I struggled to bridge the gap. Especially as an adolescent. I didn’t feel Indian. I didn’t feel Chinese. I didn’t feel Singaporean. But now as an adult, I feel like I am all three and so much more. I realise that those experiences have made me adaptable, given me perspective and taught me to always see beyond the superficial.
Our first stop was a really popular shop with the best noodles I’ve had in Taiwan. It’s a good thing Krijstelle brought us there because we never would have thought of going their on our own. The noodles were cooked to perfection, the broth was simply astounding and the flavours were just sublime. Mmm…mmm…
Enter from the Dragon’s mouth and exit from the Tiger’s. Oh, you can even see their behinds on the way out. Later that day head to a Buddha Museum to learn all about his life. You even have a space to sit cross-legged and contemplate your life (or his). Finish your day at the 70 year old Liuhe Night Market. Kaohsiung offers all that in a span of a day. Honestly, a day here feels more like three weeks.
The local bus looked like a tour bus from the 1950s that was picking up customers that had been dead for a long time. It confused the heck out of me. You even need to pay with the exact change. No one seems to know how much that is. How lovely. When we finally get on, the half empty bus squeaked, squawked and quacked all way to our destination. I am not a fan. What is this town? When did time stop here?
Tainan is like a woman who was once incredibly beautiful but has let herself go. She isn’t ugly, but she’s like a fading movie star whose shimmer has lost its lustre. Her skin no longer glows not because she’s been abandoned; but because she no longer cares with her upkeep. Everyone remembers and knows her name, but her life story is over and has been relegated to the old dusty books.
Taipei. Oh, Taipei. What a sensory experience. The food. Oh, the food. It really is everywhere. People here know how to eat. They work hard and relish life’s pleasures. The temples. The history. The monuments. The superstitions. The traditional. The avant-garde. Taiwan has it all.
I woke up to a landscape that was neither old nor new. That was neither ancient nor modern. I’m not quite sure how to describe Taipei – except that it reminds me so much of the Singapore of my childhood. Shophouses. Tall buildings. The MRT. The sound of Mandarin, Hokkien, English and Tagalog at the main train station. People working hard. People playing hard. The old heritage and the new ways coexisting with one another.