The Fall term began and companies had been setting up recruitment activities furiously over my side of university. Amid all the rush and upcoming exams, I can’t help but wonder, what life had in store for me. Or rather, what can I do to control the flow of life. I am at the midpoint of my college days. What I do from this few moments on will most probably defined the my life for the next two decades or so. Frankly, I still have no idea what my specialty interests are, though I identified a rather broad niche to pick from.
What do I want from life. Where do I imagined myself to be 5 years from now, how about 10 or 20 years from now. Do I want to work? If so, which field? Do I want to go grad school? If so, more questions to thinks about. I saw the campus recruiters who came to college, some have springs in their footsteps as if they found their ideal job. Others, a slight sorrow hidden behind a mask of indifferent face. I wonder which one I would be. Or, I could take the third option, finally starting on my Project A. It has been months since I envisioned it, but I never get to start on it.
Every year, I would reflect on Robert Frost poem on”The Road Not Taken”, wondering if I should have taken the other path. Regret is always on my mind. So, I often opt to take the singular road, to prevent my meeting with the fork in the path. A successful leader makes quick decision and moves on to other endeavors if the outcome is a failure. Still, I’m here, unable to decide yet still looking forward.
Now, back to editing my resume and work on my Korean homework. 안녕히 계세오.
(Tainan, Taiwan) Along the rail tracks here I go
I spent my night time in Taiwan in interesting ways. I’d sleep on a thin futon, on a plank of wood, on the couch, and stayed awake with a bunch of friends till dawn. On my last night, I decided to sleep in the airport since I have an early flight, might as well save the money for souvenirs. I have just an hour left to travel and do all my shopping before the last bus. My journey to the night market for the souvenirs was efficient. Since I visited the place before, I memorized the stalls locations and goods, making a mental map of which direction to travel as to cover the whole night market ground in the quickest time possible.
Already aware of the time bind I’m in, I rushed back to the bus station, timing everything to the precise minute. But I should have expect the unexpected, I lose track of the location of my luggage locker and reached the bus station just in time to see the last bus to the airport pulled off and move away from me.
I was free and without a place to sleep for the night. My first order was to secure my luggage, and to sneak into a hostel’s lobby to make good use of their wifi. When the lobby closed, I was a bit restless and aimless, I head to the ground floor of a locked building just to stare at the sleeping night guard. The wind was howling at the time and I was thankful to have at least a shelter from the wind. After an hour or two, the guard woke up and almost jumped when he saw me, maybe wondering how I managed to enter the building. I took that as a cue and left the building, now exploring what the night of Taipei has to offer me. I spent the next hour walking along the roads, circling around the main station area. I saw the convenience stores closed down and talked with random taxi drivers now and then.
Around near five, I picked up my luggage again and head to the bus station, where I can get the earliest bus to the airport. Where I could finally submit to fatigue and catch some sleep.
(Taipei, Taiwan) They’re all the same everywhere
Taiwanese loves their convenience store, and with so much round the corner, it’s a wonder how they could earn money. I first observed this when I arrived in Taipei Main Station. 2 Seven Eleven are within walking distance of each other. With other competitors – Family Mart and Hi Life sprinkled surrounding the brand name convenience stores; it’s a convenience shopper paradise. As a marketing tool, having that much stores around bearing the same distinctive sign board is a good branding instrument. But, as a way to earn profit, I’m not so sure about it. With that much competition around, from both within and outside the brand, how much could a single store make in a month? The franchisers are making a killing out of the monthly royalty each franchisee has to pay. Now, it’s no longer a game of improvising to provide a unique selling point, but rather to just dominate the market by sheer volume.
I visited each type of convenience store to check out the layout inside. I was expecting something different but they’re just selling the exact same thing in almost the same arrangement. It might had been wiser if the brands just consolidate and merged their branches in Taiwan together. It will not compromise the Taiwanese taste for convenience since the rivals used to be next to each other. Not good for the brands, but reduce inefficiencies in the market.
A quiet moment of glory happened when I stepped out of the bus in Tainan, I couldn’t see a single Seven Eleven in sight. Thinking that this city is spared of the competition of convenience brands, I was dismayed when I saw the familiar sign once again.
(Tainan, Taipei) Jordan and his bike. Crazy rides.
Meet Jordan – He’s French, staying in Tainan for his thesis along with another French and a Peruvian. The reason I want to introduce him is for his kindness and to note his driving skills. It was pouring heavily in Tainan when I arrived there, certainly much heavier than what I’m used to. Luckily, Jordan’s willing to drive both Cheyne and I through the rain. Hugging a 13 kg luggage, with 2 other (heavy) bags wrapped around my shoulders, I sped through a downpour in Tainan with him on his motorbike. What a thrill! Boy, what an adventure.
(Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan) No English!
When trying to buy dinner to fill the stomach in Taichung, I came across a hawker store. As my usual methods to buy food by judging through the pictures or just to follow the crowd’s favorite was out of the question, there’s no easy time getting my dinner. There’s no English translation available on the menu. When the cook asked me to pick my final selection out of the menu, I revealed my inability to read the whole selection. He asked me then how did I ever survive out in the streets over here. I replied, “I just asked for the chef’s recommendation and bear with anything that came out on the plate. We both laughed.