Sitting on the modern shuttle bus that would take him from the airport to the city centre, Ted reflected on Sheila’s question on why he had chosen to travel at this point in his life – was it the right decision for him to come here? Why Taiwan of all places anyway? Who would have ever thought that he would end up here? Who would have thought that he would end up anywhere in Asia, for that matter?
The hazy sunlight gave way to a spectacular view. Beautiful and magnificent mountains surrounded the streets and the small town that the bus was passing through. The mountains took Ted by surprise. He had seen mountains in Switzerland and in Africa before, but these were even higher and radiated a different kind of light. Ted could really feel how close to nature he was. He could not help it but feel that he was one with the mountains. It felt as if the sun was going straight through him and the mountains at the same time. Ted was mesmerized by the view; and he didn’t want this feeling to end.
Ted had first become interested in Taiwan when they had learnt about the turbulent history between mainland China and Taiwan in his Politics class at school. He had been fascinated by the contrast between the sizes of the two countries – the tiny country that had defended itself against its huge rival had captured him and, when he decided that it was time for him to travel, Ted knew it had to be Taiwan. Before he left London, Ted had been certain that a spiritual journey was the only journey onwards. He had known that Taiwan would be the sanctuary for him that he needed from the turbulence that he faced in Europe. The turbulence and the winds blowing inside him. He had to calm them down somehow.
Ted had no idea what the months ahead had in store for him. The only thing he knew was that this was the right way ahead for him. It somehow felt unusual for many, including himself, that an African guy who had settled down in Europe would want to take on such a journey. But it just seemed the way forward, and the only way forward, really. Ted had an intense sensation rush through his whole body when he thought about leaving the superficial materialistic world behind. None of that materialistic stuff had brought him happiness. None of the clothes, the books, the DVDs, the music had brought him real happiness. It was all just pretend happiness.
None of his family members had truly understood why Ted wanted to go and travel. All they would see in the countries that he wanted to go to was illness and poverty. Why would you want to spend all your money on such a trip? But Ted had known that this was his calling and that he had to do it.
When the bus reached the end of a long winding road, Ted could see a tall acacia tree standing next to a golden Buddha statue – this was the entrance to the Buddhist monastery. The white pillars and the Oriental style arch affirmed it to him that he had made the right decision. As he stepped off the bus, he felt with certainty that he had arrived where he needed to be.