My next adventure came right away. I was home for three weeks before leaving again. As I said in my last post, I decided to teach English in Taiwan. I wanted to keep travelling, and enjoyed making money while doing it.
My friend, Katie, decided to join me. We were going to spend three weeks travelling in Thailand and three weeks in Taiwan before I started working. She would head home at the end of the journey, and I would start teaching. This would be my second travel experience with my friend. We met in 1998 when we both joined Katimavik. Seven years later, we were embarking on a new journey. (Although because we were only a province away from one another, we did see each other at least once a year.)
I had been keeping in touch with the school I was going to be working for, and had made plans to meet up with them near the end of summer. They were going to meet me at the airport to take me to my room though. I thought this was nice because I had a HUGE suitcase.
Luckily, when we arrived in Thailand, it was easy enough to find storage for the big suitcase.
Living in Korea, I experienced all four of the seasons. It was similar to Canadian seasons, but with less snow, and not as cold.
Walking out of the airport in Thailand was actually a bit of a shock for me. It was hard to catch my breath because of the heat. I hadn’t taken any hot holidays before this. (I was a student, and had no money for travelling.) I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to last in the humidity. (Obviously, I did.)
Katie and I didn’t have any specific plans. We headed to the main tourist strip, and found a hotel to stay in. We did this the entire time while island hopping. I was recently talking to another friend who was going to Thailand. She was surprised when I told her we did this. I think at the time we felt safer, but really, we may have just thought we were safe.
We got out of Bangkok pretty quickly because we planned to stay there at the end while I tried to get my work visa. We took a bus that would take us to a boat. The bus trip was supposed to be five hours. It turned out to be 10 hours because it broke down in the heat. We missed the first boat, but there were many other chances.
We stayed in each island for a couple of days, and found places to stay when we arrived. We snorkelled in Koh Tao, and drank from coconuts. We drank two for one vodka buckets.
In Koh Phangan, we met up with my friends Hannah and Jeff. They were living there until they decided what they wanted to do. (They are now in Canada). I knew them both from Korea (mentioned in the last post.) They have their own story. They worked hard to build a life together. We had fun there with those two. They are incredibly kind people. We searched for waterfalls, and spend time with people who knew the area. I also got a bamboo tattoo while there, and Katie and I went to a Half Moon Party. (We missed the full moon party.)
In Koh Samui we went to see the famous Grandfather rock. It’s a rock shaped like a penis. You can’t miss it. We got massaged by elephants, and went for an elephant ride. We swam in waterfalls, and went canoeing. (We also spent a lot of time in the ocean at all of these places.)
We went to Phuket, and took a boat tour to PhiPhi. We saw stunning scenery and got sun burned on the boat. We went surfing in Phuket. I took a lesson, and loved it.
We returned to Bangkok. This time we chose to fly on a tiny plane. We road in a Tuk Tuk, and visited night markets, and went on a river boat. We went to the Ancient City, and went to a floating market. We hung out with tigers.
We also drank a lot, kissed some boys, and found some seedy areas and crazy activities that don’t need to be mentioned. It’s a bunch of stories for another time.
We did a lot more that I haven’t mentioned. If I talked about the whole trip, this post would never end. It was so long ago, but a great adventure.
My plans quickly changed when we arrived in Taiwan. I had been emailing two different people from the school who apparently didn’t discuss things with one another. I had told one that I was travelling for three months before starting work, and he was good with that. The other didn’t know this, and thought I was starting work in two days. Katie and I were both upset. It changed the entire trip. It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t actually want to stay for another year. I didn’t want to have another year of making new friends, and saying goodbye to my friends (even though I’m incredibly grateful for the ones I found in Korea). It felt like another year of not starting an adult life for myself. (In truth, it still took me many years to do that.)
I quit the job before I started. I hate quitting, but I think quitting before I actually started doesn’t count. This isn’t a decision I regret. I was happy travelling for the next three weeks, and I was super happy to get home to my family. I wasn’t planning to quit travelling, but I knew I wasn’t going to stay a year.
So we started our Taiwan adventure.
We spent some time in Taipei eating food and shopping at the night markets. We also went to the biggest building in the world (at that time) called Taipei 101. I may be all wrong about this. My brain is fuzzy. I just looked it up. It is currently the 5th largest building.
We took the train around Taiwan. That way we could get on and off as we pleased. We went from Taipei to Kaohsiung. Katie had friends teaching English there, and it was nice to visit with them and have people who knew the area to show us around. We spent time on a beach with them, went out for drinks (English teachers are quite good at drinking), and went to a singing room.
We took the train from there to Kenting. We stayed at a hostel that was also a surf shack. Unfortunately, there was a monsoon coming in, and we weren’t able to get in the water at all.
We went back to Kaohsiung city from there, and did some sight seeing on our own. We went to Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. We entered through the dragon, and exited through the tiger for good luck.
We went to an Island called Green Island. It was gorgeous, and we both fell in love with it.
While we were on a train, there was a lovely Taiwanese woman who gave us some food to eat because she was so kind. It was delicious. We had a lot of great food there. I should mention that before going to Korea, I was not adventurous at all with food. I’m so happy I decided to start trying anything I could.
We made a few more stops, but I think one of our favourites was Dashi, Honeymoon Bay. We stayed at another hostel. We did some surfing. Actually, Katie did some surfing. A wave knocked me over before I even started, and I hurt my shoulder. My boob also popped out of my bikini. I gave the people on a beach quite the show. That’s why you wear the surfing shirt! This shouldn’t surprise anybody. I try things, it just doesn’t always work out. This place was so laid back. There was a party on the beach at night, and we met a lot of new people.
We returned to Taipei after that for a few more days before flying home. It was an amazing, once in a life time trip, and I’m so glad I had Katie with me. She took care of me in so many ways including quickly making sure I knew my boob was out after the surfing incident. She wasn’t afraid of adventure or of last minute changes. It was the perfect time for both of us to travel, and I’m glad we did. That summer wouldn’t have been the same without her.
Once again, this is the short version (even though it may not have felt like it) of our travels in Thailand and Taiwan. We had a blast. I miss travelling. I love my life now, but I do miss being able to go off and explore new things. I can do that now, it just takes a lot more preparing and planning.
I have one more travel post tomorrow. I’ll be talking about all inclusive vacations. They are a much different experience! I’ve only done two, and will talk about them both in the same post. I also have plans to talk about Katimavik later on in the month.
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