Archive | When I first traveled solo

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When I first traveled solo series: Danshui Old Street

Posted on 20 August 2013 by Dreidel Regala

So I am back in downtown Danshui just a few hours before lunch time. The bus stopped at a red light in a super busy intersection. Maybe I should get down already. The area looked a little familiar but I didn’t stand up from my seat. I noticed nobody was getting off the bus so I thought it wasn’t the right place to go down. So scared little me of being caught of illegal jaywalking, I waited for the light to turn green and my bus to move to the opposite side.

The bus stopped. Great! I got off and started walking. But just as I was about to get on the train station I saw something. It looks to be a port or another wharf so I decided to check it out. This port looks more ordinary than the fisherman’s wharf I just visited. There was no romantic bridge but the little park beside has more people than the previous one. I felt a little lonely as I watched friends and families wander around but it didn’t bother me too much, I guess the unfamiliarity of the place got me busy. After walking for a while I went inside a convenience store. I grabbed one of my favorite snacks – a flavored milk plus a donut. My feet were a little tired already after walking for some time so I sat in a table eating while watching people pass by. I thought the people in Taiwan were just like the people in my home country. Some goes to work, some hangs with friends or family, others were just wandering by themselves. I was up on my feet as I sip the last drop of milk. I walked further down thinking there might be something else interesting. When I saw that people were walking into a street I can’t help but follow. Could this be Danshui’s Old Street? So when I got to the opening I found stall after stall lined up selling anything from food to diferent goods.

Danshui Old Street

Danshui Old Street by CC Yee

I love walking in markets cause I get to see what locals eat or buy. One was selling a really tall ice cream, the other had fruits on display. I continued to walk with curious eyes on every stall not noticing I was already on the end of the street. Standing in the corner I found there were more shops in both directions. Stalls have slowly disappeared with stores now taking over. Okay I’m going back now, thinking same old same old stores. So I turned and headed back to the mrt picking up a hot pastry filled with red beans on the side.

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When I first traveled solo series: The fisherman’s wharf

Posted on 19 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Several empty boats fill the still waters of the fisherman’s wharf. I did not see a fisherman but thought maybe it’s not the best fishing time. It is a rainy day but still perfect for taking pictures so I took out my LX5 then prepared to click away.

In the back draft stands the Lover’s Bridge. A fine structure displaying curved lines. I wonder why they call it that but I guess sunsets will make a romantic atmosphere in the area. I walked towards the bridge which is actually not very far from the bus drop off point. Only a few people were walking around, good timing I thought. After wandering around I crossed the bridge, took few stops for pictures then continued walking. On the other side is a wooden platform with a few stores that are still closed. It’s actually very nice to hang around there if only the weather was good. One can watch the open sea while eating and on the back side is a picture of the wharf. I did not stay too long cause there seemed to be nothing else to do so I went back to the other side and looked around in the building fronting the bridge. Found a few food stores but nothing interested me.

Lover's bridge in Danshui's Fisherman's Wharf

Lover’s bridge in Danshui’s Fisherman’s Wharf

I decided to go back to the city. A full day of sight seeing I thought. I looked for the bus stop and saw a couple already there. I checked the bus route in the map that was posted. Mrt, yep this is my bus stop. But buses rarely came so I had to wait for a while. The couple didn’t move as well so maybe we are waiting for the same bus.

After a few minutes I was on my way back to the city with the memory of the peaceful wharf so fresh within me.

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When I first traveled solo series: End of the line

Posted on 18 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

This was going to be my first time to explore a place on my own. Hours and hours of reading through different blogs and forums until everything that I needed to know I knew. I am excited. Excited to see Taiwan. And while I was extremely anxious before I left home, at that moment all of that mysteriously disappeared.

Rainy window

Photo taken by DulceDolce

I woke up 8 in the morning, made myself up then went to the common room. The empty house that welcomed me a few hours ago is now very much awake. I noticed that it was raining so I sat for a while in the living and thought about the day’s plans. A man in his 40’s greeted me. He’s from out of town and is in Taipei for business. After learning that I’m Filipino, he excitedly told about his time in Cebu and how he loved it. We continued talking while the local drama is on tv and was only interrupted when he was called by the receptionist about something. I looked at the window and thought the rain isn’t going to stop so decided to just go on out.

I stopped in the 7eleven store to buy something to eat. I asked the crew about the local SIM card but he couldn’t understand English much. Oh the language issue is about to start. We couldn’t understand each other so much that a customer had to intervene. He just wanted my passport after all.

When I stepped out of the store I only had one thing on my mind. I have to get to the mrt. So I walked my way back to the bridge and onto the building where the bus had dropped me before. It’s a busy day I thought. The sleeping Taipei Main Station now has so many people inside. But I am still not sure where I am going considering the gloomy day. Should I go see the zoo and the cute pandas or head far off to Danshui? I read signs after signs (awesome they have it in English!) for the long distance trains, high speed rails, bus stations, mrts, and several street names. I’m in the center of it all I told myself. Eventually I decided Danshui seems more interesting. Now I just have to find the mrt.

In a distance I saw something, it said “Tourist Center”. Ooh they’re talking about me! So I walked towards the booth and said “Excuse me do you have a map of the city?“. The girl on the other side of the table gladly gave me the city map along with other maps. “Thank you! Can you also show me where’s the mrt station going to Danshui?“. “Sure, you just walk straight”, pointing to the path in front of us, “…then take the escalator and there you will see instructions“. “Okay thank you!“. I started walking just as she had told me and found the signs she was talking about on top of the escalator. This is fairly easy I thought.

Train ticketing machine

Photo taken from Wikimedia

Several machines were lined up in front of the mrt gates. A little panic came to me and thought oh no I have to operate that. I watched others touched the screens then take out their cards. Should be simple I thought but when I got to one of the machines it was all in Taiwanese! So I quickly turned and scanned the area for any possible booths where I can buy it manually. There’s a booth but why is there nobody lining up hmmm. After a few seconds an American family came to the window. They said something to the man inside but I couldn’t hear it. I walked closer. And when the family left, I went to the window and said to the man “Hi, how much is the easy card?“. He told me the price plus the deposit and some other things which I couldn’t really understand so I just gave him the bill.

I went down to the platform along with the human traffic. I hear them talking but couldn’t understand a thing. When the train came I stepped inside with no fuss. This is good, lines are good. I quickly noticed that there were only a few seats in the train and most of the space is for standing up. I settled on the side and just stared at the window. My ride took a while cause my stop was in the end of the line. I saw people get in and out of the train with their everyday agendas and a couple curious eyes staring at me, maybe wondering why I look a bit different.

The train stopped. “Danshui station“. I am here! I got off the platform like everybody else and proceeded to the front of the station. Okay now where is bus #26. I asked around but they couldn’t understand me so I pointed at the picture in the map on my hand. “Ah fisherman’s wharf, go straight“. On a busy street I found my bus, bus #26. I got in and swiped my card then took a seat. I watched over my window as we passed by a series of shops and some schools. Occasionally I glanced at the LED sign in the windshield of the bus. Taiwanese words popped up first then English but I had no idea what they were so I thought it might be the names of the routes.

I got a little worried after some time cause I still didn’t see the wharf. People were getting of the bus and there were only a few of us left. I prepared to stand up and make my way to the driver to ask him but decided to ask one of the passengers instead. “Wait. Wait.” he said. So I guess I just have to wait more. The bus made a couple of turns to some inner streets that looks to be very quiet at night. Then like a curtain being pulled, the wharf started to show and not very far the Lover’s bridge standing tall.

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When I first traveled solo series: Room #205

Posted on 17 July 2013 by Dreidel Regala

Night bus

Photo taken by Geoff LMV

I was looking at the sleeping streets in the window on my right. A bit dazed, I told myself everyone must be under their sheets by now. The driver pulled over beside a building that looks to be closed already. Then he went down the bus and opened the cargo compartment. Ah this must be our stop.

Everyone started going down and waited for their luggage. I looked around like a confused cat thinking where should I go. Some waited on the side of the road, they must be looking for a cab.  I continued walking with the map to the hotel in my hand. Hmmm where are the signs, where is the bridge. I found myself on the other side of the building, south side I presume so I walked towards the intersection and there I found a bridge. Unsure if it was the right bridge I took my first step then the other and the other. As I was walking I saw a 7eleven at the crossing street but thought that it’s a bit far from how I understood the hotel’s word. I looked on the other side but saw no other so I decided to go down on the 7eleven side of the bridge. I walked towards it but slowly realized that no this couldn’t be it. I turned around, walked around the stairs again and there I found in a not so obvious location the 7eleven I was looking for.

I took a moment with my map again, it said to make a right in an alley then a left. So I went in. An empty alley that has an improvised observation post in the corner inside. Nobody was around only that suspiciously looking man in the post that I didn’t want to deal with at a strangely time. After a few knocks and tries on some random doors I realized there’s still a pathway if I make a turn inside. So that’s why the map said to make a left! And there the hotel’s doorstep was waiting in front of me.

I entered my access code and slowly the door opened. The reception was empty, even the common room empty. It felt strange like someone breaking in but it also felt like going home late to your house while everybody is sleeping.

Room #205 that is my room and when I came in everything was ready.

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