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Taiwan

Every time we come back to visit Taiwan, most of our days are reserved for spending time with family – the time split between my dad’s side and my mom’s side. As the years pass, it seems harder and harder to gather everyone in the family together as we’re all scattered across different corners of the world. So when it does happen, it’s a momentous occasion. Even if often times we don’t do much, really. Just sit around passing time, sometimes even in silence. But it’s in these periods of silence where I notice the little things that usually go unnoticed.

My parents don’t talk about their childhood much – and to be honest, as their daughter, it’s difficult to imagine them ever being kids. What, you mean they weren’t always grown-ups?

But as I’m growing older, and with each and every time we come back to be with family, I learn a little more. I understand a little more. I get such an intimate view of what it was like growing up for my parents – how it’s shaped them as individuals, why they care so much about the things they care about. Why my dad always has to have soup with his meals, why despite hardship his heart remains genuine and compassionate, where his unyielding ambition comes from. Why my mom is such a natural giver, how she has such a deep understanding of human nature, why her sense of humor is much more than just a sense of humor.

And with all of this, I learn a little about myself, too. How some of these things have trickled through the generations, and how it’s shaped my values and the way I perceive the world around me. Although I don’t understand all of it and it feels like there are a lot of things left unspoken, these little peeks I get into my parents’ lives (before my sister and I came into the picture) are some of the most valuable memories that I have.

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Hello from Taiwan! A much needed vacation indeed – work has been really busy lately (to say the least) and it’s always nice to escape the subzero weather in Berlin.

It’s day three in Taiwan, and I have 100% succumbed to my Taiwanese food cravings. Which is, needless to say, nonexistent in Germany. So much for going on a “healthier diet”, but hey, it’s not really vacation if you don’t go all out! And plus – Taichung, in my opinion, has some of the best street food that Taiwan has to offer. (Tainan being the first.)

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It’s great being able to spend so much time with family, especially since it seems that as I grow older, the opportunities to do so begin to dwindle down. However a part of me will forever remain a free spirit, and although happy to be around my loved ones, I was still hungry to venture off the beaten path and get lost in the nooks and crannies of Taiwan.

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So I traveled solo for the past couple of days. Caught the bullet train to Taipei and began my unplanned adventure. There’s something special about traveling alone – it’s just you and you alone, in a sea of unfamiliar faces and places. Being in a foreign environment is such a powerful way to expand your knowledge about both the world and yourself. Lots of time for self-reflection – the role you play in the world around you, how much you know and don’t know, and the inexhaustible variety of things yet to be done.

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There are certain liberties that come with traveling solo – e.g. taking routes that don’t make any sense, conversating with strangers, and stopping to appreciate the little details that would otherwise go unnoticed.

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Traveled back up to Taichung for a few days. I’m excited to explore.

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While I was getting my hair done for my sister’s banquet one morning, the stylist told me about this new craze in Taiwan – a chocolate bar called lei-shen, imported from Japan. Apparently it’s so popular that crowds will wait at the doors of 7-11 before it’s even open to snatch a bar. My aunt was telling me that people will physically fight each other over it, and once saw a teenager burst out in tears when a mom shoved her out of the way and grabbed the last one in stock.

What?

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I pretty much spent the last couple of days eating my way through Tainan.

Day One
The hardest part about travel blogging is simply finding the time and energy to do so. Because I don’t want to spend too much time blogging and miss out on all the things crying to be explored, I always leave it til the end of the day. And because I always try to squeeze the most out of every minute I’ve got, I’m usually tired beyond function by the end of the day. It’s about 2am here, and I’m having trouble stringing together words in my head.

I’ll try my best – woke up and had a complimentary breakfast at the hotel. Funny things about Taiwanese hotels – you can always expect the breakfast to be some sort of awkward combination of Asian and western cuisine. Taiwanese porridge is a staple, of course. But then you’ll almost always find scrambled eggs, soggy bacon, and toast with jam + butter. If you’re lucky, maybe some frosted flakes!

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Did some last minute exploring in the neighborhood before we caught the train to Tainan (台南), about a 2 hour ride south from Taichung.

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