With a non-plan plan I made my way to the airport. Nursing a fuzzy red wine/maekju (beer) head and utterly enjoying the fluttering of butterflies in my stomach. I finally had a legitimate reason to disembark on the mechanically voiced prompt of the light rail ‘Gimhae international airport, you may exit on the right,’ yes I may!
I weaved my way through a plethora of Korean holiday-making headgear, visor enthusiasts eat your heart out, to the Airbusan queue. This was it. I was doing it. Going it alone. A lone ranger. An explorer named Laura (hmmm…)… On the road again.
Journey il (1): Airbusan flight 540,000 won return: Gimhae, South Korea -> Taoyuan airport, Taiwan
Checked-in and raring to go I thought I’d make use of Korea’s complimentary computers and check out some accommodation for the night. I was excited for an adventure but those butterflies were no longer swooping so much as swatting, my hungover head was keen to ensure it could rest for the evening.I was lucky they had swapped swoops for swats as the room availability had severely depleted. I quickly went over my options. My 6 month SE Asia ‘Amasian’ escapade often lead us to nights of going through some ‘no room at the hostels’ to find accommodation for that same evening. It’s part of the thrill of travelling, having a no plan-plan. And often leads you somewhere unexpected, even if it’s not always some where you want to be, it’s the excitement of the unknown. But on a time-budget, and with a travel aim of some much needed r ‘n’ r I thought I’d go for the latter option, the semi-plan plan, and book up what was left on hostel-world. This choice allowed more freedom within my time-budget, even if it meant less of one on the financials it looked worth the ‘pretty penny’ (in a budget backpackers mind) I paid so I bit the proverbial bullet and booked it!
A security check later and I was in. Already the refreshing feeling of having minimal knowledge on my destination, and not having to care, gave my mind that space to breath it’s been craving. Since my arrival in Korea I’ve tried so hard to avoid loneliness, to overcome the worries and difficulties of cultural adjustments, and to make the most of my time here, I had no time left for myself, for reflection or understanding of my life now (wow that sounds dramatic but I really can’t quite comprehend sometimes that I live in Korea), a life where chopsticks are my go-to utensils and kimchi comprises one of my five a day. And already I felt excited for the adventure and freedom laid out before me…
Passport stamped, border crossed, country entered. Dorothy was no longer in Korea. Time for Taiwan!
Journey 2: High speed rail Taoyuan -> Zuoying (NT 1,355) (journey time <2 hours)
The transport options appear twofold: bus or train (the train providing two further options: the tortoise or the hare)
I chose the hare, again, opting for the maximisation of my time rather than financial budget. I enjoyed some tropical fruit and bogey-coloured green tea milk as I watched the glorious palm trees zoom by. If nothing else good came from the Dutch’s colonisation in the 1600s, it was it’s appreciation for such an aesthetically pleasing piece of land with the naming of ‘Formosa,’ beautiful in said language. And even through further invasions carried out by the Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and the latter 2 a few more times over, it’s name still so appropriately fits. In both land and locals.
Journey 3: Taoyuan -> Kenting (NT 650 return) (journey time 3 hours)
I approached the smiling ladies at the bus counter. Pretty proud of my successful journey so far. I requested a ticket, not putting into use that Chinese I learned. As oh I came equipped with a mere ‘neehao…’ Then, as I fumbled for payment my coins splattered out everywhere and once retrieved I attempted payment with at least 3 of those coins being Korean. ‘Oh I think this is Korean’ the lady politely gestured, to which I proudly retorted ‘yeah, I live in Korea.’ Hmm obviously successfully when I can’t even recognise the currency! A slightly less-successful encounter, but one which rewarded an inner-chuckle, and off I went…