Why Not Taiwan?

About four years ago, I became utterly burned out on Taiwan. Having lived here, theretofore, for a period of four years already, I was starting to feel restless. I grew impatient with the driving, displeased with the air pollution, and frustrated with certain other cultural idiosyncrasies. Feeling as if I were destined to make a career out of international school teaching, being a certified teacher back in the States, I simply was ready to move on to a new country. At the time, I wanted to see if the rest of the island could refresh my perspective on living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s second-largest city, so I took off on a road trip, hoping to find something that would rekindle my interest in the country, too. My goal was to be on the road for a week, staying mostly up in the northern parts of the island, but after two days, I drove back home to Kaohsiung, for I simply didn’t find anything different in Keeling, Hualien and Taichung. In fact, I was on my way to Taichung in my car, yet I passed by it on the highway and just continued driving all the way, hastily, south to Kaohsiung. The lack of interesting architecture in Hualien and the dreary, all-too-commonplace corrugated metal facades of many structures along the way on the north coast had simply caused a reaction akin to this: “Uggh, this country has some damn ugly cities!”

I surprised my girlfriend at the time, the woman who is now my wife, when I returned days before I was supposed to, for it wasn’t like me to not get the most out of a place I travel to, usually opting to just be on the go, exploring as much as possible. I simply told her that the urge to not see any more was overwhelmingly profound. I was ready to leave the island behind, but because things were going well in our relationship, I wanted to see how all was going to turn out with her, first. Leaving the country would have meant leaving her. Thus, I chose to stay two more years, yet in 2010, I felt, again, that it really was time to go, and, lo and behold, we moved to Switzerland. However, we came back to the island last year, planning on another overseas school adventure perhaps a year later. Plans were, indeed, finalized, and we were to be off to Myanmar in August 2012.

Life is life, though, and things change. Because of our newborn son, my wife felt that Rangoon wasn’t the best place to live; consequently, she decided that we should stay in Taiwan. Not what I expected, but for my family, it wasn’t like I had a choice. Therefore, I now find myself living back in Kaohsiung, the place I was so desperate to leave a few years ago. Gradually, the slight animosity I had felt initially about missing out on Myanmar has abated. To hasten the tapering off of that bitterness, I’ve been recently focusing on the positives here, and to help in that process, I’ve been taking my camera out more and more, looking to capture the appealing characteristics of Taiwan that do exist–the very things I perhaps ignored four years ago–or was merely too blind to see. Below is a collection of images that I’ve taken here, mostly shots of local spots, peoples and things here in Southern Taiwan, but with a few shots coming from the north, too. Eager to see more, and to capture more, I am now planning a trip–with the family–around the island. This time, I hope to not want to return home so quickly.

On the Grand Scale, Nei Men

More Nei Men

Home Sweet HomeThe Site of Nei Men's Annual Battle Array


Simply Ornate or… Ostentatious

Temple Wall

Taiwan has its fair share of similar lounge bars.

Temple Happenings

Kaohsiung’s Art Museum Park Pathways

Walking these side streets is a proverbial step back in time.

Hualien’s Countryside

Classic Beef Noodle Soup

Just when I thought I’d already taken enough temple shots…

Tainan County Steamed Peanut Vendor

Perching

Aboriginal Artwork

One of a few dazzling temples in NeiMen

Ubiquitous Ornateness

Countryside Prayer Altars (I really don’t know if locals would call this a temple!)

Bamboo Everywhere

Local Renewal

Pineapple Fields

Meinung Traditional Housing

More of Meinung

A Massive Buddha, FoGwangShan


Another immense temple complex (near NeiMen)

Traditional rural housing

Countryside Housing

Near NeiMen, Southern Taiwan

One of Southern Taiwan’s Muddy Volcanos

Too hazy, but this shows part of “Moonscape World”

Such Detail!

NeiMen’s Showcase Temple

Ornate!

NeiMen’s Temple from Afar

Dragon Fountain

Seems like a friendly dragon…

From KHH’s 50-Story Building

If I didn’t live on the 14th floor of a building, I’d ask to buy this door for my home!

Near BoAi Road in Kaohsiung…

Ascending & Descending

FoGwangShan Monastery

Typically Ornate Temple Ceilings

Streets Eats

Meinung Flower Frolicking

Vegetable Vendor

Rice Farming, Meinung

Downtown Kaohsiung

Lotus Pond, KHH

Lotus Pond, Kaohsiung

Lantern Festival School Entrant

The Ever Changing Skyline

KHH’s MRT

Urban Renewal

Temple Caretaker Taking Care

KHH Harbor

Increasingly More Modern

Former British Consulate

KHH by Night

More Sights of Lotus Pond

Kaohsiung’s Lotus Pond

Is this considered double parking?

Taiwanese Bartending

Ouch! (But he apparently doesn’t feel a thing!)

Tai Chi

A Meat Lover’s Dream!

Local Delicacies

Nutty Treats

MeGao Rice Dish

Candied Yams, Chisan-Style

Turkey Rice–This Blogger’s Favorite Dish!

Though I’ve seen countless temples across the continent and Taiwan, I still love visiting them.

Ceiling Patterns

Temple Details

Roof Lines

Chisan’s Old Street Facades

Through the Ages…

Local Housing

Japanese Era Facades

Reaching for the Skies

It’s Seen Better Times

Rice Paddies and Housing

Temple Entrance

Country Housing

Rock Formation (Reminds me of Scary Movie!)

SanDiMen Village Lad

SanDiMen Aboriginal Artwork & Architecture

I always wonder how much a place like this costs to construct and where does the cash come from!

Tainan Highlights

Kung Fu Dojo

Fashion!

This can’t be displayed outside the island. Sad.

That’s the right way to do it!

Taiwanese Style Sausage

Would you like exhaust with your chicken?

Tasty Eats (Point-and-Shoot Camera)

Towering

Rice, Rice, Everywhere!

Practicing DOF, My Arch Nemesis

“On the count of three, everyone clap!”

Vintage with VinesUmbrellas Galore

Temple Procession

Tainan Side Street Display

Tainan Entryway

Daunting

Messages

Incense Burning

Roof Lines

Temple of Tainan, Taiwan

Kaohsiung’s Central Park




Kaohsiung’s Lotus Pond Pavilion

Don’t Mess with Me!

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