What I’ll miss…

The thought of leaving Taiwan does not fill me with joy. This has been my home for the past 2 years and I’ve built a nice life here. Each day when I walk down the lane, past the temple, past Tonghua street, to Anhe, I’m filled with a deep sense of satisfaction. “So this is what Utopia feels like,” I think. No, life in a foreign country is not without its struggles but, as I see the little shops, and people buying baozi (filled dumplings) at the corner stand, the office workers in their identical “uniforms” (black pants/white shirt for men, black skirt/white shirt for women), the children holding their parent’s hands, people walking their dogs, I feel happy.*

    -the sounds of the city, traffic rushing by but steering clear not to hit anyone
    -the guy from the sports shop walking his long-haired dachshunds
    -the noodle shop guy across the road who always tries to get me to buy his food
    -the temple guy missing teeth, who smiles and waves at me as I walk down the hallway to the apartment
    -the Thursday morning monks, chanting
    -the painted utility cabinets
    -how safe it is here
    -how friendly and helpful most people are
    -delivery/repair people showing up when they say they will
    -the adorable Taiwanese children
    -how convenient everything is
    -incredible customer service
    -7-11’s!!
    -Chinglish
    -guava slices with plum powder
    -dragonfruit, rose apples
    -Taiwan “ice cream”
    -Eslite 24-hour bookstore
    -free samples in magazines
    -the night markets
    -the day markets
    -safe, affordable public transportation
    -affordable and professional dental work!
    -the sight of Taipei 101, lit up, rising up to greet me as I walk home at night
    -how “official” photos are photoshopped to make us all look better!
    -sheng li, the everything store
    -the guangfu flower market
    -the jade market
    -the public library’s English book section
    -people wearing masks when they’re not feeling 100%, so as not to infect anyone
    -oolong tea
    -plum vinegar from Cama coffee
    -working out at NTUE
    -Minder’s vegetarian buffet
    -Wu Laoshi (he paints rocks)
    -Li Laoshi (she has the patience of Job)
    -Palmer’s crazy movie nights
    -fifteen pizza
    -Boite de Bijou
    -Whalen’s
    -the Dior peeps
    -the weddings!
    -all the friends I’ve made at work, the Community Services Center, InterNations, and Toastmasters (TMTM, Taipei Metro. Prestige, FEIB)
    -my “Taiwande haize”: Raymond, Nick, and Victoria
    -Gomer, Vita Lin, the 2013 Welfare Committee
    -Volker, Victor, Steven
    -Najia, Becky, Sophia, Queen (best tattoo artist in Taipei), Yaya, Sharon, Sue, Kalla

I love you guys and miss you already!

* I have a slew of additional posts to add, so please check back.

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Take a “crack” break…

A few months ago I noticed some cracks in my brand new apartment’s livingroom wall….WTF?!! Since there’s not a lot I can do about it, I just forgot about them – until I found this little product:

How funny is this? And so totally Taiwan. Take a flaw and turn it into ART!

gimme a break!

Weekly review

I started out writing at least daily and now it seems I’m so busy enjoying all Taiwan has to offer, I write a lot less frequently. Every day I find something else to marvel at. One interesting factoid: the Taiwanese can be a superstitious lot. They don’t like living on the fourth floor because the words for this floor sound like a word with a bad meaning. HINT: if you want to pay less for an apartment in a nice building, check out the 4th floor!

On Wednesday it was Luoshi (low-sure) Day, a day to celebrate and thank teachers! Several of us share the same Chinese teacher so we got together to get her a gift (lucky bamboo) and a card. The card was red and the envelope pale pink so I thought it would look nice to write her name in red ink on the envelope. Oh no, big faux pas! Writing someone’s name in red ink means you’re predicting their death. Say what? Who knew? (When folks here use a “chop” to stamp their name on a document, they use….yup, RED ink!) So, crisis averted; I used a black pen instead. Whew. Luoshi said it “made her heart happy” to get our gift. Awwwwww.

Luoshi is super patient and I like that she’s open to “alternate” teaching methods. For instance, one of my lessons was supposed to be about negotiating the price of a new car, something not likely to happen during my stay. Instead, I asked teacher to help me decipher all the junk mail I get. It’s colorful and looks interesting; ads for restaurants, real estate, foot massage places, retail store circulars. If I peruse them long enough, I can detect patterns and figure out a little of what is being said. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a culture by reviewing their junk mail!

On Saturday I met some friends at the local “bookstore”, Eslite. This place must be seen (and experienced) to be believed. 5, or is it 6, floors (only one and a half of which contain books) of the latest clothing, gadgets, accessories, paper products, music and movies, food, jewelry, cosmetics – and everything in between. I had a delicious fresh vegetarian lunch at a buffet that came to 88NT (less than 3.00) and included 5-grain rice and green tea. You can almost do all your shopping in one place!

Eslite Bookstore - and so much more!

Sunday, I planned to ride a gondola up a mountain to where the oolong tea Taiwan is famous for, is grown. The weather has been dicey – windy and rainy – this weekend; I hope they don’t cancel the ride.

Eslite

I decided to reward myself for having ¬†cleaned house and having made it through a particularly tough week. I haven’t found a library yet but I did pay a visit to the 24-hr bookstore off of Renai circle: Eslite (otherwise known as tons of shopping fun!). 5 floors of all sorts of made (or designed)-in-Taiwan items – oh and they sell books too.

I thought I’d try my luck to see if I could find anything (clothing-wise) that would actually fit me. It gets old walking into a shop where no one speaks much English, filled with cute clothing designed for what I like to call “tiny people”, and having the sales person (usually one of the aforementioned tiny people) answer “sorry no” when I ask in English whether they have anything that will fit me. (Guess they understood my question.) I find if I start browsing the inventory and hold something up, asking, “Do you have this in my size?” I have a better chance of actually finding something. ¬†The first store I walked into had a saleslady that spoke English! She very sweetly walked around with me translating when needed.

On the book floor, I found a very detailed city map – let’s see if I’m better able to navigate the streets of Taipei with it! I browsed the magazines because certain issues (mostly the British and Chinese versions) have “free” items shrink-wrapped-ly (is that a word?) attached to them: tote bags in all shapes and sizes, cosmetics, and other items in colorful boxes (no clue on the ones with no pics since it’s all in Chinese).

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…