Sunday, October 16, 2005

Weekend in Taichung

Last weekend I went to Taichung, the third largest city in Taiwan. Taichung lies about halfway between Kaohsiung and Taipei between the west coast and the central mountains. I didn’t go to Taichung for much sightseeing – for me this was more of a getaway. I have spent most of my time here hanging out with other people – going on trips and through town with my foreign friends and spending much of my time at home with my Taiwanese roommates present.

I got a room in a cheap business/student hotel across the street from the train station. It was surprisingly clean and comfortable, considering I paid less than $20 U.S. a night for a room. I spent Sunday night relaxing, reading, and watching terrible American movies on cable TV. It was fantastic! I also spent some time in the Internet cafés near the hotel. They are much cheaper than Japanese net cafés. One cost about $0.65 an hour and the nicer one was only $0.35 an hour! Compare that with the $4.00 an hour price in Japan! The only problem is that the Japanese net cafés give you your own private cubicle with comfortable seating and a free soft drink bar. Here there is no such thing as privacy – all the computers are lined out on one long table. They also do not require people to use headphones here. This is really annoying when you are there to read the news and send some e-mails. Just try to concentrate with the blaring of gunfire, wizard spells, and alien heads cracking open in your ears

Monday was Taiwan’s national day. Since Taiwan isn’t really an independent state, you can’t really say this is Taiwan’s Independence Day, but you get the picture. School was canceled and most office workers had the day off. I didn’t have any big holiday plans, so I just decided to see one of Taichung’s famous temples and bus it back to Kaohsiung. I went to the Baujiu Temple, home of the biggest and fattest laughing Buddha statue in all of Taiwan. It’s almost 30 meters tall (about 90 feet), and it has been painted a bright yellow color. It was, just as Lonely Planet said, quite photogenic. I took a few pictures around the temple grounds and decided to head back. It was too hot to be walking all over the city.

I went back to the hotel to pick up the suitcase they were watching for me. Before I got on the bus, I decided to chat with the old woman who sat in the hotel lobby almost every time I passed by. She was 86 and still spoke Japanese very well. It was nice to be able to talk to a Taiwanese person without an interpreter and without having difficulty in finding words to express yourself. She was really nice and made sure the hotel gave me a bottle of water to drink on the bus ride home.

Sorry for the dull post, but it was a dull, but relaxing weekend. I actually enjoyed the time alone and felt a bit recharged upon my return to Kaohsiung. I had a good week here, though, so I will write a post on that now…

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