Monday, September 25, 2006

Eight Hours in Taiwan

Six years ago on this day I was on an overnight bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I slept on and off on that bus and woke long enough to watch terrific flashes of lightning illuminate the sky. As part of the Prodigal Project, I'd embarked on an adventure that would take us from San Francisco to the opposite side of the world where we would spend the next nine months traveling around Thailand, Nepal and India. SouthEast Asia is a destination for travelers from the North America, Europe, Israel, and Australia. Many go seeking spiritual experience and enlightenment in the religions of the East, chiefly Buddhism and Hinduism. And while many seek, few find the Truth. Our desire was to form relationships with these travelers as we lived and traveled alongside them in the hopes of introducing them to the One who didn't merely tell us the truth but who is the Truth. And so we set out, eight in number, not knowing where the Wind would blow us from one day to the next.
Over the next several months I want to share some of the experiences we had during our time there. Once a week (more or less) I'll post an excerpt from my journal that coincides with where I was six years ago. This was a life-changing trip for me, and it was also the time when I discovered how much I enjoy writing. I love traveling and reading stories of adventures in far-off lands. I have a crazy dream of someday writing a travel memoir type book. I like to read those books, but it seems they're usually written by single people; mine will be the adventures of a family who travels and homeschools in the far-flung corners of the world. Someday! But for today, here I am in Oregon, with a house and a mini-van and a handsome husband and two kids . And memories.....
20 September 2000 Sleepy reflections from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan. We left San Francisco at 1AM and after 12 hours in the air we're 6 hours into our layover in Taipei. I'm tired, and still have 2 hours before we board our flight for Bangkok. I just laid down in a patch of sunlight and rested for a while....
Classical music plays over the loudspeaker, interrupted by boarding calls and gate change announcements. The "moving sidewalk" rattles and people speak in languages strange to my ears. It's cool in here, but my bit of sunshine is warm; heat waves outside show themselves moving across my paper. I feel drowsy, hungry. The parking lot looks like any in America except for the Chinese characters on the signs and busses. A new section of the airport is being built and a woman shovels mortar out of a wheelbarrow. The men come in and out of view; I imagine they are laying brick.
Inside people walk by; mostly Asian, a few Indians, very few Caucasians. Business men in suits, young people casually dressed, older women, stylish flight attendants. Many look at us with curiosity and a few smile. The rattling stopped; the "moving sidewalk" is still. The Chinese characters on the bright signs are strange to my eyes, strange, but beautiful. The English translations are often humorous. Advertisements sponsored by the government speak out against drugs and pornography. Other advertisements nearby use naked women to sell their products. Another sign proclaims that possession of drugs in the Republic of China is punishable by death.
We wait, anticipating two more hours here, then three more on the flight to Bangkok. Then customs, taking a train into the city, catching a bus, walking, finding a place to stay, finding food, hopefully finding rest.....

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