1 Year In Taiwan - The Final Blog Post
Yes, it is true. This marks the 82nd and final blog post of AmericanInTaipei. All good things must come to an end. Thank you everyone for following along for my first year in Asia.
When I moved to Taiwan, I had no idea what would happen. Well, not much has changed, as I still don’t know really know what I’m doing. But I do know that living in Asia is one heck of a good time. And I know that Taipei is one of the best cities in the world… friendly people, affordable prices, clean and safe environment, convenient public transportation, and of course full of adorable Taiwanese girls. These days my Chinese vocabulary is well above 2,000 words, I can recognize about 1,500 unique characters, and I can handle going on dates with girls who don’t speak English. If you want more details about that, come visit and I’ll show you!
What does the future hold? I’m not sure. I’m continuing with the Chinese classes and part-time work for now, while constantly thinking of what my next move should be. For now, things are good. I guess I’ll do another year in Taipei, and see what happens. Raise hell…
Modern Toilet - Ximending, Taipei.
At the Modern Toilet restaurant, one can sit on a toilet and eat big mounds of chocolate ice cream out of little toilet bowls. Unfortunately, when I pulled my pants down to use the toilet, they quickly asked me to leave. Why have a toilet if you can’t use it?
KiKi Restaurant - “The Decision” One Year Anniversary
On April 16th, 2011, I was visiting Taipei for the second time. I spent the entire day walking around the city, pondering what my life would be like if I moved here. I met up with some friends at KiKi for dinner that night, and we later made our way to Luxy to party it up. I still remember the exact moment at Luxy… I was standing by the bar, the DJ was playing “Six Foot Seven Foot” by Lil’ Wayne, and there were about ten cute Taiwanese girls standing in front of me. That’s when I turned to my friend and said “You know what. I think I’m actually gonna do it. I’m gonna move to Taiwan.”
One year later, here I am, and I couldn’t be happier. We returned to KiKi restaurant this year to commemorate the decision, and filled up on the Szechuan-style cuisine, one of my favorites restaurants in Taipei.
Food stands on Da’An Road. You can find me eating dinner in this alley on several nights each week. This is where I get all kinds of cheap, quick food, such as pork fried rice, beef noodles, shrimp dumplings and shaved iced. After I eat, I often wash it down with a bubble milk tea or a honey lemon juice. The food stand in the middle of this photo is my most-common stop, as Chiou Gu-Gu (Auntie Chiou) makes some damn good fried rice, and she always adds extra meat for her favorite American customer.
Cama Cafe. The Taiwanese love their tea, but coffee is beginning to challenge tea’s supremacy lately. Cama Cafe is probably the best coffee in my neighborhood, although I usually go with the cheaper 7-Eleven option. For some reason, Cama’s old school coffee grinder makes me think the coffee tastes better. Back in the US, I was a HUGE Dunkin’ Donuts fan. Well, Taiwan actually has Dunkin’ Donuts too! But it’s not the same. DD-Taiwan is more watered down, the sugar is not as sweet, and the Taiwan “iced large” is smaller than the American “iced medium.” Just not the same :(
Moe Point Maid Cafe. Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan. The food is pretty bad, and the drinks are too sweet. But who cares, the waitresses are dressed as maids.
Happy Year of the Dragon! I took this photo from the steps of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall during the lantern festival, marking the first full moon of the Year of the Dragon. Tradition has it that the dragon year is the luckiest year to be born in, so for all you wannabe parents… get to work!
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 7 日月潭 Sun Moon Lake
After hanging out in the mountains, we drove through Taiwan’s vineyards and arrived at Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s largest body of water. We spent our afternoon checking out the scenery, and then drove back to Chiayi for our last night of the road trip. Once again, we managed to find all three bars in Chiayi and stayed up late hanging with the locals. And in the morning, we drove five hours back to Taipei. What an awesome road trip this was!
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 7 玉山國家公園 Jade Mountain National Park
Day 6 was spent driving back North, and detouring around the Chinese New Year tourist traffic. We arrived in Chiayi by the evening, and called it an early night. We awoke at 3AM to drive up to Alishan Mountain (阿里山) to see the sunrise. Unfortunately, it was raining, much to the disappointment of a few hundred others who made the early morning trek. Michael and I continued on our way towards Jade Mountain, the tallest peak in Eastern Asia. The scenery up there is just beautiful. You can see in this picture that we are both above and below the clouds.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 5 墾丁 Kenting
All of Day 5 was spent touring Kenting National Park. We stopped in numerous small villages throughout the area, where each one had their own beautiful temple. After spending the afternoon chilling on White Sands Beach (白沙灣), we drove over to Maobitou (貓鼻頭 Cat Nose Head), where this photo was taken. The wind was blowing very hard, as can be seen by the white caps in the ocean behind me.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 4墾丁 Kenting
After another day of driving through small mountain towns, joking with local farmers, and eating more delicious local cuisine, we finally arrived at the southernmost point in Taiwan, Kenting National Park. We grabbed some beers and sat on the beach as the sun set on our fourth day. That night, we hung out on Kenting’s main street, where hundreds of Taiwanese do a slow zombie walk up and down the road, looking at all the street food and mini carnival games. Kenting doesn’t really have much of a night life, but we did hang out at “Reggae Bar,” which consists of a guy selling liquor out of his truck on the side of the road, playing Jamaican music, with four kiddie tables and stools providing the seating.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 3 台東縣 Taitung County
We continued south and crossed the Tropic of Cancer, where and a few busloads of mainland Chinese tourists were looking at a rock that marked the 23.5° latitude. Further south, we came across this walking bridge leading out to a small island known as San Xian Tai (三仙台). There doesn’t seem to be any reason that this bridge was built, except to become a tourist attraction. Nevertheless, it made for a nice little excursion, where we walked around the little island enjoying the sunshine and ocean sounds. That night, we met up with some friends in Taitung for some aboriginal cuisine. Later, we walked around the very quiet town of Taitung and found all three of Taitung’s bars, including a gay aboriginal karaoke bar that made for some good comedy.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 2 花蓮縣 Hualien County
Taiwan’s East coast is absolutely beautiful. As we made our way south, we were treated to non-stop breathtaking scenery… the mountains on our right and the ocean on our left. We stayed in Hualien on the second night, where we ate some delicious snacks at the night market, and found all three of Hualien’s bars for some whiskey and good times.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 2 太魯閣峽谷 Taroko Gorge
Taroko National Park is one of eight national parks in Taiwan. Deep into the park, we set off on a short hike and discovered this suspension bridge. I walked out to the halfway point as the bridge was bouncing up and down. After looking down at the river 100 meters below, I decided I had enough and ran back to the cliff edge.
Taiwan Road Trip – Day 1 宜蘭縣 Yilan County
This Chinese New Year, my friend Michael flew in from Shanghai to do a week-long road trip around the island. We left Taipei on Wednesday and made the short drive through the mountain tunnels to Yilan County on Taiwan’s Northeast coast. We stayed in Jiaoxi, where we spent the evening relaxing in the hot springs. That night, we went to this outdoor seafood restaurant and had the cook prepare about half of the items for us. Taiwan’s East Coast sure knows how to make seafood! This became a pattern, as all week we ate the most delicious fish around the island.