Yet another week that shouldn’t really be titled ‘teaching in Hsinchu’ but as I started the pattern, there’s no point in changing it.
This week, my tenth week in Hsinchu, was also my last.
On Monday I got the train to Taichung to meet two of my old BEET students. It was 32°C and absolutely beautiful! Then I had to rush back to teach, which was great and we had a lot of fun. My boss gave me an ‘I love Taiwan’ tshirt and we said our goodbyes. It felt a little emotional, but it was a huge relief to know I didn’t have to teach on Tuesday.
Instead, I got the coach to Linkou and my friend drove us over to Danshui, in Taipei and we spent a few hours looking around the Red Fort, the consulate buildings and a shrine for the Japan soldiers. It was fascinating and beautiful, and it was absolutely boiling at 30oC! I just love the heat and was so glad for it, despite the pain in my stomach and back worsening the more we walked.
It wasn’t easy to try and act ‘normal’ around my friend and I really didn’t want to ruin the day by complaining or leaving early. So I tried to carry on as if it was all fine. Dealing with nausea and pain for hours and hours a day is neither fun, nor normal. Believe me.
On Wednesday I spent about 4 hours working on my scrapbook, I took a walk around my local area and then I had my final bowl of Ba Fang noodles (a sad moment, trust me.) before heading over to my friend Kimm’s for dinner. It was a really lovely way to spend my last evening in Hsinchu as I got to meet all of Kimm’s family and just relax a little bit.
Unfortunately I had to head home early to finish packing and I also spent 5 hours scrapbooking. I ran out of double-sided tape around midnight (arty people, you understand this right?!) and I made my final ‘midnight walk’ down to 7-11 to stock up on tape, soda and also catch a few Pokemon whilst I was out #gottacatchemall
I finished around 2am when I was finally happy with my 12 new pages of washi tape and cute photos from the previous few trips.
Thursday morning, 6am. I was woken up once again, as I had been nearly every day that I lived in that apartment, but my-oh-my was I happy that it would be the last day that they would wake me up! I jumped out of bed, did some exercises and put my music on nice and loudly. I was ready for my final day in Taiwan and I didn’t want to waste a second.
My sister was getting in at 10am and I didn’t want to keep her waiting, thankfully I didn’t. I spent the first few hours of my morning packing, unpacking, taking things out of the case, throwing things away, leaving random items out in hope that my sister would want them. I cleaned everything with lemon-scented cleaning wipes and swept the floor a few times. Not that it made any difference. It still looked as if it hadn’t been swept in weeks.
I asked my sister to meet me at a corner cafe I’d been wanting to try for weeks. It’s called Finding Annie. Ironically, my sister couldn’t find Annie. I had to stand on the corner of the traffic lights and wave like an idiot.
I paid £1.20 for my coffee and about 50p for my sister’s tea – what a bargain?! and the woman working there was so lovely. Plus she was thoroughly surprised that two Chinese-speaking white girls just landed on the step of her shop.
We walked around the city, in and out of the malls, the stationery shops, waiting for my friend Guy to arrive so we could eat lunch. Jeez. By the time he arrived it was nearly 12 and we were all starving. Taco House had a buy one get one free deal on all meal deals. So naturally we took full advantage of that.
Nat and I shared 4 tacos, a burrito, a burrito bowl and two sodas for about £6! It all tasted sooooooooooooooo delicious! We took some silly selfies by the river and I decided to show them both the City God temple (One of Taiwan’s 100 must-see sights!) but neither of them seemed too impressed if I’m honest. Anyway, it didn’t matter because we were having such a nice day! And our final stop was OKLAO coffee shop across the road from the temple.
I needed to buy a gift for my dad’s colleague, who’s really been looking out for me!, and Nat and Guy both wanted drinks and air-con. I felt sad knowing it was nearly time to leave, anxious because I still hadn’t finished packing, and excited to finally go home and see my mum.
Guy gave us a lift back to my apartment and we made it back in time to start organizing everything. It was sad, saying goodbye to a great friend. I’ve no doubt that we’ll meet again soon, but it was still an emotional moment.
I love my sister, very much, but I had no idea I’d feel so sad saying goodbye to her that evening. I knew it would be a shame to say goodbye, but we’re often on different sides of the world and I think we’ve both grown used to that. But, after spending so much time together in the past 2 months, it really was a tough one. I definitely cried. I couldn’t believe I was saying goodbye to my little sister, leaving her all on her own when I felt like I should be staying and helping her out.
She’ll be fine though, she always is.
Cynthia, my dad’s colleague’s wonderful wife came to pick me up and take me to the airport, and her two daughters were also in the car. It was lovely to meet them after hearing so many wonderful stories about them! I tried to practice my Chinese one last time but my brain just can’t do it. It’s so embarrassing.
Check in didn’t take too long and the woman didn’t seem to bat an eyelid over the ridiculous amount of luggage I was taking with me. I was at least 5 kilos overweight (No, not myself.) but she tagged them and sent them off. That is always the biggest relief.
I wandered around and around, not knowing what the hell to do with myself. I wanted to scrapbook, I wanted to write, I wanted to cry.
Wasn’t I making a massive mistake? Why couldn’t I have just waited until Christmas to come home? Was I really as unwell as I thought I was? Am I unwell?
My brain was spinning these thoughts too quickly for me to process. I went downstairs to the food court, I never knew it existed, and I was so pleased to find that they had a ChunShuiTang, meaning I could eat some decent food, and my final bowl of noodles, before my flight.
I did try and scrapbook a little bit, and bought my final Apple Sidra and packet of Hi-Chew.
I didn’t realize how late I was until I heard my flight number being called for boarding. I hadn’t even gone through security yet! I realized that I was waiting to change my mind, I couldn’t figure out if I was making a big mistake, or doing exactly what I was supposed to.
Mum is at home.
If it wasn’t for my mum, I wouldn’t be back in Wales right now. I would have stayed and struggled through my health issues, but my mum is always there to support me and honestly, I really need that right now.
So, off I went.
ipad, camera, phone in the tray.
jacket in the tray, passport in the tray.
All clear. Let’s go.
The flight was certainly a challenging one. It was absolutely, 100% full and mainly with local, Taiwanese tour groups heading to Istanbul. People who hadn’t seemed to have ever flown before, and it was a nightmare. They spent half the flight shouting across the seats at each other, helping themselves to food off the carts and leaving their trays on whatever surface they could find.
I tried to forget about it. I tried to block out all the noise, knowing that in 24 hours I would be back in Llanrwst, the town of no noise whatsoever. I tried to sleep, but wasn’t entirely successful because the woman next to me had no idea how to speak with a quiet voice. It was infuriating so I spent a fair amount of time walking up and down the aisles or sitting at the back near the cabin crew’s station. I don’t think they were impressed, but I was passed caring at that point.
Istanbul airport was quiet at 5am, but everything was open and I managed to change some Taiwan Dollars into Turkish Lira and buy myself a really fresh pretzel and get some water. I sat for hours. Playing pokemon, trying to write, people-watching. I was glad when it was time to board the flight. I became so impatient and all I wanted to do was see my mum, get a coffee and put some comfy clothes on.
As soon as I stepped off the plane and went through the exit gates, I grabbed an amazing cinnamon danish from Pret and a hot coffee for mum and I to share. Most of it spilled out as I was trying to navigate my stupidly heavy suitcases all pilled up on the trolley, but it didn’t matter.
I was home. I was back with my mum and ready to start the next little chapter of my life.
Now, before I log off and go to bed, I would like to clarify a few things:
I absolutely loved my time in Taiwan. Just because I had a few bad days, or didn’t enjoy my job 24/7 does not mean I had a bad experience, or didn’t like what I was doing. It is absolutely normal to not be happy every day of your life, or to not always like your job.
I’ve had a few people say things like “Well you clearly don’t like Taiwan” or “You hate —– so I think it’s good you’re going home.”
Comments like this are absolutely ridiculous. Taiwan was my home for 10 years and I have amazing memories, old and new, and it was a very difficult decision for me to leave.
The reason I am back in the UK is because I am having a lot of health problems which we thought were under control before I left for Taiwan, but after 3 weeks I realized they were absolutely not.
I am not going to sit here and explain the details to you, because it’s a very private issue, and so far people have been less than even slightly understanding about it.
So whilst many of you have also asked me if I am back in Wales because I have ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’ or ‘mental issues’. The answer is no. I’m not here because of that. I am here because I am having physical health problems that need attention.
So, to those of you that have reached out, offered your support or just said something nice, thank you. You have no idea how much it means to me.
And on that note, week 10 of my time in Taiwan is absolutely over. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had recently, for the new friendships and new experiences I’ve gained. I’ve seen so much of Taiwan and had some really brilliant adventures and hopefully I’ll be able to go back some day soon.
But for now, I need doctors.
I need rest. I need support. I need answers.
And I need sleep.
Lots of love xo