Well, I’ve been in Taiwan for just over a month and a quarter now. It is my first time in Asia and I have travelled here to teach English for a year. The idea to move here formed out of a strong desire to travel and shock my cultural knowledge to its core. I finally wanted to know what Asia was like for myself. The timing was right (any traveller will know how important timing is). Emily, my girlfriend, just finished university, I had been working a kitchen job to save money, we both had zero financial responsibilities to worry about (screw mortgages and car payments), and we both have hearts filled with curiosity and eagerness to explore. We had a passport, some start-up money, and a company that is willing to take a chance on two young, educated and overwhelmingly positive people. So, we saved, we planned, we cried, we laughed, and then we left. So. Here we are. Slowly adjusting to our new surroundings, and loving every minute of it. Taiwan was such an interesting choice for us because a year ago today, we barely knew it existed. It was but a blimp on our travel radar, but even as the first Google searches began, it was obvious that it was no small blimp. Formosa Isle, Taiwan, truly is a beautiful island so eloquently put by the Portuguese.
This picture is taken from Mount Jilong Shan (Mt. Keelung) on the coast near a small cliff-side town known as Jiufen. The whiskery flowers you see in the forefront are known as Silver Grass, which for 2 weeks in November take on their cyanic silver fluff. They are incredibly soft. One of the things I have learned about Taiwan thus far is that although there are 35 million people on this tiny island, they certainly have not tarnished its glory. The island is filled with protected lands, breath-taking mountain ranges and radiant coastlines.
Emily and I live in Taipei which is a heavily populated city near the northern edge of the island. We both have never lived in a city before so the adjustment has been, well, an adjustment. There are so many people! With that, comes incredible opportunities to meet others, gain understanding about what Taiwan is about, and live a new lifestyle we have yet to live. That’s what travelling is all about isn’t it? Getting yourself away from normalcy and the predictable?
Each new place has its own way of welcoming you. Taipei has swiftly introduced itself to us with open arms. It is a city that does not rest often, but knows that it must. It is a middle of the road sort of place, not too busy, not too quiet. Hard working, yet always time to spend with friends and family. An appreciation for finer things, yet a humbling place to explore without extravagance. If I could express my first impression of Taipei in only a word, I would say ‘vibrant’. The city is as bright as its people, more alive than garden flowers during spring, and invites evenly the loneliest souls to take a breath and smile upon its personality.
Take care, travel often and love always ☮