Surprising a Friend in Taiwan – 10 Years Later

Surprising a Friend in Taiwan – 10 Years Later.
June 9. 
Taipei, Taiwan.  

I was awake early in anticipation of the morning, so I only ended up with 5 hours of sleep. I packed, left my backpack in a corner of the hostel and woke Markus. I checked Googlemaps for the name of my friend Mark’s school. I was unable to find his school on the map before when I searched abroad, but it was there this morning. BAM, I had chosen a hostel that was only about a block and a half away from the school! All I had really been going on was the land mark of Longshan Temple that Mark said his school was only a couple of minutes away from which is why I had chosen the particular hostel. It was an awesome surprise to find it so close on the map this morning!

Surprising a Friend in Taiwan - 10 Years Later

Freedom Square.
Taipei, Taiwan.

I had not seen Mark for nearly 10 years since an ex-girlfriend and I dropped him off at the airport in Adelaide, Australia, sometime in 2008. I wrote to a friend of his a week or so ago when it looked like I was coming to Taiwan.

This is the letter:

“German,
I hope you are well and life has been a sweet breeze in the past decade! I am wondering if you can do some dirty detective work for me…. I am on my way to Egypt right now, and then heading to Asia for a bit.
I have not talked to Mark at all to let him know my plans, but there is a 50/50 chance I end up in Taiwan. I will have to see of it can work or not. I would like to just drop in to the school whee he works and be like, “Oh, hey…!” I would like to see him nearly shit in his pants…
I am on the go nonstop, so if I start fishing around for information, he will probably figure out that I am up to something. So, can you dig around for me a little? Is there a way that you can get his house address with apartment number? Also, is there a way that you can trick him into telling you the name of the school where he works, with the address and his hours.
I and flying go Bangkok on Sunday I just bought the plane ticket last night. Actually, I will ask him abut his working hours and days of the week.
If you ask him too much he will get suspicious of something….! But if you can think of a crafty way to get his home address and his school and address and name in the next couple of days that would be freaking awesome!
Let me know what you think good sir!
Rock and roll,
Stephen!”

German was not sure if he could get the information for me within a few days. So, I ended up writing to Mark and I pretended that I had a friend who wanted to come to Taipei to teach English.

It took some work digging around, but I eventually got the name of Mark’s school from him and I also found out what his working hours during the day. He finishes classes at noon and is done teaching for the day.

That is go-time!


Markus and I found the school and then went for breakfast. By 11:30, we made our way back to the school and I showed an old photo of Mark to the security guard to get into the school gates. I said, “Friend,” when I showed the photo, knowing the security guard would recognize him.

The security guard asked, “In-ger-ish Teacher?”

“Yes!  English teacher!”

He took Markus and I through the school grounds and pointed to some windows on the other side and headed pack to his post. Awesome!

So, Markus and I walked across the school yard to the doors and windows where Mark was supposed to be teaching. Markus knew the target (Mark) from a photo and went walking around, looking into the windows of classrooms to see if he could find my friend. He came back and said he had found a white guy teaching, but it was a different white guy. The white guy came out of his classroom and asked if he could help us.

I asked, “Does a man named Mark work here?”

The white guy told us, “Yes, he is up the stairs in the classroom right above us.”

Away Markus and I went.

As Markus and I were lingering around a corner at the school, making a plan, the other white guy came to check on us…rightfully so. I told him that I am good friends with Mark and that I have not seen him in nearly ten years. I said that surprising a friend was my plan!  It was 11:45 by then and he said Mark would finish classes at 12:00. Then he went for a walk to make sure that Mark was in that particular classroom.  He was correct in his guess, pointed to the door to find Mark and went back to his own class.

It was 11:46 by then and it was nearly the longest 14 minutes in the history of time that we had to wait.

We could hear Mark’s voice as he was teaching.

At 12:00, the door of the classroom opened, and kids started coming out. I had butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of surprising a friend. Markus was using my camera to record the video and followed me as I entered the classroom where Mark was tidying up with his back to us.

Mark turned around, he looked at me and then he registered my face and his head jolted in recognition.

He said, “What in the hell!? Did this really just happen?” He was so surprised that he could hardly react. It was amazing. It was worth all of the hassle to make it happen to see his face!

There is nothing like surprising a friend on the other side of the planet. That is magic!

The Video of Surprising a Friend:

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