Singapore Adventure

Monday, September 26, 2005

I Heart Taipei: Part I
by venitha

As the place that Jim travels most frequently for work, Taipei has received a not insignificant amount of our scrutiny as a potential future home. Lulled into a sense of security by the Asia Lite that is Singapore, could we end up not back in Colorado in June 2007 but instead in Shanghai? Bangalore? Taipei?

Unseen by me, Taipei has been ruled out by Jim, so it is with low expectations that I set off for my sixth Asian country, Taiwan. And it is with mystified amazement that I greet the unfamiliar familiar feeling that Taipei arouses in me: that of being... home?

Perhaps it's the neighborly rural landscape I view from the plane. Out my window, I spot first abundant farmland and rambling country roads, then power-generating windmills rotating slowly along the dark sands and crashing waves of the coastline.

Perhaps it's that I arrive alone and independent. I confidently negotiate through immigration and customs, collect my suitcase, then find the taxi stand with the ease and assured calm of a native who's been here a million times before.

Perhaps it's the pleasant temperature. Nearly five hours from Singapore by plane, Taipei is significantly to the north and deliciously less tropical. A light breeze caresses me in the taxi line outside Chiang Kai-Shek Airport, and for the first time in nearly four months, I am truly comfortable outdoors.

Perhaps it's the view from the cab. Lush greenery surrounds the highway, which winds through the undulating terrain on which the city is built. In the distance, mountains - mountains! - loom, blue and majestic. As darkness descends, the twinkling lights of homes sprinkle the rolling hills of the city.

Perhaps it's as simple as the fact that in Taipei, just like at home in the US, they drive on the right.

Whatever the cause, by the time I arrive at our hotel, I am more comfortable, more at ease, and happier than I've been in months. I don't understand it, but I love this city, and somehow in coming to Taipei, I've come home.