Saturday, August 09, 2008

The long journey home

So we picked up our stuff from the hotel in just-beginning-rain and started to head back across the lake to turn in the scooters and go home.  Kirsten had her own scooter but it was her first time driving one so we didn't want to make her try to balance more stuff.  So on my scooter I had Janelle and me (that is a full load to balance on its own), my large bag in front of my feet and her overnight bag on her arm, and our purses under the seat.  So, I couldn't put my feet down (no room) so I had to like balance my legs beside my bag (so I could put them down to stop).  After like no time my thigh muscles started to fatigue.  Then my abs.  Kirsten had been following us but we lost her so we pulled over and then when we saw her waved her by- turned out to be a bad move.

By then it was pouring.  I propped my legs on my bag- unsafe but comfy- but then traffic got heavier and it was back to doing the Thighmaster move on my bag.  The slower you go, the harder it is to balance, but I had to go slow because I had to drive on the side of he road next to cars.I had to pull over once just to rest.  Traffic was crazy and everyone was in a big hurry, beeping and stuff.  Gah.  I finally just didn't have the muscular strength to keep going- I told Janelle, "I'm sorry, but I'll drop you off and then drop my bag off at the scooter shop and come back for you."  It turned out walking was almost as quick- we were right near the little town when I dropped her off and she walked up like 30 seconds after me.  (Having passed, on foot, the jerk in the car who honked at us.  Yeah.)

But- no Kirsten.  We called and called.  We decided after 10 more minutes Janelle would drive the scooter to look for her, but then she answered her phone.  She'd taken a wrong road, which was weird because Janelle & I didn't notice any turn-offs.  Anyways she figured out how to get back and arrived safely in the pouring rain.

While we were waiting I walked to the bus station to see when we could catch busses back to our town.  I was reading the Chinese and there were all these people trying to help me but really just trying to get me to ride in their taxis.  I had to be a little rude in my limited Chinese, "Please, I have to read it by myself.  Please, go stand over there."  Hee-hee.

So I would have to wait 50 minutes and the girls would have to wait 40.  I thought about lugging my bike all over creation.  A taxi driver said, "If you're going to Taichung, I have other customers I have to go pick up..."  "Do you know Fong Yuan?" I asked.  "Sure!"  he said.  "How much?" I asked.  "$500," he said.  ($15 US- between the bus, the train, and the taxi to my apt, it would have been $400.)  OK!  "'Bye, girls!"  I said.

He had one of those little station-wagon-type Fords, perfect for my bike.  I insulted him a little bit by asking how to put on the seat-belt (no need in the back-seat! he said.  But, uh, I want it.  He had to dig it out from under the seat.)  He said he'd let me listen to an English CD.  I told him, whatever you want to listen to is fine, but he said, it's great!  (Hen hao ting!)  It turned out to be USA hip-hop mix.  The first song was OK but the second song, not so much.  I said sorry, but I'm a Christian, I can't listen to this.  So he skipped it.  "Is this song OK?"  Uh, yes.  So every time a new song came on, I had to decide whether to skip it or not.  Kinda funny.

We went to get the other customers at this amusement park.  Turned out the plan was to put them (5 friends) into my taxi and me and my bike into this filthy Toyota Corolla driven by Betel Nut Man.  I reacted quickly- "Wo juede bu hao!" (I think, not good!) I told my taxi driver as he started to take my bike out of the trunk.  I told him he could drop me off in Puli (a nearby town) and I'd catch the bus to Taichung.  Seriously- I took the taxi because it could fit my bike and it was driven by one of the two non-betel-nut chewing taxi drivers on the island.  (Didn't say all that, though.)  He was very nice- like, "Sorry, no problem" and 2 of the people got in with me.  We dropped them off along this highway near Taichung- pretty weird. 

As we chatted it turned out he was one of the taxi drivers who tried to get me to ride his taxi to Sun Moon Lake on Friday!  He complemented my Chinese a lot but eventually I had to call Jasmine because I have no idea what the name of any of the streets near my apartment are named and he didn't trust me to give him turn-right-here, turn-left-there directions for the 30 minutes from Taichung to Fong Yuan- OK, I didn't balme him!  So all was well that ended well.  48 good hours and 1 terrible one- not too shabby!

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