Tuesday, August 23, 2011

many firsts in zhudong or jhudong...

My school schedule has been changing like crazy because the teacher I am replacing is leaving soon and in order to get enough time with my classrooms I now have to go earlier than originally scheduled. Well this threw everything off and now no one is available to drive me the Erchong school. Erchong is actually another city but so close I would never have known we had entered somewhere different. Anyways the first day Alice, awesome life-saver worker in the Zhudong campus school, took me to the bus stop in Zhudong and showed me what bus to take and even told the bus driver I couldn't speak Mandarin and wouldn't know where to stop. The first thing is that bus stops aren't very noticeable. The only indication is a sign that isn't very high or distinguishable from any of the advertising posts around it. Also the buses don't have numbers but they are painted in different colors or rather they have different designs on the outside so I can recognize which one I should get on.

bus driver in taiwan
See that white plastic container with the red words on it? That is where you throw in money. The bus driver literally has to count the money himself, often times he just glances at it, and then deploys a lever to send the money down into the silver box. I am sure there is no organization and I wonder whose the poor fool who has to sort the money out later. Also the bus system here does not work like bus systems in America where you pay one flat fee and can get off wherever you want. On Taiwan buses you need to know the location you're going to and each location has a different fee. Good luck if you don't know any Mandarin! There is also a scrolling marquee sign that tells you the stops as they come up with accompanying English words. Hopefully you can recognize the name you want in English.

no crappy plastic seats for the taiwanese
So the buses are those buses used on tours. The reason I believe is because the buses aren't just staying in one city. For example the bus I take ultimately goes all the way to Hsinchu. The white ticket slip is what you get if you pay with cash. This must be given back to the bus driver when you get off. Also notice the lack of a back door so no one can sneak on or off of it. Some buses have a wire that runs down the length of the bus like how they have it in America. At first I thought it was the stopping string but with careful observation I realize that the purpose of the wire was to hold the curtains back. Haha. There is a button you press if you want to stop. I'm afraid of closing my eyes or not paying careful attention because the stops are far apart on this bus route and I don't want to miss my stop and end up walking and then be sweaty when I get to work.

my first tapioca milk tea in taiwan
I've been wanting to get my tapioca first for awhile now but never had the balls to do it because of the Chinese speaking required and the fact that all signs are also in Chinese so I have no clue whats on the menu. I only had the guts to do it because I was with Sam and then I can go "Don't speak Chinese because I'm hanging with a whitie excuse." The only flavor I know is milk tea so that is what I got and I even ordered it in Chinese! CoCo is a very popular chain in Taiwan, so popular that they even opened up a few stores in New York. Their English menu on the website shows that they have no almond milk tea. Asking some locals I know that almond milk tea does exist here but is not very common. I actually really liked the CoCo's milk tea because you can taste the tea flavor but I'm not sure if its black tea because the tea taste isn't as bitter. I also notice they use like a sugar syrup to flavor it. Thumbs up for good milk tea experience unlike the shaved ice...

Since I've been here I haven't gone to the night market that is in Zhudong so Sam and I went. According to Alex, person who picked me up from airport, the night market in Zhudong was in his opinion the second best in Taiwan and was super big. So not knowing where the market was I headed to where the day market is usually at and found one street that had lights on. It was literally one street long and we were like what is Alex talking about. This is barely a street let alone a night market. Later we found out he was referring to a different one which we also went to so more info on that one later. I was full because I had just eaten so again no food from the night market. It doesn't seem like I ever eat at these things even though they are famous for their food. I still don't have the guts or the nose to handle stinky tofu no matter how delicious people say it is.

sam ordered from this cart
You basically grab whatever you want to be cooked with tongs and place it in a metal bowl. There was a line for this one which is why I told Sam to eat here since locals would know what was good and what wasn't. I definately want to eat at one of these stalls in the future. The sad thing is I can only recognize people when they say $100 NT. Any other price and I'm just like huh?!? Must learn Mandarin!


  1. The bus system is the same as in Aus. You tell the bus driver where you're going and then he tells you how much it costs. But, at least we spoke the same language. I don't have the guts to live in a country where I don't speak the language. At least you LOOK like a local!

  2. Where do yo live? In Taipei you can actually use a card called EasyCard. You can put as much money as you want on the card and then scan it for subway, bus, and high speed rail. You can even use it as a cash card at convenient stores! I believe they will implement the system nation-wide this year.

    Anyway I'm just a random stranger stopping by. Great blog btw!