I had an interesting couple of chats with 2 designers who are working out here. They have both been out here for a number of years and they were asking me how I was getting along, and more specifically what my first few days were like.
It seems like such a long, long time ago that I arrived. I only arrived in May, so I have been here for getting on for 4 months. That’s longer than I have ever been away from home for (the longest before that was 3 months in USA, Mexico and Central America). It was really nice to go back to this blog and see my thoughts for those first few days – it was not something that you can remember easily, since the first few days are so intense. They could not, sadly, remember a thing about their initial emotions as they have now been here for so long and the things that are exotic and strange quickly become commonplace.
One nice thing was that we all seemed to notice very similar things on those first few days. The Beetlenut girls by the sides of the roads, the first song that we heard on the radio in English and the state of the driving! I am very glad to have those thoughts down – I can never tap into those feelings again! Especially as any subsequent trips to other Asian countries I think will have less impact for me now (although I suspect there are plenty of surprises up its sleaves!).
So, four ish months in and how is it going? Life is certainly not easy, but it is fun and interesting and everyday has special moments. Even small things.
The other day, I got to my scooter and found that I had a puncture. Now, in the UK this would be a really dull and boring chore to get it fixed. No sooner had I got it past the front gate on the way to the main road the security guards ran over and started chattering at me in super fast Chinese. They virtually grabbed the bike off me and one ran back with a pump. He starts pumping like hell, sweating for his life when a senior engineer comes over and tells me in absolutely perfect English that “I shouldn’ kill myself by pushing it all the way there…” and he rolls up his sleaves and starts fondling the tire looking for the hole… all the time I am standing there bemused watching the security guards pumping air (this was probably the most exciting thing that had happened to them in weeks) when they all start pointing and shouting and tell me to get on and ride as fast as I can while I still have some air left and have a chance to make it to the scooter shop (if you throw a stone in Taipei in a random direction it will either hit a 7-11 or a scooter shop). I make it there and it costs me 80 Nt (about £1.20) to fix it. I had a sudden thought to buy some Coke for the now worn out guards so I run to 7-11 and scoot back to give it back. I virtually have to thrust it into their arms to make them take it, but the next day I get a very offical salute from them as I enter the gates – something that is usually reserved for the Directors. So, a dull job made fantastically fun.