Romance blossoms between a man and his city

Friday, June 1, 2012
Kirk Hazlett

Our relationship began casually in 1974 as a brief “affair.” Today, nearly 40 years later, it has blossomed into a full-blown “romance.” I have fallen head-over-heels in love with Taipei.

My first visit to Taipei left me with the impression of a big, quiet, “country” town. Large, of course. Lots of people. Tons of cars and motorcycles. But not (in my eyes, at that time) much to offer in the way of “excitement.”

Quiet and comfortable, like a pair of old shoes.

Over the years and numerous repeat visits, I have seen my “second hometown” grow into a vibrant, exciting international center of culture and industry and I almost didn't realize it.

My epiphany came in the mid-80s when I was whiling away time in a coffee shop while my wife and her sister were out doing “girl things.”

At a table behind me, I overhead the makings of a multimillion-dollar business arrangement. To my right, at another table, a similar-sized but different deal.

Obviously something was going on, and things were changing in Taipei, and Taiwan, for the better!

Our trips to Taipei, with daytrips to Kaohsiung, Keelung, Taichung, Beitou, Tamsui — and on and on — have continued with regularity, and I look forward each year to boarding an Eva Air flight from the U.S. to head “back home.”

My goal each time is to relax in the genuine welcoming warmth of everyone I meet, enjoy fine cuisine from countless cultures, and to simply savor the experience of being in a country where growth is evident on every street corner.

Taipei — and Taiwan — have come of age. And it has been a positive evolution that holds great promise for an even brighter future.

I fully intend to celebrate my “diamond anniversary” as a regular visitor to/would-be resident of this wonderful city and its amazing country.

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