First blog from Taiwan. I am not yet suffering from culture shock. We still don’t have internet or a phone in our appartment, though we will get some in the following weeks. The deposit on our place was a bit higher than we expected, but at least it’s very clean, very efficient, very safe. We can walk from our appartment to our school in about 10 minutes, though I do not think that we will be doing this for long.
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The last errands that I had to run before leaving took a bit more time than I expected. Because of this, I ended up taking the 12:00 bus to Ottawa, I had just missed the 11:00. With all the crazy running, I was expecting some major problems, time wise. The bus I took wasn’t a direct bur, for some reason. It went to all the different towns in between Ottawa and Montreal. I was totally freaking out. I had expected to be in Ottawa for 2:30 PM and be able to take the 3:00 bus back to Montreal. Now I saw that this was no longer possible. Instead of being a relaxing drive, it was the most harrowing moment of the last few days. The driver finally announced that the bus was becoming an express bus directly to Ottawa from Hawksbury.
I still didn’t think I would make it in time. Our flight was at 7 pm from YUL PET Dorval, the Montreal airport. As soon as I got off the bus, I chartered a taxi to drive me from Ottawa to Montreal, for about 275$. With this move, I would be able to make the airport around 5 PM, which would be ideal. I picked up my visa from the TECO, the Taiwanese Economic and Consular Office and then we drove on to Montreal. My wife wanted me to come by and get her, so that I could help her load the bags onto the taxi. It didn’t happen. We took the 13 south and headed into gridlock. I phoned my wife and told her that I couldn’t make it. She took a taxi to Dorval. I turned my taxi around and was able to reach the airport for 5:25. We finally met up.
We then hurried through check-in. There was a problem with our bags. They were too heavy. I had packed an extra bag that I had bought. I took it out and filled it up with some books that had taken up much of the excess weight. I was finally able to check all bags, but I still had to pay for the excess bagage and the charge for the dog. This line-up took forever, but in it we realized that our flight was actually at 7:55 PM instead of 7. Once that was taken care of, we could finally relax a little. We paid C7,45$ for each of the 3 sandwhiches we ate.
We boarded and tried to get comfortable in the Air Canada flight.
We landed in Vancouver, took the time to change some Canadian money into Taiwanese New Dollars. As before, I hit my transit limit on my debit card. I waited until midnight PST and took out more money and changed it. It was then that we got a phone call from Taiwan. Our contact told us that she had just been advised that we could not take Spike into Taiwan. He was missing the Rabies Titles. The dates of the test were not the ones that they wanted. So Spike was not issued an Import Permit. And also, we had to reserve time in the quarantine ward for Spike in advance before bringing him over.
This was the worst time for us. But we pulled ourselves together, phoned a few friends and one of our dear friends made the airport 15 minutes later and picked him up. The dog was then given over to my sister-in-law. We still don’t know exactly what will happen.
We boarded our flight on Eva Air. It was one of the more pleasant flights I have had. The first Asian carrier that I have been on, except Air India when I was 4 and 6. Service was impeccable. We had lunch and breakfast, with beef noodle and drinks served in between. I can only imagine the service in 1st class. They played movies during the whole 12 hour flight.
We landed and were picked up by Candy and Hank in Taipei. They drove us directly to a hotel in order to meet with Mirela, our contact in Taiwan, and have breakfast. We had a nice breakfast and then were driven to Hsinchu to meet the principal of the school where we would be working at. We signed the contracts and we got our books and schedules. It is very hot and humid in Taiwan.
They showed us the dorms. They stank of piss. We decided not to stay there. Luckily, our contacts had already searched for an appartment located at the Lakeshore Master, the cousin to the 5 star Lakeshore Hotel. Within hours, we found our place, a small 400-500 sq feet appartment. What sold this place, was the 5 star fitness club to which we would have access to.
We moved in our stuff, ate some beef noodle before totally shutting down for the night.
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Even if our appartment is very small, it is very efficient. We have everything that we need, from a small kitchen, to a fridge, to a living room area next to the bed, to a washing machine in the bathroom. Every square foot is used. We didn’t have to buy anything, except the essentials like cooking utensils, pots and pans and dishes.
The fitness club is incredible. It’s located in the hotel and is 5 star. It is brand spanking new and has a large pool and spa area, a large jacuzzi next to a cold pool. Turkish steam bath and sauna. State of the art treadmills and more. I’m looking forward to relaxing in this club.
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We are about an hour out of Taipei. In a city called Hsinchu. The city is more rural that I expected. It has over 400000 inhabitants and is supposed to be the Silicon Valley of Taiwan, with the highest income level in the country. There is no public transport to speak of, taxis are very rare. There is no metro.
Getting around is hard. There are a lot of scooters and cars going around. The main form of transport is the scooter and I do believe that we will have to get one in order to be able to do our shopping and groceries. We have already located one. The thing with cars is that parking is a complete hassle. Even though scooters might be a pain in the rain, they are easier to get around than with cars.
More later on the job and the kids as well as the people I have met here in Taiwan.
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