Today, two of the people that are on my team and I decided that we were going to take an adventure to Hualian City. They had been there before (because they were in Taiwan last year) and after getting lost they decided to turn around and go home. So we decided that we wanted to go and do some shopping. The rest of our team decided that they did not want to join us because they had just gotten here, so we went just as a small group.
We decided that we were going to take the train that left at 11:10 from Yuli. After many failed attempts at leaving the house to get to the train station early, we got to the train station right as the train pulled into the station. We still needed to buy our tickets. There was one problem... we did not know how to say "city" in Chinese. So Lauren decided to pull out her handy English-Chinese dictionary. There was a guy behind us in line who spoke pretty good English and asked us if we needed a hand. We in turn told him of course. We told him where we were headed and he told the guy at the window. We paid for our tickets and made a mad dash toward the train. We made the train! The train went to Hualian City but stopped only at the first stop. We decided that that was where we would get off and head to shopping from there. An hour or so later, we arrived in Hualian City. Nothing screamed "CITY" to us so we decided to get a taxi and asked him to take us to Carefore which is this huge Walmart mixed with a small shopping mall place. We figured that this would be downtown and there would be places to shop around it... To our surprise... there was not. We walked inside because we were going to get something to eat before beginning our search for places to shop. There was nothing inside that we wanted to eat so we left the store. We started down this one road that was a large road and at the start looked promising... but we had no luck. While we were walking down this road we had spotted a place down a much smaller road that looked like a train station. So after we had no luck we decided to head down the lesser road to the "train station." We walked... and walked... and looked at the random food shops, schools, houses, etc. that were on the road. As we were walking down the road the thought was brought up by Sarah that the "train station" looked an awful lot like a police station. Lauren and I disregarded this idea and so we proceeded. We reached the end of the road. It was indeed a police station. Now began the debate on weather or not we should go in and ask them to call a taxi. Me and my chicken self didn't think that this would help us any. Lauren made the final decision by walking through the door of the police station with her handy dictionary. Sarah and I decided that we should follow to be moral support (Lauren speaks the best Chinese out of the group). After getting the conversational words that she needed together in her mind, she began to talk to an officer who then pointed us to another officer. We told him what we would like... and after the 3rd or 4th try he finally understood us. He called us a cab and said that we could have a seat in the little waiting area until the taxi got there. The next hurdle that we needed to jump was telling the taxi driver where we wanted to go. Out popped the handy book. While we were looking through the book the officer who had helped us brought us some water. It was very nice. The taxi got there pretty quick. He understood us and where we wanted to go. He took us right to where shopping was. Where he stopped just so happened to be right across the street from a Starbucks. Now in case you did not know, that is one of my favorite places... EVER! And when my fellow adventurers saw it, they made the decision that we would eat lunch there and also indulge ourselves in some coffee. After hanging out there for awhile, we decided to begin our shopping extravaganza. We shopped... and shopped... and shopped. We went up and down roads... alleyways... big stores... little stores. Shoe stores and clothes stores. Every store we walked into the people that worked there immediately made themselves known. Over here most people have the misconception that all Americans are rich. So in there eyes we could afford everything that was in the store. This of course was not true. We had a very fun time though. At one point we stopped at this place that was selling these little cake things because they were making them in this little... well it was pretty large... machine that put the batter in the molds, and then the filling, and then closed them, and the flipped them. They were pretty amazing. We finally decided that we had done enough shopping... and headed back to Starbucks to get some more coffee and to see when the next train left. It was about 6:15 at this point and the next train heading back to Yuli didn't head there until about 8:15. We still had some more shopping time to use up. After we had absolutely shopped our hearts (and legs... and feet) out we got another taxi and headed to the train station. We got our tickets... and had about 45 minutes before the train left. We decided to get some food to take and eat on the train and got side tracked with the area right outside of the train station. It was pretty cool and we could not resist taking tons of pictures. We then headed across the street to this little place that sold food. And ordered and walked back to the train station. We hopped on the train and headed home. It was about 10:00 before we got home but we had an amazing day. I love it here more and more the longer I am here. I love and miss each one of you. Keep me in your prayers. I need to head to bed because church is in the morning.