It’s been 10 days since I’ve arrived and it’s been pretty non-stop. I feel like I’m not really doing that much, but as I write this, I realise I guess I am doing quite a lot! Yes, my days so far pretty much only consist of settling in, hanging out with friends, seeing things and eating. But damn it’s tiring! (Not that I’m complaining- I do realise I am very lucky to be tired by such things!)
Days 3 and 4 were so special because I got to make so many new friends, and reunite with some old ones. It sounds so cliche, but I really do think that is one of the magical things about traveling/living in a new place. You’re thrown into such a wildly different environment, trying to establish some connection to it- even if you’re there just for a few days- and often, that connection you find is a human one. On my travels, I’ve been so blessed to meet so many people, if only fleetingly, who have opened up to me, shared their stories, a meal, a day or a few, so we can create memories together on the land we happen to be walking on at the same time. To meet one of those people, again, is one of the most wonderful things- because you know you shared a connection at least strong enough to warrant a second meeting.
So that is how I found myself meeting my friend, Alex, again after more than a year since we first met in Taipei. On that first trip, he was so kind to introduce me to the city, and it really made me time in Taipei so memorable. A big group of his friends and my friends got to know each other over the course of a couple of days by eating, drinking, karaoke (My Heart Will Go On being amongst the fine selection) and it was a whirlwind of fun.
When I decided to move to Taipei, I was so excited to tell Alex, and we kept in contact that whole time. I was excitedly anticipating our second meeting. I love reunions because they are that intense mix of reminiscing, catching up, asking questions, and trying to place that person who sits in front of you now, with that person you met then. And then hoping please, friendship gods, I hope we still get along and it won’t be an awkward hell of silence and wall staring.
Fortunately, we had lots to talk about and it was a heap of fun! Alex brought along his friend and we feasted on delicious Japanese food. It was just like being back in an izakaya (Japanese bar-restaurant with snack foods) in Japan. I really enjoyed drinking umeshu again (Japanese plum wine), which is fantastic to keep the stories flowing!
Then we met a friend of his I also met on my first time in Taipei at this super fancy bar, China White. It was so cool- I definitely have to go back and sample more of the cocktail menu!
During the day, I met the most awesome Swiss girl, Rebecca. She and Amy met while traveling, so for them it was a reunion. It’s funny writing this retrospectively, a week after knowing her, because I couldn’t have known how many fun times we would be sharing, where I can now I can say “Ahhhhh I love you, you crazy, crazy girl!” But, for now I’ll focus on the first meet. Rebecca has been backpacking throughout Asia for more than a month, and so it’s with the focus of rest and recovery (ha!) that she has come to stay with us for 2 weeks.
So, of course, the only thing we could do was to initiate her into Taipei Life was to take her to eat straight away. Bags down, out the door, food. If only foresight could have seen that this would have been the beginning of the very common and vicious Taiwanese Dumpling Disease, we may have acted more cautiously. Symptoms include inability to think without a constant stream of “DUMPLING, DUMPLING, DUMPLING. GIMME, GIMME, GIMME” ringing in your ears, an ability to wolf down tens of dumplings in 3.4 seconds and an aura of garlic wafting around you at all times. It takes no prisoners, let me tell you.
The place we went to was one Amy and I had passed by on our tour around our area. It was so good. We could see the ladies making the dumplings out front. There was a huge picture sign showing a sample of the menu, so Amy and I showed off our “point desperately and receive food” skills to a very impressed Rebecca. She was quick to learn the power of gesturing by successfully getting us small bowls so we could more easily stuff our faces (why they don’t just have them on the table I don’t know. Dumplings are for sharing dammit!). The meeting marked the first of many laughs, dumplings and endless chatter we would have together in the days to follow. Just like the beginnings of any good friendship, right?
Alright, that’s a short update. God, a whole week of entries to write up still! Expect more new friends, drawings, road trips and our new housemate, Quyen!