Photo of USTDC courtesy of Les Duffin

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My First Day in Taipei

I've gone through a bit of a dry spell recently with nothing much to add here. I guess that's not too surprising since I've been writing this blog longer (19 months) than I actually spent at TDC (15 months).

But today I took another look at the picture of the old Linkou Club (below) and remembered that there was a small hotel just east of there, either next door or a couple of doors down, which was where I stayed for a few days after my arrival. My sponsor met me at the airport and I think we took a taxi to the hotel. I got checked in, took my bag up to the room, and then my sponsor and I went to the Linkou for a tall, cool one.

I had just spent five years in Colorado, so the heat and humidity of Taipei were quite a shock. Throw in a bad case of jet lag and I was one pretty fuzzy tech sergeant that day.

I clearly remember that the Linkou Club was a whole lot cooler than outside. We went upstairs to the bar and what I remember most was that as soon as the beer was poured in the glass, ice crystals formed in it. I haven't had a beer in several years, but I think the Budweiser that I drank on that hot day in Taipei in 1973 may have been the best I ever tasted.

My sponsor told me to take the rest of the day off and come to the office the next morning, so I went back to the hotel for a shower and a nap. Two minutes later there was a knock on the door and a young lady -- okay, maybe not all that young -- came in, sat down and suggested that I find an apartment for the two of us. All I really wanted was just to grab some sleep but she continued to negotiate. I eventually convinced her to leave and I think I slept straight through until about 6:00 the next morning. I don't think I ever saw her again.

Anyway, I can't remember the name of the hotel and I was wondering if any of you guys remember it. It was small and I remember that my room was on the second floor. I can't say if there were any other floors above it.

Also, if you'd like to describe your first day (some of you already have), either comment below or if it's lengthy, just send me an email and I'll post it. Be sure to include the year you arrived.


JimSartor said...

Oh My God the SMELL!!! That was our first impression getting off the plane in Taipei.

Coming from Stuttgart, Germany with wife and young daughter, we were hit with culture shocks right and left.

In Germany, people drove very fast but very well; in Taipei, people drove(??) slowly and badly.

Once we made it to our hotel, also near the Linkou Club, we tried to catch up on our sleep only to be awakened by noises from the A/C ducting. Youbetcha, there were rat races in the A/C at 2 a.m.

Being new to Taipei and the Orient, I went downstairs to complain to the night manager(s) and only after several months in Taipei did I realize that the, indeed, did NOT understand just why I was complaining. They already knew that everyone had rats and mice in their a/c. They just went with the "Taiwan Experience"!!!

Along about 3 a.m., what we learned was the "all night tea party" started up, complete with whistling tea kettle and much high volume Chinese arguing just below our window.

A few days after arriving, we were driven from our hotel to TDC and then to Tien Mu to look at houses.

Those first 30 minutes of Taipei traffic are burned into my memory!
Even though we were merely passengers, I broke out in a heavy sweat and my life flashed before my eyes several times.

Welcome to Taipei!!!!

sarj said...

Thanks Don and Jim.........I always like hearing stories about Taipei. I can almost feel I was there with you.
It's a good feeling to relive those days even through another persons story.

Bill said...

I wonder if you were in a hotel or a GUEST HOUSE. Most often new personnel and families were put into these Guest Houses. Almost like long term apartments as they normally had kitchens, etc. Being there from 73-79 I do not remember a hotel in that area, but do remember a few Guest Houses in the two block area down from the Linkou Club.

JimSartor said...

Bill: Since that was 40 years ago
I don't remember for sure whether it was a guest house or a hotel but it did have a lobby area. We had only one room though so I suspect it was a hotel.

We were there only a very few days until we found a house in Tien Mu.

When leaving Taiwan we did stay in a guest house in Tien Mu and not a hotel.

Just remembered how the Taiwanese were trying to adopt "new" ideas though. Went into a bar in Taipei one time and used the "new" wall mounted urinal only to notice too late that the plumbing wasn't installed. Looking below the urinal I noticed only a four or 5 inch piece of copper tubing coming out of the bottom and the "liquid" simply splashing on the floor where it ran into a floor drain.

Also, in our first rental house (new construction) the aluminum framed windows were built without the rubber gaskets around the glass and when it rained, as it often did, the water hit the glass, ran down the outside, under the frame into the house.

Re: the Linkou Club: Went in there one evening, ordered a steak and couldn't cut it. Called the waitress over and explained the problem. Being ever ready to keep the customer happy, she took the steak back without complaint and
returned it to me a few minutes later carefully cut into bite sized pieces. After finally getting over my laughter, I ordered a ham burger instead.

Ah yes, Taipei stories!!! There must be 2 million of them (It's a shame we can't remember them all.)

George said...


I enjoyed your story, especially the part about your visitor. I would have been scared being an innocent 19 year old back on February 6th, 1965 to have such a visitor. But I must say I pray for such a visitor every day now that I am 63. What a contrast between now and then!

My first day was February 6th, 1965 walking from Signal Compound up to Club 63...what beautiful mountains in the distance as I walked across the Yuan Shan bridge. It changed my life as I may have mentioned before. I feel I am part of that wonderful culture now, I can't explain it any other way.

Don said...

George, I should have mentioned that I had a wife and four kids back in Colorado at the time.

Besides that, ten years earlier I was a 19 year old on Okinawa. 'Nuff said. ;)