I'm always a little surprised when Taiwan throws us a curve ball. I kinda feel like we've been here long enough that nothing is surprising anymore, and that we are pros at navigating life in Taiwan and all it entails.
Of course, Taiwan decided to throw us a curve ball when my friend was in town when we were trying to take her some place awesome: Longdong.
I've written about Longdong before (and giggled a little at its name many times). We hung out at Longdong for Sean's birthday because he loves rock climbing and these are Taiwan's best rocks to climb.
We wanted to take my friend somewhere beautiful and outside of Hsinchu City, and as a typhoon was fast approaching, Taiwan seemed like a great and easy day trip.
The last time we went to Longdong, we took a cab.
Mostly we did this because most of the blogs we read mentioned how remote and random Longdong is. We didn't really trust ourselves to be able to find it from the bus stop. However, since we took the bus back from Longdong to Taipei the last time, we knew we could find the right bus stop, Longdong from the bus stop, and we knew when the buses ran.
What we didn't expect was how hard it was going to be to find the bus station in Taipei!
We have taken many buses from Taipei to other places, like Wulai, Pingxi, Yehliu and Juifen. All of those bus stops were super easy to find and figure out. Actually, it is shocking how well organized Taiwan's public transportation is, especially for people who don't understand Chinese.
So we arrived in Taipei with our friend and a bus number. The two morning buses to Longdong run at 9a.m. and at 10am.
We arrived in Taipei in time to catch the 10a.m. bus for Longdong because, let's face it, sleeping in is always the better choice.
We wandered from Taipei Main Station to the nearby main Taipei bus station, only to find it was entirely the wrong station.
Buses left from that station to all the towns near Longdong, they just didn't actually stop in Longdong. We were given directions by at least three people to the correct smaller bus station, yet we could just not find it. It was hilarious and maddening at the same time.
In the end, after at least 30 minutes of wandering around and consulting signs and maps, which also happened to be just enough time to miss the last bus to Longdong, we found the small, poorly marked bus stop.
So, in the end, we took a cab.
But this time, we paid the cabbie to hang around while we explored.
I think he had a great day at Longdong too!
And I'm sure my friend was like: seriously, you guys?! How long have you lived here and you can't find a bus stop?!