Day 250: Scooting Around

Sat. 20th April 2013

Me scared?After a morning of doing chores and being lazy we head off to Taichung. This is where Dave’s nephew, Calum and his friend Charlie have an apartment for their time out here on a year’s contract teaching English conversation. It is about a half hour drive from Changhua and we meet Calum outside the Family Mart (the local convenience store similar to 7/11). All apartment blocks seem to have key fobs to let you in so it is easier to meet outside. Calum’s apartment is on the seventh floor with views out over the sprawling town and an outdoor swimming pool but that is still shut for winter.

Raw meat ready to fryWe have a simple lunch just down the road in a Teppanyaki restaurant where the food is cooked on a hot plate in front of us. The first challenge, however, is to order our food. The menu / order form is in Chinese but luckily they have a crib sheet showing the translation in English and also both Calum and Charlie are able to get by in spoken Chinese. We get to see the fresh raw meat and fish before seeing it all being cooked in front of us.

Electric StreetAs Taichung is much larger than Changhua, we head off to Electric Street to try and find the computer bits Dave wants. There are two ways of getting there – by taxi or on the back of Calum and Charlie’s scooters. I am easily outvoted – and the scooters are so much more convenient than taxis – and so I steel myself to go on the back of a scooter for the first time since University. (I only went then as it was too far to walk and a few bevvies inside me dulled my senses! The time before was on the back of my Dad’s motorbike when I was about thirteen and I was petrified even though he drove very carefully).

Workmen job cuts!Although the roads here are busy, the traffic is lane conscious, unlike Bali which is a free for all! It was not far to the shops and Calum was kind to his aunt on the back of his scooter. Dave sorted his shopping and I have finally got a cover for my new phone costing a fiver. I had been hunting all through Indonesia and Malaysia where everyone took one look at my phone and said no immediately. As HTC is a Taiwanese company it makes sense that I succeeded here.

Really?What Taiwan also has, is a good old Starbucks where we sat and chatted for ages catching up with Calum’s news and swapping travel stories with Charlie. We were also amused by the restaurant called Irish Potato just across the way from Starbucks. At least we can understand the menu.

We headed back to the apartment, this time I was on the back of Charlie’s bike. Charlie saw a big Buddha over the roof tops which they had never been to see before so we diverted that way. It turned out to be on top of a temple in amongst a row of houses. I am not sure of the exact religion, as Dave commented yesterday it seems complicated here, but it was similar to others temples we have seen. It was very ornate inside and full of locals with lit sticks of incense and packets of ‘ghost money’ which is burnt as an offering  in the fire at the entrance. There are also rows and rows of the mini Buddha statues which I understand are available for you to have your name on one, for a donation/fee.

Down at the local with Calum and CharlieAfter our exertions, a beer was called for as we watched the Bahrain F1 qualifying and more chatting with Calum and Charlie. It is a long time since we have seen Calum and it was really good to hear about his life in Taiwan and to see him looking well and happy. The drink drive rules have recently been changed here and if caught it could be immediate imprisonment, so the boys took us to their favourite restaurant, which is a two minute walk from their apartment. Although I had been OK on the back of the scooters, I am not sure I will repeat that any time soon, so it was good to be able to walk to supper. I can understand why Rob sold his car in Taiwan as it is much quicker travelling through the traffic by scooter. As Rob whisked us back to his place in comfort, I am grateful that he has hired a car for the time we are here.

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2 Responses to Day 250: Scooting Around

  1. Sara Mayes (Churchman) says:

    Ah 7/11, we have similar here called huit a huit. That is where the resemblance ends. Opens at 9′ closed for the obligatory french 2hr lunch break and then closes again about 7pm!

  2. Calum togneri says:

    Great seeing you guys, best of luck in Africa and I hope you really loved taiwan!!! 🙂

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