The First Days (06/02-06/08)

When I arrived in Kaohsiung, I had to fill out a landing permit so I could get my 30 day visa. There were no problems and I was able quickly get my stuff and make my way towards the exit. Before I went outside, I stopped at the tourist desk and picked up a map of the city. I had already made hotel reservations before I left the States and also printed off the address, map, and hotel name. Unfortunately, these were all in English. So when I went up to one of the many taxi drivers and showed him where I needed to go, he had to ask all the other taxi drivers. This made me a little nervous and I wasn't too sure they knew where to take me. After a few minutes, they finally agreed on where I needed to go and they loaded up the car. I wasn't really paying attention to how he drove as I was too busy looking at the city. It seemed like a long ride, but we finally made it to a hotel. However, the name on the hotel wasn't even close to the name I had. So I quickly ran inside and found out I did actually have a reservation there. I later found out that the name I had was the Chinese name and the name on the outside of the hotel was the Japanese name. The staff and I quickly moved all my stuff from the cab to the room I would be staying in.

The hotel room was nice. The first thing I noticed when they showed me around the room was the light switch for the bathroom. It was on the outside of the room with no switch on the inside. I don't know why they do this, but all the bathrooms are like that. There was a closet, a small fridge, a TV, a bed, a couple lamps. The room also had air conditioning though I hadn't really noticed the heat as much as I thought I would have. It was about 2pm and I was feeling a little tired, so I decided to take a short nap. I ended up sleeping for about two hours. When I woke up, I went out for a walk around the town and got some food for supper at a 7-11 (these stores are everywhere). I had only made reservations for a few days because I was hoping of finding an apartment very quickly. I had a list of things I wanted to get done and in a certain order I thought was best. First, I needed to get a SIM card for my cell phone so I would have a number in Taiwan and be able to make and receive phone calls. This would allow me to call about apartments. Once I found an apartment, then I would get settled in it and then go to the school to start training and then teaching. However, it didn't work out like that at all.

Since I arrived on Saturday, I tried to go to church the next day. I got dressed and looked at the map. I had four ways of getting to the church. I could walk the entire way there which looked like about an hour long walk. I could take a taxi there which would have been the fastest but also the most expensive. I could take a bus, but I wasn't sure how the bus system worked. Or I could walk to the train station, take a short ride on the train, and then walk about 15 minutes to the church from there. I decided to try the train which ended up being a mistake. I was able to buy the right ticket, but I unfortunately got on the wrong platform. So when the train left, it went east instead of west. I looked at the map I had picked up at the airport but it didn't show where the train went to. I was hoping the train tracks went in a circle and so I would just have a longer train ride. After about half an hour of riding the train, I got off and got on the next one going back to Kaohsiung. It was about an hour wait until the next train. So when I finally made it back to where I had started at, church was already over. However, I was able to read through Genesis. I haven't attempted the train since. In the evening, I ended up taking a taxi to the church. I was able to meet the Hannas and get to know a little more about them and what it was like in Taiwan. There was also another missionary couple there who had only been here for a year, so they were still learning and had a lot to say. Pastor Hanna ended up giving me a ride back to the hotel.

On Monday, I headed out to get a SIM card for my cell phone. I had listened to an mp3 from www.chinesepod.com (based in Shanghai) about going to 7-11 and getting one there. Unfortunately, that is not how it works here. Everyone kept wanting to sell me just the recharge cards. I found out that I had to go to one of the major telecoms to buy a SIM card. However, no one could tell me where they were at or what their names were. I did a lot of walking and after a day or two found one of the places. I was then able to get a SIM card. During all my walking I had also looked at the location of the apartments and had an idea of where I wanted to search for one. But since it had taken me so long to get a SIM card, I ended up asking the hotel if I could stay a few more days.

On Wednesday, I called a couple places about a some apartments. However, one number was incorrect and the other one was no longer available. At night, I took another taxi to church and Pastor Hanna gave me another ride back to the hotel. On Thursday, after calling a couple places for an apartment, I gave up and went to a real estate agency. I told them what I was looking for and the agent found one for me. Up to this point, I had walked everywhere and had been in only a few taxis. He said the apartment was a ways from there and that he would have to give me a ride. Little did I know that his mode of transportation was by scooter. Of course, scooters are very popular here and half of the population uses one to get around. So I hopped on and he took me to look at the apartment.

The courtyard in front was very nice. The apartment was very nice too, though it didn't come with anything. This was the first apartment I had actually seen, but I knew this was going to be the only one I would want. However, the landlord was very worried about a foreigner renting the apartment.

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