18.12.16 Bye Bye Taiwan

Today we leave Taipei and Taiwan which saddens us both. We are heading back to China.

We pack and our fabulous host, Fiona drives us to the port town of Keelung, 30 minutes away. (Fiona, if you read this, thank you for everything, it felt like being at home staying in your apartment!)

Lockers are full at the station and the baggage room is unmanned so the lady in the ticket office lets us leave our bags in there. This demonstrates exactly why we love it in Taiwan.

We have a coffee and blog. 

On days when you have overnight travel planned and you have checked out, you feel at a loose end. You never want to stray too far and always have one eye on the clock. We wander about and eat fried pork and leek dumplings. 

We sit by the port and watch hawks rise on the thermals. It is a very hot, sunny day. Craving some shade we go to the eastern port terminal. We’re impressed by the coffee shops, small supermarket with ferry essentials such as noodles, beer and antibacterial hand wipes. The toilets are spotless and there is a manned information desk with helpful, uniformed staff. On the second floor there is even free WiFi. However, we are travellers on a budget so we are leaving from the western port terminal.

We walk past the rubble to the side entry of the western terminal building. A guy covered in dust walks out of the main entrance with a wheelbarrow. “Looks like its under renovation” I say to Al. The lyrics “if I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor” float around my head. At the desk there are three tickets with western names which are offered to us. We choose our own. We are then asked to pay NT$480 tax, about £13. I wave a card as we have used up our money but am told its cash only so I have to go back into town to the cashpoint.

We go through security, then passport control and then duty free and, as the building is under renovation, back through the waiting area and out of the side entrance onto a bus where we have a police escort to the ferry. We feel special, like celebrities or prisoners. Al waves out of the bus window like the Queen. We are dropped on the quayside and walk up the car ramp, smugly watching trolley case armageddon as people’s cases bounce off the ridged ramp.

Many things contribute to a persons impression of a country. Some people salivate over great food, some people work up a sweat over a beautiful landscape offering hiking, cycling and surfing, but for me, the people have made my experience here memorable. I’ve been to a few countries and can’t say I’ve met friendlier, kinder, more helpful people anywhere.

Comfort zones shrink a lot easier than they are pushed out. Time to stretch again.

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