13 months
Jan 7:
culinary crash course
Jan 7:
kao hsiung reunion
Jan 10:
kenting yee haw!
Jan 13:
the low down
taiwan gallery
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Indra statue in National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan; Jan 12, 2005

sweet home, taipei

Up front, we should say that many aspects of our stay in Taiwan differ from what a normal tourist would experience (though, from what I've seen so far, Taiwan doesn't seem to get many tourists). Our visit is atypical because Susan has lots of family here so we haven't had to worry about finding a place to sleep or figure out where or what to eat. We can do laundry at will, we have internet access, and basically, our time here is pretty well planned out already.

Hung Mama and Hung Baba, as I now call them (I used to call them Mr. and Mrs. Hung, but now that I'm a son-in-law I've graduated to the less formal version), have an apartment in Taipei. They officially live in San Jose, California, but Hung Baba works in Taiwan so he keeps a small apartment here. Happily they are both in Taiwan for the entirety of our visit.

We spent the first few days just catching up with Susan’s folks and exploring Taipei (Susan’s been here several times, but for me, it was all new). Even though Taipei is a fairly modern city, it has somehow retained a more local, less slick feeling than, say, Tokyo or Hong Kong. Somehow, one feels closer to the flow of daily life rather than simply watching it (perhaps this is the upside of Taipei not being set up for tourism). It is clean, but not antiseptic. It is crowded, but not unfriendly.

Like many capitals, there is something of an international feeling to Taipei, though this is not because of the population, which is predominantly homogeneous (as a Caucasian, I stand out, though not painfully so). Rather, it is the presence of international corporations and modern fashion that make Taipei feel this way. In some ways, Taipei fashion is ahead of US fashion; they keep a close eye on European trends and they catch on in this part of the world before they either become popular in the US or fizzle out.

Chien Tan train station in Taipei

All in all, it's an energetic city with a lot to offer (great museums, monuments, delicious food, lots of controversial political history, etc.). It really should be a more popular tourist destination than it is (so come on over!).

On a more personal note, it is a welcome change to be so comfortable. Traveling to so many places has been absolutely marvelous, but also tiring. Even though we're busy in Taiwan seeing family, that also makes it feel like a home away from home (certainly for Susan, but also for me, even on my first visit).

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