actual sunshine

No one told me, prior to coming to Taipei, that winter is – how to put this nicely? – rather dreary. Day after day of no sun. To be fair, there is often no rain as well, but just as often it does rain. And, it gets COLD. It’s exciting to see the sun this time of year. It means it’ll only take one day to dry my clothes on the line, instead of the standard 3 days, during the worst of the weather.

This week, it’s been balmy with a few well-placed clouds during the day and a slight breeze in the evening – plus nearly no humidity (less-than-usual anyway). Lovely! Perfect weather! Wish it would last a while but I hear that the thermometer is taking a dip downward this weekend again. Guess I’d better get my laundry done…

Library card

Heat was coming off the road in waves; oddly, you can feel it most when a slight breeze kicks up. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long for the 235 to show up on An He and transport me along Heping road to Daan Forest, a green slice of botanical planning. I walk through the “forest” and watch groups of people practice martial arts under the the cool of the trees, families bicycling along the packed clay paths, and one lady playing a haunting melody on her flute, under a gazebo. When I reach Xinyi I realize I’ve gone too far and haven’t seen the library (too-shoe-gwahn). But I have discovered the Flower Market! (I’ll go there later; now I’m focused on finding the library.)

I ask one of the policemen directing walkers across the busy streets. He points back the way I’ve come, on the other side of Jiangao. I’m feeling the heat and humidity descend now, wishing I’d brought a bottle of water. I’m not sure what the library’s address is exactly but I figure it should be easily visible – it’s the main one after all. And there it is, all 11 floors of it. I go inside, present my ARC and within a few minutes receive my very own card. Now to check out the books….

The entrance to Taipei's Main Library

On 4F there is one section of books in English, mainly non-fiction (I select a macaron cookbook, despite not having an actual kitchen) but there are a smattering of fiction options as well. One consideration: anything I select must be lugged around so I pick our several paperbacks and go up to 8F to check out the movies. Maybe I was looking in the wrong area but I found nothing of interest. Oh well, it’s hot inside and I still want to make it back to the flower market…

First month

I survived!! No wonder I’m exhausted: I visited my entire family, flew for 17 hours across the Pacific, and landed smack-dab in the middle of a cultural conundrum!  In the past month I’ve started a new job assignment, travelled around parts of Taiwan, searched for (and found!) a place to live, purchased furnishings! When I say everything about Taiwan is different than anything I’m used to, I mean EVERYTHING. It’s not just a new country, it’s a country where I cannot read the signs or understand the words. For a directionally-challenged person who must now rely on public transportation, this is definitely an issue. I got an MRT map and have started figuring things out, but it’s slow going. A country where, thankfully, the people are very friendly; most do attempt to help when asked. I managed to get on the right bus down the street from work, bound for Nanjing E. Road, but almost got off on the wrong stop (hey, it said Civic center which is on Nanjing E. Road). The kind bus driver indicated I had two more stops to go when I started to get off the bus. It’s a country of ironies. For instance, there are clear signs saying “Pedestrians have the right of way.” but it really should read “Pedestrians must get out of the way (of any on-coming traffic, even in a cross walk, if they expect to live another day)!” The humidity here is INCREDIBLE, but on the upside, I’ve probably lost another size just from sweating, and I can save 5 minutes each morning by NOT drying my hair. (What’s the point? By the time I walk the 20 minutes to work, it’s wet again!) I will spend this weekend RESTING, maybe catch the latest Harry Potter movie, doing laundry (that’ll be an interesting experience which I’ll surely share with you), and checking out the night market (photo ops galore). Thanks for your encouraging words….the adventure continues!

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