Thank you Taiwan, for the Laobans. Those wonderful men and women who made buying traditional Chinese teaware an education of the Cha senses, pouring and pouring until the 3rd or 4th emphatic ‘hao la’ ebbed the flow of the flowery essences. For those in the mountains that delighted my tastebuds with exotic Hakka foods and evil Hakka wines, and delivered freshly plucked chickens to my bbq pits by the rivers in the midst of jungles. And for those Laobans whose shops I never visited, but who nevertheless always had a smile and greeting waiting for me as I passed by.
Thank you Taiwan, for the sweet girl at the internet cafe, who began an informal language exchange with me, surprising me daily with new English phrases I know she’d learned just to put a smile on my face. I returned the smile with surprise phrases in Mandarin I learned just for her.
Thank you Taiwan, for the escapes to wonderous seasides, breathtaking canyons, mountainside tea farms, and sprawling jungle landscapes.
Thank you Taiwan, for the friends I have made. The local friends who embraced me with their shy, endearing hearts and warmly welcomed me into their lives and their homes. For the international community of friends, a quirky, interesting, and at times, downright eccentric gang of many, who broadened my scope on life and shrunk my perceptions on borders.
Thank you Taiwan, for the children, who were the best part of my day and who are the hardest part to leave behind. I wish I could take them with me. The photos and memories will have to do.
Thank you Taiwan, for pearl milk tea, chow fan vendors, bettlenut girls, scooters on sidewalks, serenading cicaddas, neighborhood temples, psycho taxi drivers, dancing 'til dawn, afternoon thunderstorms, night markets, morning markets, superstitions, face, all of it. It will be missed.