“We arrived in Taipei. I assumed it would be like Thailand or China where most people had a good command of English. But we were in shock. Again, all you need was a degree in your back pocket. We got offered a couple of jobs and settled quite quickly. Social media has made adapting so easy in today’s world. There are Facebook groups for renting, buying scooters, used furniture, jobs, subbing, meeting new people locally, information sharing…..everything became a doddle,” he laughed.
On a typical week here he works 9-6 at a junior high school, Monday to Friday. On the weekend they usually drive into the beautiful countryside to either hike one of the 286 mountains over 3000 metres, swim in a beautiful waterfall, or relax in a natural volcanic hot spring.
“It really is as good as it sounds. The restaurants here are plentiful and cheap. Though, any pub in the world will never beat a pub in Ireland and the craic. But you have to make the most of it. Embrace your new place and never compare.
“We will be in Taiwan for at least three years and it will be a hard place to leave. The quality of life is great and it is easy to save a few pound, the health care is amazing and the convenience stores (Spars equivalent) here are unreal.
“They have roads in the sky, tunnels for miles through mountains and trains that go 300km an hour. The ease from A to B is a dream and although earthquakes are common you just need good sea legs on the upper floors,” he said.
Encounters with Donegal people
Over the past 17 years he’s bumped into Donegal folk in a basement in London, alleys in Bangkok, a parade in Boston, in the trees at Glastonbury Festival and even up at the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio, Brazil not to forget a Radiohead concert in Japan last August.
“One complaint though, is that life goes way too quick when you are enjoying it. Everyone is getting older, your friends are all married and family time gets a lot more precious. Some day soon I hope to return to the hills of Donegal on a long-term basis. You never know who you will meet next, what direction your life will go, you may travel for years, see the world, but your heart will never leave home,” he said.
The World University Games will no doubt make Alex feel a little home-sick for a few days next month.
“We are not hard to spot, usually sunburned like a lobster, wearing a GAA jersey! Websites like the Donegal News are great to stay in the loop at home too. We are a proud people, travel well, and are great ambassadors for our county and country,” he said.