Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Taiwan Expectations Revisited

Taiwan Beer and a mango ice in Kending.

Before coming to Taiwan, I made a list of how I expected things to turn out in my new home. I planned on revisiting it 6 months later, before returning to the states. 14 months later, I am still here, and finally revisiting my prior expectations. 

1) Most people will speak English, and it won't be too hard to get around speaking broken Chinese at first. 
Yes, many people speak English here, but the majority do not. Also, I didn't know ANY Chinese when I arrived and was extremely lost and confused. I am getting along much better with the rudimentary Chinese Mandarin I know now. 

2) I am going to be really skinny, because the food is healthy. Unlike when I got fat from drinking copious amounts of Malbec and feasting on steak, potatoes, and bread every night in Argentina. 
The food is definitely not healthy here. Most of it is very greasy and fried. I try and cook at home as much as possible so I know what I am eating. 

3) There are many beaches in Taiwan, so I will be at the beach almost every weekend.
It is very easy to access the beaches here, and I have been going often. The beaches in the north are nice in the summer, and the beaches in the south are ideal for the winter. However, I have not been going every weekend as there is too much to do in Taipei!

4) I will learn to surf and windsurf, and get really good at both, obviously. 
I have been learning to surf, many friends of mine have surfboards and they are available in all the beach towns. Windsurfing is more difficult to access. I finally got up and rode my first wave in Dulan two weeks ago!

5) The mountains will be beautiful and inspiring and I will hike them all of the time!
The mountains are most certainly beautiful. I try to hike them or drive through them on my scooter as much as possible. It is only a 30-minute drive to get out of the city and into the fresh mountain air.

6) I will spend a lot of time in the ceramics town south of Taipei. So much time, that people will know me and will love having me in their studio.
I went to the town of Yingge once. It was touristy, and sadly no prolific ceramics guru discovered me for my badass ceramics skillz.

7) It is going to be hot during the summer and I will wear lots of linen. 
It is HOT. Unfortunately, I have not procured any linen. I will try and tackle that in Thailand in a few weeks!

8) I will probably like teaching a little bit at first, and will grow to appreciate it and really like it in the end. 
My teaching situation at first was a complete nightmare and my school was the WORST. However, I teach kindergarten now and really enjoy teaching my class art, cooking, math and everything else! I still prefer traveling and writing at a cafe most. 

9) I probably won't find a gym to join, so I will try and find an apartment that is close to a park or running path. 
For my first year here, I lived right next to the riverside park, where I would frequently run and rollerblade. Now I live close to a public gym and work out there. At first I was afraid of going to a public gym, but it actually has everything you could ever want and it's clean. It's $50NT each time you go, which is the equivalent of $1.50 US. Also, all the men wear speedos at the pool and speedos are the funniest.

10) There will be lots of scooters there, and I fully plan on purchasing one and painting it turquoise. 
I have scooter that I drive everywhere, but never painted it turquoise. I opted for a turquoise helmet instead. 

11) There will be a lot of expats there, and I will become friends with both expats and locals. 
This is a large community of expats. Many of them are artists or are studying Chinese Mandarin. I have friends from all over the world and many from Taiwan.

12) There won't be many bars, but there will be a lot of night markets, and I will most likely spend my time and money in the city shopping and sightseeing. 
There are plenty of bars here. Old Taiwanese men love themselves a single malt scotch. I don't do much sightseeing or shopping in the city. I go outside of the city to explore. I spend most of my money on traveling, drinking and eating. 

13) I expect there to be beautiful world-class art and architecture around me, and plan to study it and be influenced by it.
HAHAHAHAHAHHA. I was sorely mistaken on this one. Everything human made here is pretty ugly, save a few memorial halls, temples and Taipei 101. I have been influenced and inspired by the natural settings and creative energy here more than anything else. 

14) I plan to take Tortuga the Turtle with me most places and to let him blog as much as he desires!
Tortuga wasn't so keen on traveling, so he hangs out in my garden now. 

****What happened that I was not expecting.****

1) I have started painting, sculpting and drawing again. Recently, I sold my first piece of art!

2) Have met some incredibly inspiring people.

3) After a year of struggling to figure things out, I am starting to get it. It is a completely different and beautiful planet. 

4) Chinese is really really REALLY hard. 

5) Things like the picture below have become normal, everyday occurrences to me. 

Family affair, scooting around. 

View of Taipei 101, from my rooftop, at sunrise. 

beach beach beach!


Selfie before scooting around the town.


  1. So mature looking ;)

  2. Great article!! What would you do on a 1.5 week Taiwan excursion from Hong Kong??? Definitely want to be out of the city. Must have: surf-Sun-nature-food. I know enough mandarin to get around. any suggestions???