Getting a driver’s license is the predominant reason why I planned to me stay in Taiwan for such a long time (1.5 months!). And finally, half way through my driving classes, I got to drive on the highway!
(or not really the “highway” but the normal roads :p )
Not only had I learned the driving skills, but a lot of live experiences from my driving coach.
10 am we left the practice court, with me, my coach, and another his student. I drove first; we took turns for about 2 times and reversed when we got back. The first section was still in town so the traffic was fine while the roads with all the constriction sites quite challenging. The coach did nothing but warning me this and that, asking me to turn left, choosing lanes (and stick to my choice lol), pressing the gas pedal (and later telling me not to cuz I drove too fast lol), not making drastic turns blahblahblah. In general it was much easier than I thought and I could feel my inner racer blood flowing.
Hmm I thought I hated speed and danger and anything that leads to them. Well I guess maybe I will like driving, if I get the license.
So it was 11 am and the coach asked me to park a car in front of a family-run noodle restaurant located a little bit passing the hillside. WE HAD LUNCH. It was way more than random and the lunch a bit too early for me. But with that I started to see my coach, having worked for more than 20(30?) years, everyday 5am – 8pm, was trying to be as friendly as he could to us. He was the head coach in the coaching institute and the most experienced ones. I asked him if he has taken breaks from classes to classes (if a class lasts about one month), he said “barely”.
I guess it was the time when we started to talk about stuff. We started with why the older people needs to pay more tuition (because of their weaker ability to learn) for the driving class and later talked about my parents’ foreign background. And I was quite amazed.
My parents were born in Burma and didn’t move to Taiwan until 1960s, so they have nothing to say about the Taiwan under the martial law from 1930s to 1960s. On the contrary, the coach started to talk about politics, educations, and everything I might have known from the mere pages in history textbooks. He named all the generals, the governors, and the dates like it was essential in his blood. It wasn’t a provocative speech but a gentle but sad one. I started to feel the difference between my family and a “normal” family. A family who have breathed with the land we stand on.
\Besides the conversation, I was much amazed by how mountainous and gorgeous it is in Taiwan. Since Taipei City and New Taipei City (= Taipei County) is a basin, one can see mountains even at the busiest center of the city. And within 30 mins drive one can definitely reach a mountain/hill. The coach deliberately chose the route in the mountain so we could practice gentle turns and speed control on ramps. After lunch the other student was driving and we were in the wide valley. Just by watching all the villages settling on the steep ramps I deeply envy the residents and their views. Or I guess there are definitely struggles regarding convenience, sanitary, and and safety. But for me, a town kid with no vehicles in my family to drive to countrysides and no relatives to visit in Taiwan, I barely have access to all the nature and landscapes within even just the City of Taipei. (Not to mention the canyons and corals and the Jade Mountain)
On my way back I drove again and we talked about the corrupted education in Taiwan and some recent events. It was almost 2pm when we got back. Glad that we had lunch earlier or I would probably starved to death.
It was a great expereience