From Melbourne to Kaohsiung

An English Teacher's Journey

By Troy Clarke

I have written previously about how I ended up in Taiwan. You can read about that story HERE. This article picks up where the aforementioned one ended.

The Flights

I excitedly boarded the EVA Air, Boeing 767 on a cold wintery day in Melbourne, Australia. The long-haul flight in cramped economy class to Taipei took around nine hours to complete. Upon arrival at Taoyuan International Airport Taipei, I was rushed through customs at the massive terminal to board my connecting flight to Kaohsiung. The domestic flight to Kaohsiung had been held up by our late arrival from Melbourne. The MD-90 was fully loaded with passengers, and I boarded the aircraft feeling somewhat embarrassed as I had been the cause of the delay. It was a short flight of less than an hour to Kaohsiung, and I was soon disembarking from the plane.

Airport Troubles

It was a long journey, and by this time I was looking forward to a decent meal and a soft bed, but that would still be a long way off for now. I waited at the baggage carousel for my luggage. I waited, then I waited some more. Finally, all the baggage had been collected from the baggage reclaim area. Where was my luggage? I was becoming a tad grumpy and proceeded to the information desk in the domestic terminal. I approached the young woman at the counter and proceeded to explain to her what had happened. She was smiling politely and nodding. Then it dawned on me, she does not understand a word I am saying. The young woman made a phone call and after a short wait, a middle-aged man arrived who could speak English. He did some checking, then he informed me that my bags were on the way to South Korea. The gentleman explained that there had been a mishap, and my luggage would be delivered to my accommodation the next morning. Great.

My First Experience of Taiwan

I had arranged with a Taiwanese friend whom I had met in Australia, to meet me at the airport. Brendan had kindly allowed me to stay with him and his family until I could find my own apartment. He lived in a military village just outside of Kaohsiung called Gangshan. It was fairly late by now, and we made the forty-minute drive to the village. I could not really see much from the car on the trip because it was dark outside. However, I did notice that Taiwan was a very busy place. We arrived at Brendan’s home, and I met his family. They were all very friendly, but we could not really communicate because I could not speak Chinese. It had been a very long day, and I was exhausted. I asked Brendan if there was anywhere still open this late where we could get something to eat, and he told me that there is always somewhere open to have a bite to eat. He asked me what I wanted, and I told him to make the choice. I walked towards the car, but he told me that it was easier to ride his scooter. He was wearing flip-flops, shorts and a vest. I remember thinking, that can’t be too safe. But, by now I was so tired I did not care about motorcycle safety, I got on the scooter, and we were off.

The Taiwanese Night Market

We zipped in and out of the traffic, and within a few minutes, we were in the hustle and bustle of a late-night market. I was amazed by what I saw. We stopped in front of a market vendor selling a wide variety of food that I had never seen before. A myriad of different vegetables, meat, and processed looking things. I felt like a fish out of water. I could see writing everywhere, but I could not read anything. I heard people talking, but I could not understand anything. Brendan made the selection of food and we waited. All the food was unrefrigerated in this stifling heat. I had never seen unrefrigerated meat being sold before. I remember thinking that I’m probably going to regret eating this in the morning. Five minutes later we were back on the scooter heading home. We both sat down with Brendan’s family and enjoyed the midnight snack of fried goodies. There was fried chicken, broccoli, fried bread, green beans, and squid. A delicious bite to eat after such a long trip. After we ate, I took a shower and went to bed. I slept through the next day until lunchtime, and I woke up feeling good. I was glad to see that my luggage had been delivered by the airline. The previous night’s meal did not give me food poisoning. Life was good. 

Read the next article in this series HERE.