Zhangyuan, 31th August 2016. Day 13 in Taiwan. This week’s journey has gone Terribly Out Of Control, and at the same time it’s so beautiful and spontaneous that I don’t even mind it. When I came to Taiwan, I stayed for a few days with a CouchSurfing host while looking for an apartment to rent. Since Taipei is a very expensive city and the season was the least favorable in the whole year, it took me a whole 5 days to find one, after which I ended up with an overpriced, small room in Zhonghe District, New Taipei. I wasn’t such a bad deal after all, since it’s only about 5 km from the NTNU campus and there is a Ubike station nearby. The apartment is equipped with a kitchen (not all apartments in Taiwan are,) and there is even a rooftop terrace with a sofa and a coffee table, which would be perfect for Throwing Parties And Drinking Iced Mojitos if not for the fact that I can’t afford alcohol and that I’m desperately trying not to drink.
After registering at the university on 25th August, I had a few days left before going to school, so my host told me he could take me on a trip to the South, and that I didn’t have to worry about money, except for food. On Monday, 29th August, we set off for Kaohsiung, a port city in the southwest of Taiwan. The city’s original name was Ta-kau, which comes from an aboriginal language. During the Japanese reign, it started to be written in Japanese Kanji as 高雄市, pronounced Takao-shi, and the official name of the city remained unchanged to this day, except that in Mandarin the characters are pronounced Gāoxióng Shì. I have two Polish friends there, one of them is called Łukasz and the other one Michał. Both of them majored in Chinese in Poland. When my host realized I was planning to meet my Polish friends soon after arriving in Kaohsiung, he decided to go to Xiziwan (西子灣) on his own. Then Michał and I spent the whole day riding a scooter around town, and then I went for a beer with Łukasz and his friend. This was likely the moment the trip got out of control. Being young and Polish, we were having a lot of fun drinking Expensive And Disgusting Taiwanese Beer in convenience stores (NT$75 for a bottle of Taiwan Beer 18 Days Draft), until 4.30 a.m., when I got a message from my host saying he decided to continue the journey on his own. He told me it was because he thought I would be bored in Kenting. Our ways thus split on Tuesday, 30th August.
The city itself looks Pretty Much Like Every Big City in China or Taiwan (sorry!) I didn’t really understand all the fuss about Kaohsiung until Michał took me for a ride on his scooter. He has studied Chinese for a year at the National Sun Yat-sen University, and he’s going back to Poland soon. The campus of NSYSU is located In The Middle Of Nowhere. At this time of the year, it was populated mainly by stray dogs that run around begging for food or just barking on humans. If you happen to be riding a scooter, you’re particularly unlucky since the dogs will most likely run in front of your vehicle, Creating A Traffic Hazard. Apart from that, they are actually quite beautiful, and most of them have very light fur, like Golden Retrievers, and Is There Anyone In The World Who Doesn’t Like Golden Retrievers?
Other inhabitants include Wild Formosan Rock Macaques that run around and take whatever they please. They are good climbers, and should anyone living in the International Dormitory of the NSYSU not close all the windows overnight, they would likely wake up to find that all their food had been looted, and that a part of it had already been digested and left on the floor and the furniture, to the despair of the cleaning ladies. They are also common visitors of the FamilyMart convenience store on campus, so common in fact that the staff always have a handgun at the ready, shooting rubber bullets at any trespassing primate. Owing to the High Concentration Of Macaques, the nearby mountain, Mount Chai (柴山) is commonly known as Monkey Mountain. Michał said he hated it, especially since the Chinese name is not even too long to remember.
When I woke up on Tuesday, I needed to choose the Next Point Of My Itinerary. Then I thought of Yuxuan, an archeologist I met last year on the bus from Cracow to Warsaw. I made sure she was home and bought a ticket to Taitung. Then I