Picking up where I left off in Asia…

It feels like a million posts since my last “back track” post, when I finished up on our time in China. I’m well overdue to get back to the back fill, so I’ll pick up where I left off.

After the cooler weather and myriad of activities in China we were ready to slow down some place tropical. But before heading on an island getaway, we had a social call to make. 🙂

Taiwan pit stop

We boarded our plane in Shanghai for the relatively short flight to Taipei. For once we weren’t heading to a new destination as tourists. The inspiration for adding Taiwan to our itinerary was purely my desire to visit a school friend of mine who’s been living there for nearly as long as I’d been in Switzerland.

I hadn’t seen Dylan in YEARS and it was wonderful and exciting to meet up with him again after such a long time, not to mention to meet his wife and his cute little daughter! It was also nice to take some time off from being tourists – being hosted by a friend and resident and giving the camera a break (I hardly took any pictures! No, seriously!!). We didn’t even buy the guidebook for this country – another first on our big trip.

Given the nature of our quick visit to Taipei, I don’t feel qualified to pass along travel advice on Taiwan. But from the few days we had to get a taste of the island country’s capital city, I can say I’d be happy to go back and see more!

The city felt much more vibrant/less sterile to me than Beijing and Shanghai. It was crowded, chaotic, colorful and alive – somehow more what I would have expected from a big Asian metropolis than what my experiences in the Chinese mega-cities offered up – but there were also wonderful pockets of peace to be found at temples and parks.

Web connections

Researching a bit about the place online did introduce me to own of my favorite blogs – My Neon Sign Lullaby.

Eileen is an American who is a Taiwan enthusiast. Her husband is from there and in fact they just moved there from the States recently. Her blog is whimsical and wonderful and a nice way to get a glimpse of life in Taiwan through an expat’s eyes.

She was also kind enough to point me in the direction of the few sights we did visit. On her recommendation, we got to enjoy the dizzying heights of Taipei 101 (at 1,667 ft/508 meters it was the world’s tallest building until it got replaced by Dubai’s insane Burj Khalifa in 2010. Was still impressive going to the top of 101 none the less!!), happen upon a soulful and soothing ceremony going on at the Longshan temple (a quick sound clip here: temple chanting ), and soaked in the peace and lovely vibes at the impressive Chiang Kai-shek Memorial.

 

What’s more, she creates original artwork also inspired by life in Taiwan (bubble tea is a recurrent theme :-)) and life in general that I personally think are just gorgeous. I’ve already ordered a bunch of cards – they’re waiting patiently for me at my sister’s in the States. Looking forward to seeing them in person soon!!! 😀 You can see lots more of her creations at her online shop here on Zazzle.com.

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Taipei kiss and go

Checking in to say hello from Taipei shortly before we have to say goodbye to the city itself. It’s our last night here and I can’t sleep. In a few hours we’re heading to the airport for our flight to the Philippines. It’s going to be my last new country in Asia on this trip; perhaps this has got me feeling so wakeful?

We’ve only had a short visit to Taipei, but it’s been great catching up with my school friend Dylan and meeting his wife and totally adorable little daughter. I’ve liked Taipei a lot as well. It’s been interesting coming here on the heels of our two months in China, trying to get a feel in this short time for what’s similar and what’s different between these kissing cousins.

Although most of our time here has been spent catching up on the past years with Dylan and preparing for the next leg of our trip, we have gotten out to see some of the city, and I’ve really enjoyed its color, vibrancy, modernity as well as the surprising pockets of peace and serenity in places like at the Longshan temple and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial. I’ve mostly left my camera behind but here are a few images from our time here.

I may write a bit more about it later, but there is so much to catch up on about China still! Either way, catch you from the Philippines next! 🙂

PS – Thank you Eileen for your tips and inspiration about Taipei!