This is yet another blogpost where I’m not sure I should be titling it Teaching in Hsinchu. I think I should have gone with Trying not to throw up or Half living in Hsinchu because I’ve had yet another week where I’ve been quite unwell.
However, Monday and Tuesday were fantastic.
On Monday I arrived near the school at 11am and I walked the length of one of the main roads, 南大路，until I reached a huge University and probably the biggest 7-11 I’ve ever seen. It looked like a megastore. I found stationary shops, florists and coffee shops I didn’t know existed.
One of them being HWC coffee roasters – the staff their didn’t speak English but they were so lovely.
I realised there was a second McDonalds, the one my boss always refers to when giving directions, and then can’t understand why I get completely lost. It’s because I’m using the wrong McDs as a reference point. Idiot.
I sat outside and had some chips, watching the world go by.
Thankfully, work was great. My Monday classes are a great bunch of students and we have really started to gel together over the last few weeks. So that 9:45pm finish has become a little more worth it.
Tuesday was absolutely fantastic. I woke up early to get the free bus into the hills to visit some temples. I ended up walking for 4 and a half hours around every temple I could find. The skies were completely blue and I even got a nice suntan! I met some lovely people and saw the most amazing sights.
I’ll be posting separately about the individual temples I went to plus some photos, just hang on a few days!
After the final temple I was overheating and feeling a little nauseous from lack of food. I gave in and stopped at OkLao coffee shop and I’m so glad that I did. It was a coffee paradise. Coffee sacks for wallpaper, siphons, drippers, tonnes of different coffees to buy, try and take home! Oh, and a delicious little matcha cake took (check out the colour of it!)
Wednesday was mainly uneventful, and I ended up being sick at work.
Thursday morning Kimm picked me up and we drove around for an hour trying to find an open coffee shop, but we eventually ended up back at her apartment block and went to the Louisa Coffee – kind of like the Starbucks of Taiwan.
Little Gwen was happy running around the cafe, waving and smiling and everyone.
I hadn’t felt great, but once I got to work I felt even worse. I was sweating horrifically, nauseous, pins everywhere. My boss let me leave and within minutes of getting home I was being sick again.
I cancelled beers with my friend, had a hot bath and slept for a few hours, before treating myself to a head massage and a haircut for NT$500 (£12)
Fri-yay! I was up early, got some writing of all sorts done and also some packing, so I was feeling fairly optimistic.
I met Kimm again at Big City in hope of finding some glasses, but they were too pricey! We walked around the mall with Gwen and Nick, going to the toy shops and looking and baby clothes (tooooo cute). Finally we decided on Coffee Lover’s Planet for lunch – they usually have a set lunch but if you’re vegetarian too bad you’re paying full price!
The kids loved it. We sat outside on the veranda and they were able to run where we could see them. Good food, great coffee and happy babies!
After this I wandered down to work and everything was great. As I’d been unwell throughout the week my colleagues chipped in and made sure all my marking was done – it saved me at least an hour! So I was able to fully plan my two lessons and they were great fun.
The little ones loved playing games with a huge fluffy dice, and despite not remember a single word from their test last week, they remembered a lot of other things. They didn’t stop giggling for 90 minutes!
The older ones were typical grumpy teenagers though, and at 8pm on a Friday night, I honestly sympathise with them.
Today I’ve been exploring Guanxi Township, in Hsinchu County, and unfortunately the blog post that inspired me to go wasn’t entirely accurate. It’s quite a lot of walking between the four attractions (yes, there really isn’t a lot to see) and whilst it’s sweet, quiet and traditional, it’s a pain in the butt to get there and back with a car or without any idea of where you’re going.
I took the 1860 bus from Zhudong (it’s NT$44)
FYI Google maps tells you to get off at GuanXi Interchange if you’re taking the bus. Do not do this. You’ll end up walking along the highway for 15-20 minutes. Get off once you’re in the village centre. #roadsafety
If you’re happy to eat anything, there are loads of little restaurants and sweet shops, market stalls full of meat and fish, noodle shops, bao zi stalls too!
The markets usually close before lunch and the little shops don’t open until 1:30-2pm, even on a Saturday. So whilst I really wanted to check out the Dream 52 theatre and the cafe, I’d already walked half an hour in the wrong direction.
The buildings are beautiful, everything is creative and artsy. People seem shocked to see a white face but they’re pleasant, as most Taiwanese people are.
The main attractions are:
- The church
- The Dream 52 theatre
- The organic bookshop and hostel
- The King Tai Tea Factory (Open since 1936)
- Niu Lan Riverfront Park and Dong An bridge
Right. I’ve signed myself up for 3 writing projects and I still have a scrapbook to work on. More posts coming soon.
Lots of love xo