As my first week in Taiwan is drawing to a close, I can’t help but think I’ve made a terrible mistake.
For one thing, Gram Schools are awful. The staff has done nothing but pander to my every whim since I’ve been here; helping me to find an apartment, helping me to get a cell phone, helping me to eat, drink, and live comfortably. The polite little children are driving me insane with their laughter and poor English.
Keelung is precisely as everyone has said: an armpit. The lush green hills surrounding the city are enough to make me quite unsettled. The city itself is wretched in any number of different ways. To begin with, the people are patently patronizing with their friendliness. If one more Chinese fellow comes up to me to try and steal a free English lesson with his “small talk,” I’ll scream. Furthermore, there is no end to the amount of shopping and eating to be done, all of which is quite cheap. The shoddy goods peddled from the street vendors seem far too fresh to be believed, and I can’t help but think that they are doused with loads of preservatives.
Furthermore, there is very little to do in the city. I have been forced to spend my time bowling, playing video games and pachinko, hanging out with my new workmates, drinking a fair amount of their terribly overpriced beer, making new friends, trying to learn Chinese, going to new restaurants, exploring the harbor, going to the movies; essentially just walking the streets in a haze of boredom and spite.
Today it is raining for the first time since I’ve been here. Not only is the wetness an inconvenience, but it is something which I simply cannot stomach; the entire city has that fresh stench of vegetation and mud. I long for the smell of pollution which seemed so readily available in Taipei.
I now realize that all of you were right. I bow to your overwhelming intelligence and openness, and I ask for your prayers for a quick end to this misery.
I think what you are experiencing is know as “culture shock.” You’ve been here a week, try to relax. The more you complain the worse your mood will get and more complaining you will do. It’s a vicious cycle lad. Relax. And know that your situation is not unique. You are not alone! If you need a break already jump on the bullet train going for Haullien or Taidong. It may refresh you!
Jody, you’re quite right. I actually dwelled on the punchline for quite a while, and decided that it needed a little more spunk than a simple “duh.” Were I to do it all over again, I might have used a “NOT” or, perhaps, a “”.
And while my giddiness is certainly a bit premature, I can’t fathom what I’d expect from a city in the east other than precisely everything that Keelung has to offer. One would have to be an extremely un-amusable person to be bored here. Heck! I found a game of Chinese Chess today while shopping for q-tips!
My experience with Keelung was not so bad. My father’s family is rooted there (big time)so I have visited the place throughout the years.
Yes, it’s pretty wet, and the air is rather nasty at times, and the people aren’t as ‘sophisticated’ (shame on me for generalizing) as you would find in the Big City (Taipei), but that is the beauty of Keelung, like other alternative places outside of Taipei. It’s unique, and it has a culture and lifestyle of its own.
I don’t think any of us have chosen to move to Taiwan (Taipei, Keelung, etc.) because of its stellar reputation as a “beautiful, livable” locale. And like any place else we find ourselves, I think it really is up to your own attitude as to whether or not you will enjoy yourself there. There are things to appreciate about Keelung if you are open to finding them.
One of the things that my grandparents did when they were alive was to go up to the nearby mountain (sorry, don’t know the name) at the break of dawn and climb the very long stairs for fresh air and exercise. I would go with… and it was a most interesting experience to see all the people up there at that hour. People medidating, doing tai-chi, kids playing, etc.
There are parks and places to skate (okay so I’m totally reminiscing here) and play tennis and badminton, plenty of things to do if you are an outdoorsy type of person It’s also a weird ride on a scooter up and down that mountain if you are into pushing your scooter to the limit (okay, slight sarcasm there…)
I kind of like Keelung, and personally don’t think it’s as bad as it’s been described. But good luck to you! Hope you can find a happy medium during your time there!
Don’t mean to be a pedant, Non teacher, but the expression is “sarcasm is the LOWEST form of wit.” Inept though StLouTom’s use of the medium undoubtedly is, you can nevertheless see how low it is.
I’d love to get into a battle of wits with him, but I hesitate to do battle with StLouTom, as he’s so obviously totally unarmed.
As we all know that misery, despite its rosy colored buds, will soon be nipping at the heals of the gentleman from St Louis, let us then, in the spirit of acquired wisdom, allow him, for a time, to wallow in his joy. For we also know that there is certainly a finite number of times that KTV’s are enjoyable. And also are we aware that, all too often, an employer’s kindess will be deducted exponentially from our mental health and peace of mind.
Unfortunately, our endless doomsday rhetoric and naysaying is only prolonging the inevitable, strengthening the gentleman’s need to be prove us wrong. (it ain’t just a river in Egypt, Tom) He’ll figure it out and buy us all beers in a year or so.
As for myself, I have chosen the path most heavily trodden. In fact, travelled by every other sorry sack who has ever set foot on Isla Formosa, and that, my friends, has made all the difference.
hey kids, sorry for the lapse, but i’ve been damned busy being a rockstar and maintaining my reputation of keelung beer drinking champion for which i have a two foot trophy.
anywho, keelung is bloody brilliant and you all were wrong and dumb. i would elaborate, but i needn’t do so. it’s just a big, happy, non-religious, non-oppressive-like-taipei kinda place. the river stinks a bit, but it’s lovely lovely lovely.
gram is like most bushibans seem to be, kinda surreal and curious.
hardly matters though. im going back home to enlist. damned human condition.