After an exhausting week- visiting everything in and around Taipei– I spent my last day exploring Shifen. That evening my friend and I had planned to climb Elephant Mountain for what we heard was the best view of the city. Rumour has it that the climb only takes about twenty minutes but since it is all stairs it is pretty tiring. After a crazy week of exploring and a long day my friend was too exhausted to come anymore. I was still determined to go before I left Taiwan- and I wanted to see it at sunset.
When we got back to Taipei I took some time to rest before heading to the ‘mountain.’ I went to my hostel where some of my new friends were hanging out. I collapsed down on a couch in the common room and I asked if any of them would like to join me- but they were all too tired, too. Before the comfortable couch could absorb my body I forced myself up and headed to the train station.
When I got off the train I realized that the sun was almost down. I was determined to at least see the last part of the sunset and so I quickly followed the signs towards the mountain. The signs led me up a steep hill and the second that I saw a trail I took it. The trail that I was on though was not lit-up and was very dark. I found this quite odd for such a popular attraction in Taiwan. Maybe I was on the wrong path?
Then I saw another guy coming up the path behind me- he was using his phone as a light. This reassured me that I was probably on the right trail. Then the guy called out to me. He told me it was very dark on this path. He was around my age and I could see that he was a local so I told him that I was wanting to go to Elephant Mountain. He told me that the path we were on was dangerous and that there was another one that he would take me to.
He started leading me back down the path. I asked him if he was also going to Elephant Mountain, to which he responded no. So I asked him what he was doing. He said, “just hanging out”- which I found a rather odd answer.
Just a short walk away was the correct path. It was properly lit up and made up of very steep stairs. Oh boy. Since the stairs were so steep I told the boy that he didn’t need to walk with me, but he continued anyway.
I was walking very fast since I really wanted to see the sunset. But the boy stayed right behind me- panting profusely.
At one point he told me that he needed a break. I was only going to be here once in my life-I didn’t want to miss the beautiful sun setting over Taipei because I had to wait for this stranger. Eventually, we reached a point where there was a break in the trees. I could see over the city and the purple from the last moments of the sunset were showing. I took this opportunity to enjoy the view and take photos as the boy caught his breath.
Break time was over and I headed up the mountain again- with the boy following. He asked me if I had a boyfriend.Like any solo traveling female would do, I lied and said that I did. He said it was a shame and that he thought I was very beautiful. I didn’t think much of this because you get this a lot when you travel. Of course, it did make things even more awkward.
Eventually he caved and told me that he was too tired to continue on. This was great news to me and I didn’t know why he had even bothered coming up this far with me. As the polite Canadian that I am though, I thanked him for his help and went to give him a friendly hug. The hug got a lot more friendly than I intended as he reached his left hand down to grab my butt and his right hand up to grab my boob!
I couldn’t believe it!
“Don’t touch me!” I shouted as I pushed his hands off of me and quickly turned and ran off.
What just happened completely shocked and offended me. I couldn’t believe that he had the audacity to sexually assault me, never mind in such a public place.
I could have made a big scene about it since there were a lot of people around but that wouldn’t have helped anything. What was done was done. At that moment I just wanted to get as far away from him as possible.
I continued up the mountain pissed off. I tried to brush off what had just happened and not let it ruin my trip up the mountain or my thoughts of Taiwan. But, of course I just thought of a million other things I should have done or said to him.
That night when I got back to the hostel I told the hostel workers- who are locals in Taipei- about what had happened. They told me that they had never heard of anything like this happening before- figures since these things only seem to ever happen to me.
I think that it is worth mentioning that as frustrating as this experience was all my other encounters in Taiwan were extremely positive. This one greasy person hasn’t tarnished my image of this country or the people in it. I can still honestly say that Taiwan is one of the safest and friendliest places that I have ever traveled. This one person does not reflect the rest of the people in this country.