Market people watching in the mornings, I occasional hang out at Nu Nu Nini’s Coffee Time a corner cafe opposite the outside market of the famous daily Chiang Mai Market by the south gate of the moat at Chiang Mai Gate. The outside morning market selling clothes is all packed up before the day starts to get really hot and humid. So by 10.30am it’s empty. So I sit there and just watch people getting on with life. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s sunny but mainly it’s overcast.
Siem Reap, the place I left 10 months ago, which I called home on and off for 2 years, has changed. I recently return for a short 7 days. Walking across the tarmac after exiting the plane, I breathed in the air and I was reminded once again of the unique smell the town has. Or maybe it was because we’d just missed one of the torrential down pours now the rainy season has started. The air had been cooled and the humidity dropped. By the time I’d got through visa application, where they tried to offload me with change in torn dollar notes, (bills to those of you who are American!) which aren’t legal tender in Cambodia, through customs, collected my luggage, handed in the numerous forms filled out on the plane, it was time to find my tuk tuk driver, the humidity had risen again.
Longterm plans were to travel to Taiwan and stay for 3 months. My intentions were to check out different cities with the view of staying longterm. Taipei, the capital in the north of the island, was not for me as I like smaller cities and a slower pace of life. The north was too cold and damp, even in spring, though I suspect the summers would be stifling in this densely populated city. So having moved south to escape the misery of the temperature, I arrived in Tianan. It became apparent, this previous capital city was not going to be much better, though on days it was warmer, though even when the sun shone, a rarity due to the pollution filled sky, this also was a grey, gloomy, ugly city.
Taiwan’s population is a mixture of the island’s original inhabitants, the indigenous people, descendants of Han Chinese settlers, nationalist Chinese who arrived after the Chinese civil war in 1949, Japanese from the colonial era, and SE Asia culture all blended together making a very interesting combination. The Taiwanese curiously are little like the mainland Chinese, though my opinion of the Chinese can only be based on those loud, culture lacking, swarming tourists I’ve met on my travels. The Taiwanese are kind, generous, thoughtful, unassuming, unpretentious, quiet, almost introverted, though of course they can’t all be.
Sightseeing. Once I’d made the decision that Taiwan wasn’t going to be a long term home I put on my tourist hat and off I went in search of more adventures sightseeing. Travelling from Tainan to Kaohsiung, the second largest city of Taiwan was easy, I caught a taxi to Tainan train station and in less than an hour I’d arrived. It’s easy to navigate as like Taipei it has an MRT system. Curiously one of the stations, Formosa Boulevard, has the largest glass works in the world, named the Dome of Light. Some say it’s mimicking the Sistine Chapel in a modern way. It’s made up of 4,500 glass panels.
Indigenous: what does it mean on an island full of Chinese? Were you even aware of indigenous people in Taiwan? I wasn’t. Had I done any research I probably would have, but rarely do I before visiting a new place. I like to arrive with no prejudgements and make my own discoveries.
Wanting to get out of the heavy rain this evening, as I forgot my trusted umbrella (usually used for sun protection), I walked into a vegan restaurant called Farmers’ Kitchen in Hualein. Finally I hoped I would be able to find some food, not pork and without MSG or sugar which coats almost every dish in Taiwan; not good news if you’re diabetic or have a high blood pressure or like me just don’t like extremely salty sweet things.