Sorry for the long hiatus. Moving is never fun. Moving to a new home is stressful. Moving to a new country is exciting and intimidating at the same time. We spent many weeks sorting our stuff and deciding what we have to give away or sell or donate to charity. Deciding what to give up is the most painful, packing them into the moving boxes is really the easy part. I am so glad all that is behind me.
And, now we are in Taiwan! A country I had never lived in before and from what I had heard, EVERYTHING is in Chinese! Oh dear! Why didn’t I try harder at my Chinese lessons when I was younger? Before I got on the plane to get to Taiwan, I promised myself that this is going to be a wonderful adventure.
Indeed, Taiwan turned out to be a marvelous surprise. The people are really friendly and warm, the city an interesting mix of old and new buildings. There are so many beautiful places and green spaces in Taipei.
The best part is the food – the most amazing beef noodle shops in humble surroundings, exquisite Japanese restaurants in zen-like gardens and stalls selling snacks and cooked food everywhere you look – on the streets, in the night markets, down alleyways and in shopping malls.
The coffee shop culture is alive and well here. Taiwanese people are known for their friendliness and nowhere is this more apparent in its surprisingly unique cafes. I think the people here live for the craft of a good brew be it coffee or tea.
The food scene here is surprisingly vibrant – I’ve come across bakeries selling sweet buns and beautiful cakes (pic 1) to crusty French artisanal breads, cheap and good Chinese vegetarian stalls outside Buddhist temples, beautifully plated western food to fancy imperial-styled vegetarian fine dining with superb service fit for an emperor … all at amazingly reasonable prices compared to New York, Hong Kong or Singapore. I’ve also been able to savor one-of-a-kind local Penghu Island delights like the cactus ice cream (pic 2) – sweet, tart and very refeshing.
There are modern supermarkets and there are the traditional street markets where some of the vendors change daily. In the street markets I can find a multitude of locally grown, fresh vegetables and fruits – both cheap and delicious! I have come across seasonal vegetables like fresh water rice shoots (pic 1), fresh wasabi root (pic 3 ) and fruits like the beautiful and fragrant Lala Shan peach and the Yu He Bao lychee (pic 2) that just explodes with sweetness.
What’s there not to love about Taiwan? It is a well-kept secret, a heaven on earth – a place richly blessed with friendly people, beautiful scenery and great food!