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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6 months in Taiwan!

I’ve enjoyed my time in Taiwan, though I’m looking forward to coming home! There is a lot to love here. For a small island country, they get a lot of things right! The stellar customer service, those cool glued-on cup tops and angled straws, fresh-squeezed juice, 45NT vegetable noodles, Loving Hut’s toon pancakes, 24-hour Eslite (bookstore) , Watson’s (pharmacy) and Wellcome (grocery), the brightly painted utility boxes, NO TIPPING, real Chinese medicine – did I mention the customer service? And then there is the low cost medical and dental services, and cheap and plentiful public transportation, cheap taxis, how helpful and friendly people are, the night markets, the day markets, the flower markets, the jade market, how SAFE it is to live here.  The temples (large and small) and lanterns, and everything red and gold. How beautifully all purchases, not matter how small, are wrapped. Being able to pay all my monthly bills in a single hour. 7-11. Dish dryers. Taipei 101. High-speed rail. I’m sure I’ll think of more….

There are things I’ve missed. Like clothing in my size! And being able to read signs and menus. And my car – well, I don’t miss DRIVING. The quiet in the great outdoors, wide open spaces with no one around. Stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, garbage pick up, central heating, thrifts stores, the Goodwill, Ulta, free samples, and my Neptune!

Mela adventure across town, part 1

I checked the city map. I googled the location online. And then I started walking, through the day market, and turned – the wrong way (of course).  I didn’t notice at first. I did notice that none of the bus stops bore the bus numbers I was looking for. 20 minutes later, Heping was in front of me and I knew I had managed to get turned around.  Out came the map (again). I walked down Keelung (again), past Taipei 101, Taipei City Hall, and on until the Sun Yat Sen memorial was on my left. Wow, had I not been so focused on getting to my destination I would have taken pics (incredible building and surrounding grounds) but on I went…not many people were on the sidewalks (my first clue).  The road I was supposed to stay on (according to the map) was under construction (my second clue) so suddenly I found myself on a dead-end street. And just as suddenly, my resolve to walk the entire way to Songshan Train station melted. I asked several peeps if they knew where Bade road was. They didn’t. I hailed a cab and after driving me in circles it was apparent he didn’t either (couldn’t read the English address I guess). I asked several store owners and they pointed across the road so I walked a bit further and finally ducked into an office building  to try and cool off.  By some miracle, it was the building I was looking for. The email said what I wanted was on 3F but when I got off the elevator, the place was a ghost town. Arrrgh. Oh wait, there goes someone! He spoke English and directed me one floor up. Aaaaaah! The elevator doors opened and I found myself in Mela-land (an actual Melaleuca store)!

Day 1 pm

Taipei 101 from my hotel room

No jet lag….yet! My taxi driver dropped me off several blocks from my building but no matter, it was a beautiful day in Taipei: a slight breeze offsetting the rising heat and humidity. My head is spinning with all the new input I received today. I met many of my new team members and began the on-boarding process, complete with gifts!  What a happy change from a previous job incarnation! At lunchtime, my new boss took me to a great little restaurant and ordered for me. I had a cabbage salad, another consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus, and cucumber, and “hot pot” – tofu, assorted veggies, and rice noodles swimming in a bubbling broth – yum! The green tea was delish, as was the tea served with lime (!) at the end of the meal. Maybe I was just HUNGRY but everything tasted fresh. After lunch, I had to have photos made (for the national insurance and ARC cards). The shop must have Photoshopped the pics because they look good! lol Midafternoon break consisted of a quick trip to a local tea shop (I ordered passion fruit tea). Why does everything taste so good here??! More friendly co-workers introduced themselves. Got some great advice on looking for local housing: by translating a real estate site from Chinese-to-English (using Google’s free Chrome product) I can find better deals. I hit the wall about 1830 and made it back to the hotel just as it was getting dark. I was told that sunset is typically around the same time every day – good to know! I also learned that I can see Taipei 101 from my hotel window.

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