We planned our trip with a general arc, details to be hammered out along the way. This is a blessing and a curse. We booked three weeks at a family-run resort on this tropical Island, with an eye to hammer out some details for the coming months. And hammering we are! Work expands, they say, to fill the time allotted, and so it has. We’ve been spending a handful of hours each morning poring over maps, searching the web, trying to decide what we want to do next.
Glenn and I tend to labour over each decision. The big debate has been where to go in Europe – North or South? After a good two weeks of debate waffling, we’ve decided on the North. Whew, a decision has been made!
But where to go in the North? Northern Europe in the winter – do we brace ourselves against the winter cold with gnashing of teeth and fear of frost, or do we embrace the winter, and revel in the wonders that winter can bring? We like to brand ourselves as revelers and embracers, which is how we find ourselves in 30C weather among palm trees and geckos and fresh coconuts looking at pictures of snow-covered mountains in Central Europe.
Taiwan is the undiscovered Asia and the last of democratic china. God save Taiwan from china and keep its people safe form the bully.
My second time there and I still didn’t make it deep into the south or east where its mountains meet the pacific so I guess I’m going back because I love the place.
Spent most of our time in Taipei which charmed us all with its tiny streets, packed night markets, delicious foods, street cats and friendly people. We whipped out a map at one point and three different people asked if they could help also there is no hard sell on the streets and the cities feel very safe at night. If you speak a bit of Mandarin oh man you’ve made friends for life. Needless to say Timo who hears mandarin really well and speaks it quite well drew people in like a magnet. He shied away at first but after a few days stepped up front to converse and learn. At one point after speaking to a woman in a Taoist temple we stumbled on way after dark he explained how understanding and conversing in Mandarin was feeling more relaxed. I’d like to think it was the Taoist moment in an old temple with an old lady explaining all the history and symbols but most likely it was his ear developing.
Big highlight for me was visiting the new Hsinchu Food Forest, an hour train ride south of Taipei. This is not the site I worked on back in 2015 with the Wutong Foundation but rather their own project which is based on the Beacon Food Forest in a lot of ways. The place looked great with a beautiful simple community gathering structure good signage and a great layout of keyhole beds, pond and plantings. The Taiwan EPA is the umbrella organization and the community maintains it. Dam that’s good I wish the now completely stupid EPA in the USA understood all the benefits from urban food forestry. Hsinchu City hopes to open two more food forests. Hsinchu’s mayor who I met with in 2015 is the youngest Mayor in Taiwan jumped on the idea building food forests and it is working out.
The itinerary for the first few months is shaping up – see photo. The amount of effort it takes to do this is enormous: cleaning the house out (24 years of dust does not go gently), getting rid of possessions, extricating ourselves from work, from community, from projects. The guilt I feel about leaving my band is staggering.
I now understand why more people do not do this. For many months I have been preparing myself mentally for the hardships of living long-term out of a back-pack. What I hadn’t prepared for was the angst involved in getting to that point.