Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Year to the Day

April 28th marked the anniversary of Amanda and my arriving in Taiwan. It is strange to think that 365 days have passed by so quickly and even stranger to to think that our teaching contracts will finish in a little over 100 days.

To mark the milestones of being so far and yet so close to home, we decided to post something of a retrospective to cover our most memorable moments, most and least favorite things about Taiwan, as well as what we are most eagerly anticipating about returning to Canada. (As it’s a lot of ground to cover, I’ll be helping him out with this one - A) Here goes... 

Most Memorable Moments 

1. Dragon Boat Festival

This was our first taste of Taiwanese holiday spirit. We never would have known about it if we hadn’t happened to walk along the Love River just a few days before (on one of our many trips to Carrefour looking for sheets, no doubt!) The brightly coloured boats, the snacks, the crowds, and the beautiful weather all made for a perfect long weekend. 

2. Xiao Liuqiu

Almost one year later, Xiao Liuqiu remains one of my favorite memories. Our friend Stanley booked our accommodation which was a huge help because the hotel staff were very apprehensive about communicating with us when they discovered the guests that they were expecting were non-Chinese speaking foreigners. In spite of their apprehension, the hotel was great and the staff were really friendly. We lucked out with the weather and the views were spectacular. Although we suffered a little for the blue skies - I think Amanda had at this point already endured one or two of my midday sun +30C “death marches” but she was still finding them insufferable. Despite our lobster-red sun burns, Amanda agrees that it was all worthwhile for Xiao Liuqiu.

3. Singaopore

On our visit to Singapore this summer, we experienced some of the hottest weather, the friendliest hosts, and the most overpriced cocktails we’ve enjoyed all year. We spent time with our then-landlord’s family as well as with the family of a good friend and colleague of Brett’s. We tasted durian, visited one of the best zoos in the world, took a cable car over the city - and I held a lethal snake. All in a day’s work! 

4. Taipei 101 (台北101 / 臺北101)

Taipei’s most recognizable landmark is Taipei 101. The building apparently stood as the world’s tallest from 2004 until the opening of the Burj Kalifa in 2010. Some of my favorite photos taken in Taiwan, have been taken from the observation deck of Taipei 101, and from a lookout on Elephant Mountain (re-posted below). I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to return to that lookout one last time before we leave Taiwan, for a sunrise perhaps.

5. Paragliding in Puli

Our paragliding trip to celebrate a friend’s birthday couldn’t have gone better. We enjoyed a night in a quaint, rural cabin, and spent the next day relaxing in the mountains of Puli while each of our party took turns soaring overhead. Brett absolutely loved it, and has been pestering me to get back out there this summer! 

6. Chinese New Year Banquet

Amanda and I were very fortunate to be invited to join our good friend Stanley and his family to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve and the start to the Year of the Dragon. CNY is the biggest holiday in Taiwan and so we were lucky to have a full week off work, during which we returned to Kaohsiung. It was a great cultural experience and we are really grateful for the hospitality that was shown to us by Stanley’s family. 

7. Lantern Festival

We celebrated the Lantern Festival both in Taichung and in Kaohsiung with my mom during her short visit to Taiwan. We saw tons of beautiful lanterns, watched a lengthy and impressive fireworks display, and visited with friends we rarely get to see - all while enjoying a very comforting visit from my mom! 

8. Friends we made

About one month after arriving in Taiwan, Amanda and I decided to attempt to make some new friends via advertising for a “language exchange” on a classifieds website popular amongst foreigners living in Taiwan. We were both a little apprehensive and nervous prior to first meeting the people who we would later become good friends with. We both considered, “what if they turn out to be crazy?” and perhaps the same was wondered of us. As it turned out, the friends we made were probably the best experience we have had in Taiwan.


  1. Those indeed are memorable moments. I would love to experience Sky Lantern festival, myself. Amazing photos. :)