TotW #6 – When I arrived to Taipei, I didn’t have any future air tickets or hostel bookings. So this week I made my plans for the next two months. Let’s take a look at those plans. It will be so much fun to come back here later and compare them to the harsh reality 😉
My unexpectedly monotone days in the hostel will end in the middle of September. I’m usually doing the morning shift with the beds instead of sitting in the reception. I assume that this has something to do with my zero Chinese knowledge. After my shift I use to sleep for about an hour and when I wake up, ready to start the day, the sun is about to go down. So I just bring my laptop in the lobby and work on my master thesis which I still have to send to my university to officially graduate (I’m doing it by tutory.de!!! Best German website ever!!! Check it out and register!!!). When my supervisor agreed that I can finish it in Asia, I felt really lucky. Now that I’m in Asia and I do have to finish it, I need all my psychological skills to convince myself that I better do it here and now.
Because my schedule after that looks busy. My Taiwanese classmate from the University of Leipzig offered me some members of her Taiwanese social network to spend some time with. They live in different places of the country and I’ll probably spend 2-3 days with each. Not sure yet what I’ll do but I’m afraid that writing my master thesis won’t be on the list.
I started to make my plans after Taiwan by playing around with skyscanner, my favorite airfare search engine and found out that going from Taipei to Hong Kong through Shanghai is cheaper than a direct flight. I’m allowed to spend 72 hours in China with a transfer visa meaning that if I arrive to a Chinese airport from one country and then leaving from the same airport to another country in no more than 3 days, I’m free to leave the airport and look around. With the cheap solution I’d have only a few hours to see Shanghai which didn’t sound enough. So I bought a ticket there for one day earlier. It suddenly stopped being a cheap solution but it was too late, I couldn’t delete Shanghai from my wish list anymore. For suggestions about Shanghai I turned to Nina, my default Chinese info center, you know her from the Sapporo posts, and yes, she knew someone in Shanghai who’ll be ready to guide me through the city.
Hong Kong (09.27-10.02)
Originally I decided to register to Workaway because I found an awesome job in Hong Kong. It was about web development on a ship and I was going to spend the whole October there. I made a Skype interview with the Indian owner who accepted me. I was already in Seoul when he texted me that they moved to the US and cannot have me on board, sorry. Bad news, it could have been a useful activity in so many aspects. I couldn’t do anything but replanning. Fortunately I didn’t have any tickets after Taiwan so I could decide if I still want to visit Hong Kong, and if so, for how long. After checking the air ticket prices and listened to some wise sounding advices I decided to spend there 5 days. That’s all I know so far. I created a public trip on Couchsurfing and see what happens. Nothing yet. I feel like I did before my visit in Seoul. I hope the result will be also something similar.
Since I have already had an appointment in Thailand, I couldn’t choose to stay for long in Vietnam. I found a café that didn’t mind having (and feeding) me for only one week. That’s the main thing I’ll do in Vietnam. Plus there is Thao, the Vietnamese girl from the Fuji post. In Tokyo she told me that she’ll be in Hanoi for a few days in October so we might meet again. I told her that no, I’ll be working on a ship in Hong Kong. Now things changed so I messaged her what’s up. Well, she’s getting married.
When I first read her message, I thought that Google Translate is broken. I translated it to several languages with several translators. There were no signs of any big love when we were climbing the Fuji 3 weeks ago. I started to ask her about the details. It turned out that this is a much less romantic issue.
She moved to Tokyo last year to study Japanese cuisine because she wanted to open a Japanese restaurant in Vietnam. She had a part-time job as a nurse in the evenings. Her younger sister also moved to Tokyo to study but her part-time job wasn’t enough to pay the tuition fees. Thao decided to quit school to have time for another job in a Chinese restaurant so she could support her sister. To work for more than 28 hours a week without a working visa, she has to have a Japanese citizenship. And to get a Japanese citizenship, she needs to get married. Her landlord found her someone who’s ready to marry her for a monthly payment. She doesn’t know his name, his age, his face. But she’ll do it to get a Japanese passport. She’s going to divorce in 3 years. Until that, they might meet sometime for a lunch.
She does feel weird about it but couldn’t find a better solution. Could she find a place for illegal work? She doesn’t dare to risk it. Could she find someone to support her? No one will pay her thousands of Euros. Could she go back and work in Vietnam? The salary there is not enough to pay the Japanese fees. Could she go back to Vietnam together with her sister? Yes, and then probably never come back to Japan. That could be an option but would it really result a better life than a 3 years long fake marriage?
After Vietnam I’m heading to Thailand.
The Workaway website has the marvelous feature of searching by keyword. I tried that months ago using the word ‘piano’ for the whole Asia. That’s how I found the farm in Pattaya where I’ll spend 3 weeks. It’s owned by a family, they have two young boys who want to learn everything in the known universe including English, piano, computers and based on their profile picture, chess as well. The family keeps inviting volunteers to keep the boys educated. Interesting conception. I probably wouldn’t make such an experiment on my own kids. But anyway, I’m looking forward to play the piano again after so many weeks in Sapporo.
Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia etc. (10.31-
My Workaway place in Thailand is confirmed. I will stay there until the end of October and then go to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. I’ll have much more time for those countries than I originally thought. I wish I knew that before so I could stay longer in South Korea. I’m thinking about looking around on Workaway in Malaysia and spend a few weeks there before Indonesia. See if I can find a place with unlimited free meal.
I wasn’t just wasting my week by making beds and writing a master thesis. I also did something intellectual: I learned the rules of mahjong. It’s an old Chinese game where you have to collect chows, pungs and sometimes even kongs. I’m not explaining the rest of the game, you find the rules here.
The source of this idea was Erik, another old Hustep student from Sapporo. He’s living close to Taipei and invited me and his two other friends to him. His parents paid a dinner for us in a restaurant then we went to the house where they live. It’s a building with 27 floors and in the basement there is a small activity center for the residents with a gym, a billiards table and who knows what else, I didn’t have time to look around because we went to the mahjong room immediately. It had a very smart table in the middle that mixed the tiles and spit it out for us exactly in the way the game should be started so we didn’t have to go through the painful process of putting everything in the right place. We were playing for around 2 hours and I won 2 times which is a nice hourly average from a beginner. We might play again before I leave.
Weekly Best Of
+ the free accommodation is still on the top!
+ some progress on my master thesis
+ mahjong party