Let’s take a break from Tokyo. And let me write about another part of Asia.
An entirely different pace of life, a different take on ‘Fast Paced’ city life.
A country that i had never expected to visit, (or so i thought when i was younger). A promise got me there. And so there I was.
These will be a series of very backlogged posts of my travels in Taiwan.
Which I hope to blog as much about before the Chinese New Year (Making it almost a whole year – Wow).
I had arrived in Taiwan 3 Days earlier prior to meeting friends in Taipei to spend the new year, with the main intention to visit the Hualien County alone.
Hualien took my breathe away. With it’s rustic views of the Valleys, Mountains and Ocean during Winter Mode. A combination of Rain, Fog and Overcast Clouds with traces of Blue Skies and Fluffy Clouds as a treat.
No complains really.
It was never too cold in the area, strong winds occasionally, especially when near the coast. Otherwise being protected by surrounding mountains kept the cold winds out.
There is this deeply embedded appreciation of life, nature and the slow movement there.
Is this what it is known as a Countryside Life? I have veered too far from the familiarity since my trip to Australia. Too long.
Perhaps being in a place when suddenly, the lack of high rises, loud noises, heavy traffic and a much slower pace. Combined with a breathtaking scenery right from the moment I walked out of the train station, polite and honest citizens (More about that when I get to it) and this unspoken vibe of hushed respect for life and living.
I came back to Taipei, humbled by the people and nature itself.
Writing about this at this moment, with remembered scenarios in my head, gives me a very touched feeling.
Somehow, making that decision to fly in and make that trip was so worthwhile.
A vast difference from Taipei. More concrete, grey and bustle of an urbanized city.
But Taiwan, I have so many things to say about this country. What little I have seen (Taipei, Northern and Eastern Taiwan).
People have this ‘warmth’, I disagree with the locals when they tell me it is ‘cold’ in this city.
Personally I feel my own people have a lot to learn from them. The tone of speech, the respect they give to children and the elders. A certain mindfulness to personal ettiquette. Sure, Singaporean also have a lot of emphasis on the overall to family – extended/nuclear focused (I think it is an Eastern Ingrained culture). Yes, we all might have similar social problems too. But I can feel the difference, which says something.
I am not a biased person by nature, but I feel a lot about social behaviour. And sense is usually something hard to prove.
Somehow having travelled to different places in South East Asia so far, this is one city that I can still feel the old fashioned “ren qing wei (人情味)”. A certain personal touch between people, warmth. Maybe because I speak an almost similar dialect as the Taiwanese majority, so it felt more personal.
A language that not many youths today of my time speaks less and less now, one that i can barely converse in, yet understand. Memories of my grandparents, parents and relatives conversing in when I was much younger.
Definitely a paradise for food, be it the modern quaint cafes, popular street eats (That i definitely recommend), cheap shopping (A different style of street fashion from Bangkok, less trendy – Is it just me?? But more organized) and places to check out.
A retained ‘flavour’ of the tradition – “Hokkien – Fujian” culture in some areas, Chinese architecture, tinges of Japanese influenced sub culture and of course the onset of globalisation – cityscapes. An some European influenced architecture too.
Although some people I had met randomly on the streets in Taipei seemed concerned for a single female’s safety.
Hopping on a Cab alone in broad daylight just to get to my lodging in Taipei – Not safe for you a single girl! So says the strict Auntie at a random bus stop in Zhong Xiao Road. She told me to walk, which is much safer!
Walking through the underground tunnel alone after 9pm – I accept. By two staffs at 7-Eleven who entertained me through my application for a TW Mobile SIM application, lack of proper Mandarin articulation and curiousity of Taipei while serving customers with nary a frown. But enthusiasm.
Yet, these were genuine concerns from strangers. How did this happen?
People do not seem shy with travellers there. I liked that a lot.
Personally, I felt no threat to my personal safety 90% of the time. Which is really great for a female traveller.
No harassment, no feel of threat of street crime – considering I was on foot and exploring the city alone.
Another thing I like about bigger cities, a certain sense of freedom, less of the claustrophobia.
People can be curious yet friendly in public about you, as a foreigner. So easy to strike up a conversation if you really want to (More about that later too).
A country I will look forward to visit Taiwan again for that familiarity.