Well, again, I’ve become a little lax in writing this blog. This is not because I didn’t have anything to write about. Oh, I have a lot, but I’ve been struggling with a bit of a moral issue, I suppose.
When I started writing this blog, I set myself a couple of goals. One of these goals, was to share with you, the reader, my life in Taiwan. However, there are some things that, like anything else in life, you have to question whether or not to share.
Upon coming to Taiwan, all I really wanted to do was teach, and to start my life over. I had gotten into, what I considered, a rut. New people, a new life, a new chance.
Over these past 10 years, I feel that I have done my utmost, to accomplish those personal goals. I have been working to the best of my abilities, I have, according to employers and seeing the results, made a good name for myself. I have been honest with my employers, and have hoped, that they have done the same with me.
I kind of figured, looking back now, that when I first got in 2002, something was amiss. My flight arrived in Taiwan at 6:30am. I had already sent the information to the agent that I was dealing with from Vancouver, so there was no misunderstanding.
After approximately 2 hours in the airport, not being able to really chat with anyone, not understanding a lot of the signs, and trying desperately to get hold of ‘Andrew’, he finally showed up. Okay, so he had been delayed, and there was no way for him to contact me. Fair enough.
I had studied books all about Taipei. I had read enough travel books and articles on the internet to be able to ‘get around’ once I was there. After about an hours drive, we ended up at his home. He asked me to wait for a few minutes. ‘Andrew’ came back with a box, a gift, for me. It was a belt. I had to giggle to myself. The first ‘gift’ I received upon starting a new life in Taiwan, was a belt!
Nonetheless, he drove me to a hotel near the train station. He checked me in, and said that he would see me the next day. Um, okay.
Going up to this ‘room’, again, it should have dawned on me that Taiwan was a LOT different than I had imagined. The room was about the size of an average bathroom. There was a single bed, with about 30 cm of space on two sides. A chair, a little black and white T.V., and a combo toilet/shower. Honestly, the bedroom I had when I was growing up in my parents home was bigger!
Okay. Again, I was told he would pick me up at a certain time. I was up, and ready to go. I was actually quite eager to get to Taipei and see this city. Like I said, I had read so much about it! However, three hours later, he finally got to the hotel to pick me up. It was very strange sitting in the ‘lobby’ of this hotel, not having anything to do, or read, or see. The couple of people running the place kept coming over and saying something to me, throwing their hands up, and walking away.
Finally, ‘Andrew’ arrived. I got my stuff into his car, and away we went. After a couple of hours, I asked him how much farther Taipei was. He looked at me, laughed, pointed behind and said that Taipei was about 3 hours the other way! What??
He explained that he wanted to take me to the south of Taiwan instead of the north. He said I would enjoy the south better – banana trees, better weather. Okay, whatever I suppose.
At one point, he stopped for a break. He got me a sandwich. This was the first bit of Taiwan food that I had tried. The night before, I had found a McDonalds, but this was the first of Taiwan food.
All I remember about this sandwich, was it was typical to what I’ve seen over the years. Basically, a normal sandwich, three pieces of bread, one layer had a fried egg (cold, I might add), the next layer was cucumber and some shredded brown stuff. I’ve since learned that it is shredded pork. Yuck! It was like having a mouth full of hair!
I had taken one bite, and swallowed it, and put the remainder in my bag, saying I would eat it later. Throw it out, was what I had in mind.
We finally ended up in a small city – Gangshan. I had never heard of this place, I had no idea where it was, or where it was close to. ‘Andrew’ pulled up to what looked like a school of sorts. I got everything out of the car, ‘Andrew’ introduced me to ‘Ricky’, said his goodbyes, and was off. That was the last contact I had had with the person whom I had made all the arrangements to come to Taiwan to begin my new life.
‘Ricky’ showed me around his ‘school’. You know, growing up in Canada, I always thought some of the schools that I had attended were old and somewhat run-down. Others were pretty decent. But this place – OMG!! This was like NOTHING I had ever seen in my life. It was dirty, messy, desks literally crammed into what can only be described as a former bedroom. As I’ve discovered, many of these ‘cram schools’ are exactly that – a converted home. What would be considered a bedroom, is a classroom.
‘Ricky’ then introduced me to a couple of other teachers. Actually, three. One was from Toronto, and had only been in Taiwan for a week. The other two were from South Africa, and had been there for a few months. This day, was also “Moon Festival”. The school had arranged an evening for the students and parents and teachers to have a meal together.
Well, without going into too much detail, there was nothing that was served that I found remotely appetizing. I did try a couple of things, but again, as I had only been in the country for a little over a day, my tastebuds hadn’t adjusted to Taiwan’s cuisine.
Now, back to the continuation of the beginning of this entry…
Obviously, like the food and surroundings, I have adapted to life in Taiwan. However, I am now faced with a new dilemma. In a word, corruption. There is nothing else that can describe it.
As this seems to be a way of life for many people here, do I compromise my morals and beliefs, and ‘adjust’ again? I want to do the right thing, but what is ‘the right thing’? As the saying goes, ‘… the lesser of two evils…”. No matter which decision I choose, and by the way, there are only two, there are consequences.
That’s it, that’s all… for now!