“Time isn’t made up of discrete moments that pass out of the present and into the past. Time is an endless flow of experience that never stops being now.”-Steve Taylor, PhD
The experiencing here is under way… flowing along towards a “blip” that signifies permission to open the door and step outside while the experiencing continues unperturbed. (If this was too weird, just let it go and read on.) Expressed in numbers that “blip” is 00:00 tonight. (As I’m writing this, three more hours to go.)
Thanks all for your comments! So, what will I do first? First-first? Wish my daughter a Happy Birthday! Then head down to street level, look around, and have breakfast somewhere. After that, load a cab with all my luggage to my new abode, followed by an outing into the new neighbourhood and a hike with Kaya to Royal Dragon Sakura (cherry forest), not far from where I’ll live. That’s if it stays dry. Or a trip to the hot springs? Let’s see what will happen and what the weather is like.
So glad I get to celebrate Kaya’s birthday with her – that the timing actually worked out. Amazing! I did not take this for granted. Thank you Life! We’re going for dinner to an Uyghur restaurant with a bunch of her friends. That will be a first and a lot of fun. The plight of the Uyghur however, isn’t fun from what we’ve heard. I won’t get into it here, but you can google it.
Looking out the window, I’m fascinated by a woman camping out on her scooter in front of 7/11 this morning (for probably 4 hours). She is enjoying a meal, watching something on her iPad, singing along; grooming herself a bit, eating, drinking, writing, snoozing – everything lounging on her scooter; and the world around her seemingly not paying any attention. It looks like the scooter carries her belongings? I wonder what stories she would tell us if asked. And I’m not surprised she choses 7/11 as her location. Borrowing a paragraph from Kaya’s blog here:
“A friend asked me recently what my top five 7/11 purchases are and I knew right away: roasted sweet potato, coconut water, banana, ramen eggs, and sushi. You can basically live in a 7/11. It fulfills all your needs, such as banking, paying fines, bills, or tickets, collecting packages, eating a meal, getting your caffeine fix, and even providing you with a housing contract if needed (in Chinese, of course). I was baffled at the fact that 7/11 is basically a hub for your everyday existence, and at this point I go in almost every day to do one thing or another.”
Apparently, college tuition payments, dry-cleaning and a place to print documents can be added to the list. And of course all sorts of junk food. 7-11 also has its own mascot named “Open-Chan.” He is a cartoon dog with a rainbow on its head – a celebrity with little emojis, costumes and a theme park. 🙂 Ha!
I’ll let you in on a few more tidbits:
Did you know that there is Free WIFI everywhere in Taipei and much of the country? Yes! Taiwan was the first country to offer free Wifi on a mass scale to citizens and visitors alike. But getting a local SIM card is still a very good idea. For a three months, unlimited 4G data plan, I paid TW$2000, that’s around CAD$90.
And then, of course there is the Easycard which truly makes things easier. One of the first things to get when you arrive in Taiwan (available at the airport). The Taipei Easycard (Yōuyóu kǎ) allows you to ride the Taipei MRT or bus systems without the need to constantly search for loose change. 7-11, Family Mart, and other convenience stores and supermarkets also accept the Easycard for payment. Load it up! The standard card is called ‘adult’, and student cards and concessionaire cards allow discounts for some services. I use the Easycard for the YouBike public bike rental system as well. Super convenient! Can be reloaded easily at all MRT stations – and of course at 7-11 (which are everywhere) 🙂
Another really handy thing is the Taiwan Weather App, which provides real time forecasts, suggest daily activities according to weather (i.e. today it’s overcast and rainy: wear long sleeves, don’t hang laundry to dry, drive carefully, wear a hat if you’re farming), etc. In addition, a satellite image of the current weather, wind and wave charts for the coastal region; surface temperature, UV Index, radar and satellite images, air quality, humidity – you name it, it’s at your fingertips. Weather changes quickly on this island nation.
Other things I learned while looking out the window: you can get several parking tickets while parked in the same spot on the same day (apparently, they’re inexpensive). And if they tow your car, they will write the license plate and other info on the pavement… so when you come back and your car is gone, check the road! Haven’t seen them tow any scooters so far.
Finally, a couple of tidbits – just in case you like to worry…
Taiwan is located in the Ring of Fire, which makes this tiny island one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world! Wow! I did not know that… and won’t waste time on worrying. Apparently, Taiwan experiences over 1,000 perceivable earthquakes a year and over 17,000 non-perceivable quakes. Okeydokey.
Or try this… In August (or the seventh month of the Taiwanese lunar calendar), Taiwan celebrates the Hungry Ghost Festival. According to tradition, the gates of hell open, releasing hordes of hungry ghosts that feed on money, food, etc. It is considered unlucky to get married, start a business, or travel during the entire month. (source)
This day has flown by! I disappeared in computer land for hours – photo editing, sorting, renaming, resizing… I have thousand and thousands of photos from all my travels…
What else? My temperature has been taken twice (noon and evening) and is perfectly normal at 36.3. I received my regular daily check-in by text and a follow up text later providing some information for the coming week (to wear a face mask when going out and to get in touch if I develop any symptoms, etc.). The hotel reception also checked in about check out time, etc. I’m good to go in the morning, just some final items to pack…
I hope you’ve enjoyed my last quarantine diary entry. Stay tuned for travel updates… they will come! 🙂
Taiwan, here I come!