We just hit the waters above Taiwan so I thought I would start typing. This is an entry I was a little afraid to write. To answer the question, how did this year go?
The answer: well.
Whenever I travel, I reflect on how I am going to return. Every-time I start, I think about the end. So when I was coming to Taiwan, I spent about half of my time thinking about coming back from Taiwan. Typically these thoughts focus on life's lack of progression. I focus on me taking the same bus back and going in the opposite direction of my arrival.
Typically when I return I reflect on these thoughts with a sad acceptance. Even when I have developed personally, I feel that I have not developed professionally. When I feel I have developed professionally, I have not developed personally. Yet, this time, perhaps it is appropriate that leaving Taiwan, I went up a different coast to go to new places. I really feel I have changed during this year and that I have used this year.
PTI: I cannot understand the old man sitting next to me. His accent is intense and it is clear he is used to Taiwanese. I felt bad but the stewardess is also having a hard time.
So with that, I am going to start the potentially painful process of reading my early blog entries from when I first came to Taiwan and reflect on some of the more interesting things.
"The only traffic laws of any consequences [are] the laws of physics." This is a weird quote for me to look back on because i feel like I just read something a bit eye opening. I forgot how crazy Tainan traffic really is. Driving it everyday, especially driving as much as I did (probably an hour a day), really got me acclimatized to the laws of Tainan traffic - do what you can. Outside of the true freaks, I came to more or less accept some of the most insane driving decisions. If someone pulled into my way, I just pulled out. No harm, no foul. I must say I became pretty adept on a scooter (at least judged by defensive driving).
PTI: In Hong Kong, waiting for Allison.
At one point I refer to Englished Chinese as "Romanji," a clear result of having grown up liking Japan. Coming to Taiwan was really somewhat of a surprise. I had all the affection in the world for Japan, but I ended up in Taiwan. Its funny how much the rather random decision to do Taiwan shaped my life. Now I am completely focused on China in my future. This was not really a wrong or right decision. I bet if I had done Japan, I would have the same passion for Japan in my future. It is simply how things went. I am glad with the way things went though.
I speak of a " jaunt away from materialism," I surely did that I believe. I have been much more materialistic than normal, and what stuff I am coming home with (a lot to be fair) is either books or has sentimental value rather than material value. The only really luxury thing I bought in Taiwan was my Camera, and I am using that vigorously.
At one point I write that I had not found a mall in Tainan, that was mostly a product of the route I took, Tainan is all mall. The most notable mall is the biggest Mitsokoshi in Asia. Its materialism is off the charts. It is just a huge military base of want and greed.
I have two references to Saved by the Bell's "The Max," I think that is more due to the colors of Taiwan than a personal obsession that I have not yet come to terms with.
I read an entry of me forcing my non-Mandarin on two Taiwanese girls. To be honest, I am somewhat proud of that. Although I could not really speak a word, I tried, I threw phrases at them, and I learned. I learned Chinese by attacking it. I am not fluent by any means, but for a year, not bad; and it was, at least in part, because I was willing to embarrass myself.
PTI: This blog entry was cut short by a really quick arrival (Taiwan-Hong Kong are simply not that far). So I am actually writing this almost a week later, having done the Hong Kong thing with the lovely Allison. To Allison, thanks for the tour of the city, your surprising Hong Kong knowledge is a testament to the way that you learned the city. The way you learned the city is the way that you learn people, you look at a good person and you find what makes them good; then you make them see that good. Your charm is your incredible spirit and ability to see the best in people and things. Thanks for guiding me around Hong Kong and my own head.