After spending so much time in Taipei, I naturally use it as my yardstick for other cities. I always thought it was easy being a foreigner in Taiwan, but Hong Kong is Westerner paradise—EVERYTHING is in English, so I didn’t have to break out my shoddy Mandarin to point at menu pictures. Even as a confused tourist, getting around was a (theoretical) breeze. It’s my own fault that I can’t see or read road signs—but hey, this gave me 95% more opportunities to be offered massages.
And such diversity! In Taiwan you can go the day without seeing a foreigner, but I couldn’t tell you how many languages I heard in Hong Kong. Causeway Bay was a great base for exploring town, and I did the obligatory tram to The Peak, plus a quiet afternoon trip to Chi Lin Nunnery and the Nan Lian gardens. I sat down to get some writing done, but the security guard said “using that device is not suitable.” Oh well! Instead, I parked at fun cafes, and spent a day coworking at The Hive, which is across the street from a fabulous Indian vegetarian restaurant (Khana Khazana). Give me writing time and a spicy curry, and I’m a happy girl.
Hong Kong tranquility, chaos, and noms
Certain parts of Hong Kong are so similar to areas in Taipei, but I think I prefer Taiwan for the long haul. Hong Kong may be more foreigner-friendly by nature, but Taiwan is actually friendly, and Taiwanese people are much more polite than their HK counterparts. In the overall atmosphere of chaos, I think I’d lose it if I had to deal with that level of line cutting and pushing every day. Plus, my empirical evidence suggests that the milk tea in Taiwan is better than the Milk Tea in Hong Kong–and I am the expert on such things.
Even though I was only in town for a handful of days, I had a blast and got tons of work done. Now I better stop blogging and finish my next novella before I get in trouble : )
Okay kidd0s–I’m off to Hong Kong this weekend and looking forward to some exploring and hot-desking. This assumes that I can get everything packed up in Taiwan. I’m chugging along, but bouncing from country to country leaves plenty of loose ends to tie. Once I get my possessions onto the slow boat, I’ll be just about good to go.
As always, leaving is bittersweet. I’ll miss the friends and coworkers who’ve been my family in Asia, but who knows? Last time I left Taiwan, I had no intention of returning, so this time I’m not placing any bets. As they say, livin’ is easy in Taipei, and I can’t complain about my years in the home of pudding-flavor milk, pineapple bread, and lovely, friendly people.
I’m not Miss America (it would be unfair to the other competitors if I entered) but I’ve been in Taiwan for almost two years now, and that’s plenty long to start missing ‘Murica. I went through the culture shock phase a long time ago, and 95% of the time, I’m totally comfortable and content here in Asia. That last 5% will get you, though. If I had to say what I’ve been missing most?
5. I miss having a kitchen. I’m forever pinning recipes on Pinterest, but for what? My apartment in Taiwan has an electric kettle and a microwave, so all these cookies and cakes and lasagnas remain homeless. I could get a bigger/swankier apartment in Taipei with cooktops and such, but it’s too easy to grab a box of dumplings that cost maybe US $2. Despite all the cheap, delicious street food, I’m pining to cook for myself again!
4. I miss communicating. Being illiterate sucks, y’all. Mind you, it’s my fault my Mandarin is dire, but I miss the days when not every personal interaction was a disaster. I get food I didn’t want (one time a root beer instead of mushrooms), can’t correct the mistakes, and fluster cashiers left and right. Plus, I could be walking past the coolest stuff ever, but I can’t read signs or ask people what’s going on.
3. I miss writing events. How many writing conferences do you know of in Asia? The ones in my area are either huge international expos for selling foreign book rights, or writing retreats on islands. We don’t have the writing/reading oriented conferences like RWA or RT, and I’m bummed missing the annual reunion at my MFA alma mater (IYWM). It’s sad relying on the internet to connect with my writer/reader friends!
2. I miss my friends and family. When you leave the country, everything at home keeps moving on without you. People are getting married, having kids, and doing fun things that I can’t be part of. My awkward time zone doesn’t help much—I’m not even on Facebook at the same times as everyone else. #sadface
1. I miss American carbs. I crave macaroni and cheese and NY pizza like a woman possessed. Even though we have tons of Western food options in Taipei, they’re never quite exactly right. I miss things like buttery mashed potatoes and fudgy cakes that just don’t translate to the Asian palette. Of course, I’m not exactly starving with all the amazing dim sum and pastries around (I’ll start missing those as soon as I’m on the plane out), but sometimes you just want to eat what reminds you of home.
Wow–didn’t I just see a Pinterest recipe for Hits Throws the Pork?
and found unexpected treasures.
Toilet Treasure! (why does this sign exist?)
2014 is looking up. Belle Fury releases February 4th, and I’m traveling to South Korea, Hong Kong, and Bali (for starters). I have some Inky projects underway, some fun Manhattan Ten developments coming your way late next year, and a few other stories that I can’t wait to tell.
Get ready for February 2014!
Hope the New Year brings you all much happiness, glitter, and pizza.