The first (and only) time I went to Taipei was with two friends of mine, Julia and Paolo, and Julia and I were there, technically, as uninvited guests. Paolo and his friends planned a trip to Taipei but unfortunately, two friends of his couldn’t make it, so he decided to give the other two plane tickets to Julia and I since we were both free to come along. The two of us weren’t initially supposed to be a part of this trip, since we only had one mutual friend among the group and we didn’t even know the rest of the guys, but we came along instead because it would be such a waste to throw away those two plane tickets and cancel the hotel rooms.
Of course, Julia and I decided not to go with the group during the trip since it’s obviously their trip and we wouldn’t want to be barging in just because we’re friends with Paolo, so we went our separate way and explored the city. But because we are friends, we decided to spend a night for just the three of us to hang out and also to get to know each other, especially since I only came along because I was close to Julia; I’m not very close to Paolo since I don’t know him that well, but we’re acquaintances, and Julia is already a close friend of his (both of them are Filipino). We planned on hanging out in one of the night markets in Taipei, specifically Ningxia Night Market, since we all love eating and trying new food, but what was supposed to be a time for us three to hang out became a group thing, and the rest of the group wanted to come along. Of course Julia and I agreed because it would also be nice to get to know the rest, unfortunately it kind of ruined the night for us.
On our way to the night market, we stumbled across a Nike store, and the whole group except Julia and I, wanted to go inside to buy and try out things. To get along with a group well, especially when travelling, compromise is important, so we agreed to go inside the store, only for a few minutes, so that we can then go to the market. What was supposed to take a few minutes ended up taking hours, so we went in at 8pm and came out at 11pm and ended up missing the market altogether because the vendors already started packing up.
Honestly I was furious, both at the group and at myself. Until now I still don’t understand why they still wanted to go to a Nike store when Nike is widely available in the Philippines. It’s not like they were trying out limited edition or region exclusive things that can only be sold in Taipei alone. (Julia tells me it’s cultural how Filipinos absolutely love to shop when out of the country, even in stores available in the Philippines). I was also angry at myself for actually staying and waiting. The group kept telling us to wait a few more minutes that we ended up waiting for 3 hours. Julia was also annoyed and furious, but of course she didn’t show it since it’s obviously not good to do that lest you want to destroy a friendship. So we just stayed inside the store for three hours sitting on the chairs and using the free wifi. We totally regretted not leaving the group and going on our own; whenever we tried to say that we wanted to go for ourselves while the group does shopping, they always told us to wait for them because they wanted to “hang out and get to know us better”; obviously that didn’t happen.
Moral of the story, be more independent when travelling. If you want to go a place where your companions don’t want to go to, then go alone. My other friend Frida did this when she and her friends went to Honolulu together; she climbed Diamond Head alone because none of her friends wanted to come along. That’s also a reason why I want to go back to Taipei, because I heard from other friends of mine who have been to Taipei that the night market is really worth going to.
Don’t feel like you’re obliged to be with your friends every waking second during your trips. If both of you want to go to two different places, then split up for the day. One of you will be left disappointed when it all becomes compromise.
Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine