Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day One!

Where do I start?

Well, we were lucky that we got into Taiwan late last night because we were able to go to bed at a (mostly) normal hour and wake up in the morning. We're a little tired today, but I think by tomorrow we'll be completely on schedule.

The first challenge I had today was trying to get in touch with Nancy's family. When I first called, her Aunt's daughter answered and just getting her to put an adult on the phone was a challenge. Then her father got on the phone and I think I was able to tell him who I was and he was able to tell me that he didn't speak English... that was about it! After about 5 minutes of both of us attempting the other's language and neither of us understanding, he managed to tell me to call back in an hour when his wife got home.

My first thought after the phone call (and then again later, after driving around the city) was "how the hell did I think I was going to do this without speaking any Chinese?!" Over the last month and a half I haven't even had any time to work on my Chinese, so I'm really not up to speed on anything. Seeing all of the characters everywhere is pretty overwhelming, but I REALLY want to learn Chinese while I'm here, and I know it will get easier as time goes on.

Once we checked out, I asked the guy at the front desk (who spoke both English and Chinese)to help us out. He called Nancy's Aunt whose name is Angel, and acted as our translator. Next thing we knew, we were on a train to Taichung where Angel was waiting to pick us up. Because she doesn't speak much English, she asked her friend to come with her. He has a green card for the US and although he was pretty difficult to understand, he was a big help in opening up the lines of communication.

Nick and I were planning on staying in a hostel tonight, but instead, they took us straight to a hotel to check in. (I guess one more night in a hotel won't hurt) The hotel is near a night market, so we're going to check that out a little later, which should be pretty cool. After check-in they took us to lunch to eat steak... it was quite a big lunch, but it was good. The food came out on a sizzeling skillet with an egg that was still frying, a steak, and some noodles. It was Angel's treat, which was very nice.

Tomorrow the plan is for Angel to meet us in the lobby and help us look for a house. Talk about jumping in head first! I don't think she quite understood that first we wanted to find a job before we find a place to live. At this point we're not even sure if we want to live in Taichung, but I guess we're going house hunting anyway! I think it would be really great to live here because we know someone here, but from what I hear, Taipei is the place to be. I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes. I did send our resumes out to some jobs posted for Taichung (and in Taipei!). If we find a job and have some "family" here, this might be the best place. Plus, Angel said that if I help her with English, she'll help me with Chinese, so that's pretty great. But I guess we'll just have to wait to see where we can get a job.

One thing I really don't like about Taichung is that it doesn't have any good public transportation in this city. For that, Kaosiung or Taipei are supposed to be much better. From what I've read, you basically have to have a car or scooter to get around, and we can't get a scooter till we get a job.... At this point there are just so many variables, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. It's good that Nick is here though, he is much more relaxed and is helping me chill out.

The downturn in the economy has hit Taiwan just as it's hit the rest of the world. Before we left the states, I wasn't concerned about finding a job, but now that I'm here, it does have me a bit worried. There are a lot of jobs posted online, so hopefully we won't have a problem. (and if so, we can always use that return ticket we have...) Nick is very optimistic though, so that helps.

I am a bit worried because I drank some tap water and I'm definitely not supposed to be doing that... so everyone cross your fingers that I don't get sick!!! hmmmmm..... I'm definitely a bit worried about that!!!

Anyway.... I think its time to hit the night market... more from me later!

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