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My Taiwan, 我的台灣

It’s true; I came back to Taiwan. It wasn’t something I intended to do, at least not so soon after packing up ALL of my stuff and carting it across the world, only to cart it ALL back again three months later. But life, it’s funny like that. I think secretly I knew I’d end up back in Asia. I mean, why bother studying Chinese intensively for nine months, only to go back to little village life in Scotland and forget everything I ever learned…OK, I lie; I actually did get to use my Chinese fairly often. I worked part-time in a Chinese noodle bar over the summer. The look on the Chinese customer’s faces when I eavesdropped and replied to them in Chinese was priceless. That’s right- Chinese people of St.Andrews, I know what you’re saying mmmk! It was actually very useful when Chinese tourists who barely spoke English fled in to get a little taste of home and I could speak to them in their local lingo. And there was that one time when my Dad’s phone went missing and there was a little a lot of drama in the village over what happened to it. I jumped to the rescue with a scribbled apology note for the Chinese gentleman who got the blame (see below). In village life one must maintain a good sense of community, right? I’m just keeping things friendly.

IMG_20130806_205304And that’s what happens if you stop studying Chinese for a few months. Your writing will look like that. I apologise. Anyway the point is, I guess right now I’m supposed to be in Asia, whether it be Taiwan, Hong Kong or China. Like I said in my post regarding ‘When I grow up…’ I’m quite keen to jump head-first into an exciting, creative challenge right now. As much as I LOVE my cosy, beautiful home in Scotland, I just want to be out there in the world giving it my all, or at least trying to. So, that’s what I’m currently doing; I’m back in Taipei and I’m searching my little heart out for something that makes me excited about life, something that makes me want to leap out of bed and do a hard day’s work in a place that is fun and inspiring. Maybe that’s selfish of me, to want a fun job, to be spending time making sure the decision I make and the job I take is exactly what I’m looking for at this stage in my life; a job that is going somewhere and will take me with it. When I write it down it doesn’t seem so selfish, it feels quite mature, but when I wake up in the morning and hear the crowds of people commuting to work and the children in the school next door practicing their English at the tops of their voices- (‘I LIKE DOGS’…is not something you want to hear screamed by a hundred kids in repetition to their teacher at 8am)- I feel irresponsible and spoilt. Why do I think it’s OK to spend time finding the ideal job for me? Shouldn’t I just bite the bullet and take anything that comes my way? Sometimes I wish I could, but then I remember that I’m passionate, and I’m passionate about doing an honest day’s work. I can’t pretend I’m interested in something and sit and do it all day just to build up a nice little savings account. I need to love it.

Obviously I must survive, and surviving on a budget in Taiwan right now doesn’t seem to be a problem. I appear to have obtained a little help from Fate or maybe my ambitious, eager-beaver approach is just paying off. I think exciting things are just on the horizon and I’m not quite sure what’s going to happen but there are options, and options are always nice, especially if they are options which get your heart and mind racing about all the possibilities and opportunities to challenge yourself, that in return will allow you to grow in the way you’ve always wanted to.

I can honestly say that, yes, I am a 26 year old and I am currently unemployed, BUT, it won’t be for long hopefully.

I know what I want; and for now, I think that’s a good start. I’m definitely one step closer, so for now it’s just a little waiting game.

And what better way to wait, than to explore! To be honest, I can’t quite sit still right now. In between interviews and applications and assignments and more job searching, I’ve dusted off my old bicycle- Lulubelle- and taken her all around the city. From our favourite spots, to some new hidden gems, to places we’ve always wanted to go- we have been.

I can’t help but think that if I don’t just get out there and be proactive, then maybe nothing will happen. It really is true that if you want something in this life, you just need to ask for it. You can’t lose anything, just go for it, because that’s what I’ve been doing- throwing myself out there and seeing what happens. So far, this approach has been quite the success- let’s watch this space.

Right now, however, let’s take a little delve into the past week of adventures in my Taiwan.

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I feel a little like these palm trees of late; just blowing in the breeze, trying to maintain direction. I love looking up when I’m cycling and seeing the green, luscious leaves against the blue sky. Taipei is tropical like that.

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I’ve been visiting some old haunts, and this pagoda in particular is one of my favourites. Unfortunately they’ve let the hedge grow tall over the summer, so it wasn’t possible for me to sit in my usual position on the steps by the lake, feet dangling over the edge next to the lily pads.

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I wanted to free these poor birdies, but maybe they don’t mind it. They seemed happy, chirping along with their birdie buddies and basking in the shade.

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Longshan Temple and lanterns, these were the kinds of things I’d missed while I was home, so it felt only natural to immediately cycle to Taipei’s most famous temple. The smell of incense oozing out of the temples here always makes me relax and seems to inject me with a sense of presence, a reminder of where I am and what I want.

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There’s nothing quite like seeing a friendly face in a haze of city life to brighten my day.

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And of course, the majestic Taipei 101. Probably the only time in my life I’ve felt tiny.

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Kissing bicycles. This week has felt a bit crazy; I’d forgotten just how tight and busy city life can get.

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The food. OK, so bagels aren’t Taiwanese cuisine but these are amazing– Good Cho’s bagels. I have eaten EVERYTHING since coming back. My senses are more than satisfied.

IMG_20130905_173214  Guava, guava, guava, every single day.

IMG_20130905_173509 My new secret Vietnamese restaurant. It was delicious.

IMG_20130905_173541 IMG_20130905_173643 IMG_4421 IMG_4419I like old doors. Taipei has a lot of colourful, old doors.

IMG_20130906_173217 In Taipei, one could spend an eternity soaking up the cafe culture.

IMG_20130906_173351 This cute couple at Huashan Creative Park sell the most delicious muffins and cupcakes. (A separate blog post coming soon…).

IMG_20130906_173442 I don’t think my teddy bear would appreciate being washed and hung out to dry…Just another random glimpse at this peculiar, yet wonderful city life.

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IMG_20130907_190657 Sunset cycles along the river with good friends.

IMG_20130907_233636 This is one of the most popular bubble tea stores in Taipei. Do you think maybe the owner is balding slightly?!

IMG_20130908_212521OK, so I’ve been loving being back in the hustle and bustle of city life again, BUT I couldn’t resist a quick escape to the countryside on a lazy sunny Sunday. Right after this photo was taken we all whipped off our clothes and swam in our underwear in the ocean. It was one of the best swims of my life. I really felt like I was floating on some kind of warm marshmallow; it was just so soft and gentle.

IMG_20130908_212739 We lunched at this cute place. For a second I thought maybe we’d accidentally driven to Greece!

IMG_20130908_212928 Su’ao- a secret, magical beach. Look at those mountains! I seriously think they are moving!

IMG_4544 I think this is my first experience of swimming at a sand-less beach. It was a whole new sensory experience- the sound of the pebbles and rocks shifting with every movement of the waves. It was amazingly calming and surreal.

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Sometimes it’s good to take a day out just to enjoy. But seriously, I cannot WAIT to work hardcore and really appreciate any precious ‘me’ time I get when that time comes. I don’t want to take it all for granted.

IMG_4557IMG_20130908_213928 IMG_20130908_214015This guy is a legend. He makes fried red-bean balls, like mini cripsy red-bean doughnuts. They were mind-blowing and definitely worth waiting in line for. He is at Yilan night market incase you’re as big a fan of red-bean treats as I am.

In between the above adventures, being productive and eating ALL the food, I’ve also visited the National Palace Museum (finally!), participated in a drunken 1.30am 100m race, cycled EVERYWHERE in the city, gotten on the wrong bus twice and thus have seen the entire city full-circle, a few times now.

I’m trying to make the most of every little moment I have in Taipei because there is a possibility I won’t be here for long. I’m trying to figure everything out right now and I’m really bad at decisions. I haven’t even unpacked my suitcase yet, just because I’m scared of ‘jinxing’ things.

I’m leaving it up to Fate. At this moment in time I’m putting all my faith in the idea that ‘everything happens for a reason’…

…and I’m kind of excited.

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