Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Doing a runner from a Taipei job. Alishan. Strangling Filipino chickens.

Final Taipei pay

I got my third and final pay on my 100th day in Taiwan. It's my last day teaching in Jason English School, Shulin City, Taipei County. I worked the whole of September, October and November and I'll never forget my time there.



I'm going to Tainan tomorrow to spend a week with my girlfriend before my work permit gets cancelled. I'm then required to leave the country. No problem as I'll head to the Philippines next week for a period of beaches and relaxation. I was on Malapascua Island this time last year and I fancy going there again as well as a few other places.

I got paid 50000NTD (New Taiwan Dollars - about £750) this month. I lose my room deposit of £180 since I'm effectively doing a runner. I discovered that if I give my work notice they'll take £400 off me for not completing a year - sod that! Anyway, all's well here in paradise - I have to make a clean getaway. I'll report again once my adventures have resumed after this mad work experiment. 

Romance?



new3.jpgThis is an improvement on the Halloween photo. Well the lass is anyway. This is Zi Ting, a rural country girl who cooks oyster omelettes at the local night markets. I'm hanging with her now in Southern Taiwan before going to the Philippines for Xmas and New Year.

I successfully completed my nerve-racking runner from my job in Shulin. I'm now officially unemployed again - the way things should be in my opinion. After the Philippines I reckon I'll return to Taiwan and enroll at a school to learn Chinese while attempting to convince Zi Ting to come traveling.


Tomorrow I fly to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines for my second visit to the Philippines on this trip. I'm aiming for Puerto Galera on Mindoro Island as soon as possible as I reckon Manila is probably a shithole and I don't really want to linger there too long.


I've been in Taiwan for 107 days. This is my longest stint anywhere since I left home 550 days ago. I've learnt a canny chunk of Mandarin which will be useful when I return to England (not).


Alishan
Yesterday I went to Alishan. A large mountain in the center of Taiwan. I was a little disenfranchised on arrival when I saw a Starbucks in the car park. This is like putting a McDonald's at the top of Ben Nevis, wrong on too many levels. There were massive ancient Cypress trees in the forests. Some trees had very funny shapes: elephant, heart, pig and one tree that looked like a vagina.  The surrounding views were great although I couldn't see Mt Yushan (玉山) which is East Asia's highest peak at almost 4000m.

On the way home, we stopped at Chiayi night market for more edible treats. Here I had a steak dinner on a sizzling black plate for £1.50 - lush! I also stopped at a research centre located on the tropic of cancer. I love stuff like this!


This morning I ate duck's intestine soup for my breakfast. I'm so used to eating food like this now that I forget to mention it anymore. It's not bad if you can get past the thought of what you're chewing (intestines are very chewy by the way).


See you again from the Philippines where I'm hoping they have a more Christmassy feel.


Yeshi - night market


weimian/limian - outside/inside


ingdao/ingjing - womans parts/mans parts


ni jeudi wo ben ma? - Do you reckon I am stupid?


Manila

I'm in Manila recovering from an extreme drinking binge. I arrived three nights ago and enthusiastically attacked the 30p bottles of San Miguel. Two days of debauchery with crazy travellers! Where Taiwan doesn't really have bars like the West, the Philippines has many karaoke joints with cheap beer. It's difficult to find a bar that doesn't have karaoke. Manila is hot, dusty, poor, busy and loud. I've been hanging with a 31 year old woman from Cameroon. She taught English in China so we're speaking Chinese to each other. There's also a tall 6'4" Yank who's great crack, the skinniest Irishman I've ever seen wearing IRA T-shirts and a Kiwi who's out here looking for a wife. 

It is nice to be in a traveller hostel again as Taiwan was a little like real life. I'm in the minging Townhouse Guesthouse in the Baclaran area of Manila. Must dash as I'm trying to recover from one of the worst hangovers I've ever had.

Mahubay - Tagalog for welcome

Mindoro

I escaped the Baclaran area of Manila by boarding a bus south to Batangas. I then boarded a small bamboo banca boat to the Island of Mindoro and the resort of Sabang. I lived in a family's spare room and spent Xmas day eating coconut rice sticks wrapped in banana leaves. I did a lot of partying here - both on the floating bar and in the gogo bars before heading into the countryside since two gogo whores offered to take me to their homes for new year. We went via jeepney to Calapan and then Victoria before reaching the tiny barrio of Murangan. Here you wash outdoors in a communal concrete bath wearing shorts. There are no tourists so you stick out a bit.

We ate whole BBQd small birds including head bones - well everything, even some locals wouldn't eat this since it's the national bird of the Philippines! We collected oranges and grass on a jungle foraging expedition. We walked through the rice paddies and had a ride on a water buffalo cart. I cooked fresh squid and watched as a guy hunted three snakes for his dinner. When the electricity worked the light switch was two bare wires that had to be physically connected and jammed into a nail in the wooden wall. Talk about primitive. This was a risky operation as it had to be done using candle light so I risked electrocution every night. Such is life in the barrios.

One of the girl's Dad was a psuedo-priest and they had a small Catholic church/shed in the garden. It was surreal watching a small family ceremony in a shed in the middle of the jungle.

After eating a breakfast of rice, dried whole fish and grass the traditional way with our hands, we jeepneyed back to Calapan and took a ferry to Batangas and another series of transportation to Santa Cruz in Laguna province. Here I'm staying in another family bamboo hut getting wrecked on coconut wine at 16 peso a bag. I quite enjoy smashing coconuts with a big knife. I had the honour of strangling a hen with my bare hands. A weird experience that!

I've been sleeping on bamboo mats on the floor and washing out of a bucket. I think I'm becoming native as I've even been drinking the water. The whole family sleeps on a mat in the same room. The daughter and I had a flimsy curtain separating us from the others. It was embarrassing -she'd moan during bouts of aerobic exercise causing her parents to laugh.

Today is New Year's Eve and the locals are going crazy with the celebrations. It's weird having Xmas and New Year in the tropics as you're surrounded by banana and coconut trees in searing heat.

I've just booked a flight back to Taiwan for Thursday 3rd Jan 2008. I'm heading to Tainan again where I intend to enroll with a school and learn Chinese.

Happy hunting

Some Tagalog:

Isa, Dalawat, Tatlo, Apat, Lima, Anim, Bito, Walo, Sham, Sambo (1-10)

Magkano (How much), O O (Yes), Hinde (No)

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