Did you hear the chirping of birds out your window this morning? Or perhaps the peaceful breeze rustling through the trees, gently mixing with the low, serene tones of Taoist monks chanting their sutras at the neighborhood temple? Well if you live in Taipei, the answer is “No.”
Besides working with Taiwanese colleagues during my graduate studies, my eye on Taiwan hadn't truly come into focus until arriving in Taipei just three months ago to teach at a local elementary school.
Now don't get me wrong, I find Taiwanese folk to be some of the most polite and forgiving people I've ever met in terms of dealing with foreigners like me who don't speak the language and are for the most part ignorant of the customs. But I recently had an experience that forces me to add one little caveat to my warm declaration of appreciation for the people of the R.O.C.
It has been 22 years since I left Taiwan as a three-year-old. I am a half Chinese and half American who was born in this country. I was quite excited when I finally had the chance to come back to Taiwan and to put my Chinese to the test. The first impression I had when walking on the street in Taipei was that people and motorcycles were everywhere.
Tianmu is often referred to as the “Republic of Tianmu” by those who live in the area. Here's why: with the possible exception of work, one doesn't really need to leave the neighborhood.
It has occurred to me that it has been raining in Taiwan raining for almost two weeks now, as I felt the bitter cold creep under my skin while walking on the slippery sidewalks. I feel like I should be used to the cold, being born in the States and living there for a couple of years, but I'm not.
Being half Taiwanese and having spent my entire childhood in Taiwan, I have always identified myself with this beautiful island. Besides my family, there is always something new and magical about Taiwan that draws me back annually.