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.