Guided Walking Tour of Tainan
It rained through the majority of the tour, but only in irritating spitting fits and starts, so we mostly ignored it. Our guide was so excited about the history and art of Tainan that we couldn’t even get her to bother with an umbrella or raincoat. Someone would offer her one and she would start to reach for it, but then get excited about some tree or ribbon or God-knows-what and wander off to talk about it.
Although we made fun of her at times, her enthusiasm was truly contagious, because she made the history come alive. I could practically see the faces hear the conversations and feel the energy of the Tainan of old as we strolled amiably through grand temples and tiny alleys. It was overwhelming in its intensity, though, so I listened intently to her stories for 5-10 minutes at a time, and when my brain felt full I would start talking to one of the other tour-goers about life, the universe and the squiggly little lines on the window-shade which apparently point to Arabic influence on the city.
The whole tour was a huge social win. I met a bunch of cool new people and had great fun. I even dragged my shy new Filipina friend to dinner with some of my other friends, and enjoyed that as well.
As we were finishing up our dinner, another friend called and invited us to learn Hula dance. I love my friends!!!
Hula Dance and the Hookey-Lau
An invitingly warm breeze whispers in through the window and I shiver in awe, stunned by my good fortune. Here I am, living in Taiwan, randomly invited by a friend to learn traditional Hula dance from a Hawaiian who is studying here. I am joined by my friends from Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan, along with several other Americans. I know some of these individuals well, and some are new friends.
Our teacher breaks off her demonstration to launch into a mini history lesson that explains the cultural tidbits that underlie the movements of the hula dance we are learning. Listening to her share about her upbringing, the dance and the village life that inspired it, is again magical and humbling. The world is so big, so unique, so beautiful. Thank you, Universe. Thank you.
Rain Rain Go Away... (or: Travel Hacking Saves the Day)
I have been able to put up with these feelings and changes in the past, though frankly they are a major part of why I have much of my adult life in the desert. Last year’s monsoon season in Okinawa landed me in the hospital, though, and this year’s monsoon in Taiwan wasn’t boding well either.
It rained almost all day every day for two weeks straight, and I was heartily sick of it. I was acting like a complete pill with my roommates, and I hated myself for it. One day, I checked the weather forecast, looking for some projected relief, but my eyes bugged out and my jaw just about smacked the ground when I saw a ten-day forecast of straight-up rain, rain and more rain.
But then I realized: “there is something I can do about this.” So I did.
The following day, I hopped on a plane back to the desert, some 8,000 miles away. Yep, I ran away to Arizona.
Instead of working my online job in the early morning local time, I will work in the late afternoon and evening local time. My clients don’t even know the difference, but I’ll be enjoying the desert heat and sun, breathing free and will stop sniping at my poor unsuspecting deserve-better-than-this roomies.
This sort of solution is exactly why I started travel hacking in the first place, and I am highly grateful for the opportunity. I even got to take my first-ever shower in an airport, thanks to the Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business lounge, and play with a 15-month-old whose parents appreciated the short respite from child-care duties.
Here’s to Sun, Mexican Food, Friends and Opportunity.