T minus 3

Great news (for me, at least): BOTH of my suitcases arrived in Los Angeles – ahead of schedule! Thanks FedEx and the Ship-it Shop (love that name!) in Summerville SC.

I’m in SFO visiting with my youngest, having left SLC after seeing my older two children and four (count ’em, four) grandchildren!  I sat on the SLC > SFO flight next to a Chinese gentleman who, along with his wife, was taking his only child (a son) to college.  He spoke fairly good English and was very excited to learn that I love Chinese food. We talked a bit about Wei Wei and how the Chinese government is making small strides towards recognizing basic civil rights. One hopes that is true.

I received all sorts of great travel tips from my youngest (who is fluent in Mandarin) along with guidance on how to pronounce and use basic words. My goal is to learn one new word a day. She will also be sending me more “insider” information on Taipei from one of her teachers, who is a native.

NOTE: one thing I learned today (not related to the Chinese language) is that Netflix blocks all foreign IP addresses. In order to access your Netflix account overseas one needs to download a “hotspot shield”: http://download.cnet.com/hotspot-shield/ . I’ll let you know how that works out.

Next stop: soCal, my jumping off point for Taiwan and a visit with my parents! I have a lot of last-minute items to take care of before I’m out of cell phone range.

T minus 14 – planning and packing

OMG, only two weeks before I leave for Taiwan and I’m waiting for my work visa to be issued  by the embassy in Washington DC. If I think about it too much, I’ll stress myself out! I applied at VisaHQ.com (“one-stop shopping for all your visa needs”), included all requisite documents (application, 2 passport photos, passport, offer letter, work permit, and application fee)  so everything should go smoothly, right?. But what if it doesn’t? I can’t think about that now because…

I have two weeks to go before departure and WAY TOO MUCH TO DO!  

Having never lived in the far East, I have no idea what will be available locally. Should I pack everything I think I might need for the next 6 months or just pack a few weeks worth of clothing, accessories, and toiletries until my packages – I still need to contact the custom’s broker – arrive? I know my new work environment has a casual dress policy so I know I don’t need any suits or heels. But honestly one never knows….maybe I should take a dress or saree (or two) just in case.

 I’m 5’11” so I’ve gone a bit overboard on jeans in “Long” and “Tall” sizes. How many pairs of pants will I really end up needing? I’m assuming that nothing will be available on the economy in my size so I plan, write lists, shop, re-write lists, and SHOP. I know I can only take two 50-lb suitcases on the plane so planning is crucial. Or maybe I’m just getting worked up about nothing. Oh, and did I mention that I’m teaching myself how to blog? (The writing is easy; the mechanics of the blog itself are foreign to me!)

 Note to self: get used to feeling like a stranger in a strange land. I wish “grokking” were actually possible!

Hello world!

Join me on my adventure as I travel to a land once known as “Formosa”.  It still exists today, though it’s known by a different name: Taiwan.

When I began entertaining thoughts of living and working in Taiwan, I looked online for recent information on the local culture and came up blank. I checked out Craigslist Taiwan (yes, there really is such a thing) and several expat sites. I scoured travel blogs and online travel magazines and found a nugget or two here and there. Whatever the reason for this dearth of information (perhaps those living in  Taiwan want to keep their lovely island home a secret?), it has prompted me to create this blog.

Hang on, as I prepare to have my life turned upside down – and dare to share the ensuing wild ride with you. 

I have a million questions. 

If you have answers, or just want to relate any Taiwan travel stories, tips, tricks, or “gotchas” about living in Taiwan, or heck, even a restaurant recommendation – don’t hesitate to holler! At the fuzzy front end of this voyage of discovery, I’ll take any and all information (related to Taiwan) you’re willing to pass along.

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…