Taiwan, Day 13

Oh, this is it! I’m resigned to leaving, but I’m afraid with more money and less obligations, I’d happily let vacation continue indefinitely. Absolved of responsibility, all stress has evaporated, replaced by the satisfaction of letting the world bounce me from one pleasurable experience to another.

(Yes, my self-involvement continues to astound me. Greedy thing that I am.)

Started the day with the hotel-provided breakfast of rice soup, toast, oranges, veggies and that crumbly brown stuff, which I finally found out was fish powder. Never would have guessed.

A bit of heaven in Xinbeitou.

Then, another bath, this one an hour long and with Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake, which provides both a joyful read and joyfully less challenging reading alternative than Robert Bolano. The luxury of the bath was followed by some hard-core lounging, before having to pack it all up and MRT/bus it to the airport. That whole bit was complicated. For better and worse, public transit and airports have a lot in common, no matter the city. On the upside, I could figure out where to go. On the downside, getting there proved to be a pain in the ass, especially hauling around a 60-lb. suitcase, so much so, that I forwent the bus for the final leg and paid a taxi driver $30US to get me to the airport. Totally worth it.

The whole point of going there early was to check that bag so I could spend the last few hours in Taipei unburdened. But I couldn’t check it in early, so I ended up stashing it at this little in-airport luggage-hold business for $10 or so. Also totally worth it. Hungry, opted for lunch at an airport cafe. Excellent noodle soup, but the noodles kept sliding off the plastic chopsticks until finally, frustrated, I gave up and left it half uneaten. In between wrestling noodles, I read the paper, an English-language one out of China. Plenty of bad news to catch up on internationally, same lousy unfunny cartoons that have been around for 20 years and an editorial about the poor form of some politicians to shout obscenities at party rallies.

Back in Taipei.

Then the bus back to downtown Taipei, where I did a teensy bit more shopping — Taipei is shopping — once again remained awed by the sheer energy emitted, the endless shops, the thronging crowds, the pulsing neon, the traffic cops’ whistle blasts shooting through the 1980s pop songs blasting from every other corner.

Some Taiwan cities I visited, in a in a word or two:

  • Taipei: frenetic
  • Nan Wan and Kenting: laid back
  • Hualien: luxuriating
  • Xinbeitou: self-satisfied

At some point, a latent sugar craving erupted. “At some point” meaning when I passed a Dunkin’ Donuts and found myself inadvertently salivating over the display. Before I knew it, I’d ended up devouring six donut holes, which, I am convinced, is much less sick-making than eating an actual donut. Donuts being the pastry equivalent of crack in my world.

Donuts of love.

Then, back on the bus to the airport, where I picked up my bag and finally checked in. Good news: short lines and I ended up with a window seat, which means I’ll have a place to rest my head. The flight back is only 11 hours compared to 14. I arrive at SFO five hours before leaving TPE. The time change trippiness continues to amuse me.

In Taiwan:

  • I never wore jeans, not once, just skirts or dresses every day. Love, love, love the climate.
  • Only blow-dried my hair maybe three times, unlike every single day at home.
  • Only used a fork three times and only when it was given to me without a chopstick option.
  • I mostly ate what was provided or suggested. Rarely did I know what to order, except when the options included pastries and even then, my grasp of what I was getting tended toward the haphazard.
  • No hoodie!
  • No beanie!
  • Didn’t drive at all. Two whole weeks without climbing behind the wheel of a car.
  • Didn’t cook.
  • Very minimal laundry.
  • No phone connection: no calls.
  • Out of 13 days, I had one glass of wine for toasting at the bird fair farewell dinner, a couple extremely watered-down drinks one night in Kenting and one afternoon of actual cocktails. Teetotaled almost the whole trip; the only blurry moments were travel-induced, not booze-.

I’m sure I’ll remember more, have more to share, but for now this’ll have to do. I need food and to get to the gate.

Swell forecast for home looks ideal for the next couple days.

Oh — and interesting, timely quote in my FreeWillAstrology horoscope this week, although I’m not sure how to interpret:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

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