Tuesday July 31st: The Vacation-like Part Ends

Not that it’s any shock, since I’ve been mentioning it for the last month or so, but I’ve found myself exhausted. I’ve learned quite a lot about this whole traveling thing, taking pictures, work flow, and my likely required period of downtime.

Last night I said goodbye to my favorite soup and oyster omelet stand. The prior nights I respectively managed to communicate with them where I had been (yay being able to pronounce the cities!) and when I was leaving (with the help of a calendar on my phone). Saying goodbye was a little more elaborate and involved a grand total of 4 people assisting in translation over the course of the conversation.

I’m not sure there was a night in Taipei I didn’t at least get something from this stand, as they were really convenient, very polite, the right price, and made damned tasty food… so in as much as a person can be with 10 nights over the course of a month, I was a regular.

There are two men and a woman that work the stand, the main guy wears a red apron with the night market’s logo and name, the other guy works during some of their peak hours and when one of the other two goes on a break. Sadly last night the second guy wasn’t also there for the goodbyes, the night market wasn’t very busy due to the torrential rain.

On the 29th after communicating when it was I was leaving, the main guy indicated that the next night, he wanted to give me some of the red pepper sauce to take home. Over the course of my visits, each of the three staff members had their moment where they were both amused, and delighted seeing how much I used when spicing up my dishes. While flavor wise it isn’t notably different from most Asian red pepper chili sauces I’ve had prior there’s a great sentimental factor attached with these four baggies of hot sauce from what quickly became my favorite vendor at the Tonghua/Linjiang St. Night Market, and really the best place for soup I found on the island (when factoring quality and price).

Here without a common language between us, we bonded over food and managed to overcome the language barrier with physical communication, visual aides, and eventually when we really needed some finer bits of articulation, the kindness of others.

14 Week Damage Report:

I’ve managed to go through 3 earbuds, though I’m only claiming responsibility for the first pair, the other two clearly had poor manufacturing as they died within a few days of use, the cable for my headset degraded to nearly useless (again defect as I’ve used it maybe 30 times), I accidentally burned out the charger for my sonicare, the tripod is starting to break (have to manually pull the extension up instead of winding it and lost the square nut to tighten the rotation), one of the soles of my old sneakers I used for hiking is coming off, my fake dress shoes are scuffed beyond excuse (as I expected), my duffel bag is growing some small holes on the bottom and an outer layer hole on one of the grip straps, and the fabric near the loop patch on my camera bag is starting to come apart as it was frequently being grabbed by the hook patch instead of the whole loop patch as one would expect (I hope adding more loop space will help fix this).

We’ll find out more when I fully decompress and take a full inventory.

There’s a typhoon trying to build in the ocean, which was supposedly responsible for the torrential rain yesterday. Hopefully it won’t cause delay, though everything I’ve checked shows no delay in my flight to Korea. In fact, the only update I’ve seen is the suggestion that my flight to Seattle will land even earlier, giving me another 15 minutes of time travel, which as Jeff pointed out in and of itself, should be more than enough time to save Doc Brown from the Libyans.

Oh, sorry, now it’s up to an extra 23 minutes, for a grand total of 53 minutes. I might even make it through customs and have my bag by the time I catch up to my departure time.

I was told that I should expect traffic to be horrible this morning, so I shouldn’t leave at 10AM but rather at about 9AM. It appears the 2060 bus to the International airport runs every 20-30 minutes, though Google would have me think it only runs once ever two hours. I really hope Google is wrong. I’m probably going to be lazy and take a taxi to the bus stop, which is “only” 1km away. The sad part is that it will cost me nearly as much as the bus does… though that’s only because the bus is comparatively really cheap at about $5. It’s a 2 hour bus ride. We’ll see, there’s still the chance I might hobble it, though that means I have to leave with enough time for that, which means at 8:30 if I want to catch the bus that supposedly will be there around 9ish.

Of course I’m short on change, the bus costs $175, and I can only make $64 with exact change. Maybe I’ll see if anyone has some change upstairs. Need to go up there anyway to eat my breakfast mango, drink my yakult, and probably have one last ice cream bar that no one else seemed to want. I’ve tried sharing a few times since there were 5 bars and a maximum of 3 days. People are weird.

I guess this is going to be my last update until Seattle. Wish I had kept up with this more regularly, but I guess we’ll figure out something better later on. Probably a combination of setting aside a number of days I have to work each week so I don’t feel guilty about missing things, and doing 6 weeks on, 2 weeks off as far as moving goes, where I can decompress and catch up during those two weeks.

Either that or learn to take fewer pictures and then write and research less for the writing. Well, I got the fewer pictures down, kinda, mostly due to the exhaustion and nagging frustration of the backlog. I still have thousands more, but I took fewer on average in Taiwan than in previous months.

Realistically, I don’t see either of those two habits lasting very long though. I mean, I was back to usual taking lots and got something like 900 pictures last night.

So… I guess this is it, other than the 2 months of writing to catch up on and one month of photos that I plan to burn through in August.

As odd as it may seem to someone who has never played Homeworld, I assure you, this song makes me think of home insofar as the home you came from rather than the one you grew into. Which is thematically consistent with the narrative. Associations like that are why I love scores as much as I do.

Happy Birthday Mom! (And the rest of July I missed)

Let’s just do the list (in chronological order) off the top of my head:

Parent’s anniversary, United States, Sage, Makenzie, Dya, Grandma, √úberBeth, Jen, and mom.

If I missed you, I’m sorry. Leave a note, and I’ll totally add you to the list and pretend to flagellate myself while enjoying my day.

Didn’t make it to the gorge nor on a scooter due to a pretty nasty headache and bout of vertigo. Continue reading

Wednesday July 25th: Water Water Everywhere

And not a potable drop at the hostel to drink. By tea and coffee making facilities, they mean you can buy it from the cafe. No hot water, no cold water, no room temperature water. No water that is safe to drink.

Amazing.

I’m going to break my streak and actually review this place, because that’s simply unacceptable, and I can’t believe no one has called them on that yet. I mean I may have complained about the place in Taichung, but at least there was occasionally water.

At least I snagged the two bottles included with hotel room (you always get two included in the room price in Taiwan). Had I known, I would have filled up my 3.5 empties too. I still have the two left from the last hotel, and part of a 1.5L bottle filled giving me about 3.4 liters on hand. Which gives me a little over a day of water.

This doesn’t become apparent until after you pay, so of course I’m stuck.

Damn it.

Well, I need to get out there soon and get pictures, the clouds against the mountains are pretty, and the ocean isn’t far either. It’s a mostly clear day, which is good for pictures, but bad for internal heat regulation. At least I’m not Sebacean (again a reference almost no one gets).

The friends I made in Taipei recommended getting a scooter to drive along the coast rather than taking a bus, they only cost about $12 to rent for a day, which is about twice the cost of a bus, but I could stop anywhere I wanted to take pictures and such.

Interestingly, scooters kind of don’t require a driver’s license in Taiwan, it’s weird; however, Taiwan recognizes Washington State driver’s licenses for 30 days, so it doesn’t matter. Also thankfully unlike Korea, traffic is pretty sane. About the strangest bits of traffic are the scooters, which act more like fast pedestrians, including jaywalking, but they also yield and are polite, unlike Korea where it’s aggressive driving on the sidewalks.

Of course the sidewalks here are typically filled with scooters, so you can’t even walk on them, so everyone is used to pedestrians on the shoulder and are appropriately cautious.

I’ll probably go look for a place that will rent one for a fair price tomorrow, though apparently some won’t rent to people without a Taiwan license, which only people staying over 6 months can get

Tuesday July 24th: Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Me Me Me

I guess I’ll start with the end. I forgot to give the key back at my last hostel. I really liked that place, it wasn’t the nicest as far as buildings and facilities, but it was a good place, fun people, roof top table.

It was crazy raining (I have video), which caused some train delays. It also turns out the train that goes to where I am now, only runs twice a day. Google has usually been quite reliable in Taiwan, today, not so much. It was also slower than Google had suggested.

The moment I realized I was going to be just slightly later than the 10PM cut off for arrivals at the hostel, I sent an email to them with my Kindle from the train station at 2:10PM. I didn’t hear back from them. Walked the slightly further than a kilometer or so carrying my 30kgs of luggage to find it dark, closed, and locked.

I might have been slightly irritated. I’m still not sure if I’m going to cancel my 3 other nights with them out of spite for their lack of professionalism. They had 8 hours to reply with a “Nope, we close at 10. Too bad.” That would have saved me time, as there were motels just outside the train station.

So here I am at a hotel down the block because I was exhausted, and after they gave me a lower price (only 3 times what the motel a km away costs) my will gave in. They then upgraded me to the large room for no extra cost, and there’s breakfast included.

On the bright side, I can mail the key back from the hotel. The bathroom in this room, is bigger than at least one of the hostel dorms I’ve stayed in. Seriously. I’m frustrated with my weak will, weak body, and the expense, but… that’s pretty neat. Also gorging myself on the included breakfast sounds good. Get my money’s worth.

Oh yes, my other disappointment for the day: Post-Human. Continue reading

July 20th: An historic day now marred with tragedy.

For all the jokes I made about punishing those who would spoil the new Batman movie for me… I… who could have foreseen the tragedy that now shares the same day as one of the greatest feats humanity has achieved? I retrospectively apologize.

Shortly after I arrived at the hostel today, I heard the news of the massacre at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora Colorado. An interesting aspect of the internet is that you can now see live local coverage of tragedies while you are nearly half way across the world. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I would have preferred to have been left in the dark.

Glad I had found alcohol just prior to this occurring. Seriously depressing stuff.

Tuesday July 17th: Shopping, I guess.

Well, my hands free earbuds totally died on me, so I guess I need to find replacements for those… not that the hands free part had worked for a very long time. It would be less irritating if it didn’t turn out that my headset’s detachable cable is also a major flaw as it is breaking again after just a tiny bit of use, and sadly a friend who months and months ago I recommended the headset to, has similar issues.

I need to file another ticket before my 1-year warranty lapses in as early as… September? At any rate it doesn’t help me out here. Maybe I’ll just send them back when I stop home in August. I really like them, if not for that cable issue they would be fantastic.

So as for the ear buds, prices on Amazon for hands free put it around $15 USD, excluding ones that are 40 cents and likely trash. Everyone loves when the plug has so little metal it doesn’t actually make contact, right? Anyway, so that means if I can find a decent hands free for under $500 TWD I’ll probably get one, otherwise, I’ll get cheaper earbuds that have no mic for the time being. Hell, having redundancy probably isn’t a bad plan anyway.

Monday July 16th: Where in I try to kill my self and make messes. Also a birthday.

As I was leaving my hostel in Taichung, (which should really be Taijung but the transliteration is very irregular here) I managed to lose my footing on the short steps to the tiny lobby “common room,” and partially tumbled as much as my luggage would allow me. Falling caused me to bump a 1.5L water bottle off the stairs, which exploded on the ground, mess number one.

Thankfully I ended up mostly uninjured but I have another small hole in my cargo pants, a bit of blue paint on them, a small dent in my laptop’s case, and the end cap of the wireless mouse’s USB dealie came off as I guess it got mushed, but it’s just the plastic tip, so whatever.

Later on in Tainan mess number two occurred as I was getting dinner. After the hot sauce was rudely taken off my table, as I was sitting down, by another customer, I went over to get some from an empty table, only to drop it and spill it on nearly everything. Of course as I bent over to try to start cleaning, I dropped my phone into it. Thankfully phones and hot sauce don’t mix, so it was fine. Still managed to cover my left shoe and some of my left pant leg.

At least there’s laundry at this hostel.

Also happy birthday my 3 days later fake twin Katie!

Thanks everyone for your well wishes in regards to my own birthday. Even Steam decided to run their summer sale during my birthday, so… in addition to the travel, it is turning out to be an extended, expensive birthday.

“Thanks” Valve. “Thanks.”

I’m actually being comparatively restrained on my purchases, but it’s still more money than I should be spending on non-travel related things.

Arrival in Taipei or “It’s really hot and humid outside.”

Had to adjust my clocks, as I’m now UTC+8 instead of +9. Almost missed my flight by initially getting on the wrong train (right track though). Thankfully the airline staff was really, really, helpful.

I did forget to move the knife out of my food bag and into my checked bag though, so lost that. Still, I purchased a cheap one for pretty much that reason. I’m only sad because it turned out to be a pretty decent knife, often better than what the hostel had to offer, even if smaller.

Also I got frisked, (before that happened). Not sure why, but I was in such a hurry I didn’t really give a damn. Besides, I’m sure being drenched in sweat made it unpleasant for the guy. Turns out trying to hurry with 60lbs of crap for over two kilometers in 80F weather is… well I’m not in shape. That much has really become apparent to me during this trip.

Not looking forward to walking another 1km in 90+F (65% humidity!) weather in Taipei, I was approached for a taxi and thought, “Eh, what the hell.” $40, but it’s an hour long trip from the international airport to downtown Taipei. So, I didn’t think it was unreasonable. More than most of Korea (though taxis in Seoul were about that price).

My hostel is about 1.5km from Taipei 101, so that’s neat.

Also a preview from my last night in Seoul. I liked it enough to clean up the dead pixels and the weird line that occurs on high ISOs.

This hostel has AC going constantly. So hopefully that will alleviate some of the issues revolving around it being too friggin’ hot.

I meant to write a joke about that, and how only about three people here are familiar with Paul & Storm, in my last post… but it was too friggin’ hot. So hot I managed to burn (or cut?) a bit of flesh on my left thumb’s pad, just a few millimeters below the nail. Don’t remember doing it, but as I switched trains I noticed it hurt.