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July 7, 2012 / windlessly

Taiwan Travels: Day 7

Ughhhhhh it’s pretty early in the morning right now and we’re still up. It’s me, Ryan, and Kevin (and Mr. Security Guard over there on the computer playing LoL) in the Dean’s Office, spending the night because we’re not going to go back and sleep in our infested room. We just killed a total of 7 cockroaches. Geez I feel manly right now. Haha but no really, we were just going to sleep when we discovered two cockroaches, one on the inside of our room and one hanging directly onto the screen outside of it. That was a slight dilemma. We had no weapons on hand except for an umbrella and our shoes that we were not willing to sacrifice. I had to take a slipper and throw/bash that first cockroach, rush into the room to grab the electric fly swatter and a broom. The broom did absolutely nothing, and the cockroach scurried underneath a bookshelf. We had 10 minutes of intense planning before we tipped the shelf, baited the cockroach out, and smashed it into floor. With my slipper. Yes, it was gross. So yeah, that’s just one of the things we’ve had to deal with here.

Hallway outside our room. Littered with cockroach carcasses by now.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been one day. Well, a bit more than that. I fell asleep right after dinner yesterday but woke up relatively early, at 6am, so I went to the laundry room to finish drying some clothes. I step out and I see this playing card-size spider scurry up the wall and then stop, a few feet above head height on the wall. I jump in the air and was just like oh shit oh shit oh shit as I stepped around and into the bathroom. The worst part was that when I finished and came out, the spider was no where to be seen. I HATE not being able to keep track of where something is. And the spider was freakishly huge. Cockroaches are one thing. Spiders whose legspan can larger than your hand are just plain frightening.

Forget what I said yesterday. It’s not war anymore- it’s survival. Just the psychological effect of seeing multiple cockroaches scurry around your room is… disturbing. Everyone back in Syracuse, consider yourself very lucky hahaha… being able to pee or poop without fear of being attacked by bugs is a LUXURY. Same goes with sleeping- we didn’t get much because of our massive cockroach hunt:

Minus the monstrosities, our room is awesome though, even if it’s not what I expected. It’s basically a classroom that is emptied of everything, except for a ring of shelves, cubbies, and one or two tables. It’s hardwood floor and there are screen windows and a door. Two ceiling fans and air conditioning make it relatively comfortable, minus the sheer number of mosquitoes in here. We got mats and pillows and blankets to sleep on, but it’s really spacious for four guys to live in so I’m happy.

My sleep schedule was pretty messed up yesterday. After the bus ride, I was just dead. Barely had energy to do laundry, fight off bugs, and eat dinner before I crashed until this morning. I was too tired to even care about bugs, I fell asleep right on the hardwood floor. So now I have to catch up on blogging while planning for this coming week, AND missing everyone who’s bound to be having their own adventures at their schools at the same time.

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So there’s actually no wi-fi in our room… we have to go down the hallway, through this tunnel type corridor that is filled with rocks and planks to walk across on, and then into the dean’s office where there is a table for me to sit at.

Wi-fi!!!!

Picture on the wall in the tunnel- cost me a heart attack and several moments of spazzing out…

It was a traumatic journey, let me tell you. The sun was up and everything but it was still dark in the tunnel corridor. There were some cool drawings on the wall, too. I stopped to take a picture and once my camera flashes two huge moths just burst out of nowhere and another spider (not as big, but no way I want to deal with these things on a regular occurrence) crawls out of the stones and into the corner. Those things move fast! And even if moths don’t hurt, I prefer to keep flying crawly things away from me. I saw two more spiders along the way and just decided to run when the moth seemed to be following me. Scary stuff, man. I’m just praying I don’t see any snakes anytime soon.

Tunnel of death that we have to pass through every time

Our breakfast after surviving several bug attacks in the tunnel… that breakfast sandwich was surprisingly good. Kinda like the Chinese version of a Big Mac haha.

 

Chinese version of an icee (from 7-Eleven)

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After all that excitement about cockroaches, now I can finally tell you about my day! It was actually a pretty fun day because the people here brought us out on a tour of Jiufen! It’s a really cool place, actually, and I love being by the coast and able to see the ocean. The mountain scenery is just beautiful- from a distance you can see the homes dotting the landscape and embedded in the terrain.

Our tour guide was really fun and energetic. It was fun learning about the history of Jiufen, what used to be a gold-mining town. The architecture is really intriguing- as Jiufen became more populated, houses were continually added, some stacked right on top of each other. However, when all the surface gold was dug up, people eventually left, leaving a semi-deserted ghost town until it was rejuvenated by tourists.

 

 

Here’s us passing by the kitchen of the famous taro balls that we ate yesterday. The smell of steamed sweet potato and the other ingredients…. it was to die for. I’m craving some right now!

Tour guide inviting us down into the creepy stairway tunnel, which actually turned out to be a shortcut into the busy streets of Jiufen.

 

Huge caterpillar we saw on the street… all insects are giant here it seems O.o This bushy caterpillar probably turns into those huge moths that scared me earlier this morning…

 

Really cool mosaic-type artwork, made from magazine clippings.

Leather/wooden menus… so cool. Dinner was even better though. I remembered to take a picture of the first two dishes but then I got distracted by eating ^^

 

 

Squat toilet. A must-have experience in Taiwan before you return to the convenience of modernized bug-free bathrooms in the states.

Something a bit more pleasant, getting coffee with a balcony overview =]

Goofing off…

After lots of chasing around in the souvenir shop, score!

Night shot…

More goofing off….

 

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Okay, so let me tell you a story about our greatest achievement thus far at Jiufen… I call it “A Tale of Two Spiders.” So right outside of our room, Kevin discovered this MASSIVE spider hiding in the corner next to the cubby. Don’t let the picture deceive you later, the scale is a bit off- this spider must have been as big as a hand fully outstretched.

Anyways, just seeing it chill there no more than 2 feet from our room made our skin crawl every time we passed by. We discussed plans on how to remove it later that day, and that’s when we realized how terrifying it would be the one time we pass by it and it’s not there. So we vowed to get rid of it that night, no matter how drastic the measures we would have to take. We discussed flamethrowers, long poles, and metal traps before we realized we could just use the cubby!! It was a stoke of pure genius.

Before:                                                                                     After:

 

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