Monday the 24th of February 2014
I found yoghurt at the supermarket on Sunday (23rd February 2014), it doesn’t sound like much but it’s quite hard to come by here. I also bought dumplings, meat balls, spreadable cream cheese (also hard to come by), crackers and apples amongst other things. I found a disposal pan with popcorn kernels in it, it’s called Jiggle Corn and I think it might be microwavable popcorn for people without microwaves! I can’t wait to try it out.
Thursday the 27th of February 2014
Someone tried to unlock my door and get into my room at about 12:10PM. I shouted “hello”, unbolted the door and opened it to see two women going up in the elevator. I mentioned it to my manager once I was at school as I was really confused by this; I think she was able to ring my landlady for me but I’ve been told not to worry.
I’ve had the same phone since high school; a Sony Ericsson W810i given to me by my dad, it has an English and Arabic keyboard. In 2012 my dad gave me a BlackBerry. I kept my old phone and started to use the BlackBerry as well, I got used to having two phones, with different purposes.
However, the BlackBerry is locked so I can’t use my Taiwanese SIM card in it which is frustrating as my old phone is on its way out as it’s currently being held together by an elastic band (the stickers weren’t enough). I went to a phone shop (Far EasTone) today in an attempt to unlock my Blackberry after unsuccessfully trying to unlock it myself. I spent about three hours downloading various programs and typing in codes last night. Unfortunately, they were unable to help me. They gave me a can of Coca Cola which I drank whilst waiting. I then headed to another phone shop (MyFone), they weren’t able to unlock my phone either but they have sent it to an engineer. There’s a chance they won’t be able to unlock it but I have my fingers crossed.
Friday the 28th of February 2014
I can’t believe February ends today and March begins tomorrow, time flies in Taiwan. My boyfriend will be here in a week. We haven’t seen each other since September so I’m incredibly excited to see him again. It’s 00:09AM right now; I don’t have school tomorrow as its 228 Memorial Day in Taiwan. For more information on the 228 Incident (二二八事件) or 228 Massacre (二二八大屠殺) read this. There are so many unexpected public holidays and observances in Taiwan;here is a rather useful and interesting list. I’ve had such a busy time here since my last post, my first observation, presentations, a dozen exams to mark, lessons to plan and report cards to write. There have also been meals left unphotographed (yet eaten), something I wanted to avoid as I find documenting my food to be quite cathartic, you should try it.
It’s cold in my room at the moment, not as cold as it usually is but cold none the less. I’m about to mark another pile of exams and write more presentation cards (report cards). X-Men: The Last Stand is on TV at the moment, so it’s playing in the background as I type this.
Saturday the 15th of February 2014
Last night I stayed awake until 5AM. I didn’t feel tired but I felt cold, my hands were numb, I watched Adventure Time, I wasted time. I didn’t get anything done, which I found unbelievably frustrating. The thought of time wasted makes me uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep, it’s been the strangest week so far, both my heart and my head are aching. I shan’t discuss everything in detail, nor shall I attempt to justify or rationalise anything I write. This post will be written with no intention to offend, or to be taken personally by anyone who reads it. This post needs to be typed, it is a form of annotation, of documentation.
On Monday (11th February 2014) I finished work at 7PM, I finished planning my lessons shortly afterwards as I only needed to change some minor details. I put my box of supplies on my desk, moved my chair, put my jacket on and signed out. I decided to go to 503, a stationary store near school. I should have walked but instead I got on my bike. I bought a tube of fake Pringles.
As I was leaving, a man in a black car ran a red light. Blinded, the world went quiet. My bike was hit and I was thrown into the road. I tried to get up, I couldn’t move, I tried again. I tried what seemed like a third time and I was up, numb with cold but standing, I wasn’t in pain. A man got out of the car. He was speaking to me, I’m not sure how long he had been speaking to me, then I heard him say “are you ok?” I said “I’m so sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” over and over again. He asked me if I was ok a few more times but the only words I could find were those two “I’m sorry”. Even though I now realise that it was in no way my fault, at the time I could only think of the person whose car I just destroyed. The bicycle was mangled. My handlebars were smashed, my kickstand was broken, my bike chain and brakes were compromised but my body was intact. I was ok. I apologised profusely and handed him his dented license plate.
I stood in the middle of the road by the lights as he drove off, traffic rushing past on either side of me. I didn’t cry, I didn’t move. I just stood there with a broken bicycle. I cycled home, I had no other choice. I couldn’t walk, it was easier to bike as the pain had begun to set it, I needed to get home. I wobbled, screeched and squeaked in and out of traffic, in the dark, my body felt like ice. I got home and ate the tube of fake Pringles. I turned on my laptop. I spoke to my boyfriend. I showered and went to bed. I cycled to a bike shop the next morning (Tuesday 12th February 2014). My body was in a huge amount of pain. Everything hurt. Everything seemed quiet. No one spoke English at the bicycle shop (Giant). I bought a helmet. They fixed my bike with cable ties. I didn’t feel safe on the road as I cycled to school.
My manager took me to the hospital, my body is still black and blue but I was lucky. I was given a number and told to wait. We left the hospital and I bought a new bicycle at the same store who had fixed my bike with cable ties earlier that day. The new bike came with lights, a bell and a basket; the wheels are huge in comparison to the old bike. The old bicycle was to be fixed; I gave it to my manager. The store would replace all of the parts which needed replacing. I didn’t realise how quickly it would be fixed. Had I known, I doubt I would have bought this newer one (despite how much safer it is for riding on roads). I spent thousands on a new bike when I could have spent hundreds on replacing parts of my old one but they didn’t tell me that. They didn’t say it’d be done within a day or two. I told my manager she could have the new bike I bought too, for the school, when I leave.
Although it seems absurd for me to give the school two bikes, for free, they have helped me and I’ve decided that I don’t mind. I hope future staff members will be able to use them and that they will be looked after. Also, I feel as though it was important for me to get the new bike as this was the second car accident on the old one. The new bicycle is much bigger, a ‘proper bicycle’ rather than the foldable one I bought from the supermarket which I suppose is more suited for short commutes or teenagers cycling around parks rather than long journeys on dangerous Taiwanese roads.
We got back to the hospital where I was x-rayed and diagnosed with scoliosis. There was no conversation regarding this, no translated consultation or advice, nothing. I wasn’t broken so back to work I went. One of the other teachers kindly covered for me whilst I was in the hospital. Then on Thursday (13th February 2014) another teacher was injured in a car accident, a head on collision with a drunk driver. My chest hurts when I think of her being hurt so soon after I was, I feel as though even to discuss what happened to me is wrong as she was hurt so very badly, the woman driving crushed her leg and she required surgery. She’s in hospital. I struggle to communicate with co-workers in everyday situations so when it comes to something like this, I get incredibly nervous, I bought Chupa Chups lollipops as it was the only get well soon gesture I could think of after sending a text and Facebook comment.
On a more positive note, I have been reunited with my passport and I now have my Alien Resident Certificate or 外僑居留證 (waiqiao jūliú zhèng). I also stood on top of the school and enjoyed the view (see Instagram photo). I’ve also posted my x-ray images to Facebook in an album entitled ‘Internal Portrait’. To view the internal self is to reassess and alter perceptions of what exists externally. Understanding the fragility of life enables us to reject immaterial concerns. A human being is not a machine, nor are we manufactured or manipulated to suit the needs of an institution. If a building falls, it can be rebuilt. If a person falls, the solution is never as simple. Look after yourself and others, nothing else matters.
Monday the 3rd of February 2014
I’ve decided to start this post with some grammar because this is my fifth day off work (Chinese New Year) and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms. I should also point out that I don’t get paid for holidays so I would definitely prefer to be working right now.
A person, place or thing… Tiffany, Taipei, chair
An action or state… run, eat, be, believe
Describes a noun… lazy, funny
Describes a verb, adjective or other adverb… softly, often
A word that takes the place of a noun… it, she, he, who, ours
A word that comes before a noun or pronoun and expresses a relation to another word or element in the clause… on, after, for
Despite my surprisingly long and unpaid holiday I have managed to get a lot done… I’ve watched every episode of Adventure Time, cycled all over the place, spent a lot of money on groceries and learned how to cook more tasty dishes. I also managed to clean my room today; I pulled out and swept behind the fridge and my desk, I then swept the rest of my floor. I went around the edges of my room (where the wall meets the floor) with some Raid Max citrus insect poison spray. My room smells like fresh orange juice now and I shouldn’t see any more insects for a while… hopefully. I sprayed the window frames too as I realised that if the wind is able to blow my curtains, it’s definitely possible for insects to get in. I have a mosquito screen but anything that crawls or lives in the walls won’t be phased by that. Living in a tropical climate is hard when you’ve been spoiled by living in the UK (in terms of dealing with insects).
I’m meeting up with an old friend from Oxford tomorrow, I’m so excited. We haven’t seen each other since my first year at university. We’re going to this awesome restaurant in Changhua City or 彰化市 (Zhānghuà Shì). It’s called Tea-Work 人水私房, the other teachers actually introduced me to it. I think it’ll take me about half an hour to cycle there which is no time at all from here.
Saturday the 1st of February 2014
Lunar New Year TV makes me so happy. Rush Hour 2 was on HBO earlier and Rush Hour 3 is actually on right now. I think the first one has been on recently too. They usually show trilogies like that here, it’s great. Plus, Rush Hour is awesome. I should definitely use this quote at some point:
[Translated from Cantonese]
[Pointing to Carter]
Kenny: Why are you hangin’ with 7-Eleven?
Kenny: Yeah, his mouth never closes.
Taiwan is only 36,193 km² in size and there are over five thousand 7-Eleven stores here. That’s pretty crazy when you consider the size of England… 130,395 km², Taiwan is such a tiny island. The Man with The Iron Fists is on next, followed by The Dark Knight Rises. I am so looking forward to tonight.
I got lost today, on purpose. That’s one of the best things about being on a bike, it’s much easier to get lost and eventually find your way back. However, the road less travelled in Hemei Township or 和美鎮 (Héměi Zhèn) seems a little bit too dangerous at certain points. I went down one road which got increasingly narrower the further I cycled. The ground seemed to have sunk on either side of it. It was filled with what I can only really describe as jungle like foliage and barren fields. I would have taken a photograph but I didn’t want to stop. I decided to turn when I saw several wilds dogs tearing something apart in front of me. I joined BuzzFeed yesterday; here are some links to my articles:
10 TEFL Traumas: Explained via Cat GIFs
5 Taiwanese Hell GIFs
10 Valentine’s Day Drinks
10 Delicious Desserts
I headed to my favourite supermarket where I purchased some snacks, crackers, nuts etc. and a 400G bar of chocolate (because I thought it was a packet of little chocolates). I also bought croissants and a baguette. My rucksack ideal for baguette carrying, although I’m sure people are beginning to recognise me as the crazy white cyclist always carrying too many groceries on her bicycle. I feel a little bit sick at the moment; I think I might be slightly dehydrated.