Mere Fragments #1 // Lost in Taichung

i guess that it is about time that i share about some of my adventures in taiwan. hahaha.

maybe i should start with this past weekend. i think what happened this weekend will give you a good taste of what taiwanese culture is like.

originally i didn’t have any plans for this weekend. so i decided that i needed to do something, but i didn’t know what. at the time, i also didn’t have any friends to do anything with so…

it’s not that i’m afraid to travel by myself. i did somehow get myself to taiwan, didn’t i? i am going to be living here for an entire year too.

it is just that usually i have at least someone with me (even if i don’t know that “someone” very well) or at least i am traveling to a place to meet up with someone. either way, i am going somewhere and i will end up being with someone.

anyways, through a roundabout way, i met this girl on instagram who recently moved to 台中 (pinyin – táizhōng) from the u.s. taichung is not that far away from me, a mere two hours at most by public transportation. (it’s kind of funny when you get to the point that you think two hours of travel time isn’t that much.)

we made plans to meet up for lunch. so i got up, a little before 4:30am, and headed to taichung. i finally arrived at the taichung main station at 8:00am.

this is the original old taichung station. it is now right in front of the taichung main station.

i went by the nearest 7-eleven and grabbed a 飯糰 (pinyin – fàn tuán). just a side note, 7-eleven and family mart can be found anywhere and everywhere. it doesn’t matter how small the town you’re in is, you’re 99% likely to still be able to find these convenience stores.

i didn’t have any plans until lunchtime. so i started googling what to do in taichung. (it’s not because i’m a last minute planner or anything. haha.)

i had been formerly told by a friend that i should visit rainbow village when i get the chance. it was only 30 to 40 minutes away (partially by train and partially by bus). so i decided i had the time so i might as well go there.

easy peasy, right? i don’t actually have that much confidence in taking the bus, but i figured since they are numbered and since i had google maps it shouldn’t be that hard.

shouldn’t be. well, i promptly got lost when i tried to go from the train to the bus. i missed the bus station and ended up walking down a highway to another bus station that took me to back to the train station. then i found the right number bus and got on it. only to find out that it was going in the wrong direction.

i got off it as soon as i thought i could, but i still had to walk a ways back to find another bus station. the bus i got on took me back to the station for the second time that day. everyone started to get off the bus, but i stayed on for it was supposed to go to rainbow village. then the driver said something in chinese and one of the passengers asked me “where are you going?”. you do not know how happy i was to hear english. i told him and he told the driver.

i won’t tell the story behind rainbow village here, but it is definitely worth looking into if you’re interested.

i finally got there…2 hours later. what was supposed to be a 30 to 40 minute trip took 2 hours. i wandered around and a lady approached me and with gestures and a little english offered to take some photos of me. i was much appreciative, since i am honestly awful at selfies.

later i saw a family of four and what looked like the grandparents trying to take a picture selfie style. i gestured, offering to help them take their picture. well i did so and what to do you know? the wife knows a little bit of english and they had many questions for me.

anyways, i found out that the family lives in new taipei city but they were visiting their parents in taichung. i got the wife’s line (the most popular messaging app in taiwan) and she messaged me later telling me that i could stay at their house when i come to visit.

most of you reading this are probably from the u.s. and you know that that kind of hospitality is very rare. strangers just don’t offer you to come visit them and stay at their house.

but i have found it to be much more common here. wherever you go, if you spend enough time with the people, you are taken in as family. and in all honesty, it doesn’t take that much time to become a part of their family.

i was able to get back to the taichung main station in 30 minutes, much to my surprise. haha. i met up with sarah and she was kind enough to bring her battery pack to charge my phone because my phone was practically dead. (that’s what happens when you get lost and are using google maps for hours.)

we wandered around, found a place to grab lunch, bought some tea, and just chatted for a few hours.

just ignore the fact that i started to eat it before taking this picture.

after she left, i walked over to taichung park, not before grabbing a 奶油餅 (pinyin – nǎiyóu bǐng). i love those things so much.

the park was really relaxing. it was cute to see the families or grandparents with their grandkids playing together.

at one point two ladies came up to me, saying something in chinese and pointing at one of their phones. i thought they wanted me to help them take a picture, so i nodded. only to have them both get on either side of me and take a selfie with me. lol. i don’t know if they thought i was someone or if maybe they don’t see white people that often or maybe it was for some other reason entirely. either way, i’m on some stranger’s phone out there.

this is just one of the two cute bridges i found in the park!

well, i’ve gone on for long enough. i could go on further, but i think i’ll stop here for now. i hope that you’ve enjoyed a little taste of my adventures. it’s only a mere fragment in the story of my life. there will be plenty more adventures to come, i’m sure!

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

People are Still People

if you know anything about me, anything at all, you know that i love to travel.

sure. traveling can be stressful. there’s booking all those flights. finding the balance between price and location for places to stay. figuring out how to get from one place to another (and hoping that it doesn’t cost a small fortune). and let’s not forget, trying to decide on what to pack.

then when you’re on the actual trip it is a race between needing to do, see, and eat all the things and exhaustion. you usually end up acquiring too many things and then you have to somehow figure out how to get it all back home. of course, there’s the whole living out of a suitcase the entire time. it isn’t necessarily the most convenient thing.

despite all of that, i love it. i love the thrill of going to a new place i’ve never been before. every place is different and unique in its own special way. some places are more different than others. it all depends on your perspective. and the more you travel, there comes another realization: that there are similarities. you start to see how have different places have little similarities that connect them in a way. it is fascinating to see how one things relates to another which relates to another. things start connecting like links in a chain.

that leads me to my made point. people are still people. that’s a silly statement, isn’t it? but think about it. think about how we have the tendency to act different towards people different from us. now, some of it’s required. like having to speak slower for someone who doesn’t know the language as well or you may have to treat a little differently someone with a disability. then there’s the age difference. you wouldn’t treat a baby the same way as you would an adult. still, think about how often we treat other people differently for unjustifiable reasons. it happens a lot, doesn’t it?

people are still people. no matter where you are, the people you meet have hopes and dreams. they have beliefs and values. these people have emotions. they experience happiness and sadness. they know what it is like to be scared and excited.

and when you realize that people are just people, you’ll come to realize that they are a little bit easier to talk to. it becomes a easier to communicate with them. there’s no reason to be afraid. they are people, just like you and me. just treat them as you would want to be treated. that’s all it takes.

so maybe you’re like me. maybe you’re in a new environment. or maybe you feel like you’ve been “stuck” in this environment for awhile, but nothing has changed. you still feel alone. don’t wait. don’t wait for someone to reach out and connect with you. for all you know, they could be just as nervous and afraid as you might be.

you take the initiative. you reach out. they are just people. give them a chance. you may be surprised. we were not made to go through life alone. relationships are important. of course, our relationship with God is first and foremost. but that’s just the beginning.

having other people walk through life with you is essential. i can not say it enough. it is so important. i can’t say that the same people will stay with you from beginning to end. people come and go, some stay longer than others. but God will bring the right people into your life at the right times.

just don’t be afraid of taking an opportunity and reaching out.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

On to a New Adventure

it is finally happening.

i’m setting out onto a new adventure! something totally different from anything i’ve ever done before.

where am i going?

taiwan.

what will i be doing?

volunteering by helping kids learn english.

how long will i be there?

a little over eleven months.

it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? even for me it is hard to believe.

if you know anything about me, you know that i love to travel. you might have even seen my post about that. this time will be different though. this won’t be like the missions trip i went on or all the vacations i’ve taken to foreign countries. this time, i’ll be permanently living there.

the idea of living in a foreign country over nine thousand miles away thrills and terrifies me at the same time.


well, it has been awhile since i started writing this post. and believe it or not, i am in taiwan.

it hasn’t even been that long and i feel like i’ve been here for weeks. so much has happened in such a short amount of time it just doesn’t feel real.

i’m still dealing with some jet lag (for some reason, i just can’t seem to sleep in at all.). the number of different kinds of food that i’ve had here probably number more than the different kinds of food i’ve had over my entire life.

okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. but still, almost everything that i have had here is something different.

in all honesty, it has been a bit overwhelming. there is so much to take in. too much. i mean, it is good. great even! but it is a lot.

maybe this is what culture shock is. in all my travels, i have never experienced culture shock so i don’t know. maybe this is what it feels like though.

jet lag doesn’t help, but either way, i’ve felt consistently exhausted. there have been multiple times that i’ve zoned out or nodded off during the day. (i have had so many embarrassing moments.) and my sleeping habits often don’t leave feeling well rested.

i still go in and out of feeling so excited and loving it here to feeling absolutely terrified and thinking i am crazy.

askdjhflsadkjflaksjhfekjshldf.

there are so many feelings and thoughts and things going through my head right now. i can’t really process it all.

but i’m doing alright. things are going well. i’m learning so much and having fun while i’m at it. i know there will be hardships, but i i think this year will see a lot of growth in me too. in the end, i think it will all be worth it.

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

have you ever experienced culture shock? or have you ever lived abroad for a extended period of time? let me know!

Why I Love to Travel

if traveling is a passion, it is definitely one of my biggest passions.

i’ve discovered this passion only in about the last year, but it has unexpectedly blossomed so much in that small amount of time.

i don’t think there has been a moment in this past year that i haven’t had my next trip planned or my next flight booked. in just this year i’ve been to more places than i can count on one hand, possibly two hands.

i love traveling. but why do i love it?

i have so many answers to this question. so many it’s probably ridiculous. but let me just begin.

the people.

every single person is different. and that factor becomes increasingly more noticeable when traveling a far distance. i love people. i love engaging them and hearing their stories. each person has a unique story. they each have their own struggles and hardships. some people one meets turn into longlasting friendships, while other people one meets only in that instance. still, even that one instance can make an impression and leave memories of it to last for who knows how long.

the stories.

since we were already on about how each person has their own story, let’s discuss stories. people’s stories are incredible things. they can inspire, encourage, and motivate. they can also teach important life lessons. of course, if we’re truthful, they can also do harm. but that is often not the case.

more than other people’s stories, one creates their own stories when traveling. i have so many stories from traveling. some are scary. some are funny. while others are just really neat once-in-a-lifetime kind of stories. stories like that can’t ever be replicated. that becomes your story and anyone else’s who shared it with you. nothing exactly like that will happen again.

the destination.

of course, a big part of traveling is going to see “the place.” there are trips that people do with no destination in mind (those are cool too) but usually people have some kind of destination in mind.

i love going to different places because no place is exactly the same and in most cases they are drastically different. from rocky beaches to sandy beaches to no beaches at all. from mountains to hills to land that is flat as far as the eye can see. from ancient art to medieval art to romantic art. from gothic architecture to baroque architecture to neoclassicism architecture. the list goes on and on. each is unique and fascinating in its own way.

the culture.

personally, culture is one of the most important reasons that i love to travel. people live such different lives. going to different places really shows that. what do people spend the most time doing? what is most important to them? how do they spend their free time? what do they believe? all these questions and more give one just a glimpse into their worldview and the lifestyle that they lead.

seeing different cultures makes me so grateful and thankful for what i have. i have many freedoms that i easily take for granted, but when i see other cultures i have more of an appreciation for them. it gives me an awareness. in other cases, i find myself wanting to acquire different practices from different cultures into my own life. there are good and bad things within every culture. not one is perfect.

the food.

let me just admit it right here and now. i am a foodie. i love food. food is always a priority for me wherever i go. i’m always ready to try a different kind of food (unless it is bugs, not sure i’ll ever be ready to try that). trying people’s food is a great conversation starter. you can get to know people and start to learn about their culture. there is a lot to learn from people by the food that they make.

if food is a way into a person’s heart, it certainly is true for me. there are so many different kinds of food out in the world. spices and flavors that i have never heard of, much less actually tried. i can only hope to try them when and where i can.

i am sure that i could come up with many more reasons as to why i love to travel, but i’ll stop here. if you made it this far, i applaud you!

hoping to lighten your burden,

gabi

do you love to travel? what are some of your most important reasons for traveling? i’d love to hear from you!