Thursday, June 27, 2019

Photo Diary: Best of Jiufen

Jiufen is a popular tourist town about one hour outside Taipei. It is crowded every day year round but it particularly unbearable on weekends and holidays. I traveled there with my in-laws on a weekday afternoon. Apart form the stunning views of the mountains and ocean, as well as the iconic Amei teahouse, the corridor with shops and food is unsurprisingly generic. Most of these photos are not from the covered walkway, which could exist in Miyajima or Causeway Bay as easy as it could be in Jiufen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Second Letters from Taipei

In Taipei one is never without an umbrella. It blocks the sun and the rain. All the harsh elements come from the sky.
This morning I put Jonason’s hand on my bely and he felt the baby kick. A big powerful kick. It makes me happy feeling the kicks - my healthy little girl. I think about her all day, in every child’s face I see.
Taking refuge here again from the heat. We returned to the house early today - around 5:00pm. It was too early to stay home, so I insisted we return again at night…to the Starbucks.
I’m still a foreigner here but at least I am at Starbucks - the most global non-place in the world. Its easy being here. familiar. Modern. The more time I spend in the house, the more I notice how everything is gritty and crumbling. Paint it peeling off the walls. The floor is black with dirt, sheets and pillows smell moldy, the iron gate is rusted. I see all its flaws now whereas before I only saw its beauty. I realized today that I fell in love  with the house when I first saw it on Google Maps. It may have been in 2010 or 2011 , but the photo - I remember - was from 2008. The balcony was covered with green vines. It looked radiant. Jonason’s father must have been alive then to water the plats. I never realized how much care was needed to maintain the lovely home. I took it for granted. I even made Angie take me down here on our trip to Taipei in 2012 to take a picture of it. That’s how much I wanted to be in  - no live in  - this house. And now I am here in the tiger summer heat and miserable by all the stoic suffering and uncomfortable furnishings and retreating to Starbucks.
Now I am large and uncomfortable in this pregnant body. Not trying to impress anyone anymore. Perhaps pregnancy is a lesson in humility. No longer trying to impress strangers, I must find a new purpose for my body.  It no longer belongs to the strangers it does not belong to their opinions or judgements. It doesn’t belong to their wishes or refusals. I don’t know if I am released from their gazes, but somehow I am freer. I move ignored through the crowd. No one stares at me like they did in 2012. I am more anonymous. More discreet. More covert. I can be my own story. I can be any story now that others have not written it for me.

- Excerpt from my travel diary, September 21, 2018

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Cafe Day after baby

First outing to a cafe post-baby. I'm about 1.5 months postpartum, can fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, but still have a little extra weight. 
Was excited to finally leave the house and dress up a little (thanks to a babysitter) for some cafe time.

Hat: vintage
Top: vintage
Pants: Uniqlo
Bag: Ippolito

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Photo Diary: Best of Taipei

I have been to Taipei so many times and done so many "best of" albums, it seems silly to do one more. Still, there are images that keep being uncovered in this city, so another attempt feels justified.

Admittedly, most of these photos were taken by my partner. I was too busy complaining about being pregnant in 100-degree humidity, I let him have the camera. Having grown up in this city, he has a different perspective than I do, and I am fascinated by what he chooses to photograph. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Grocery Store in Taipei

In every city where I spend considerable time, I try to complete my Golden Trifecta, by visiting a cemetery, library, and grocery store. In this way, I can come into contact with the culture through all the basic and primary functions of life. 

I have family in Taiwan, so I've long ago completed the Golden Trifecta but thus far have only blogged about cemeteries and libraries there, not grocery stores. So this entry I wanted to devote time to all the interesting things  about Taiwanese grocery stores. 

First, I happened to be in Taipei in the fall, around Halloween, and I could not help but compare the tradition of carving the Youzi - or "super grapefruit" - which they do to celebrate the mid-autumn moon festival, to the American tradition of carving the pumpkin.

The foreign aisle of the grocery store is an interesting place. What made it over: peanut butter, jelly, and cereal. 

This particular store had two floors, with abundant advertising and products along the staircase. 

I was exciting by these Pringles from Japan, which are Yakitori - BBQ chicken - flavored. The fireworks are in celebration of Tanabata, a summer festival. 

My favorite aisle: the milk tea aisle. I love milk tea so much and you just can't beat Taiwan's variety. 

It's always been a disappointment of mine that you can't feel the bristles of a toothbrush before buying it. But in Taiwan, they keep a sample of the brush out for you to feel. Genius!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Starbucks Taipei HanZhong store

Last trip to Taipei I visited the iconic Taipei 101 Starbucks. This trip I wanted to explore some other unique stores in the city. 

The HanZhong Store is located in the bustling street in Ximending, but the ordinary facade reveals nothing of the exciting architecture that awaits inside. 

Spanning three stories with tall ceilings and wrap-around balconies, this store is very unique in its design and vibe.

My favorite part of the store is on the third floor, were you get a 360 degree view of the balconies as well as people-watching opportunities from above. 

This store has plenty of space to have big group gatherings or small intimate meetings. 

The Gambia: Photo Diaries from the City

Although I flew into Banjul, I spent very little time there. Most of my time 'in the city' was actually spent in Banjul's sprawl...