Since we made our decision to leave Taiwan, I’ve been asking myself if there is anything here that I will miss at all once we are gone. At first, I couldn’t think of anything, but upon further reflection, I’ve come up with a short list:
The markets. I love the lively markets where I can find all kinds of gorgeous, fresh vegetables and local, seasonal fruits; dried goods; household products; freshly made foods; all kinds of drinks such as teas and fruit juices; and fresh meats and fish, all at incredibly affordable prices. Living here has made it easy to find ingredients to make our favorite Taiwanese dishes.
Weaving in and out of the stands are delivery men, children, dogs, scooters, bicycles, and people hunting for the cheapest and best. Makes grocery shopping so much more interesting.
Going along with that are the night markets, which are also lively and crowded. There are also all kinds of interesting and local (“exotic” to many foreigners) treats to be found and tried at the night markets, such as stinky tofu, grilled squid and other fried seafood, papaya milk, and sausages.
The city at night. I’ve observed the same thing in other cities in Asia, so it’s not specific to where we are–I love the way the streets come alive at night here. Because it’s too hot during the day to go out, everyone leaves the air conditioning of their homes once the sun sets and the air cools. This includes kids and the elderly. Everyone is out and about, enjoying the night air, walking in the parks, exercising, playing, enjoying dinner and the night markets, and socializing. Store fronts blink brightly with neon signs. And this doesn’t just happen on the weekends, either. On any given night during the week, the streets of the city are transformed once the sun goes down.
The food. While our city isn’t exactly the best area for those who want to try a diverse range of Taiwanese foods, there are still some great foods to be had–tea eggs, zongzi, dumplings, fresh noodles, you tiao, cong you bing, and other traditional snack foods all can be had for a very low cost at the markets. There are also many different kinds of delicious seasonal fruits that we will miss, particularly the mango. We’ve also found a couple of fan tuan stands and bubble tea stands that we love. There are a couple of beef noodle shops that make rich and tasty beef noodle soup. A bakery near us makes fresh, delicious moon cakes during the Moon Festival.
I will miss being able to find all these foods and more just down the street from us. I will miss even more the freshness of all the foods here.
Not owning or maintaining a car. Kaohsiung is a good-sized city that is pretty spread out, so sometimes it is difficult to get somewhere without a car. Grocery shopping can take hours because it takes times to get to the various places where we purchase our groceries. But as inconvenient as it might be sometimes to be without a car, I love not having the responsibility of car ownership. We do not need to worry about maintenance, or the high costs of maintenance, insurance, gas, or parking. Although we do own a scooter that also requires maintenance, insurance, and gas, these costs for a scooter in Taiwan are a fraction of those for a car in the U.S.
So while still here, we are focusing on the positives of life here to maximize our enjoyment and appreciation of these aspects of life in Taiwan.