Yesterday for the first time I covered new ground, literally. I left Singapore headed not back to Indonesia or Malaysia, but north and east to Taiwan for my first visit to LCMS headquarters in Chiayi City, Taiwan.
As it’s the rainy season for many places on this side of the world, it was cloudy and overcast as I waited for the plane to depart. A new route, a new destination, a new airline (Scoot, the discount carrier line of Singapore Airlines). And while travel takes a bit more of a toll on the body than it did years ago, it’s still a source of excitement. And a very real and jarring reminder that my life is in God’s hands. Not just when flying over vast quantities of ocean but every day, in all situations.
The flight is just under five hours and uneventful. We arrived in Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, on time and I made my way from the terminal and through customs and immigration, down to the bus station and by bus to another spot in town where I could get on the High Speed Rail (HSR) that would take me at speeds of up to nearly 200 km/hour southwards to Chiayi City in just over an hour.
After ten months of living in a foreign country and gradually learning to read and comprehend at least some of the writing that surrounds us on a daily basis in a city, it was a bit strange to be in a place where, if there were not English subtitles, I’d have no idea what was being communicated. While the English-speaking population of Chiayi is probably pretty low, the signage was overall pretty helpful. We really have no idea how blessed we are to be native English speakers when so much of the world is not but wants to be!
A 30-minute taxi ride took me from the train station on the western outskirts of town to the LCMS headquarters on the outskirts of the eastern side of the city. It was dark by now so I was able to enjoy the city lights along the drive. This is one of the main drags through town.
I almost took the wrong ride. Well, probably not wrong ride, but a more expensive ride. I was approached as I neared the exit of the train station in Chiayi by a man who spoke a little English asking if I wanted a taxi. I went with him, actually got into his car, and then as he fiddled with the meter, got a text from my boss (Southeast Asia Regional Director Rev. Charles Ferry) warning me to avoid other options and look for a long line of yellow taxi cabs outside the station. While I don’t think the ride I initially agreed to was dangerous, it would probably have been more expensive (the car was certainly a lot nicer!). But I hopped out quickly, and despite his protests walked briskly off to the other side of the train station where I did indeed find a row of yellow taxis. I was grateful I pack light and had insisted on just putting my bag in the backseat with me instead of the trunk!
I was greeted by Rev. Ferry and his wife Cheryl and they escorted me to the Presidential guest suite – named after our current LCMS President. It was very comfortable and provided everything I would need for my stay!