Greetings from Taiwan!
After an insane occurence of events (which is to be expected by this point in China-living and Asia-traveling) my beloved traveling crew and I have found ourselves in an internet cafe in the capital of Taiwan, full to the brim of curry and rice and not quite sure where we will be staying all week.
For the Chiense National Holiday we get 8 days off...and we are not ones to waste any days that could be spent on the road. Our original plans were diverted because of lack of available train tickets and we literally just looked at a map and decided to meet in the middle: the beautiful coastal town of Xiamen.
Well, when we arrived in Xiamen yesterday morning (I did a 15 hour bus ride by myself!) we tried to book hostels and were faced with the fact that anything in our price range was booked. So what do we self-professed travel junkies do? Figure out how to leave the country of course. Jennie and I went to the beach while Nick slept in the hotel and then we went to a western restaurant owned by some white dude. It was Texas themed and had "welcome to texas" signs everywhere. It was like being back at home, hahaha. sort of. We ate chips and salsa, and pizza and wings...and I paid for it dearly throughout the night, probably inhaling a half bottle of Pepto. Thank You Know Who for Pepto!
Xiamen is a gateway city in Taiwan. So we decided, why not? Surely Taiwan would have hotels since it isn't techincally their holiday this week. After many failed attempts at getting to the right ferry terminal (one of which resulted in an expensive, 2 hour "sightseeing tour" where we thought it would take us to the Island we needed to get to but didn't :/) we found our way to the ferry terminal and bought tickets to Jinmen Island. This island is claimed by both Taiwan and China and to get there we had to go through customs and check out of China. Which is always fun.
On Jinmen Island, we exchanged money then found a cabbie to drive us to the regional airport (which was full of monks and had no security whatsoever) and bought tickets for a flight leaving one hour later (at 5:20 - on Mandarin Airlines....skeeeetch).
45 minutes in the air later, we spotted the city lights of Taipei from the plane windows and soon landed on this controversial island.
At the teeeeeny airport we found a help desk manned by a gorgeous Taiwanese man with perfect english who booked us a hostel within 10 minutes of our arrival. We took the MRT subway and 30 minutes later we sauntered into our hotel laughing at our adventure. I still can't believe that this morning we weren't sure if we would make it to Taiwan, and if/when we made it here if we would have a place to sleep. We were actually going through our heads of where we could sleep....a 24 hour karaoke establishment, an internet bar, any bar...
When we got here we found out that Taiwan banks do not accept Chinese debit cards. Nick is our new "tian ge ge" sugar big brother, because without his donation to the life funds, we would all be stuck here penniless. haha.
So far Taiwan is awesome. It is clean, modern, clean, the people are friendly and fashionable and clean. Their manners seem to be good and the streets are bustling even at this late hour, which we plan to make the most of.
We only booked one night at our hostel because it is way expensive, so tomorrow we will go on another hunt for a place to rest our heads at night, but it's no worries to us. I think we have become such "seasoned" travelers that the details son't really bother us. Like, we don't know anything about Taiwan. We are planning on asking locals things to do for our 3 days here.
On Monday we will make the flying/boating trek back to the Mainland and stay in Xiamen for 2 more nights since that town is so precious. Wednesday night I will bus back to Hangzhou.
I love my job. Because it gives me a chance to travel. We do all of this with practically no money because travel in Asia is so cheap once you are here. This is the perfect opportunity to go wherever the heck I want, which judging by today's festivities, is easy to do.
If there's a few things I know for certain it is this: that the world is small, accessible, and meant for exploring, people are the same everywhere you go, and every place you go changes you in some small way.
Now if you will excuse me, I have some exploring to do... :)