Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunny days in Taipei..

have been non-existent. Unless you count random hours of blazing hot heat followed by lightning and downpours that flood up to your ankles. It's officially summertime here as of June 21st...was that the date back in the States as well? I don't even know anymore, the seasons just come and pass and blend...

Since it's my last summer in Taipei, I've been feeling Taiwan in a different light. Showing newbies around is fun-but it gives me a weird bittersweet feeling to watch someone experience everything new again. I don't care to marvel at the base of Taipei 101 anymore and I don't care for night market food and I can't stand the humidity. I want to feel excited about living here still-and there are still lots of fun things to do and stuff to discover but my heart just isn't into it anymore. (*Cheesy note: My heart is in San Francisco!)

I've been throwing a lot of BF's (Bitch Fits) around over random taiwanese customer service disputes. ONE example. I sat down at Sushi Express (Taiwanese chain) and tried to order, and got handed a sign that said in English-"Due to the majority of customer complaints, we no longer take individual orders." It's a conveyer belt sushi place, and they have ALWAYS taken I refuse to go there anymore. Sometimes I go to a place and order food, but they serve something else instead and insist that I eat it because they are out of what I ordered. Unacceptable. Even IKEA here didn't have a popular drawer in stock and I had to go back 3 times before just getting something else. My boyfriend put it best-they follow a 'computer says no' rule. No creativity to make the situation better for the customer, just apologies..or explanations that don't make sense. Maybe it's just the language barrier, maybe it's cultural, maybe it's just happening a lot in my life lately.

But today I went into a mexican joint called Juanita's, and asked for a steak quesadilla. I had just finished 2 hours of intense Spanish grammar classes, and I was hungry. The guy was about to point out that they didn't have it on their menu before I noticed, until a different guy behind him popped up and offered to make one for me anyway, since they had all the ingredients already. I cannot express how grateful and happy I was for such a simple burst of thoughtful customer service. It totally made my day. However, the guy behind the counter spoke had a Californian accent and I'm pretty sure he was an ABC.
Actually, the last foreign service I used, Steven's Movers (moving service), I was also extremely impressed and satisfied with the whole procedure. Two friendly matching guys arrived exactly on time with a nice moving truck, came up and expertly flipped the couch at an angle and cruised out the door within minutes. About a minute later I got a call from Steven himself to check that the job got done and that it was done well. Steven had a clear foreign accent himself, and I was so thrilled to get a follow-up call. I highly recommend them for moving anything!

The rants and raves above are bias from my point of view, so I hope I didn't offend anyone. The point is, everyone appreciates and deserves good customer service. There are tons of exceptions, like my cool Taiwanese dentist (check up texts to make sure painkillers are doing their job!) and local men fighting to open up the washer at the laundromat this morning when something was stuck in the door.  Eh.

Checking out now! xx

Sunday, June 16, 2013

UPDATE 6/16/2013

For the past month, I've been happily busy strolling my busy life around in Taipei. Or should I say, rowing by? After taking 4th place for the Taipei City Dragon Boat Festival last weekend, our season finale put Team Max at 3rd place for the New Taipei City Competition. We lost by .05 seconds to our rival team and that was that. It was hard not to be a bit sad since we had trained SO intensely and had won 1st place at the same race last year!
But the friendships and team spirit that were cultivated became stronger than ever as we partied anyway! A crazy blend of 20-30 something year old expats from all over the world: India, Japan, Hungary, USA, Guatemala, Latvia, Germany, England, Australia, Mexico, Taiwan...I love Team Max and I love everyone on my team. It's weird now, we still hang out almost every day but we're wearing normal clothes (not sweats or lifejackets) and it's not 6:30 am anymore when we see each other. It's amazing how ONE passion can bring so many individuals together despite language, culture, personalities, religion or background. We all love to row, and I am very proud to say that this season we all bled orangeJoining a dragon boat team has been one of the best things I've ever chosen to do.
Semi-Final at New Taipei City (I was drumming this one!)
Day trip together!
Taipei City Speaker Cup

Speaking of seasons, this upcoming September will mark my 3rd year in Taipei. Taiwan is like a time warp-an actual Neverever Land. People come here, fall in love with the people and culture-and time 
flies. I can't explain it-you just have to experience it. So many people come and go, but just as many people buy a scooter, sign cellular data plans, furnish their apartments, and stay. Life here is good, there is no denying it. But for me, I've been here long enough to have friends leave and come back, and I don't really have any updates for them. Call it chronic dissatisfaction. Or wanderlust. So ready for my big news?
I'm leaving Taiwan in September. I'm going to back up all my things again and fly to HONDURAS. Tickets have been purchased-it's official!
I'm going to volunteer teach beautiful little children, and play at the beaches after school, and sleep in a bunk bed with a fan and eat lots of fruit, learn Spanish, and fall in love with a new place. I am going to backpack around Central America and build bathrooms on weekends, and I will be happy. I've always wanted to do this, ever since university days it has been a dream of mine. I graduated with a BA in Public Health, you know! I want to experience a simple and happy life with people that have so few materialistic things but are so full of joy and fun. I want to learn how we can help where there aren't enough resources for people to help themselves.  Honduras is the poorest country in all of Central America. I am so beyond excited for this next adventure. Basically, I am checking out of this modern, crowded city life and going to live in a small countryside village because I want to. I need to. More updates on this later on, time for touch ruby!