A Travellerspoint blog

Taiwan

Beginning Again

sunny 20 °C

Settling in here was easier in a lot of ways than I expected. Not just because I’ve built a life so many times now, but because I know I can’t leave. It’s not a prison so much as a haven, a place where everything is still open, but shuts down what is necessary when there is a risk from the virus.
There was a possible outbreak about a month ago. A pilot who had been showing symptoms wandering away and a doctor that had been exposed. They quarantined everyone exposed, thousands of people. But, a few weeks later, everything was fine. We just avoided Taipei for the Lunar New Year. There were mistakes here when SARS hit, but they definitely learned from it.
Beyond that, everything is normal. Restaurants and gyms are open. Nothing is really stopped beyond the tourists and students that used to come. There is no real talk of a vaccine here yet, but there are also not many people so it should be easy enough to get the vials when enough are produced.
This is part of why I didn’t want to write this. Not just because I don’t want to talk about COVID, but because it is not a real threat here. I’ve known people who got it. Not everyone made it. It feels safe here, but safety is always an illusion. Life can end by accident as easily as it can be created through one. The universe is bigger than we can imagine, and the only true infinite is its absurdity.
I didn’t want to be here originally, and every plan I had fell apart. The life I was looking forward to is not gone, but it is far more difficult for me to visualize than it used to be. It’s not bad, or good. Simply different, and in a way that’s more disappointing than if I had surety that it was gone, that it could never be. Failure is one of the easiest things to achieve.
In the beginning I spent a lot of time playing videogames, wandering worlds that aren’t, but that extra time gets shorter every day. The last time I was in Taiwan, I was in the best shape of my life. Climbing mountains, kung fu, and a job that required nearly constant movement. Now, I can feel my age. The pain from taking the steps too quickly, the empty battery feeling after a long day, and far more weight gained in China and during lockdown than I would like to admit. I’m not yet old, but I definitely feel worse than before I went into the Peace Corps. I’m hoping with work and time I can rebuild the strength I had a few years ago, but there is so much to be done.
I’ve restarted my Chinese lessons, and I’m continuing Spanish lessons. Kung fu and the gym have their blocks set aside, as do dnd and planning for dnd. I have begun to explore my new city and the surrounding countryside on the weekends, but it’s harder when I don’t have the crew meeting at the train station in the morning. I’d rather take the day and relax, put off hiking until the afternoon when I can safely cancel because it’s too late to start.
There’s also a lot I haven’t written, random stories and moments of inspiration that never made it to the page. Beginning is the hardest part of it. I’m sure I’ll get to them soon enough, if I can keep myself writing. That’s the thing though, there is always more to life than I can ever do justice to.

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Posted by Porticaeli 16:11 Archived in Taiwan Comments (0)

Christmas in Quarantine

overcast 20 °C

Two weeks in quarantine isn’t hard when you know there’s something amazing waiting on the other side. I’m still surprised it’s finally happening, there were so many times when things were about to grind to a halt that I started to lose hope. But now I’m here, in Taichung, and in quarantine until Christmas.
This time last year I was heading home to finish paperwork on the job that I was supposed to have in China. Everything was set, medical was already done, I just needed the background check and some other certified documents before I could leave. I might have made it, almost made it, but a few delays pushed it into March, and by then they weren’t accepting new visa applications.
Covid was part of it, but there was also a trade war, and I’m an American. It’s hard to know how much each part affected the it in the end, but the job disappeared, and seven months in a studio apartment began during the pandemic.
I had a plan, before. My apartment was to be down the street from the Peace Corps offices, and from the consulate. I could spend the two years building up relationships, some money, and work on my application for the foreign service. Now, the Peace Corps is gone from China, and that consulate closed following the Chinese one in Texas. Even if I had made it, I don’t think it would have been what I wanted it to be. There still would have been some good, but things have been changing for a while, and it’s probably best that I move on.
I searched for jobs for a while, looking for open borders and safe haven while taking classes on Coursera and playing far too many videogames. In the end, I saw someone had posted about their quarantine in Taipei, starting a job teaching during the summer. I reached out again, and this time found an answer.
It was a slow process, with every step finding a way to add a week of delay time to my schedule. I kept plodding along, complaining loudly every time I found a stone to trip over. The idea of having to go back to Home Depot and work retail haunted me, drawing closer as my passport expiration date drew closer. In the end, I arrived at Taoyuan airport with a week before I hit the six-month mark, the time when it must be renewed before I can apply for a visa. As it is, renewing it is one of my first priorities. The visa offices had shut down for covid, and even now I don’t know how long renewal will take.
But, for now, there is nothing I can do but wait. I eat, stretch, play videogames, and stare out the window at the fragment of the city I can see between the buildings. Christmas music blares in through the walls from the streets below, typically the same half dozen songs played on repeat from five to ten at night. The room is clean, the food is disappointing, but everything is an amazing driving force for when I get out.
I can’t wait to wander a new city like I used to. There are kung fu schools to check out, restaurants to discover, and mountains to climb. I can see it all in the distance, through the crack between buildings. I know the basic pattern of how it will go, the pattern I’ve made in so many cities now. Friends, food, memories, and the life that I thought I had lost. I am thankful to be back out in the world, even if the world isn’t what it was before. At least now I have hope it will come back.
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Posted by Porticaeli 07:30 Archived in Taiwan Tagged travel english quarantine tefl taichung Comments (0)

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