It has been a long time since I have written anything in this blog and I was even thinking that I might leave it altogether; but so many funny things have happened lately that have reminded me of the value of recording my experiences. This blog goes back to where I left off in June 2011.
After leaving the Philippines I found myself once again in Taipei, Taiwan, my two visits to this city forming brackets around my eight-month trip to Australia and Asia. As I emerged from the metro at the CKS Memorial Hall station I was greeted by that warm feeling of returning to a familiar place, a sensation all the more exciting when it is a place in a foreign country. I stayed in Taipei this time for about five days and generally wandered around with a big grin on my face, since for some odd reason I have a real soft spot for this city. There is just something about the combination of the sincerity and bashfulness of the Taiwanese, the modern aesthetics of city, and the appeal of the trendy student scene, that unite to produce this uniquely cool and understated Asian metropolis. I was really happy to discover around this time that one of my good friends, Rob Williamson, was about to move to the city to teach English for a year.
In reality I didn't do too much in Taipei this time. I went to the zoo, pottered around the National Museum, and bought a wide-angle camera lens; but otherwise I just finished up the last few preparations for the turtle program and went out to explore the night markets. I have always met a very strange selection of travellers staying in Taiwan, since the city is very much off the radar of most American or European backpackers. This time the hostel was full of a group of very giggly girls from Hong Kong. The intensity of their laughing was so extreme that I actually thought that they might be joking. East Asian culture is as intriguing as it is unfathomable.