Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Taiwan Trip (FINAL CHAPTER): Hitchhiking

So I'm finally here writing my last post of my Taiwan trip, and it was also one of my fondest memories - the hitchhiking journeys! Just a note, it was my ever first REAL hitchhiking experience -you know, the thumbs up way- if you don't count some earlier times where ppl were nice enough to stop and offer tof give me a lift. 

And guest what, I was lucky enough hit the hitchhikers' utmost heaven - TAIWAN.

There's no public transport from Cingjing to Hehuanshan. So after an epic night sleeping outside a garage, we managed to get our first lift from "Little Mouse". It's indicated here as the red line. 

#1 Hike: Little Mouse

It was two guys going for their ever first hike and were just excited as we were. They were going to the East Peak and we were going to the North, but they offered to send us all the way there despite having to make a detour themselves. 

The reason behind the name "Little Mouse" was because it left a very deep impression on me when they said '@' as little mouse when we were exchanging email addresses. Like literally, forexample[little mouse] And they said it with a total straight face I just died laughing. 

#2 Hike: Scary Night
Imagine this place sans the light and with even more fog. 
It was under such circumstance that we fortunately managed to get a hike from a couple returning from Hualien (ie. the east) to Taichung (ie. the west).

I would think we were looking super dubious, emerging out of the fog in the dark with huge backpacks and weird clothes. I was surprised that they were even willing to stop at all! They cleared their backseats for us and only dropped us off when they found the only hotel in that whole region. How fortunate that was!

#3 Hike: Tribal Culture Enthusiast
The next day, we got our third hitchhike along this road to catch a bus from Central Taiwan to the East. As you can see, it's definitely NOT the best place to stop a car, but people were still willing to stop for us. This time, it turned out to be a couple who were very much enthusiastic about the Taiwan indigenous tribes and their culture. They shared many places for us to check out, but sadly those places were all out of our planned route. 

#4 Hike: Cheng Cheng

The car that had stopped for us at the spot was a family having their day out on the weekend. There were two kids in the car, one was the son and the other was the cousin. The kids became fascinated with Q instantly, cos I guess his 'browness' seemed exotic to them. 

So they started trying to have an English conversation with him while ignoring my conversation to them in mandarin. The son, Cheng Cheng, started by saying 'Hello', and the cousin followed with 'How are you? What's your name?'. So Q naturally answered and tried to teach him what to answer back. Cheng Cheng was the younger boy and was constantly sneaking shy peeks at Q while sitting with his mom in the passenger seat. Halfway through, he suddenly started wiping tears from his face and he looked so sad as he wormed himself back to his mother's arms.

It turned out that he was upset cos he really wanted to converse in English with Q, but he's just lost at words and seeing his cousin doing better than him made him felt rather lousy about himself. Our hearts were like melting when we heard that cos THAT was the precious innocence of a child right there.

#5 Hike: Tourist Bus

Yes it's right, an empty tourist bus on its to Kaohsiung to pick out a Japanese tour group actually stopped for us and drove us a good 60km down the East Coast Line.

Reason? Cos the driver said he understand that public buses along the East Coast generally take very long to come and we would have to wait under the blazing sun if he doesnt stop for us.


#6 Hike: Lady going for meeting

We were along a very deserted stretch of the 'highway', after leaving a surfer town called Donghe. A lady who was going to Taitung city for meeting stopped for us and started telling us about what food to check out in Taitung. After days and days of 7-Eleven instant noodles, we were totally salivating over the thought of FOOD FOOD. 

And Taitung really turned out to be such a LOVELY place. With SUCH good food god. See here for what went down over there for us. 

#6 & 7 Hike: KINDEST Person EVER
Here's the most EPIC hitchhike we've had in Taiwan and it definitely ended our trip in the best way it could ever be. 

So it all started at the outskirts of the Taitung city, with my dear boy over here getting slightly grumpy over the blazing sun and the sheer heat that was baking us alive.

It was after a while when a Honda stopped for us. It was funny cos they actually stopped like 10 meters away, and after a few seconds, they reversed a little too swiftly back to us, just like in cartoons. Anyw, it was a couple in their twenties taking a few days to drive around Taiwan. They told us that it was their very first time stopping to pick up hitchhikers and how amazing that was! I mean like we weren't the best dressed ppl around (not even close I know), and I am sure the sweating didn't help either. So how nice they still stopped despite our shabbiness and all ahhahah :D

Our plan was to hitchhike from Taitung to Kaohsiung, but that's a real long way (see the red line in the map above). So we decided to stop along the way to grab a bite and explore some place before getting on again, so that's naturally goodbye to that very kind couple. 

Guess where was our stop..Hint: there are two numbers in the shop's name. 
Taiwanese 7-Eleven has the best yogurt!
Look out for this particular one (come in both Black and Blue, I personally preferred the black one) and it tastes extra nice on hot days. 

We were having our break when I suddenly realised that I left my cap in the couple's car and I was so upset cos that cap had come a long way with me through so many of my travels. 


I started to look through my photos for my last pic in it so I could use it during its memorial ceremony later. And here's the pic. 

We then went on for a while before giving up soon again at the start of the mountain road. Yea I know, we were pretty spoiled by all the nice people by then. We barely stood for 3min when a truck came and stopped before we even managed to stick up our thumbs. 

It was at this EXACT spot above that we met the kindest Taiwanese we've crossed path - Guan Qing. 

Guan Qing is in his early twenties and has been helping his father to run their construction business for several years. He was just returning home to Kaohsiung after completing a project in Taitung (hence the lack of space and Q having to cutely squeeze himself at the back along with the equipment hahaha). 

He was very matured for his age, and he shared so much about how Taiwan's current political dynamic would affect SME like his, how unwilling youngsters were when it comes putting in effort and hardwork, what were the historical uses of places along the way, how he grew up under the indigenous culture... It was so refreshing hearing about someone's experience and opinions that was much different from our own's, and I didn't know I've missed that until that then. 

It was a 3-hour drive and when we were just entering Kaohsiung city, we decided to stop over at (yet another) 7-Eleven to grab some drink.

And guess what!?

What were the chances right!! And over here they were asking Guan Qing (the guy on the high stool) about places of interest in Kaohsiung hahah.

So yup, my dear dear cap was once again back to my head:)))) See! What's meant to be yours will always be yours, even if you had changed car and drove on for 3 hours.

And that's not the end of the story.

Guan Qing brought us to a hotel where he thought was convenient and affordable, before heading back home. We bid goodbye but the hotel turned out to be full and a little shabby, so we wandered along the roads for a good 30 min before finally finding one to settle in. 

That was when I realised I left my water bottle in Guan Qing's car.

HAHAHHAH I know I can really forgettable at times, ESPECIALLY when it comes to stuff that I hold in my hands. Anyway, I wasn't very affected cos you know, it's just a water bottle so it's like, 'oh ok, too bad then'.

BUTTTTT Quan Qing called me on FB the moment I connected to the hotel's WIFI and it turned out that he noticed my water bottle when he reached home and he rmb how happy I was to find back my cap which I thought I had lost. So he decided to return it back to us and he went back to the hotel where he dropped us, just to find out that we didn't stay there in the end. And SOOOOMEHOW he found THE hotel that we were staying in cos it happened to be owned by the same chain as the one he left us at. He was just downstairs our hotel when he finally got through my phone.

 He even pasted a postcard on the bottle cos he wanted us to keep a piece of memory of Taiwan from him. HOW SWEET WAS THAT?!?!

Yup, that's Quan Qing. 

The legendary KINDEST person we met in Taiwan.

This was another postcard he mailed to Singapore a while back when he went on a holiday with his girlfriend.

I am so speechless at the extent of kindness by this person. God bless this kind, kind child.

So that's it, our every pleasant hitchhiking experience in Taiwan. 
We couldn't thank you and your kind people more Taiwan!