Saturday, November 14, 2009

How do you travel?

We're in that time of year when the weather changes multiple times a week (if not multiple times a day). You'd think being from Texas I would be used to this, but in Taiwan it's a whole different ball game.

I think the humidity is what did me in. I've been congested since at least mid-week and it's not getting any better. It's a funny sort of congestion though. I can feel it behind my eyes, like a sinus headache, and then it's in my chest. I feel like there is a small child standing on my chest making it difficult to breathe.

The funny thing is, I have absolutely no trouble breathing through my nose except when I've been laying down for awhile (i.e. the middle of the night when I've already been asleep for awhile).

I had a fever a few nights ago, but it didn't last long. Some ibuprofen and 13 hours of sleep later I was ready to go again (though not without complaint).

I apologize ahead of time to those of you who have had to listen to me gripe. It's what I do. I tend to complain a lot when I'm sick and/or tired. Unfortunately being sick makes me tired and so it's exponentially worse.

I think I'm going to assign myself at least two touristy things to do per month. And I'm going to start inviting some of my co-teachers. I was talking to Carol last night about how when you live somewhere (especially when you've lived there forever) you never do the touristy things. By touristy things I mean the things people go there specifically to do.

What do people come to Taiwan specifically to do... Taroko Gorge, Alishan, Jade Mountain, Taipei 101, etc.

She was impressed with all the places the foreign teachers go each weekend and I told her I would call her next time so she would have an excuse to go.

I completely understand the need for incentive. Here my incentive is that I have a year to do everything (the touristy stuff and the stuff normal everyday Taiwanese people do). I still think about all the things I didn't do in Austin because I lived there.

For instance, I never took a tour of the capitol building. Hell, I hadn't even been to Barton Springs until this spring. How do you live somewhere for five years and never visit the big attractions?

It's quite simple really: There are a lot of crowds and where there are crowds, there are obnoxious tourists.

You have to admit that being a tourist has its negative connotations.

I've been thinking a lot about traveling and how I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes down to it.

I'm a planner. I like to read books and surf the Internet to find out everything I can about where I'm going. What are the big attractions? Where will I get the best pictures? Where is the best lodging as far as getting your bang for your buck? How do I get around?

I have yet to go somewhere without at least planning out when I will get there, how I will get there and where I will stay.

The idea of packing a backpack (or a small suitcase), buying a plane ticket and then just finding a place to stay when I get there absolutely blows my mind. But at the same time, it seems that's what a lot of the other foreign teachers here do.

Honestly, I think I have the least travel experience out of anywhere here. Part of it is that what little traveling I have done has been mostly with my sister. She's also a planner. Of course, when you're planning ski vacations in the States it certainly helps to think (way) ahead so you can buy lift tickets on sale and get cheap rooms.

Apparently that's not how Asia works (and many other places for that matter).

I'm just wondering if I have to guts to let go, to just book a flight and then take care of the rest when I get there.

Where am I going you ask? I have no clue. First I'm going home (which I've already told you that I have almost every single day mapped out for that). But Chinese New Year isn't long after I get back and I should find something to do.

Maybe Vietnam? Maybe Malaysia? Maybe Borneo? Maybe Beijing?

I'm taking suggestions for Chinese New Year fun. Preferably somewhere that it's OK to travel alone, though I will try to find someone to go with me.

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