Sunday, March 4, 2012

On the move

Proof that I made it. Taipei 101.
So... it's been a while since my last entry. Why you may ask? Well, I've recently moved to Taiwan to begin my next big adventure. It's taken me a while to establish a decent internet connection and get settled in. But now I finally have a bit of time up my sleeve so figured I'd try to recap what's happened so far...

Departure and Arrival

My departure from Australia was uneventful. I wasn't sad, I wasn't overly excited. I just was. I knew what I had to do and in my usual fashion, I left it all until the last minute. Perhaps that's why I didn't really 'feel' anything... I didn't have the time.

Drive to the airport with Mum and Dad was quiet. Spent an hour checking in and saying my goodbyes and then the adventure really started. First challenge was getting through customs. I was a bit concerned I'd be stopped. I had a few layers on, it was 30+ degrees and I was sweating like a mofo. My concern was unwarranted though. I made it through no worries and then had a bit of time to kill before jumping on the plane.

I remember taking-off from Brisbane International Airport with a massive grin on my face. This was very different to when I moved to Japan in 2007. (When I left Australia then I had an emotional breakdown on the plane.) I suppose I've matured a bit over the last couple of years and I'm a lot more comfortable doing things independently now. Anyway, just as the lead up to my departure was uneventful, so too was the plane trip. I had a window seat next to a very polite, old Taiwanese man. He kept mostly to himself. Apart from the standard, conventional courtesies, we spoke very little.

I arrived safely at Tao Yuan International Airport at about 6:00am (local time) on February 8. Getting through customs was a breeze. My driver was waiting for me with another new teacher, Seth, who had just arrived from America. The drive into Taipei was somewhat adventurous though! There are no road rules per se in Taiwan bar one - only focus on the first metre in front of your vehicle at all times! Sounds a bit crazy but it's very logical. If everyone is always paying attention on what's in front of them, then there shouldn't be many accidents... right!? We'll see about that one. So there we were, Seth and I, two strangers united in fear of imminent death as we hurtled down the highway towards Taipei. Glad to report we made it safely. It was nuts!

Checked into the First Hotel which would be my home for the fortnight of training. Met two other teachers, David and Nikki, and we spent the day exploring some of Taipei. By the time I crashed that evening I was a walking zombie. It had been close to 36 hours without decent sleep.


Intensive! That's the best way to describe the HESS initial training. I'm not going to elaborate too much on this one. All I'm going to say is I respect and appreciate everything our trainers, Michael and JK, did for us and how happy I was to have met such an awesome bunch of fellow adventurers/ESL teachers! That week and a half flew by.

Highs - Da Hu Park, Shilin Night Market, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial and a day trip to Danshui (Fort San Domingo and Gongming St).

Lows - Late nights prepping for teacher demos and my first Taiwanese biological update - commonly reffered to as the flu.