It was in April 2004 that I first travelled to Canada to attend a technical conference in the beautiful city of Vancouver, on the Pacific coast in the province of British Columbia.
At the time, I had no idea that eventually we would find ourselves living in Vancouver, for that would come a few weeks after my fateful visit. After I’d returned from Canada I was contacted by a company (Laplink Software) in the US and Canada who wanted to recruit me to work in Vancouver.
Eventually this led to a firm offer, and Toni and I decided to relocate. We packed up our house in Sydney and moved our belongings into storage. I sold my car and we threw all our effort into relocating. Our trip to Canada would take us via a 36 hour stopover in Taipei, Taiwan – and introduce us to our first non-English speaking destination.
This is an account of that visit.
24 July, 2004 – Departure
Farewell at the airport
Once we had readied our belongings, and settled our accounts we were taken to the Sydney International Airport by my parents. My friend and former K*Grind colleague, Con, also came out to see us off and we said our goodbyes before eventually boarding the flight to Taipei.
We were flying Eva Air (Taiwan’s national airline) and I made the unfortunate decision to fly in my business suit – a bad idea for long flights – and by the end of the journey it was crushed.
I had purposely planned our flights to have a longer layover as Toni had not previously flown more than about four hours consecutively and I was concerned what impact a longer flight may have on her.
We landed in Taipei without incident, and caught a bus into Taipei city. As this was our first trip into a non-English speaking country, the sights and sounds were immediately foreign and exotic.
By the time we made it into the city, it was already early evening. We settled into our room at the Ambassador Hotel on Zhongshan North Road and rested for a little while. Later, we ventured out into the city to find local night markets which run for several hours into the early morning.
Taipei at night / Night markets
Using the local above ground rail system (called the MRT), we found a night market near the Jiantan station, north of where we were staying. We spent an hour or so traversing through what seemed to be miles of alley ways all connected together and housing pretty much anything you could think of.
The next day we ventured out into the city in daylight hours. The were given a tourist map at reception, although all the street names were in (Traditional) Mandarin. To keep it simple, I located the hotel, and just decided to head right once outside the hotel (which was south according to the map). Simple?
No. The map put the hotel on the wrong side of the street – so we headed south – unbeknownst to us.
Check back soon to find out what happened next!