Awhile back I wrote a post about the top ten things I miss about America. I thought all things being fair, I should write about the things I love about Taiwan. I haven’t been doing this country any justice with my descriptions, maybe with my photos, but even then one must wonder why I would put my life at home on pause to come here for two months. Here is my list (un-numbered and in no order) of things I positively love about Taiwan.
The way a storm comes in. Before there is rain, or thunder, or lightning, the wind picks up just slightly and the air becomes charged with electricity. Then the sky turns an eerie orange. The thunder comes first, then the streaks of light that purple the sky, and then finally the rain comes down like nothing I have ever seen. The thunder will shake the windows and silence the birds. The whole countryside goes quiet for just a moment. Then thunder strikes again and disturbs the birds and cicadas into a cacophonous symphony.
It’s just after the storm passes, when it’s still raining a little, is the time when Taiwan is the most beautiful. Mist moves over the green mountains, the sky is all shades violet and blue and orange and gray. As trite as it is, I love to take my umbrella and wander the streets after the rain. Everything is shiny and bright.
Wandering here without direction has led to me to see little pieces of life that I would miss otherwise. Come around a corner and find three old men arguing, squatting, shaking their fingers at each other, spitting betel nuts. A woman making dumplings in the back of her shop, tens of hundreds with her skilled hands. A porno DVD store, illuminated like a carnival. A frustrated young man working on the wheel of his broken scooter.
Taiwanese people. They are kind, generous, helpful, and unbelievably patient with my shit Chinese speaking ability. I have never felt this safe or welcome even in my own country.
How damn Chinese this country is without being China.
The pops and bangs of fireworks at night, every night. There is always a wedding, a funeral or some other event worth celebrating. The first night I didn’t know if the loud booms were firecrackers or if China had finally decided to make its move. Here, you can’t ever be really sure.
The seductive way this country reveals itself. Unlike America, Taiwan does not put all the goods right out front. You must be patient and willing to explore. The tourism bureau does not advertise Taiwan’s best assets. You will learn more about people from what is not being said than from what they do say.
Fresh fruit. The sweetness of Taiwanese bananas, mangoes, pineapple are unrivaled by any place on earth. Not to forget the exotic lychee, kiwi, dragon’s eye, dragonfruit, passion fruit, and other treats that just don’t go grow outside of Southeast Asia.
They think of tea here like France thinks of its wine. I will miss my hong cha (red tea) when I get home. The combination of fruit and tea… well that’s another delight.
How alive everything is here. This is also one of the things I hate about Taiwan, mostly when I am battling moths, lizards, beetles and ants in the bathroom. There are flowers everywhere though, and huge black and blue butterflies. Oh the butterflies. They come in all shades of the spectrum.
Taiwan at night. A town can change from dreary to bustling within the span of the twilight hours. Night markets, fruit stands, hordes of young people on scooters. This is the country that never sleeps.
Speaking of sleep, I must, as I am not Taiwanese and I need my eight hours. Ta for now.