Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

My last day in Kaohsiung, was a gift

With all the major moves and relocations I've been through, the last day before I leave is usually a frenzy filled day of last minute packing and preparations. Along the way I try to squeeze in get-togethers and goodbyes with friends and family. It is usually all a blur of activity. In fact, I don't think I remember exactly how I spent my last day in New York before leaving for Taiwan.

So it was truly a gift when my friend- A said he'd come down to Kaohsiung from Taipei to visit me on my last day (June 30) in Kaohsiung. I wasn't sure what to expect. I was just thrilled that he was going to be visiting me because I knew I'd miss him dearly!

The day he arrived was a beautiful sunny day and we played the role of tourists as we made our rounds to Kaohsiung's major sites, including some newer ones that I hadn't yet had the chance to visit.

We started off at the Tuntex Sky Tower aka 85 Skytower, the tallest building in Kaohsiung and went up to the viewing deck for a view of the city.

For those of you who have ever visited me in Kaohsiung- if you look closely, you might recognize some of these buildings.

The Dream Mall, a nine floor shopping mall, which opened up in March is one of Kaohsiung's newest sites and now Taiwan's largest mall. It has a ferris wheel on the roof with a view of the ocean. The ferris wheel is tremendously popular. The last time I went there in the evening with my cousin who was in town for a visit, there was an hour wait! Better luck next time... So of course A and I had to make a stop over there to ride the ferris wheel, which stands at 102.5m tall atop the roof of the mall.

Well of course the ferris wheel had to be a Hello Kitty themed one. This is Taiwan where one of the major airlines has introduced a Hello Kitty airplane! Someone has even blogged about it here. Here we see the backside of Hello Kitty and her "friend" Daniel. Oh the things you learn about Hello Kitty after having lived in Taiwan for six years...

A view of the 85 Skytower in Kaohsiung from the ferris wheel.

The containers of Kaohsiung harbor.

Hello Kitty and Daniel-san wave from the ferris wheel car.

Looking out from the ferris wheel.

Look down! Look way down!

It was a beautiful day full of many mixed emotions.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Where have I been and what have I gone through these past few months? How do I even begin to detail it all?

Well I've done it, I've uprooted myself from Taiwan. I've quit my job in Kaohsiung and I will be relocating to New York for a time... eventually. It's hard to believe I'm using that word right now "uprooted." Six years ago, when I finally left New York for Taiwan, I could barely speak the language. I left simply because I felt that I needed a new perspective on life and the world.

What I thought would only be two years has turned into six... and I'm not even sure if I'm really done with Taiwan yet! I have made a life for myself in Taiwan, I have found inspiration and purpose, and I have cultivated my own unique circle of friends there- not a "borrowed circle of friends." I suppose that's how I felt when I lived in Taipei during my first 2 months in Taiwan. I found myself immediately plugged into a huge social network of people through my roommate Christine. It was odd stepping into her circle of friends- who so readily accepted me. I wasn't accustomed to such easy acceptance; I mean, I didn't have any personal history with these people.

Then I moved to Kaohsiung which was like a desert- in so many ways. It has disdainfully been called a "cultural desert", but just what would you define as "cultural?" Is culture measured by the size of an art gallery or concert hall, the number of modern dance performances? Or is culture the preservation and practice of local traditions and customs? I was "in the desert" for 2 years i.e socially isolated. At the height of the SARS epidemic my feelings of isolation intensified when my family and I decided to self-quarantine. At that juncture I discovered some things about myself, and thought about what I have to offer. I began to open my eyes, face my fears and follow my intuition.

As I prepared to leave Taiwan (on June 30), there were many goodbyes, and there were even some who couldn't say goodbye. There was one long endless weekend- my last weekend up in Taipei before I left- with good friends and food. It was a tour of sleepless Taipei's various all-night hangouts, we were up every day until the wee hours of the morning, there were tears over karaoke, a lockout, sleeping in an all-night diner, and lots of long conversations... We really squeezed every last minute of our time together. Then there was our trip to Penghu, several goodbyes to friends in Kaohsiung and then a gift- my last day in Kaohsiung.