Hello, dear blog readers! As I write this, I have finished my first full week in Taiwan. So far, I have found Taipei to be wonderfully accessible, vibrant, and welcoming. This week, I successfully moved into an apartment in Taipei where I will stay for a year during my Chinese language class and research fellowship. I registered for my class that will begin on Monday. I’ve even made some friends, and have pushed myself to speak, listen, observe, and experience the world past my comfort zone.
So here’s a little week in review in some favorite photos not yet posted: Top Five Things that Have Made Life in Taipei Easier and Fun.
1. The MRT
Most MRT lines run underground, at least in the city center. The brown line (Muzha line) is the only one that runs above ground the whole way. Unlike the Boston T Green Line, it doesn't have to stop at red lights!
The view from the Zhongxiao fuxing station (忠孝復興站), at which point the blue and brown lines intersect at a Taipei hybrid of Madison Avenue and Times Square. It's a bustling shopping and commercial area.
2. Convenient and Tasty Food from 7-11
Quick Disclaimer to Americans: 7-11's in Taiwan are very different from their North American counterparts. Prepared food is often tasty and fresh, drinks are inexpensive, snacks are interesting. Cold noodles with sauce and cheap but still decent coffee are my two new 7-11 mainstays.
7-11 food can be easy, fascinating, and fun, as shown by Do It Yourself Japanese sushi triangles.
3. Learning Chinese On Street Signs
Glad the image is so self-explanatory...
Signs on NCCU's campus are particularly helpful, since they have many useful academic and cultural words. And many arrows!
4. Night Markets
Yesterday, I went with some friends to Shilin Night Market and walked through the crowded throngs of shops, restaurants, and food and drink stands. We went early in the evening to head back to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the Taipei Fire Festival, but even as early as 6pm, the Night Market was in full swing!
We dined on oyster omelets (雞蛋蚵仔煎), assorted tea drinks and passion fruit smoothies, fruit, bao, and other treats! Here, a woman makes a whole griddle full of omelets with oysters and greens.
Anyone know what the fried "hockey pucks" on the left are called? My friend and I decided to split a red bean one, but little did we know that they would crush up the fried stuffed dough and wrap it up in a burrito-like pancake. My friend and I both agreed it was a peculiar mixture of textures, to say the least.
5. T-shirts adorned with English slogans, phrases, and writing
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't speak about the trendy stylings of young Taiwanese people! In particular, I cannot stop seeing t-shirts with every manner of English writing on them-- as decoration, as attitude about media, pop culture, or philosophy (be happy! take action! etc). But these two t-shirts were my favorites from the week: proof that every culture's version of "cool" is obvious to some and mystifying to others.
I will, t-shirt, don't worry. The fragrant memories are here to stay.
I plan to do this as a regular feature, so do stay tuned for future weekend photo spreads, and for posts next week on travel fashion, expat literature, and the responses of Taiwanese folks when I tell them I’m researching their nation’s history. In the meantime, have a great weekend!