This week has been awesome! We have caught up with most of our old friends. We have explored parts of the area that I never had before. We have also moved into a high rise apartment in Banqiao, Taiwan for the next 16 days until our long term apartment is available. Banqiao is a 5 minute metro ride into Taipei City and is much bigger and flashier than it was when we lived here 5 years ago. We rented our small studio apartment on airbnb.com and are quite happy with the location and amenities.
We are on the 39th floor with an amazing view, have access to a lap pool and children’s pool (which we still haven’t used because they require you to wear swim caps… unfortunately, that was not something we packed for this trip), and even get boot-legged newly released movies available on our lovely 45 inch flat screen free of charge. It has been a little like living a life of luxury, in a very small cozy room.
I never thought I would say this, but I have been loving the food. Back when we lived here before, it was all I could do to not constantly complain about the horrible, oily, food. Chad and I often paid exorbitant prices to have “American” food because of our dislike of most of the Taiwanese food. Or at least, that is how I remembered it.
I was sitting here pondering earlier this evening, at how my tastes have changed since I was last here. Those things that I once found delicious, like cheese dan bing, and beef noodle bowls, have not been what I have remembered them as. I have steered away from them for the most part and have been eating other local favorites that I still love, such as shabu shabu (also known as hot pot), dumplings of all types, boba tea, and all the wonderful fresh fruit that I have been unable to enjoy since leaving sunny California. My stomach has been full and happy here in this big city that we used to call home.
It does feel like home here too, we have settled into Taiwan as though we had never left, but with a new perspective and way of living that makes it so that we actually do things. Chad and I are realizing the things that we missed here because we were hungover or on our way to our next hang over. Zoë has opened the door for us to really explore our old stomping grounds and see Taipei in the day time! Not that Chad and I were drunks or anything like that, it was just a different time and we had different priorities.
Zoë has also changed another part of Taiwan for us that I was slightly dreading. The looks of fear, condescension, and down right hatred are not pointed in these Wàiguórén (mandarin for foreigners) anymore. This time in Taiwan is completely different, now when we enter a place of business or walk down the street, locals do not run to the other side of the street or stare at us blankly, they come up and engage us. They want to meet and talk to Zoë! So far everyone has been extremely polite and she has not had anyone poke her or slap her (as I hear may happen, it is kind of like cheek pinching in the states), they just want to say hello and occasionally take her picture. Zoë is loving the attention and now goes up to all the local children she meets along our walks to say “nice to meet you” and “Nǐ hǎo” (mandarin for hello). It really is so cute. Because of Zoē I feel welcome here, which I was not expecting! She is our little ambassador of good will.
It is great to be back in Taipei, Taiwan. I look forward to traveling more around the island and being able to write about our adventures. Until then… Zàijiàn!