I want to be a little personal on why the island means so much to me, on a deeper level. No country is perfect but when you found a country to call home, it’s perfect to you. I wrote this in 2012: “For the longest time I couldn’t even see the menu at the coffee shop so I say my usual and not get embarrassed. When I was at the Metro station, many times I couldn’t see the signs or the map. I would have this intense anxiety wondering if I missed my stop. Tonight was different. I just got my eyeglasses and I walked the usual roads and it was as if I was seeing a whole new world, you know? For the longest time, I was seeing a painting only in two dimension and for the first time, I can see the painting for all its glory. Being able to see the colours more vibrant, being able to navigate easier, and seeing everything in detail is such a privilege. In the past two weeks, I’ve cleaned by teeth and did a whole body check up. I usually get all tensed up when I go to the hospital but somehow in Taipei, I don’t feel as such. It’s an amazing feeling. In America, you can still go bankrupt even if you have health insurance.”
I can’t stress this enough. Taiwan’s health insurance probably saved my life. I’m blessed that if I need to see the Doctor, I don’t have to question if I can afford to (even with health insurance). I’m truly grateful.
I wrote this back in 2014: “One morning I woke up wondering why it was so hard to open my eyes. I thought I was simply just tired so I went back to sleep. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. When I went to the kitchen to get some water, my husband freaked out when he saw me. My eyes were swollen and my face was puffy. I had a terrible allergic reaction. I also had red bumps all over my hands. We immediately went to the dermatologist that morning to get treatment. Well, my eyes got better but my hands got worse. Before you know it I felt like my entire body was on fire. The itching was unbearable. My body is changing and now I no longer know what I am allergic to. I’m already lactose-intolerant – what more do you want from me?!
It was discouraging to wake up every morning and realize I was simply just getting worse. I ended up going to another dermatologist also around my neighborhood. The dermatologist said it is in fact an allergic reaction, so she have me drew blood to find out what’s exactly going on. I got more medicine and went on my way. I will find out the results on Tuesday.
I’m finally getting better, which is good because I don’t want to get on the plane to Shanghai and have everybody freak out when they look at my arm thinking I am contagious. Seriously though, my arms did look rather disgusting. Red turns turned to bubbles and the bubbles got bigger. It would freak me out too, honestly.
The allergic reaction could’ve been more dangerous; instead of my eyes, it could’ve been my throat. It seems my allergic reaction is getting worse each time, but luckily I’m taking necessary measures to find out what is my body reacting to. Thank you, Taiwan, for giving me a better quality of life I wouldn’t otherwise have in my birth country.”There was a mini concert at the Hospital and it cheered some people up.
I can’t stress this enough, I’m fortunate to be learning Chinese/Taiwanese culture from my mother-in-law. Honestly, my mother-in-law has mad calligraphy skills and her singing is out of this world. I cannot forget to mention her Chinese/Taiwanese dishes. She makes me my absolute favourite curry and her fried rice noodle…well, if she opens a shop – many people would be out of business. Oh! I forgot to mention it’s soothing for me to watch her play the Chinese instrument 古琴. She’s a pro.
My mother-in-law, husband and I went to Wulai and had fresh vegetables straight from the mountains. What a difference. Andrew Zimmern went to this place when he shot one of his episodes in Taiwan (he was also a huge fan).
My adventures on the island wouldn’t be the same without my extended family. No really, it’s true. My husband’s younger brother has a home in Taitung. I always enjoy eating the ice cream when I visit. There are a list of places to visit such as Taitung Fruit Market, Zhiben hot springs and especially the Museum of Prehistory. The Museum of Prehistory is a kid-friendly archaeological museum – it’s basically located near the airport. I would like to learn Taiwan’s natural history and explore the culture prehistoric Austronesian peoples and today’s indigenous tribes.
Believe it or not, Taiwan is not just about Chinese culture. You will see Dutch castles and Japanese style houses. It’s fascinating and all, but I’m all about the Taiwanese aboriginal culture. There are 14 official tribes in Taiwan. My husband, his family, and I went to an amusement park in Nantou on new year’s day. While the rest of the family went on the rides, my husband and I went to see aboriginal peoples performance. It was bitter-sweet, to say the least. While you’re glad they’re doing something about it to reserve their culture somehow, deep down, you know it’s not enough.
Not only I get to explore the island with my family. For instance, my husband’s former co-worker invited us to go for a hike with him (pictures shown above). It was a beautiful day I will always remember.
Dawen and I went on a road trip to Yilan county with our Taiwanese friends. I would recommend in going to the Langyang Museum if you’r ever in the area.<!–
I used to boast how convenient it is to live in Taiwan, and I slowly realize sometimes it’s good to have things that are not always convenient if it means somebody gets to go home on time without working overtime with no pay. Due to this, I try not to brag about this so much, honestly. Having said that, I do appreciate the public transportation in Taipei. It’s clean, modern and easy to navigate. No, I’m not a New Yorker, but I also don’t have a driver’s license so I do appreciate having mobility while I was living in the city. I also have a new appreciation of onvenient stores such as 7/11 are truly, well, convenient. I can pay my bills, get concert tickets, buy train tickets, re-load my MRT card (or use it to buy items) and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
My days were always interesting. Example? Bumping into a Hakka festival in Taoyuan. My husband talked to one of the locals and even she was surprised with the festival.
I shook hands with one of the candidates. I was eating at a local restaurant with my mother-in-law and my husband when him and his team came in to give out tissue paper and pens. One candidate even gave us portable chopsticks, but that’s another story (I will so bring them with me to China).
I got to witness democracy in Taiwan with my own eyes. The beautiful island has come a long way since the 1980’s. I wish Taiwanese people the best and to say thanks for letting me in their home.
If you’re reading this and you’re also a foreigner living in Taiwan, I hope your life is treating you just as well here. If only foreigners had the same treatment where I am from.