I arrived in Taipei in the evening after a two hours layover in Shanghai. After purchasing my bus ticket, I headed outside. The bus didn’t take long to come which was a relief because the air was super humid and muggy. Despite enjoying the pleasant bus ride, I couldn’t help feeling overwhelmed because I started to realize that I wasn’t prepared to be alone in Taiwan; I had forgotten most of the Mandarin I learned for a semester (expect for a few greeting phrases) and I wasn’t very familiar with the Taiwanese culture.
My fears were confirmed when I was on my way to my hostel. It took me a while to find the correct subway platform because I kept getting lost. Once I made it to the correct platform, I was having trouble buying a ticket from the ticket machine. I wouldn’t take my money for some reason and I quickly started freaking out because the machine was now only speaking in Mandarin and there was a line of people behind me! Thankfully, a young girl came to my rescue and explained that I need to use coins instead of bills (we mainly communicated by pointing at things). Before she left, she suggested that I go see the clerk at the ticket booth, which I did.
The clerk spoke some English which made me super happy and helped me get a 3 day subway pass. Once on the subway, I tried to relax a little and to enjoy the ride. Most the people on the subway cart kept to themselves but a young lady started a conversation with me. She spoke English and asked me where I was visiting from and why I came to Taipei.
I told her that I was visiting from the US and that I came to Taipei from Seoul. She seemed excited to hear that I was visiting different parts of Asia. She asked me where I was staying and if I knew how to get there. I told her I was staying at a nearby hostel and showed her the direction to my hostel I had saved on my phone. To my surprise, she offered to take me there. I am forever grateful for her kindness because this place was difficult to find and I am convinced that I would have been so lost without her help!