“Don’t do it, Amber. Its too dangerous.”
“You don’t speak the language, this is a dumb idea.”
“Are you crazy?”
Despite what my worried friends told me, I knew that after gallivanting through Asia for the last 6 months , it was the right time to take off on a solo motorbike trip in Taiwan. Sure, I couldn’t read most of the signs, but I had come this far, and likely could survive on sign language as I had in Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia.
Using the immaculate public transportation and a map from my hostel, I navigated my way to the main train station in Taipei, and identified where to buy tickets. While puzzling over the different options and holding up the line, I must have looked confused, because a Taiwanese couple offered to help me.
Miraculously, the next day I arrived in Hualien, a touristy town famous for its moon cakes. Step one: rent a scooter.
Most of them required an international drivers license – mine had expired – but I found a rental office being managed by a 13 year old girl who was clever enough to open up Google Translate so we could communicate. Through typing and sign language we agreed on a price, $10/day for 4 days, and I was about to pay in advance when her father came in.
Smelling of alcohol, her dad tried to renegotiate. He told me again and again in Chinese something I couldn’t understand – he couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that I didn’t speak any Chinese. His daughter entered it into Google Translate, and apparently he was insisting that I pay in advance, which I was already planning to do anyway.
Finally, I hopped on my silver scooter and rode straight out of town. I left most of my stuff at the hostel, only taking with me a small day-pack with a few clothes, my journal, and a camera.
How did I get to be so lucky? I felt so joyful and empowered. It was difficult to worry about anything, with the wind in my hair, the green-brown mountains reaching up to my right, and the vast blue ocean to my left. “It’s complete and utter freedom to be here, in this moment,” I thought to myself.
More spectacular than the scenery was my inner joy at the moment. There I was, traveling alone, as a woman, in a country where I didn’t speak the language, and having the time of my life – that is what travel is all about. “I can do anything,” I thought as the world zipped by me.
To Be Continued…
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination…”
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