I didn’t realize how much I missed the Asian culture until I landed in Taipei last night. The sounds, the smells, the friendly people! Waking up to a cloudy view of the mountains and the local neighborhood after a 20+ hour journey to get here from Boise to Seattle to Tokyo to Taipei, I couldn’t wait to get out on the streets and explore!
This is a business trip, hopping to a new city every 2-3 days for meetings, so hubby Thom is not along for the adventure. I’m on my own and, after lengthy conversations with the Westin staff and maps in hand, I started to just wander. Of course, the hotel team tried to talk me out of walking around “too far!” but I like to walk and they aren’t used to visitors wanting to do that. I get it and just smile and keep on walking.
Originally, I had planned to book straight to the National Palace Museum via the subway but a combination of uncertainty and self awareness that I get lost easily plus a desire to absorb the local culture vs. art, I decided instead to try and find a temple nearby.
First, though, I noticed a Alice in Wonderland theme in the Westin lobby bar and checked out the adjacent gardens where it looked like a wedding might be taking place today with decorations everywhere. How fun! Wonder if the bride had an “Alice” dress to walk down the aisle? She will definitely need a parasol as it is quite wet here today.
Instead of a temple, I found a delightful street market where I was the only Laowai, aka foreigner, in sight. Fish, fruit, meat, pigs feet, dry goods and handmade noodles in stalls lining the narrow alleyway-it was packed with shoppers and very reminiscent of my old neighborhood where we lived in Shanghai. I thought of my friend Patti when I saw the cherry tomatoes merchandised in the fruit stalls next to the apples and oranges. Yes, Patti, tomatoes are considered fruit.
As I reviewed my map, still hopeful I could find the temple, a 20-something young man walked by me, stopped and considered, and then came back to offer his assistance. How kind and friendly he was to help me plus he spoke English! Even with his guidance though, after a few more blocks, I gave up and just enjoyed the journey. Glad I did too or I wouldn’t have seen the quiet neighborhoods or the lovely lady in the “cautionary” hat displaying her lovely fruit or the antique noodle maker cranking out the sheets of pasta.
Ahh, to be back again in Asia is indeed a beautiful thing. After a few business meetings, I’m off to Hong Kong (TurboJet to Macau at night for fun!), Shenzhen, Shanghai (home!) and Beijing. Two weeks of work and fun!