It was fairly late at night, just 24hrs after from arriving in Taiwan. I was about to begin a six month stint living in Taiwan’s old capital; Tainan, but for now – it was all about exploring Taipei. At this particular moment my friend and I were heading back to our hotel, riding the MRT, when we decided our stomachs had other ideas and we suddenly had an urge to find the nearest night market which we’d heard so many great things about.
Full of confidence that comes with the excitement of travel we turned to the girl sitting next to us and asked if she knew which station to stop at. It quickly became apparent that she spoke no English whatsoever and we were just about to offer our apologies and seek out the next person we could find, when she brandished her phone and opened up a translation app.
What followed was a hearty conversation involving the toing and froing of her phone, for well over three hours. Not only did the girl know the way to get to the nearest night market, but she took it upon herself to march us there. She guided us through the bustling streets of Taipei, as we still frantically typed messaging back and forth using this ingenuous app.
Once at the night market we were meticulously shown around and introduced to a fair few Taiwanese delicacies and night market traditions, however despite the girls best efforts, I will never fully embrace Stinky Tofu! We were then guided towards an abundance of street games and with furious pointing and the hurried use of her app, we were ushered to join in and play – all before she forcefully demanded the stall owner gave us a prize even though we totally sucked!
The night drew to a close as she directed us back towards our hotel – but not before swapping contact details and agreeing to perhaps meet again. The whole experience was a unique surprise and a brilliant welcome to Taiwan. I am so grateful for this girl’s time and effort. For her to go out of her way to help us for several hours; was truly remarkable. Faith in humanity – restored!