Note: This post came from my old Tumblr, which has been converted to a poem journal. Originally posted this back in August 2012. Fresh na fresh pa ko sa Taipei :P.
In five days I would officially be six months here in Taiwan and as far as that fact goes, I think I owe it to myself to write something about it. But the problem is I can’t. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to tell whoever would be bored enough to consider reading this post.
I don’t know because, well, I just don’t.
The one thing I do know, however, (I’ve always wanted to use that line…) is that I have made an achievement in those six months and it’s encapsulated by this image below:
Oh yes. I got my first-ever violation ticket because of chewing gum in the MRT Station. To top it off, I was actually chewing gum right in front of a poster that tells me I shouldn’t and if I do I’d end up paying a fine of up to NTD 7,500. My brain was still processing the poster when the MRT security personnel approached me and hesitantly talked to me in Chinese about my current transgression. Forgive me officer, for I am an idiot. I would have wanted to argue and pretend that I am simply trying to get flecks of meat off my teeth using my tongue but nah, he wouldn’t buy it because I remember watching him from afar, walking towards me with a friendly smile on his face, as I happily chew gum with all the enthusiasm my jaws could muster.
Long story short (and after some gestures and Engrish session) he got the idea that I am a tourist and yes, for that I shall be excused for being stupid. Still, he made me write my name on his clipboard and assured me repeatedly that I don’t have to pay anything. For formality’s sake I needed to be reprimanded and should I be stupid enough to be stupid again, I’ll have to pay—literally. We even parted ways like two old friends catching up after randomly bumping into each other one sunny day. I think he felt more ashamed to point out my mistake than me realizing I was chewing gum in front of a poster that tells me not to. Or maybe he’s simply sympathizing with my lack of law awareness.
Anyway, life in Taiwan has been interesting since day 1 and it’s not just because of the ticket episode. My six months has been a roller coaster ride and there’s so much I learned. Among them is the value of charades. In here, charades are not party games but an everyday life-tool you can use to get by and be understood. Oh the many things we can do with our hands…you know, I think appreciate the phrase “talk to the hand” much better now. I can say that because the last time I tried to book a cab to take me to the airport, I spent fifteen minutes trying to create a meaningful conversation with Mr. Way (not the real spelling).
However, it took only a few seconds for him to understand what I was trying to say when I finally acted out how a driver tries to control a steering wheel:
“Yes, Mr. Way I am the person who called (makes the phone sign with my hands) because I need a cab (acts like a driver holding out a steering wheel) to take me to the airport (makes a pseudo-airplane out of my right hand and zooms it into the air like a plane taking off the runway). And yes, I am going to Taoyuan (points to the road beyond) because that is where I am supposed to pick up my mother (he understood mother as mama and I nodded vehemently in agreement. THANK BUDDHA!).”
He spoke to me in Chinese while I spoke to him in English. In spite of that, the charades of driving, pointing to my watch, and making a pseudo-plane out of my right hand bridged us and made the language barrier seem irrelevant during the conversation. If you were watching us from afar, you would probably think we’re so engrossed in one topic you’d want to know what we’re talking about. Upon close inspection, you’ll realize we badly need an interpreter.
Five more days and half of this year would have been officially spent here in Formosa. I still have six more months to go and admittedly, I haven’t really seen much yet. I hope I can also travel to other cities and take more photos. Taipei looks very nice in summer time, especially since there’s hardly any smog and mountains are naturally spread across this country just as SM malls naturally pop out of the 7,107 islands of Pinas. In the next six months, I’ll make it a point to take more photos and also write more.
In the next six months, I would also try to play lesser charades, speak more Chinese, and read warning posters before I pop in that Doublemint.

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