Friday 5 October 2007

Typhoons. Wankers. AIDS. First pay. Danshui. Hooters.

I'm off work today because of Typhoon Wipha although it's nothing like the one in the Philippines last December. I think the eye of the storm is passing to the North of the Island so we're getting rain and wind from the periphery. The Taiwanese government closed all schools and offices as a precautionary measure. Man, a few days after an earthquake and we have a typhoon!

I found a little bar in Banciao which will be great for weekends. It's relaxed and down to earth unlike the fancy places of Taipei. I met an American who's been here two years. He's in a spot of bother as he's overstayed his visa.

I'm currently using the services of a Wanka. This is the Taiwanese word for Internet Cafe. Does this make me a Wanka or a Wankee????

Do you have AIDS? No? How do you know for sure? I know because I received a medical report from the Hospital. I have no blood-bourne diseases. I have no Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Even the jellyfish sting scars have almost vanished after two months. I only have a sore knee from playing football in Vietnam six month ago. So I'm all set to be an immigrant in Taiwan. I'm relieved after traveling around filthy places with scrapes, cuts, sex food and drink. So far I've escaped malaria and dengue.

Immigrant. That's a funny word. It provokes strong feelings in England it comes up. Even the Brit expats I've met object to "Foreigners over running our country" while they happily over run someone else's with no effort to learn the language or adapt to the culture. The hypocrisy is outstanding. Anyway, I too am now an immigrant. I promise to learn the language - it makes sense - imagine not being able to talk to 99% of people?

I'm enjoying the job and the kids make me laugh. It's "hen hao wan" (a lot of fun). One kid came to school with a hat made from the skin of a grapefruit. This is all the rage here. It reminds me of an Indonesian trend where the bicycles have ridiculously long handle bars.

I'm going to my new discovery in Banciao tonight. Bravo Bar. I think I'll get suitably hammered as I'm going to wait until my first pay before hiring a motorbike. So this four days off work could be a write off. I'm in the Shulin Wanka again for lack of anything better to do.

I'm going through an African phase. I've recently watched: "The last King of Scotland" and "Blood Diamond". Adi Amin in 1970's Uganda and slave diamond mines in 1990s civil war torn Sierra Leonne respectively. Pretty horrific stuff.

Newcastle are back to normality with a defeat against the bottom club - some things never change. Last week's typhoon affected the Woman's World Cup. Not that too many people would have been bothered about that.

Shei zui paiulian nu ren zai yinggou? - Who is the most beautiful woman in England?

Qing wen, ji dian zuihou bashi dao Shulin? - What time is the last bus to Shulin?

Wanshan wo qu he pijiu - The neet am gaan ti get mortal.

youmeiyou da huoji? Gorra light marra?


Another week has passed and I've progressed in my ability to teach English. I got paid today for the first time in two years - what a feeling. I forgot what it was like. My last pay was back in Oct 2005 as a computer engineer at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in Morpeth, England. To say that was a contrasting job would be an understatement. I was going to go out tonight but the weather's ridiculous so I've decided to spend an hour in the Wanka instead. To celebrate my windfall I had my hair cut. It was a laugh trying to explain 'short back and sides' to the Chinese lass.

Today I applied for a Taiwan residency visa which was another expensive bureaucratic nonsense - strewth! I got talking to two Indonesian lasses in the queue and they were impressed I could say things like "Do you love me" in their lingo. It was a laugh and they were hot!

Typhoon Krosa is expected to hit northern Taiwan on Saturday night. This is all very well but it's a weekend and it's interrupting my drinking plans. I was hoping for more days off work. At least I can focus on my American pronunciation as I sup a couple of beers in my room.

Have you seen the news? Myanmar is going through some major strife. I had the feeling when I was there that something like this wasn't far away. I remember seeing a truck-load of sorry looking prisoners chained together and guarded by machine-gun toting soldiers in Bago. I was right at the place where the Japanese photographer was shot. I stayed in a hostel spitting distance from the Sule Paya which has seen a lot of the action. It's strange to see these pictures being beamed to the World as previously nobody had much of an idea about the place.

I'm lucky I missed last year's military coup in Thailand and these current revolts in Myanmar - bloody hell man!! I was right there only two months ago. My heart goes out to the people of Myanmar.

Last weekend I went to Danshui in the North of Taiwan. It was a nice day but ridiculously busy. I ate a McDs and got talking to a Japanese Jehova's Witness in Chinese. That was odd.

After the seeing the sights of Danshui I headed to central Taipei where I had a beer in a Hooters bar. I'd always wanted to visit. I tried to find one in the States in 2001 but had no luck. In Hooters the waitresses have big boobs and skimpy outfits. I only had one beer as I was worried I'd be a drooling idiot after anymore.

I headed to a bar that plays EPL football (not soccer). I arrived and got chatting to my first Englishman in Taiwan. He was from Kent but I didn't complain. He was great crack until he went home early. Nevermind though, I was sitting for less than a minute when a crazy Irishman from Larne turned up. I knew a lad in the Navy from Larne who this fellow knew too! So that was it, enough of a connection to get wrecked together. I ended up staying at his house drinking whisky until who knows? I don't think his lass was too happy.


hao le ma? Ready?

Tofa (hair)

Pijuan (tired)
Dashiguan (embassy)
taifeng (typhoon)

I remember being 16 at school talking to the 'Careers advisor'. What a load of bollicks that was! I joined the Royal Navy with no idea why. 'To see the World' I suppose although that highlighted my adolescent naivety. I worked on frigates and submarines. I did a degree that I still question the value of. I started an MSc at Newcastle and half way through thought why? I worked as a factory engineer in Glasgow and three years as an IT engineer. I travelled Asia for 15 months which is the highlight of my life so far.

Now, I'm teaching English to little Chinese kids in Taiwan and some days I question the sense of everything. I often run the "What am I doing here?" conundrum through my head. It hurts my brain. I've finally realised that I've never known, or indeed, will never know what I want to do. I'm going to wander aimlessly through the remainder of my mortality. Are there other people like me out there? People who've never known what they want?

I suppose I know one thing sure enough. I don't want to work everyday for years on end. There truly is more to life than that. There's a huge World out there to explore. I want to chill out on paradise beaches in tropical climates. Maybe that was my destiny all along but it is hard to tell a careers advisor that. It's like saying: "I wanna play for the Toon. Sir."

Taiwan. That brings me back to reality. I'm slowly improving my language skills but I'm starting to find things a little boring. I think I'm some kind of action junky. I need to be around crazy people and scenes all the time.

Sometimes a food seller will ask me a question like: "How long have you been in Taiwan?" or "Are you married?" Initially, I would just say I didn't understand, smile and walk away. Now, after an almost imperceptable process of word osmosis I can understand and I've never taken classes. Merely imbibing the language as the words coalesce and slowly form in and around my grey matter.

Also, my teaching skills are improving. I'm far more confident than seven weeks ago. I feel like I'm performing with a negligible smattering of proficiency. I have to organise a Halloween party for next week!! Beats torpedo test firings off the Isle of Skye!

yiyuan - hospital

anjing - quiet
wo bu ting - I can't hear

1 comment:

  1. hi steve this sheeda ... im in bukidonon southern philippines ... just wondering if you going to make it to manila at any stage this month or next ... hey, its beautiful here in the mountains .... fresh air and not too hot .... hope 2 see you soon... im in the philippines until 28th of november ... lets go for a beer