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Made in Taiwan




This was my first purchase on vacation, on the island of Green Island, in a little shop right by the beach.

Among other things such as t-shirts and bathing suits, it also sold dried deer meat. I decided that if I was going to come back with something that was truly 'made in taiwain' it was not going to be the super spicy raw hide I had been forced to try the night before.

Of course, that wasn't as bad as what can only be described as a 'pickled chicken foot' that both D and I politely agreed to gnaw on, if only not to offend.

So, amongst the other wares that I browsed through, I decided this bracelet would suit me just fine. Favorite color and all.

It was just one of the many things that I fell in love with in Taiwan.

Granted, I was on holiday, but the entire week I could not stop feeling relaxed amongst the Taiwanese.

The food was a treat - imagine going to an upscale Chinese restaurant and paying an exorbinant amount for tasty 'real' Chinese food and then, imagine paying a fifth of the price, the food tasting five times better and enjoying it amongst people who actually invented the tastes.

The scenery was spectacular - a 7 hour journey down the west coast of the country from Taipei to Taitung - was the perfect sightseeing spot for my achey foot. I took pictures from the window, of mountains, cities, coastal beaches, little kids waiting on the platform. It was like I had toured the entire country without leaving the comfort of my seat.

Green Island was an amazement unto it's own. We were able to tour the island on our little scooter in about 20 minutes total, seeing everything from white sandy beaches, to tropical forests, from towering green mountains to dropping cliff rocks along the edge of the water.

We were even treated to snorkeling - something which I sadly have to admit that I have never done - and witnessed, what were told by others, was a more spectacular underwater world than you could find in the great coral reef.

I suppose what surprised me most about the place was the people. I have been living amongst Koreans now for 6 months and have gotten used to the way they do things. Very formal. Very conservative. Very many customs and rules.

They are friendly, but not overly chatting or smiley in public. They have a tendency to be borderline kindergartens but that innocence is what makes them so welcoming once you've been formally introduced.

The Tawainese were so very different. Comfortable and confident would be the two words I would describe them.

D and I were in cities and small places and WHEREVER we went, if we stopped for a millisecond to simply get our bearings or decide what we wanted to do next, a Tawainese person would pop out of now where, ask us how they could help us. IN. ENGLISH.

They were just so helpful. Not to say Koreans aren't helpful. They are. But 'helpful' should really be defined as 'simply stepping in, when you can see someone needs it, and not expecting anything in return and not really having any expectations about what the person you are trying to help will do'. Long definition, but this is what I found everytime someone would try and help us.

There was no air of pretention, no walking on eggshells, no need to feel you were shaking hand the wrong way or giving money awkwardly or imposing some irritating Western tradition on these people.

It's possibly that I invented this insecurity in Korea myself, trying to be too accomodating instead of just being me: Foreinger.

But what I got most out of my vacation, if not only for some rest and relaxation, it that I'm not as isolated as I thought. I understand Koreans better than I thought. And living in Korea doesn't mean I'm living in Asia, experiencing everything Asia has to offer.

It means I'm living in Korea.

And when I stumbled back into our little flat at 9:30 on Wednesday after a long day of travelling, I realised that it was starting to feel every much like home as everywhere else I've ever lived has.

But Tawain was just the escape from it all I needed.


Comments

kimbirdy said…
oh, it looks and sounds like you had an amazing time. I'm jealous! See you tonight, forgot I finish at 8 rather than 9 so I'll be out around 10.
liz said…
maybe that's what i need... it sounds great and i can't wait to hear more and see pictures! see you tonight!
Amy said…
As I sit at my desk, eating my lunch on a somewhat miserable day in Canada, I can't help but be TOTALLY JEALOUS of your continual travels around the world. I'm glad we met 4 years ago in Greece, so at least I can live vicariously through you now that my long-term travelling days are over. I seriously need to get the hell out of Canada!! Anyway, keep havin' fun and sending your stories our way. They're awesome. :-)

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