When I first traveled solo series: End of the line
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.
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.
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.