I revisited Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, this time with my roommate Marko, and also with a camera. We had a great time and were finally able to take some shots of the area. We also got noticed by a young group of girls who took their turns posing with us. Things like this always put a smile on our faces. They just aren’t used to seeing foreigners in Taiwan. Thinking back, it happened on different occasions and we’ve always been very happy to pose with them. They thank us.. but really, I feel we should thank them for making us feel so welcome!
On the way back to the apartment, I was finally able to get a good picture of this stray dog I named Wolfy. In Taipei, stray dogs aren’t uncommon. There was one I kept seeing, and kind of looked like a white wolf, hence the name Wolfy. Anyway, you can see him on the left. Unlike most people, I’ve tried to approach him a few times but he was scared. Actually, it seemed like most strays there are as well.
On a higher note, later that day we went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and was offered some tea as we were about to head back home. We tried it and after the man serving it to us saw our positive reactions, he seated us at his stand and started brewing more and more tea, as we all just talked. Another foreign guy joined Marko and I, followed by a local who seemed to also work for the place (maybe an owner or supervisor). There was no pressure to buy anything and as we drank and talked but I would notice some things I wanted to take back home. The name of the man who was serving the tea was Aber.
Once, during my trip, I tried this tea which had this interesting aftertaste, which you could feel in the neck area, beside your jawbone. I wanted to share this unique experience with family and friends back home, so I was looking for that particular kind of tea. Aber kept sampling us more and more teas, and at one point as he was offering yet another kind, and I was trying to say that it was too much. I didn’t want him to use up so much of his tea! He said something along the lines of “you’re not a customer, but a friend”.. what a great display of hospitality.
I ended up buying the kind of tea I wanted, some “accessories” if you will, and Aber even gave me a bag of another tea that he noticed I liked, while putting his finger over his mouth in a “shhh” manner. As we left, I could see that he was sad to see me leave. We were actually seated with them for over 2 hours, drinking tea together, and having great conversations! All this with no charge for the tea they served, Aber said it’s just in their culture! They gave me their business cards and said that if I came back to Taiwan, I’d be welcome, anytime, to come and sit down for tea. What great people!
On my last full day in Taiwan, I dropped by the PT Models agency to finalize everything, drop off and pick up some last things. They were asking me to take off my hat because noticed something about my hair. I eventually did, and they noticed my shaved head. I couldn’t cut my hair while I was working, so after my last job I just grabbed my trimmer and did it myself. They actually all liked it, and were impressed with the job I did. Even Justine, the manager, liked it. I could tell because when I asked her if I would have worked well with the shaved head, she hesitated and said she couldn’t really say since that they never had someone with that style.When I was all done, I said my goodbyes to everyone. I don’t think anyone was as sad to see me leave as Justine. They told me that I had to come back. It was such an amazing experience for me, so I hope I have the opportunity to! Justine walked me to the elevator and was the last to see me, as she waved while the doors closed. I will miss them!
Finally, the next morning, with no sleep from the previous night since I spent a big part of it packing and preparing for my trip home, I took a cab to the airport. The driver was actually someone who transported the models from the agency on a regular basis, so I had spoken with him a few times before. I already knew he was a nice guy but that was even more apparent after the drive. We had great conversations and he gave me his card, with his email and asked me to keep in touch. He told me that if I come back, he would invite to dinner with his family! After I was all set, he saluted me one more time as he drove off.
Overall, my experience in Taiwan has been great. It will forever stay with me. I honestly don’t have many bad memories. If I could change something it would be the living conditions, especially because of one particular roommate (again, not Marko, but the other one which I’ve kept anonymous). I hope to one day return to this great country, and I wish its people the best with their newly elect President!