CHEERS, BEERS, AND EASTERN PROMISE is a memoir by Gerry Abbey. It chronicles his year as a Fulbright scholar in Taiwan and is a thoughtful and hilarious coming-of-age-but-not-quite-arriving adventure travel story.
Abbey goes to teach English in rural Taiwan and finds a world unlike anything he could have expected. From day one, the contrast between imagined and found reality leaves him lost and learning on the fly. His experience quickly snowballs as he goes from meeting coworkers and teaching classes to attending nightly dinners full of excess, missing meetings, singing karaoke far more than anyone ever should, crashing motorcycles, taking three months to learn xiexie (the Chinese word for thank you), visiting temples to ask for godly protection (and forgiveness), and ultimately hitting rock bottom on vacation in Thailand.
In the rubble of it all, Abbey finally finds his fresh start, ready to tackle new obstacles on the way to learning lessons about life that he still carries with him a decade later. If you like learning, travel, or just having a good time, you’ll love this enthralling and fast-paced book.
Excerpt from Chapter 1: Taiwan, a Bullfight, and an Abbey
It was time to jump over the fence. Our moment as matadors was over. We were up, over, and behind the walls in an instant. Stepping outside of the stadium and into the sunlight, we found a world brimming with vitality. The sun had never been so bright. The air had never been so crisp, so refreshing. Life took us to a different stage that day like nothing we’d ever felt. We were giants standing on top of the world. We could do anything. Limits? What limits? We’d just outrun the bulls that were trying to kill us. We’d survived. And not only had we survived, but we were also unscathed. Air pumping through our lungs. Blood pumping through our veins. Adrenaline circulating through every inch of our bodies, every inch of our souls.
Our minds were on fire. This was life. I’d never felt so good. I’d never felt so damn alive.
And then we met some fellow travelers, two friends that had been backpacking all summer together. Though enthused about the running, they were far more matter-of-fact about it than those around us. Intrigued by this, we asked how they were so calm. Their answer opened us to a new world as they unleashed stories from their trip through Asia. My twenty-two year old self was sold. That was where I was going next.
Author of Cheers, Beers, and Eastern Promise
I grew up in Blue Bell, PA, attended St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia for high school, and continued on to Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT to pursue my English Education degree.
In the spring of 2004, I was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach English as a foreign language in Taiwan. During that year, I taught in a rural town on the east coast, about two and a half hours south of Taipei. After many months of attempting to acclimate to this place I’d known nothing about, I found that I had hundreds of pages of journals. With this base produced by conflicted alienation in the midst life-shaping adventure, I began writing my first book. Slowly, I outlined my story by selecting favorite and, even more so, least favorite experiences to extrapolate a cohesive memoir about my life’s transition; little did I know at the time that this was a project that would span many, many years.
In the fall of 2005, I moved to Taipei and continued teaching for another year before returning home in the summer of 2006. Moving from Philadelphia to East Hampton, NY to Fort Lauderdale, FL, and back again to Philadelphia, I continued work on this project. In 2009, I moved from Philadelphia to Boston, MA for a job as a cost of living surveyor, which afforded me global travel for five to six months of the year.
Using the inspiration that came from this new profession, I scrapped my first draft and began again. Three years later, I completed a second draft of my memoir. In December of 2012, I found myself unable to edit the work down any further and, with four hundred and fifty-three pages, I sought out help.
Through a friend of my sister, I found a structural editor who guided me as we fine-tuned my book into a tight and gripping story that filled one hundred and sixty-one MS Word pages – a far cry from the endless manuscript I had created. By the fall of 2013, I finally saw an end to this eight-year process as I hired a copy editor and a graphic designer to complete the last edits and to beautify my formatting and cover for publishing.
Now, at long, long last, I present to the world a book that I put every ounce of my heart into while learning the arduous craft of writing: CHEERS, BEERS, AND EASTERN PROMISE.