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.