Traveling Taiwan pt. 1

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about traveling is to BE FLEXIBLE. I like to know what’s going on and I love researching and making plans, but almost always, sometime happens that makes my plans fly out the window. Traveling around the island with Kelli and David was no different.
After we’d spent a few days exploring Taipei, Aaron and I decided to take our friends south to see the mighty Taroko Gorge. We took a stop on the way to jump in a river and by the time we had eaten dinner, it was pretty late at night. Because there is not much of anything between Yilan and Taroko Gorge on the east coast, we decided to be adventurous and try to find lodging in the outskirts of Yilan. Aaron’s nifty GPS has a search feature that finds restaurants, hotels, and other attractions, so we pushed the hotel button and found lots of interesting options.

The first option led us through rice paddies and farm houses. We pulled up to one of these large houses at about 9pm and saw a lot of people outside. I was not sure that this was a hotel but Aaron assured all of us that it was by the blue polo shirts that a couple of the people inside were wearing. Soon, our little van was surrounded by a half dozen people, perplexed at this van-ful of Americans.
“Hotel?” Aaron asked, and soon this family scrambled to find their youngest and most English-education family member. As soon as they figured out what we were asking, we all knew that this was not, in fact, a hotel. Just another multi-generational homestead. And then, this family did what I knew they would do. They tried to help us in every way possible. By writing down directions (in Chinese) to the nearest hotel and then telling us in great detail (in Chinese) how to get there.
Embarassed yet entertained by the situation, we rolled out of there in search of another “hotel”. About 2 minutes later, we did find a fancy looking house with a sign out front and knew that this may be our golden opportunity. There was a light on and I went inside to investigate. I called the number at the front desk and a sleepy woman answered. Here is how our conversation went:
“Way?” (what?) she said.
“Nee-how. Wo-yow, ee-ga hotel room” (hello, I want one hotel room), I said in very broken, very bad Chinese.
“Way?”, she said.
“WOO-YOW….WOE MEN, EEE-GAAA, uh, crap! I mean, ee-ga, ROOM! One Room!
Ingwon ma?” (me trying to ask if she spoke English, loudly and frustrated-ly).
This time I panicked and hung up the phone. I remembered my ipod has a little dinky emergency Chinese phrase book so I brought it back into the building and tried calling again.
The second time wasn’t much better, only I had a robotic voice instead of mine, asking if she had a room available.
“WAY???” she said.
After a few minutes of her and robot voice, David and I heard a door open and a sleepy lady and her underwear clad husband come out, looking just as confused to see us as we were to see them. After a long awkward silence, I played my robot phrase one more time, showed it to them, and instantly, the man jumped into action.
He gave us a room, slippers, somehow communicated that breakfast was at 7 the next morning, and we were on our way. While Aaron and I are pretty much used to our enormous communication barrier, Kelli and David thought the whole thing was hilarious.
After a good night’s sleep at our new favorite bed and breakfast, we were ready to hit the Gorge.

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