I shared most of your sentiment when I “fled” the country 18 years ago…it’s been 2 weeks now since my return, and I’ll be spending the next couple of years in Taipei, if not longer. I have my doubts, but things are good so far.
Having spent most of my adulthood in Berlin, the first thing that hit me after coming home was how familiar and friendly everyone is. The air is as bad as I remembered it, but the food even better. I love it that Taiwan has become more progressive – generally speaking – over the years, even though the economy seems to be in pretty bad shape. Sadly, most of my friends have left the island, and what you said about not having any close friends after living here for 1.5 years is getting me worried about my prospects of making new ones. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never see any of my favorite bands in Taiwan, and most of the people will not even have heard of them. Funky is gone, Roxy Vibe is gone, replaced by something flashier and more fake. Recreational drugs, after Christianity, seem to be the latest craze. And what’s with all the women being chopped up?
Anyways these are just some random impressions of my first 2 weeks back in Taiwan, but enough of the rambling. Like you, I also believed Taiwan lacked heart and soul when I left. But I’m coming back a different person: older, more experienced, and less cynical. Except for the humidity, I’m enjoying being home again. Let me get back to you in 1.5 years on whether I’ve found Taiwan’s heart and soul. You take care and good luck.