I’ve been enjoying the last 3 weeks here in Patong beach, Phuket, catching up on my project work (my Chinese language learning app). Prior to this and immediately following my visit to Angkor Wat I’d spent a few days visiting a close friend. Over the last month or so I deliberated and then decided that I would go back to Taiwan to study Mandarin at Shida university in Taipei.
My original plan was to spend a week in Cambodia and then head to Laos by land, working my way up country. But by the time I’d reached Phnom Penh I really wasn’t feeling Laos. I felt like I was done travelling and wanted to stay put for a while. So I ended up booking a flight to Singapore to see my friend and also to get back to a developed city for a change. Over this period I’d also been thinking about the bigger picture. After this what did I want to do? I didn’t feel like going back home yet and certainly my finances afforded me some more time out there. Back in China I’d thought about staying there and studying Mandarin and/or getting a tech. job a number of times – in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. I really enjoyed learning the language and I didn’t feel like I would be missing out on any home comforts if I did choose to live there. After much research online (thanks to the very man posts and articles from people who’ve been there and done it already) I felt that Taipei would be a good option for me. Language and culture-wise it’s similar to China. But it’s also different in that they have something resembling a democracy and free society. My week in Taipei had left me undecided as to what I felt about it as I’d only really scratched the surface. Plus, the path to becoming a resident and getting a job there with residential rights seems easier than in China; plus software and tech. are major industries there in case I did want to get a job; plus as a British citizen I can stay for up to 6 months on a landing VISA if I wanted to.
At the very minimum, even if my stay there doesn’t turn out to be exciting or awesome I’ll massively improve my Mandarin skills and will be able to walk away knowing what it’s like to live there. My ex-pat life so far has only involved 5 years in India when I was a kid so this will really be a first-time experience for me in that sense. The course runs for 20 hours per week + homework time. I reckon that gives me plenty of time to carry on with my own projects as well as just explore the city and life there. Financially I can definitely last for 3 months, and possibly even 6. Though I’m hoping to have figured out my longer term Taipei plans by the end of the first 3 – i.e. will I want to stay on and work there, etc. I’m excited and at the same time nervous. It’s all part of the fun.
For now Phuket has been awesome. I chose it because I’d been here before and had loved it. And it has a bit of everything – nice beach, nice food, nice weather, bars and clubs as well as good roads for getting around by scooter. Admittedly I still haven’t been swimming in the sea. I’ve been coding every day which actually has been pretty good fun. I’ve got some good eateries and drink places worked out now. I leave for Bangkok on Friday. For my last 2 days I’ve got planned a trip to the Big Buddha and a swim on Karon beach. And perhaps I’ll buy a funky t-shirt. Right, off to get some juice now…
PS: If you want good shisha in Patong then head to Cairo restaurant on Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi.