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My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [179] | Scholarship Entry

We had been cheated by the bus driver: 45 NTD over usual fare. An hour of unclear travel and we finally arrived to Shalun at 5 pm; my airport shuttle leaving at 8.

The way to the little-known beach had been full of tricky alleys, sampling in minutes locals’ lives. At Taipei’s outskirts, Danshui stands before the immense Pacific, with its shore much ignored by the tourists who rather roam its intense markets.

Taiwanese affability simply detached me from (my) reality. Waiting for the bus, an old lady approached me –struggling to figure out the fare- and gave me 2 coins: “President” said, pointing the face on the 5 NTD coin, and “Chiang Kai-shek” at the 10 NTD coin. On board, I was amused by the scene: women would offer me their seat. Through the 6-day trip, locals were as fascinating as food, being to an extreme kind: from offering me sweet frog eggs as I passed through markets, to stopping me to get a picture with a Mexican enjoying their gracious approach.

With my departure’s looming idea, my friends helped me cope with the overwhelming feeling. They decided to visit Shalun beach, a place overlooked by locals, which I then found to be splendid. We engaged on the long way; when arriving, a tranquil place appeared before me, a world apart from the bustling mood of few streets back. Sunset near, and the scenario was that of sweet melancholy taking over the site –and myself. Kids in the warm, shallow waters got me childhood flashbacks, holidaying with mom & dad. As I entered the water, a vaguely visible plane reminded me how fragile, yet enormously enjoyable moments are. Holding my breath underwater, there I was meeting again the pleasure of simple things.

Time took the lead. Precious seconds hopelessly ending. As I popped into the taxi back, I started thanking my friends’ warmth. But also locals’: said “Muchas gracias!” to the driver, then shook hands. The man was somehow touched at the gesture: made us a discount, from 290 to 270 NTD ride’s fare.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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