A question: How do former long-termers in Taiwan deal with not living in Taiwan? What do you miss the most? But not wishing to limit the question to former residents, who may be few on the ground in this forum, I’d like to ask what the rest of you would miss if you went back to your places of origin?
I lived there for seven years, my wife is Taiwanese and we both currently do translation for a living. That, and the very fact that I’ve joined this forum and post once a day, is evidence enough that I have strong ties to “a ilha formosa.” By all rights I should be living there still. Yet I’ve been back in Canada for coming up on four years now, and my wife is but a year away from gaining Canuck citizenship. So here we remain. For now.
What do I miss? The Chinese-speaking environment. Granted, Southern Ontario stands alongside greater Los Angeles as one of the most Chinese-speaking areas in the world outside of Asia, but it’s not the same. I also miss the frenetic pace of life, the streetlife, the food-at-all-hours, certain segments of the expat community, the hot weather, the lack of a need for a car, and on and on. And I still get misty-eyed thinking about our trip back last June – I got to watch all of the World Cup at my favourite pub!
Oh, there are compensations to living here, to be sure. Toronto’s legendary ethnic diversity means that there is no end to the culinary offerings to be had, and the different languages and colours and types of people walking along the street are a positive delight to behold. Hell, on the day Saddam’s statue was toppled I went to my favourite Iraqi lunch counter for a kebab and to observe the guardedly optimistic atmosphere (though the boss himself was jubilant) (sigh…is this getting too political? maybe I should edit this part out? Ah, what the hell!).
Back to the topic at hand, I find what I really miss most is Taiwanese people. A banal assessment worthy of National Geographic, I admit, but it’s true nonetheless. While I’ve enjoyed getting to know mainlanders from all over China since I’ve been back, and the younger kids show no compunction about expressing their admiration or ambivalence about Taiwan, there just isn’t that connection there. The other day my wife and I had a pleasantly slow Saturday afternoon meal at a “Hunanese” restaurant run by an older Taiwanese gent who has actually led Toronto’s mayor on Chamber of Commerce-like trips to Taiwan to drum up business and relations. After our meal we chatted with him for almost two hours at an open window at the front of the restaurant, the warm breeze fluttering the table-cloths, going over politics, culture, family, etc. It was so, well…warm and comfortable.
I’ve rambled a bit here, but my excuse is a slow work day. Which it might not be if I were back in Taiwan?!