I was there - I really was. I've been trying to figure out how to post my trip, but it's proved to be very difficult. For starters I took over 1200 pictures. That's a lot of pictures and many of them were taken from the back of a scooter as we were cruising around the island, up in the mountains and around cities, and that means lots of editing. People have asked me if I was ready to come home after two weeks and my answer to that is easy, NO! I mean no disrespect to Taiwan or it's people because the trip was fabulous and I saw amazing sites, ate delicious food (except for the fried deer meat) and met the nicest people, but the only reason I wasn't ready is that leaving meant leaving my son and I don't know when I'll see him again.
I was actually surprised that parts of Taiwan reminded me of Michigan, but I found that I could never find quiet in Taiwan. It's a country that is filled with people who are living their lives and getting on with the business of surviving and thriving. All this business means it's noisy, even at the top of the mountain. While I found the noise and pandemonium entertaining, this trip reconfirmed what I've known for a long time - I need quiet time to thrive. Having said all that, it was an amazing trip!
I planned to go for a long time and I was not disappointed. From the first night I arrived (12 hours off my circadian rhythm) and we wandered down to a street vendor at 12:30 at night to drink Taiwan beer and eat beef fried rice, to the final dinner at a tea house where we ended up playing cards while surrounded by water and fish, I didn't stop being in awe of what I saw and experienced. Alex, you were a great host and the adventures you planned for us were awesome! Thank you.
We traveled by plane, scooter, taxi, bus, train, boat and bike, and when we weren't on or in transportation, we walked. We were in cities with hi-rises and villages where you would need to stoop to enter the house. We visited the ocean with it's multitude of shells and coral where Alex' found a fish-shaped chunk of coral complete with eye hole, and the mountains where we saw monkeys in the wild and laughed ridiculously hard when the scooter could barely move us forward and up the mountain anymore. We nearly ran out of gas. That was hilarious as well. We biked in the 'country' through rice paddies and up a 'mountain' to a village where we dined on the local fare. My living quarters ranged from Alex' 2 story luxury apartment in Taoyuan with custom woodwork and marble floors to the hostel in Taroko Gorge where salamanders visited us in our room by coming through the 2" gap at the bottom of the door. Crazy stuff - the stuff that memories are made from. Spiders as big as my hand and the most beautiful (poisonous?) emerald green bug, moths and butterflies, birds, flowers I grow as annuals that are growing wild in Taiwan. I never stopped being in awe.
It's hard to pick my favorite, but I would have to say it was the Taiwan cooking class Alex booked as a birthday present to me. We spent nearly 6 hours at the instructor's apartment up in the mountains learning how to cook Taiwan food. We learned how to make fresh soy milk, sweet and sour, hot and sour, sweet and spicy. We learned how to make the green onion pancake, and soup, and noodles, and we ate spicy fresh pineapple and zucchini. Oh my, it was delicious and such a great time. And I spent it right next to my son - the one I hadn't seen in nearly 14 months. It was dusk when we left and hiked back down the mountain to Taipei in a gently falling misty rain. It was a beautiful walk and I enjoyed it immensely. Thinking of that day fills me with peace and makes me smile. What a perfect gift.
I leave you with just a couple of pictures.
Taoyuan - busy, burgeoning city.
Proof I was there - with Alex.
Taroko Gorge with the Pacific Ocean in the distance.