butt right? Well not so according to Taiwanese and Japanese alike, who all warned me that I should be extra careful this year. The omens are lining up against me, this is where being an athetist is handy.
That said, I am scared, Taiwan is like the pre-school version..

PTI: I finally spoke the man in the "trainwell." He was very nice, and it was clear he wanted to practice his English. As such, he spoke Chinese but threw in English words to spice it up. Anyway, when we got to a stop I bid him farewell and took some empty seat, my back was killing me in there and i want to get some sleep when I finish this. Though I felt rude taking off on him on essentially mid-conversation, priorities.
Last thing, for some reason the train cabin smells more like shit than the bathroom hallway did.

Taiwan is like the pre-school version of China, all the corners are plastic and rubbed down to gentle curves. You will meet sketchy characters, but they might take your basketball, probably not your life's possessions. Worse yet, I travel with a small bank on me. I got a lot of money right before I left Tainan, from classes and selling things. So I am carrying more money than I personally prefer to carry. I also have my computer, camera, and iPod. All today, I probably have $2,000 on my person, which is amazing since my net assets may actually be worth less than that somehow.
I am a smart traveler, but I am still scarred. Right now I have too many bags, and I think two are about to get sent or thrown away if it kills me. The worst is debating on whether or not to throw away my shoes. I want to go hiking in mountains and such, but man my shoes are big (in comparison to my sandals which are super small.
Agh, my next station is Taidong (Taitung in terrible pinyin, and 台東 in Chinese). Thus, I don't have much more time to type. I think that will be a problem with a lot of these entries. There will not be much editing (though I think I will give access to the blog to the two people most likely to edit it), and there will be a lot of ideas brought up and then dropped midway.
In a sense, I am trying to fufill a goal. I said I wanted to come here and write two books. My blogs in Tainan were not great, but I am going to count them damn it. I drifted in and out of good writing, and kept at least four people interested, that is not bad for something that had so much self deprecating. This is the next book going to China.
Yesterday and today I was in Kending, the southern most area of Taiwan, and a really cool little beach town. Tomorrow, probably Green Island. Alright, I need to prepare a sickening amount of baggage to get off at the next station.

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