Outside Temperature “ Sultry ” read a neon sign just passed the Customs desk at the airport just outside of Taipei. I called Colin back so he could share the chuckle. Clearly “hot” would not do this town justice.
Colin’s glasses steamed up as we stepped outside to the airport bus stop at 6:30 in the morning. Sultry was right.
The bus dropped us a few blocks away from our hostel, and it’s a toss-up whether the few lingering looks we got were because we were the only Westerners on the street or because we were bogged down with a year’s worth of stuff on our backs.
Since it was not yet even 8 a.m., we weren’t able to move into our room at the Taipei Hostel. A nice Canadian named Aaron, another guest at the hostel, helped us up the stairs with our (my) luggage. “Looks like you guys are here to stay.” He lived in this hostel—which we would later find out has nice rooms, but not ones in which I’d want to live long-term—for three years. Maybe his room was bigger. He chatted with us for awhile about living here, where to find good, cheap food, and where we might look for a phone before leaving for his job as an English teacher.
Colin and I struck out into the city, still in the clothes and stink from the plane, in search of we weren’t quite sure what. We stopped at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park and saw people practicing tai chi, the mandolin, and what looked like a line dance. The trees and gardens were quite nice, and still we were the only Westerners in sight.
The heat climbed with the sun, and by 9:30 it was 30 degrees C (or 86 F) and humid. We agreed to try ordering something cool to drink from a juice bar on a narrow but bustling side street. Thinking I could point at the pineapple in the picture on the wall and have them get my meaning, I went less-than confidently forward. The gal behind the register immediately pulled out an English-language menu. Yay! With only a little difficulty, Colin and I walked away happily sipping our ice-cold drinks–passion fruit and yogurt (plus seeds!) for me, a citrusy tea for Colin.
The rest of the day was spent seeking out cell phones that we would need to find housing, jobs, and each other. It shouldn’t have taken as long as it did, and if we ever need to set up a phone again, we’ll probably be able to do it in a few hours, but it was a good excuse to do a lot of walking and see the neighborhood.