About Me

My photo
Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Summer Soujourn

 With the parting of summer and somewhat cooling climate, its only fitting I reap the harvests of my summer journey both outer and inner, they somehow reflect each other. It began in May, going to Kenting with friends and staying in an opulent resort in the mts. Cabins and pools, kids playing, wine at night, me addicted to archery.

Then in June, spending Dragon Boat weekend in Green Island.
Camping beside a rocky coral cove beside a dramatic cliff wall, lush black sky full of milky stars, a primordial fire to watch us while we slept, then recovering in the rare sea water hot springs.

Salt water hot springs

 In July we spent 14 days in the Malaysian peninsula and ending in Singapore. I met 2 wonderful men I had a kind of connection with, whom I’m still in contact with. The first a Syrian in KL, who is doing some rare stones trading between Sri Lanka and Dubai who is now trying to get a Taiwanese visa to come visit. The other a roving Irishman I met in a bus to Cherating, where we stayed and traveled down to Singapore together. He did come for a short visit just last weekend here in Tainan and hopefully will return before Christmas.

Pulau Pankgor

I am well acquainted with my own company and don’t mind being alone, but one night in Pulau Pangkor,  I had this excruciating experience. I was so utterly lonely and so acutely aware of it. It was so incredibly painful, a piercing rawness that this night, it was as if the Universe held an enormous galactic mirror up to me. I thought I might burst into tears right there on the paradise beach where all the European holidayers where having dinner with their families watching the pink sunset. I never felt so odd and out of place before, even the monkeys were pointing their fingers at me. To slightly make up for it, I was blessed the next day with a free snorkeling trip to a nearby coral island, by a local, who gave me enough attention and was still a gentleman. Still,  I was recovering from the previous night, of being slammed by the accumulative past 5 years of being independent, being alone, all of it overwhelmed me like karmic avalanche.

So we headed back to the mainland to the other side of the peninsula to Kota Bharu. The difficulty of the travel, waiting for buses hours late, crowded buses w/o seats or AC, night buses w/o sleep, filled that space. Then the magic of traditional Malay culture a few days in Kota Bharu strengthened my spirit. Soon, I met a kindred spirit again, as a kind of blessing. The easy togetherness also threw off my equilibrium, I got used to it, so did Z. I realized I need other people to be my sledgehammer and break through my walls, the illusion of being this strong, independent, single mom.
Traveling solitary its like this dance of being alone for a while, which is fine, because its so temporary, then I meet up with lovely company and I certainly did in Malaysia. If that Malayisa/Singapore trip taught me anything, its there is this wide world outside of Tainan full of available, single men of quality (there were some nice Frenchmen along the way too I'll briefly mention).

Singapore Zoo

Universal studios, Singapore
In August, me and some Taiwanese friends went to Alishan. They organized everything. It was like a pilgrimage to this ancient cypress forest with 2000 year old trees, a gorgeous sunset, waking for sunrise, hiking in clouded tea terraces, great food, happy kids, coming home tired and happy.

In early September, for Moon Festival's 3 day weekend, Z and I took a weekend to Guanshan to see the blooming Daylillies in the East Rift Valley in Taiwan's East Coast. Later in September, I met up with an old friend from my Taipei days a decade ago and we went camping in a farm in Kenting. BBQ, more wine, great company, our kids, her great husband, great fun in finding this past friendship and picking up where we parted. I felt lucky. Then, recovering in the Pingtong hot springs, the original Japanese structure, hinting of October.

In October for 10/10 holiday, I took an extra day off and flew to Tokyo for a 4 day stint. Autumn was just beginning to breath her first breaths into this phenomenal city. Z and I didn’t want to come back to Taiwan and even now I’m considering moving to Tokyo in a year or two if I can wait. I know what neighborhood I’d like to live in more or less. There is so much to see, so much under the surface, calling out to me, “explore me, stay here.” The magical part is I had no desire to even go to Japan until like a month ago, and now I can’t get Japan out of my dreams. I simply liked looking at the faces. The people bent over backwards to help me, locals went out of their way to make me stay. Tokyo is this paradox of ancient medieval Endo with uber-modernism, the bustle of crowds on their way, belaying an inner gentleness. There is this gentleness and then you sense this hidden cruelness. I can’t put my finger on it, especially after only 4 days, but I’m hooked.

I’ve been to a lot of countries, exchanged in many courtesies ad currencies but only a handful of places sort of grabbed me, beckoned me to linger a while. After 2 years of working around Western Europe, Galway totally conquered me. I couldn’t leave, I grieved when I had no way to stay there permanently, legally. Guatemala, I was there all 90 days of my visa and mourned leaving. I’d probably be living in Kashmir and married to a Kashmiri if it was more stable. Now after living in Tainan 3 years, 5 years total in Taiwan, I feel that itch again. Ok I admit when we went to KL I exclaimed I could live in KL too (I could, Z could continue her Mandarin, and I could have my piece of Indian culture). So who knows?

Z’s stability, and continuing her Mandarin is paramount. I just feel like the poetic eagle, phoenix being reborn and itching to spread her wings. If that means growing in a new territory, moving, or staying in Tainan and having this inner journey, remains to be lived out.

No comments: