February 2011 | Hsinchu, Taiwan
Waking up to our first morning in Taiwan I felt the vestiges of last night’s euphoria slowly slink away, in its place the sobering reality that we had to begin crafting a new life in this country.
Reluctantly relinquishing the keys to our hotel room and it’s accompanying creature comforts we boarded the high speed railway to the small town of Hsinchu, where our university was located and thusly, where we would reside.
It quickly became clear how our little group would operate – those fluent in Chinese called for taxis, spoke to the locals on our behalf, and navigated our way through the streets and their horrendous traffic. The rest (self included) gormlessly trailed behind, content to put our trust in our friends who were quickly proving far more adept at communication than we were.
It was in this fashion that we found East Door hostel, where we would put up indefinitely until we found our permanent accommodation. Located above a jamming studio cum music school, East Door was a steep three-storey climb which proved no mean feat hauling our luggage up, the boys gallantly picking up whatever slack Yinghui and I could not manage on our own. East Door, also my first foray into hosteling, remains one of my favourite places to have stayed at.
I remember fondly how we sat around that night, curled up in blankets on the couch in the living area of the hostel, polite conversation giving way to honest laughter, anticipating the fact that we would soon be housemates. Suddenly the list of house rules Edwin and I had conjured up on the plane as a bit of a joke became relevant, and we elected Wayne, who had emerged as our de facto leader, chief of the household.
It was cold but I was happy – we had a house that the six of us were to share, the most immediate of our worries abated for now.