If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.

“It’s OK, I’m just going to wait for a sign, Fate will show me the way…”

Will she, Siobhan? Will she?

I always wait for a sign. While waiting for this ‘sign’ I ask everyone in my life what I should be doing. I can’t make decisions and it’s a problem.

How can some people just know? Teach me these mysterious ways please. I’ve even consulted an online Magic 8 Ball. No, seriously.

Dear Magic 8 Ball,

Should I move to Taiwan?

That actually happened about 7 weeks ago.

Is this living on the edge? Or is this just absolute craziness?!

I choose the latter because apparently that Magic 8 Ball was wrong. Can you believe it?! Or perhaps it wasn’t wrong, it was just pushing me in the vague direction of Asia. Either way, here I am, in Taiwan, and I don’t think I’m supposed to be here right now.

It’s not my time, and all that jazz.

Sitting on the bus the other day, I made a list. That same morning a friend had posted a video on my Facebook page- The Clash’s ‘Should I stay or should I go’. Thus, my list was named after this song.

Stay

*classical music on buses.

*gentlemanly people

*bicycle

*food=yum

*Hong Kong=unknown

…and so the list goes. Oh, and that particular bus driver was wearing a Taiwanese flag hat.  I even took that as a sign. I mean he was shoving Taiwan in my face. I jumped off the bus and was like “I’m staying.”

Go

*money=low

*boys (yeah).

*hello fresh life

*internationality (is that even a word?!)

So you see, my ‘pros and cons list’ isn’t helpful in the slightest.

I just kept wishing someone could make the decision for me. I even resorted to asking strangers. I would come home and look at my roommate, prepare hot water for tea and he’d get that glazed look- here we go again. I have a feeling that my family and friends are going to be more relieved than I am, when a decision is finally made.

This morning a friend sent me this article and for me, that is a sign. Why? Well, because a few weeks ago I had an interview with this same company and I thought it seemed like a cool place to work. Perhaps it is. But when a company cares more about quantity than creative quality, count me out. So, hello ‘sign’.

On my first night back in Taiwan, I received an email from my option in Hong Kong. ON MY FIRST NIGHT. Hello ‘sign’ if ever a ‘sign’ was intended.

And then there was that huge ‘sign’. The one where you find out it’s not actually possible to  stay in the beloved Taiwan due to a government law stating that companies must pay foreigners at least 47,000nt per month in order to legally hire them. That immediately threw my beautiful option in Taiwan straight out the window. That amount is just not possible for some companies and so I’m not left with many options in this land now.

Has my decision just been made then?

I think so. I’m still in denial though.

And I’m still looking for more ‘signs’.

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image: source

the art of exploring unknown paths

Do you know how terrifying it is to take the plunge, run full-force down the path that you believe will help you fulfill your dreams? This path isn’t easy to find, infact it goes so deep into the forest that most people don’t even notice it. It’s so overgrown from previous bushes of fear that the entrance is completely covered. You need to look beyond to be able to even consider it as an option.

The best way to beat this huge obstacle called fear is to kick it to the side, but you need to be quick! This bush of fear has a tendency to bounce back, so just run; run down the path with the thought that your dream is obtainable, it’s just around the bend and then a little further. Try not to look back because that bush of fear has a tendency to creep up when you least expect it. It’ll pull you under, smothering you with it’s thick leaves that will lap up any sliver of courage left lingering inside you. Just keep going, you’re clearly on that path for a reason and sooner or later it’ll all become clear and the bushes of fear will shrivel away into the shrubbery and the wild, whimsical flowers will appear before you eyes and there you’ll be- greeting your dream with a little ‘Hello, here I am, sorry it took me so long’.

Sometimes I get really scared though. This path I’ve found myself on isn’t always the clearest. But then, nor is anything in life. Someone needs to explore this path, otherwise something awesome might get bypassed. I’m the one on the path and I don’t even know what lies ahead, thus it is my duty to keep going and discover it’s hopefully hidden delights.

I shall keep you posted. In the meantime I have a few little obstacles to deal with…wish me luck!

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Après Ski- “Our Garden Needs It’s Flowers”

I don’t often stumble across jewelry that I just have to have, but that’s all changed now that I’ve found Après Ski’s “Our Garden Needs It’s Flowers” collection. I want them ALL.

Après Ski’s accessoires are designed by the wonderful Lucía Vergara from Barcelona. She launched her first solo collection in 2009 and from the look of her shop it appears she’s on a creative roll. Her pieces are very vintage-focused and most of them are actually made from old materials from the 40s to 80s. She is a natural craftsman, mixing her chosen materials together to create a new blend of innocent romance with an air of casual modernity.

She gets most of her inspiration from the world of nature, but she also focuses in on geometrical shapes and designs that make up the universe.

Each of her collection’s are extremely unique, and due to her thrifting of vintage materials, each piece has it’s own little history. That is pretty special.

Her “Our Garden Needs It’s Flowers” collection was inspired by Memphis Milano, a movement of architecture and industrial design from the 80s. It’s also very apparent that some of her influences stem from Africanism, but with a pastel colour twist and the signature geometrical shapes that combine to create the Après Ski label.

P1040184 Congo 44euros

P1040224 Lichi 67euros

P1040244 Costa 71euros

P1040258 Albion 44euros

P1040267 Dizi 32euros

P1040279 Edo 32euros

P1040336Bi 71euros

P1040272Iku 32euros

Lucky for us, she delivers worldwide, so if you’re outside Spain allow anywhere from 5-14 days to receive your little beauty. It only costs 4.70euros for postage and packaging, and for any extra accessories on top of that it’s only an additional 2euros!

Check out the Après Ski site here.

石源司機-The Musical Taxi Driver

Last night, despite the typhoon, my friends and I ran across the puddles and dived into the closest taxi we could find. As we dropped our dripping umbrellas on the floor, my friend had a feeling she’d been in this taxi before. The back of the driver’s seat was covered in photos and newspaper clippings. We took a closer took and realised it was the driver in the photos. We then peered over the front passenger seat and that’s when we noticed the instruments. Musical instruments. The driver started fiddling with his sound system. He slipped in a CD and our ears were instantly met with the melancholic waves of a classical number. This, paired with the storm outside, and the fact that we were driving through small alleyways lined with city-goers braving the rain to enjoy a hearty feast, left me with a feeling that we were starring in a perfect movie scene.

As the music reached it’s crescendo, my friend piped up- “司機,我已經坐過你的車“ (“Sir, I’ve been in your taxi before”). He immediately remembered her, and thus began their conversation about the curious life he leads.

His name is 石源 (Shi Yuan), which directly translates as the source of stone. He is a taxi driver on the streets of Taipei where he gets to meet all kind of lovely, crazy people on a daily basis and gain a little insight, a little peek into their lives.

But, 石源 is not just a taxi driver. He is an extremely talented musician and a few years ago he used to play music in a western restaurant. However, due to a change in consumer needs, the western restaurant decided they no longer needed in-house musicians. It was at this point in his life where he began driving a taxi. He loved his daily encounters with all sorts of wonderful people, but something was missing. He hadn’t taught himself how to play numerous musical instruments to just sit in a car and drive people around. Music ran through his blood and it wasn’t enough for him to just sit and listen to his favourite CD’s day after day as he explored the roads of his beautiful Taipei. There must be something more he could do?

One day he discovered a hospital that recruits volunteers to play music to their patients. This was it! This was his chance to celebrate his passion and talent for music, his chance to share it with the rest of the world, and in return help make people smile. He started playing the piano in the lobby area of National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital, and pretty soon, news spread of the gentle, kind-hearted talented musician taxi driver and his generosity. Before long his musical wings had landed him in a few more hospitals dotted around the city and now he has a weekly routine of the hospitals he visits to share his music in-

Monday 星期一12-2pm Xindian CiJi Hospital 新店慈濟醫院

Tuesday 星期二 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side 3rd Floor 台大醫院東址三樓

Wednesday 星期三 11-12pm Shi Lin Yang Ming Hospital 士林陽明醫院

Thursday 星期四 11-12pm Nei Hu Third Zong Hospital 內湖三總醫院

12-1pm Nei Hu Third Zong An Ning Bing Fang 內湖三總安寧病房

Friday 星期五 12-1pm Tai Da Hospital East Side Lobby 台大醫院東址大廳

Saturday 星期六 11-12pm Lin Kou Chang Geng Medical Building 林口長庚醫學大樓

That’s his current schedule and to think that in-between all of that he still works as a taxi driver. He is a busy man and yet driving us to our destination, he seemed so calm and relaxed; I could tell he really enjoys his life.

He is a self-taught musician and believes that if you really put your mind to it, you can learn any instrument you like. He plays the piano 鋼琴, small violin 小提琴, big violin 大提琴, ukelele, mandolin, guitar 吉他,keyboard 電子琴, banjo 斑鳩琴, er hu (chinese fiddle) 二胡, yue qin (a lute with an oval or octangular sound box) 月琴, chinese flute 中國笛, accordion 手風琴, jazz drum 爵士鼓, latin drum 拉丁鼓. Wow! Could he be any more wonderful?

He has become good friends with the patients in the hospitals and some people will put aside a spare hour in their daily schedule to make a trip especially to the hospital to hear him play. I haven’t met anyone as fascinating as him in a long time. I love that he clearly gets such pleasure and happiness from spreading his love of music to people. Hospitals can be sad, eerie places, but thanks to this amazing man and his music, the atmosphere is brightened and even if just for a moment, people can forget their illnesses and just revel in the music, allowing it to wash over them and soothe them.

Once, he was called by the family of a sick lady to rush to her dying bedside and play some music to allow her to cherish her last hours. He immediately stopped what he was doing, grabbed his instruments and rushed to the scene. He did not have to do this, he had no relations to this lady whatsoever, and yet there he was, playing his violin, spreading joy to what may have been someone’s last minutes on earth.

I have nothing but overwhelming admiration for this taxi driver musician and his gigantic heart, bursting with goodness.

We need more people like him in this world.

I hope that if you live in Taipei, you too, may have the chance to stumble upon him and take a ride in his taxi. Otherwise, why not go and listen to one of his daily concerts in one of the many hospitals he frequents.

There’s something special about him. His energy is contagious and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to meet him.

Once we reached our destination, he handed us each a few tissues. The rain was getting heavier and he wanted to make sure we would leave his taxi comfortable and dry. We hopped out and wiping off the rain droplets from our arms, we peered inside to thank him once again. He nodded in acknowledgment, twisted the knob on his CD player and proceeded to select his favourite classical number to prepare for the next customer seeking a little retreat from the rain. As we shared one last smile, he drove off, not phased one bit by the typhoon that lay ahead. He had his music.

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石源司機 The man himself.

source: image

You can watch him on youtube too. He has quite a few videos up there and here is a little sample-

I think it’s so cool the way he lives almost a double life. He’s like some kind of superhero. He drives a yellow taxi by night, but when the sun rises he adorns his favourite suit, complete with bow tie and top hat and off he goes to create a healing, musical spectacle.

石源, you are incredible.

The Paper Kites

This band, I have no words. Their music leaves me feeling lighter and at the same time makes me want to undertake a huge journey, whether an exploration of a new country and culture, or just a little journey into my head to reshuffle my thoughts and get back on the right track.

They are from Melbourne and have just recently released their new album- States. It’s only available from October 1st in the USA so possibly the same applies for everyone outside Australia too.

You can have a little listen here to one of their latest songs-

I’m always looking for new music. If you have any new (or old) favourites, please feel free to share them in the comments below. My ears would love some new inspiration.