… For what my Mum is calling “the extended holiday”.
Tearing her apart from her first grandson for 3 months is the equivalent of pulling a coffee addict away from a Delonghi espresso maker (#lifegoal to own one of these). But she’s coming around to the idea that G will have plenty of time with his paternal grandparents, exposure to Mandarin at a really young age and it’s an exciting opportunity for Brandon to be living and working in Taiwan for a short stint, the country he left when he was 18.
Excited, apprehensive, a wee bit overwhelmed… are the emotions I switch between on a weekly (ok, hourly) basis. Mostly though, I’m accepting that this is just another interesting chapter in our rather random story. It will be the 4th country and 5th move since B and I met 8 years ago. Why not add another pin to the map?
And quite honestly, I adore Taiwan. I’ve been there twice on holibobs, and it’s a fine place for a vacation. It’s a hidden gem that is largely undiscovered by many British holiday goers, so if you don’t know much about the place except that there’s a bunch of electronics made there, then you certainly aren’t alone. Here are a few things you might like to know.
- It Has Fantastic Food. Let’s start with its biggest selling point. Taiwan is a foodie’s heaven. The island has an interesting history that has resulted in a diverse and high quality array of culinary offerings. As well as being colonised by both the Dutch and the Japanese in the past, in 1949, after losing control of mainland China, the Republic Of China government withdrew to Taiwan – and took all of the best chefs with them. So you might say that some of the best Chinese food is in Taiwan!
The Taiwanese LIVE to eat. My in laws talk about lunch at breakfast and dinner at lunch. The traditional greeting in Taiwan is not “how are you?” but “have you eaten?”. Forget Italy; Elizabeth Gilbert should have toured Taiwan for the ‘EAT’ section of Eat, Pray, Love. I think I gain 10 pounds just thinking about the food on offer here.
- It’s Quite Small. Nestled in between China and Japan and shaped like a sweet potato (it really is), Taiwan is 245 miles long and 90 miles wide at its broadest part. That’s about the same size as Belgium or Switzerland and means that you can get about and see most of the country in a week or so. There is excellent public transport, including a Japanese style bullet train, that makes travelling both efficient and stress-free.
- It’s Liberal. Taiwan Pride in 2015 was attended by nearly 80,000 citizens, making it the largest LGBT pride in Asia. It’s often referred to as the most gay-friendly country in Asia, though same-sex marriage is not legal. I like this about the place; the people are warm, friendly and generally open-minded, too.
- It Has Warm Weather! Taiwan is described as having tropical and subtropical weather with an average temperature of 22 C (71.6 F) all year round. It is also HUMID AS HECK. I’ve never experienced bad hair days like I have in Taiwan – I’m like Monica from Friends when she goes to Hawaii…
- It is Beautiful. Named ‘Formosa’ by the Portuguese (meaning: Beautiful Island), the nature here is picture perfect. Of course there are plenty of earthquakes and volcanoes on the island – as there are often are in places with such striking scenery – but on the plus side the hiking, hot springs and lakes are all incredible.
There’s plenty more to write home about… Which is exactly what I’ll be doing for the next 3 months. First though, a lonnnnnng plane ride with a 4 month old. Wish us luck, and see you on the other side!