I suppose that after four months of being in Taiwan, I’ve more than crossed the line between traveler and expatriate. At some point I’ll have to look at my passport, because I think I’ve been living here almost as long as I lived in Argentina. Living here for this long has given me the ability to really dig in and learn about the in’s-and-out’s of daily life in a small section of Taipei. Below are a series of observations and stories.
Thirty days ago I left Taiwan for Borneo. Roughly twenty days ago I left Borneo for Taiwan. In forty days I leave Taiwan for the USA. I suppose I’ve got some explaining to do. Unfortunately, every time I try to start explaining I find myself not sure where to start, what to say, and beguiled about what to even mention about the last 30 days. So, here’s what comes to mind right now…
Twenty-five days ago I left Taiwan in search of adventure in Malaysian Borneo. There would be endless possibilities for excitement – Kota Kinabalu (the highest mountain in South East Asia), Sipadan (considered the best diving in the world), Survivor Island/Pulau Tiga (where the first season of Survivor was filmed), Orangutang Sanctuaries, Jungle Treks, Caves, and a stop into Brunei to add another country to this trip.
I should have seen this coming from a mile away, but I didn’t. It’s my last day in Taiwan and there’s a typhoon on the eastern coast casting rain showers in my general direction. This is the fifth typhoon to come through in the two months I’ve been here – fortunately none have been more than a nuisance. Typhoon aside – my final week in Taiwan was a huge success. I jumped into a bus and rode south to Kaohsiung – the second most populated city in Taiwan – and had a pretty great time.
It’s Sunday night and yet again I’m at a coffee shop. A few feet away at the tables to my left, right, and the one directly behind me, are groups of people studying the pages of their bibles. In front of me are two tables of people having conversations with each other over lattes and frappuccinos. Over in the corner, there’s a girl sitting below two large panes of glass that let the red and white lights of the city train illuminate the darkness in the background as her boyfriend snaps another picture with his camera. The two girls on my right now have their heads down in prayer while one reads from a devotional book. Taipei may technically be a part of the Far East, but at times it’s as Western as any other city I’ve visited on this trip.
(I wrote the following post a week ago. It wasn’t supposed to still describe my current situation…and yet here I am.)
I’m not really sure when it happened, but I’ve recently started living in Taiwan. I’m not talking about arriving here by airplane on August 6th; I’m talking about an unconscious transition between backpacking around a country and living there. Gradually I’ve started to fall into routines, get comfortable, carry my laptop around more than my camera, and (as much as I hate to admit it) washing my own laundry in a washing machine. This has to stop…
Half a year. Six months. 186 days. Regardless of how you want to define it, this trip has now gone on longer than I ever expected it to. Along the way there have been a number of ridiculous (and potentially previously unmentioned) stories. Today seems like a great day to make a summary of the last 186 days and share some details of the stories that have previously remained secret. Perhaps “summary” isn’t the best way to describe this – there are a lot of pictures, some old stories, some new stories, and then more pictures.
It’s been another successful week in Taiwan: I watched it rain for two straight days, ate dozens of dumplings, explored a few new MRT stations, took a day trip and got completely lost, took tons of pictures, got a $3 haircut, downloaded more RAM, and had my backup hard drive randomly crash. All in all – a completely productive week of living abroad.
My time in Taiwan hasn’t been constant doom and gloom; there may have even been a three day period where it didn’t rain at all. That said, even when it’s not raining in Taiwan there is moisture in the air – at least in late summer. The average high temperature in August is 91F (34C) and the average low is 80F (27C), but that’s only half the story; in actuality that’s 91 degrees with a 50% chance of thunderstorm and a 100% chance of ungodly humidity. So, in case of an emergency and the sun does come out – what’s a guy to do?
It didn’t take me too long to come up with a movie idea when trying to think of a creative title for my third typhoon related post. Interestingly enough, both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars used the same naming convention for their ‘third.’ although Peter Jackson seemed to like the word “the” slightly more than George Lucas. Mix in a little “Toy Story” – the only other worthy ‘third’ and now we’ve got a title. (Speaking of ‘thirds’, Ender was a pretty good third too…but now I’m getting myself off track.)