I headed out to Tainan station. I lined up and gave the man my destination and time I wanted to travel written in my best Chinese on a chit of paper. He looked at his computer and then concentrated hard. He said in good English, that train if full. I was happy he said this in English. I did not yet know the Chinese for that statement. I caught the train after.
As it was school holidays there were several groups of high school students on the train. The trip was a short one.
I got off the train as did a group of school boys at my intermediate station. I headed off on my own. I had an hour or two to get to the bus station and it was not too far. I walked down there.
The group of school boys were all visibly shocked when I waked into the bus terminal. I bought my ticket and we all caught the same bus up into the mountains.
At the destination, the boys got off first and headed off into the distance. I wandered down mountain side village to the place I intended to stay and booked a dormitory room.
As it was now dinner time, I headed out for dinner. I walked down a mostly deserted street with a few small restaurants. A proprietor saw me reading his list if dishes and came out. I was looking at the only dish that I could both read the Chinese and also say the Chinese: 山牛肉.
The man started doing a mime of a bull. I smiled and said the dish name in mandarin. He stopped and gestured enthusiastically for me to enter and I did.
Just as I was sitting down the school boys wandered past. The were again surprised to see me. They came in and sat at my table, which was a round table big enough for 10 people. It turned out though that their school boy English was about as good as my handful of Chinese words. Still they proceeded to order a set of dishes that put my 山牛肉 to shame. I enjoyed the meal and thanked them for eating with me.
Later, on my own back in the dormitory, one of the boys knocked on the door he invited me back to their room. They were playing card games. Even with our lack of common language, they taught me two Taiwanese card games and we played into the night.
The next day they headed off to another destination while I stayed in the village for another night.