April 1, 2012 § 15 Comments
So the GET-TO-TAIWAN objective was initially established based upon the fact that I needed to see a dear friend of mine. In the beginning stages of my quest, I was trying to get a job in Boulder, Colorado in order to pay for a plane ticket, however, after hours of applications and hours of waiting, I decided that I would shift my focus and try to get a job in Taiwan teaching English. I enrolled in an online TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) certification course, and then things (quite miraculously) fell into place.
On Monday, March 5th, I woke up and took my car to a self-car wash, posted it on Craig’s list, and within ten minutes had around 20 missed calls on my cell phone because I was busy selling it to a sponsored climber named Jarred Cleerdin. I walked to the bank and deposited the cash, and later that day I packed up the things I would leave behind.
The next day, Tuesday, I bought a ticket and expedited my visa order and passport to Ambassador Passport and Visa Services in Santa Monica, California.
Wednesday I finished packing up my things. A family friend, Eric King, agreed to hang on to my junk for a year then took me to a gem of a cigar lounge in Lafayette, Colorado called Barlow’s. Afterword, I had a small, last-minute going-away gathering.
On Thursday I received my passport with a 60-day visitor’s visa through FedEx at 10:30AM. Around 4pm, my dear brother Andrew drove me to the airport. I arrived in Taiwan at 5:50AM on March 10th, Heydon’s birthday.
Then, it was a tornado and too much to write on a blog post (but I’ll say it was really hard and a test of everything I’ve got). I made my way to the Good Ground Hotel in Taichung where a one-person bedroom is about $37 USD/night. I constantly applied for jobs for a week and a half, finished my online TEFL certification, and worked on the writing of Glen Reiff’s biography until I got an interview with the Joy English School in Shetou Town, Changhua County.
I got the job. I got the job. I got the job. I got the job. (I’ve been applying for jobs since January whisper).
The pay is good. The people are nice. The town is small and beautiful. The exports from Shetou are socks and guava. I’ll be staying in an apartment above the school for a couple of months until I find a second-hand scooter. After I do, then I can move to a larger neighboring town and commute to work.
Tina, the school manager, drove me around town in her car and then took me back to the train station and sat with me. While we were talking, she asked if I wanted a Chinese name. She gave me this name: 爱杰西 or, in Pinyin, Ài jié xi. The first part is the first syllable of my last name, meaning “love.” The other two parts sound like my name, “Jay-She”. So, for my friends back in Boulder: Jesse Love. (and for those not in Boulder, that’s what some of my friends call me).
The next day, I went to a phone shop; I had already tried a few previously but was turned down because I didn’t have a working visa (or ARC- Alien Resident Certificate). But for those seeking to get a phone in Taiwan, go with Far EasTone Telecommunications. Find a location, bring a passport and another photo id (I used my Colorado driver’s license), and be prepared to give an address and the phone number of a friend. Luckily, my school manager allowed me to use the address of the school and her phone number as a back-up. I bought a cheap phone and a number. It’s a pay-as-you-go setup, and you can buy more talking time in any 7-11 (they are on every corner, especially in larger cities).
On my way back to the hotel, I stumbled upon a shop that sold zithers and lutes. For Ben:
Later that day, I went in for my first day of work at the All People’s Publishing Company; I haven’t mentioned that I got an ultra-part-time position here about two weeks ago. My job is to be the English speaker in an audio program that teaches people of various levels how to speak English. I was paired up with a Chinese Translator, Gillian, who is one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met. Here are some pictures of the studio:
On the way to the studio in the taxi, I saw a homemade hydraulic system for toting items on the back of a scooter. Every bump the driver hit was hilarious to me:
I got the interview at Joy English School with the help of a recruiter named Linda who picked me up at my hotel and took me to the hospital for a mandatory health physical which included an X-ray and a MMR vaccination (measles, mumps, and rubella- a recent mandate of the Taiwanese gov’t). Linda was as cute as a button, dressed in pink with stuffed hello kitties on her dashboard.
Then, today, I went with Heydon to Sun and Moon Lake in Yuchih Town, Nantou County. It was the best day I’ve had in a long time. It was difficult to understand the bus timetables (the whole Chinese characters thing), but take my word for it, if you are leaving from Taichung, take the train from the main station to Xinwuri Station, and look for the Nantou Bus Company (maybe buy tickets inside the High Speed Rail Station on site?). The taxi ride one way from Taichung to Sun and Moon Lake was NT$1800 (we split it), however, the roundtrip ticket on a Nantou Bus is NT$350.
I highly recommend the ferry and gondola rides; they’re both cheap.
Here’s some pictures:
**Yes, the following picture is of phallic wooden carvings (even if no one ever buys one, at least they made it into a picture and onto a blog post!)
Heydo and I laughed a lot today; for an instant, I forgot how important that was.