AKA: Four days really isn't enough.
There was a national holiday this past Tuesday, so I decided to make the most of it - I took Monday off and had a 4 day weekend in Taiwan. It wasn't nearly enough time, but I did see a lot and, of course, buy a lot.
Why Taiwan? Well, my brother currently lives there, as well as a friend from WashU, Jocelyn. Now, Jocelyn and I met at WashU and were friends, but casual ones; we had rarely spent long periods of time together, but were well-disposed to one another. As I already had two incentives to visit Taiwan, outside of its own attractions, I thought it would be a shame to not see them and the country.
I got in late Friday night and was whisked off to Jocelyn's house. We walked around in the neighborhood a little, popping in to a local grocery store and buying some snacks for me, as I was peckish. This was interesting to me as Taiwan rather likes Japan a lot, so I found a lot of familiar products in the grocery store. "I could make it here if I had to," I actually thought to myself at one point.
The next day, Jocelyn took me on a whirlwind tour of several sites. We saw Liberty Square (home of the Chaing Kai-Shek memorial), ate lunch with Ian and his lovely girlfriend, visited Danshui (a beautiful, boardwalk town on the coast), and went to the Shi Lin night market (which was bustling, a state it seems to continually aspire to).
Sunday saw us to the Jade Market and the Flower Market, both of which were wonderfully fun. I bought a lot of jade, and, being selfish, most of it was for me. The flower market allowed me to try a lot of different kinds of tea, all of which were tasty; chrysanthemum and plum were my two favorites. We also visited Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taipei, though we didn't stay for long; we soon left with Ian and his girlfriend, having a meal together again and taking some time to visit a coffee shop he frequents. I don't like coffee, but I have to admit that he has found a place that serves quality stuff. Afterward, Jocelyn and I went to Ximending, a place often frequented by young people, and did some window shopping, some silly picture-taking, and a lot of talking.
Monday was a school day for Jocelyn, so I went to the college campus with her and rested for the two hours she was in her Chinese class. We then went to lunch afterward, but, due to upset tummy issues, I forced our sightseeing time to be cut back abruptly. We rested in the afternoon and then went out to dinner with her mother and two of the family's friends.
Tuesday morning started off bright and early as I said my goodbyes to Jocelyn's family at 6:00 am. Her dad drove me to the airport and I hopped on a plane, starting my long trip back home.
I had an amazing time, and I'm so glad I had Jocelyn around to show me around and speak Chinese on my behalf. It was also good to see my brother, and see that he is thriving in his environment. And, of course, it's good to have new experiences, new pictures, and new souvenirs. I'm more excited about my chances to travel internationally than ever before. Watch out, Asia - I'm comin' for ya!