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.
The current President of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen: an unmarried *gasp* woman. With a population of 23.5 million, Taiwan is one of the four Asian Tigers: along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore. Before the 17th century, Taiwan was mostly inhabited by Taiwanese Aboriginals. All that changed when the Spanish and Dutch colonies opened up the island to immigration from Mainland China.
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