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053: to High Tatras, Slovakia. (Novy Smokovec, Stary Smokovec, Strbske Pleso, Popradske Pleso.) 2012/6/23

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[Slovakian High Tatra photo album at the end of the entry]

Yes, it’s a very, very emotional day.

To catch the 7.15 bus from Zakopane to Starý Smokovec (final destination Poprad), I thought it would be safer to get up at 6.30 or earlier.  Well, I know how to be safe, but the fact was that I woke up probably seven or eight times.  When I checked my watch, it was 3.50am.  Then 4.  Then 4.30.  And during the few hours I was actually asleep, I dreamt that I actually secured a flight ticket back to Taiwan, met my mom, and discussed with her various things, among them my (maternal) grandmother’s funeral.

After I really woke up at 6am – there was obviously no point to stay in bed and pretend I would be able to sleep at all –, I thought about various possibilities.  From Zakopane, should I go to Kraków? Bratislava? Warsaw? Vienna? Which will be easier to get a flight that will be easier for me to change somewhere else to reach Taipei? And then from the airport I have to go back to Taipei City center, and then somehow manage to get a train to Taitung – that seems the most difficult part, ironically.

6.20am.  I called Mom.  She wasn’t at home.  Then I called the oldest uncle in Taitung – I couldn’t control my emotion, at least not entirely.  As I tried not to choke my lines with tears, he told me not to worry, that they would take care of everything, that Grandma has “good lucks” (associated with her virtues and impeccable personality and all), and she passed away in sleep and without pain.  And indeed, she is lucky – she wasn’t confined in bed, and she has all her kids and grandkids that simply love and adore her.  After hanging up I felt sorry and rather embarrassed that I couldn’t control myself; Uncle is my senior, and it should be I who console him, not the other way around.  If only I had be more considerate.

Then I called Mom.  This time she was there, and this time I could control myself better.  After, she was likely to cry at some point, and I had to comfort her and have both of us stay calm.  The 80-minute talk flew quickly, and it did both of us good.  With the unfortunate news, I have to be beside her.  I apologized, saying that if I were in Taipei I would definitely accompany her to Taitung.  After all, that is really what I should do.  And in any case, I want to say goodbye.  Mom told me it isn’t my fault and told me not to worry.  For the rest of the talk I talked about how to cope with this with constructive ideas and about other things that can distract her.

After the talk I went to the bus station.  After waiting for twenty minutes, I decided to return to the hostel to check with Andre.  Turned out that the 7.15 bus is only available for July and August! So I had to wait further for the 9.15 bus.

On the bus a young Singaporean student doing an exchange program in Amsterdam chatted a bit with me.  And I was really tired.  I didn’t get enough sleep, I cried too much, and there was no way to fall asleep on the bus.

When I reached Starý Smokovec I asked an old man how to find tourist information center. “You sprech German?”  That’s a funny way to ask me.  “Ja, natuerlich.”  Then he told me in German how to find the place.

At the information I found a big young woman with a scarf, which covers a possibly shaved head.  Anyway, she wasn’t the quickest-minded person, and the English wasn’t the best, but she was willing to help, and during the course of the day I went back to the information five or six times to ask her various things, and she was very helpful – so helpful that, when I ventured to ask whether she could find any accommodation in my next stop Levoča, which is not what she needed to find out for me in her job, she not only checked online (although strange on instead of some Slovak websites) but also called several places for me.  What a nice lady.

Well, turned out that the place I called is called Villa Limba, and the address is Novy Smokovec 16.  The room wasn’t ready – actually it’s a room with a double bed (pieced up by two singles) with a door leading to another room with two single beds, two big windows, one table and a shower/bathroom.  I was assigned to one of the single beds, but basically I have the entire complex to myself.  She speaks German and no English, but it was easy to communicate, and she was helpful.

Even before I reached my accommodation I was already tired – I really didn’t get enough sleep, and the sleeping quality was obviously far from good.  But obviously I can’t scoop up in my room or in some café.  I headed out (to bother that info lady and) eventually went to a self-service diner.  Afterwards I got an electronic train ticket to Štrbské Pleso, which is 40 minutes away.

An old Slovak guy on the train, who smelled like a bit of beer, asked me how come I chose to visit here; after all “it is not famous.” I was really too tired and not interested and fell asleep.  As the train reached the destination I started and woke up – the feeling was so awful that I was 105% sure that I wanted to get off only to get a ticket BACK to my pension.  But then I said to myself, at least step to the basis of this place and take photos of all those commercial things!  Which I did, and then I felt I regained a tiny bit of energy.  It wasn’t much, but I decided to go for the 1-hour hike, as planned, to Popradské Pleso.

The scenery was nice, the sky was grey, and the point is that it is more like “fulfilling the schedule” instead of happy sightseeing, as you can imagine.

At some points I really felt like crying, but I kept telling me, Grandma is gone and (since she is so virtuous and wonderful and great) becomes a bodhisattva; now she can help a lot of people on earth, and I shouldn’t be selfish.  Besides, during the last couple of years of her life, she can no longer do most of things she likes due to her declining physical conditions, such as riding a bike or working (a lot!) in her garden growing fruits and vegetables, so this is really for the best.  Still, reasoning is one thing, and emotion can be another.  But I also told myself that, if I really let myself cry, I wouldn’t have enough energy to walk the way back.  So I didn’t.

After going back (finally!), I washed by hand all the laundry needed washing, and then talked with Tz on the phone a bit.  Tz told me to go straight to bed, and of course I didn’t: I continue to sort out my schedule, checked some accommodation choices, replied various messages, and tidied up things.  These are only the right thing to do.

[Photo album of the first day in Slovakian High Tatra = here.]

Zakopane – Novy Smokovec直達車:20 PLN
超市:2.82+ 3.82 EUR = 6.64EUR
Starý Smokovec – Štrbské Pleso電氣火車來回:1.5*2 = 3
Villa Limba (pension): 15+1 EUR
總計:20PLN + 33.53EUR,約1540TWD


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