Irish Twins summed up her grief nicely: here she was, living in a land where her kids are eating new things, finally getting into Chinese, and she doesn’t have to cook or do anything and things are magically taken care of and obviously that is not sustainable for the long haul but OH, how nice it has been.
In fact, as of this writing, we are almost done with the day and I am taking one for the team by taking the kids to their favorite indoor playspace, Leo’s Playland.
Don’t worry. We ate a super yum lunch at Shin Yeh and I made sure I had their QQ almond jello. Then I sent the family home while I went to get Yu’s Almond Tofu shaved ice by myself. I ordered one to eat there and brought one home for later. I also might get another Mango ChaCha or a more generic shaved ice in the mall by our house to make sure I get some fenguo.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I LOVE Taiwanese shaved ice.
Given the choice, I’m willing to skip a meal for ice. Mmmmmm.
Anyhow, for nostalgia’s sake (and quite frankly, before I forget because – Oh, Shiny!), let me list all the things I will miss about Taiwan. And then, to help me ease back into the Reality of my life back home, all the things I will NOT miss. (You know, to be fair and balanced. Ah, FOX NEWS, what a crock.)
So, here thusly is my list of stuff I will miss:
1) Being able to walk everywhere.
There is something particularly nice about easy access to public transportation and a walkable city. You feel less like a contributor to an isolated and wasteful community. Things are super convenient (like food, restaurants, food, whatever).
It’s awesome to never have to think about parking or car seats.
2) The ubiquity of 7-11.
7-11 in Taiwan is a combo of post office, convenience store, and all sorts of awesome things. You can have packages delivered there. You can add money to your cel phone plan or MRT card. I’m sure you can even manage your stock portfolio there.
They have yummy hot and cold prepared meals. Drinks. Cold desserts. And most importantly, they are EVERYWHERE.
3) The people.
Short of some busybodies, most people are very polite and courteous – especially to folks who are elderly, pregnant, injured, or with children.
I know I complained a lot on Facebook of assholes (and trust me, there’s a post coming compiling all THEIR wonderful contributions), but overall, good people in Taiwan.
4) The food, obviously.
Not just the convenience of it. The actual tastiness.
I will especially miss shaved ice. I love Taiwanese shaved ice. Oh. Right. I mentioned this already.
5) How I totally blend in.
I feel like the majority. (Possibly because I am the majority.)
No worries of some asshole asking me where I’m from. No. Where I’m really from. No. Before that. No. Where my parents are from.
Fuck you. Is this a fucking credit check? No? Then STFU, you asshole.
Oh wait. Tangent.
But it’s nice to be unquestioned about why you belong somewhere. Of course, this usually lasts until someone sees Hapa Papa, but even then, unless something really cues someone that I might be a foreigner, (and for some reason, no one has really looked twice at my kids this summer – thank God for small mercies), I am treated always as if I belong.
It’s not that I am treated as if I don’t belong in the US. But there are definitely spaces where I feel unwelcome and am there only on the sufferance of its members.
Now, we haven’t really taken any taxis the last week or so because I have stuck to places we can access via MRT. But I love taxis. Super convenient.
7) So many indoor play spaces!
Because it is so friggin’ hot here, there are so many indoor play spaces. Many are free or subsidized by the city government – but just as many are exorbitantly priced.
Truly, I really do not know how the majority of Taiwanese citizens can pay for these places. I find them expensive as an American ($30-60USD depending on time, day, etc.) but I just can’t deal with outside parks in the summer. The mosquitos and being hugely pregnant are the main deterrents.
The parks are great in winter months, though. They even have lights on at night so kids can still play despite the sun setting earlier.
Alright. Those are the things I can think of off the top of my head that I will miss.
Here then, are the things I will NOT miss:
Now granted, Taiwan, for all its dense population and stuff is remarkably clean. However. Nothing is as gross to me as garbage. And Taiwan requires you to separate your garbage.
Whether you live in an apartment that has its own garbage center or you have to chase down the garbage truck every night, it’s a complete and utterly gross pain in the ass. You have to separate paper from plastic from food containers and possibly other items, too. I am always confused.
2) People insisting on giving you receipts.
Perhaps it’s my RGS (Rich Girl Syndrome) showing, but I hate paper. And I really hate receipts. Especially for things that really don’t require receipts – like the shaved ice I am eating in front of the vendor.
Also, it’s confusing because I guess you can enter your receipts into some national lottery? Or donate them? And or pickup points? I don’t know. My cousins tried to explain but it might as well have been the derivatives market. My brain totally tuned them out.
3) Plastic bags and shrink-wrapped everything.
For all its emphasis on recycling their garbage, it would probably be better off in not packing everything from every single food item or book or seriously ANYTHING in a tiny plastic bag or shrink-wrap.
In fact, every time I see it, I think of that giant Texas sized swirl of garbage and plastic in the ocean and how Taiwan is single-handedly doubling it every day.
4) The heat, obviously.
Winter and early spring (November through April) are far more pleasant but then, no classes for my kids to enroll in. And therefore, I cannot handle it. I would take the heat over being with my children all day in Taiwan ANY DAY.
I find this ironic since I homeschool. But at home, they have classes and their stuff and I barely have to pay attention. In Taiwan, they are just obstacles to me enjoying food and happiness and book shopping.
This clearly says something about me and my shoddy parenting.
5) The people.
Now, wait a tic! Didn’t I just say that the people are so nice and polite and friendly?
Well, yes. But OMG THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE!
Granted, I understand theoretically that without the population density, the convenience factor of public transit and food and etc. would be diminished greatly.
But, OMG THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE!
Which isn’t really a problem when I go out and about during the normal work day since most people are in school or at work. But once the weekend or rush hour hits?
I think if I didn’t have to keep track of three semi-obedient (hahahahahahahahaha – I love the semi, as if that happened often enough to qualify as a semi) children in large crowds of people, I would not mind the crush as much.
But as I do have lots of small children who sometimes forget to hold hands or walk really slowly or demand to be carried, it stresses me out and I end up yelling at my kids a lot more. Well, not yell so much in public, but nag and cajole and scold.
Also, my goodness. THE TANTRUMS. Those are a lot worse in full view of every single human being who ever lived in Taiwan ever.
6) Lack of authentic non-Asian food.
Look. Taiwan has a lot of great food. And I thoroughly enjoyed eating it all. But at some point, I cannot eat six weeks of only Taiwanese or Asian food.
The raw vegan place I got conned into going to does not count. It was not delicious. (It was not disgusting, either. But whatever. That will wait for another post.)
So, as a result, I cannot wait to eat a large Chipotle steak burrito with extra guacamole, sour cream, and cheese. And maybe more sour cream. Because I MISS AMERICAN FAT like BUTTER and CREAM.
7) Doing laundry every or every other day.
Now, it’s not because we didn’t have enough clothing with us. It is more that the washing machines have a third of the capacity of mine at home – AND – I have to hang dry everything.
So, keep in mind, we had 4-5 people. (I was doing laundry every other day until Hapa Papa showed up.) One or two days worth of dirty, sweaty, dusty clothing pretty much filled the machine. Then, I had to dry the clothes – and really, I guess I could have washed more clothes, but I would run out of space to hang the clothes to dry.
This is also why clothing in Taiwan is often made of such cheap material and people buy so many clothes. You pretty much have to wash all your clothing after one wear because the weather is so abysmally hot and as a result, your clothing eventually disintegrates.
Anyhow, I will be more than eager to go back to the land of lots of clothes and washing machine capacity and DRYERS.
Praise the Everliving God for dryers.
8) Lack of privacy.
Unless you live in the super rich mountains/hills or in the country, you really live only in condos/apartments. And even in those, there is not a lot of square footage. That is not very much privacy – both within the home itself, and amongst your neighbors.
You pretty much hear everything.
I can’t wait to go back to my home where if I judiciously close the windows, my neighbors can’t hear me screaming at my kids at full blast. (Maybe just a muffled hint of me cussing them out.)
9) Lack of garbage disposals.
I think I discussed this on Facebook, but basically, very few garbage disposals exist in the Taiwan. (Apparently, this is a common thing in NYC, too.) This is due to incorrect data on old pipes being too old to deal with garbage disposals.
I’m sorry. This is disgusting. Rotting food in garbage cans is gross. Especially in a country that has HUGE cockroaches. No matter how clean you keep your apartment, ROTTING FOOD WILL ATTRACT COCKROACHES.
This thus leads to my first point of my hatred of separating garbage. Because that shit has to go SOMEWHERE.
10) False sense of luxury due to spending Monopoly money.
I mean, yes, I get the general gist of money conversion in my head due to memorizing some basic equivalencies. (eg: 30NT is ~$1USD; 100NT is ~$3USD; 300NT is ~$10USD; 1,000NT is ~$30USD; 10,000NT is ~$300USD)
But STILL. It’s not the currency of my life – so it STILL seems like it’s fake money and we’re not spending anything real. And since everything is in the hundreds already, I don’t register when something is actually expensive in the US.
11) Easy and cheap access to fruit.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Taiwan does have a lot of fruit. But it isn’t cheap. (And it just occurred to me that I forgot to eat any lychees or dragon eyes or their equivalences! FAIL!)
And in the fact that my children are picky assholes and will only eat certain types of expensive imported American fruit staples (like apples, bananas, strawberries, any berries, and grapes), it gets expensive. (I mean, let’s be real. My kids did not get ANY strawberries or berries in Taiwan because OMG!!!)
So, I am glad to be going back to California, where apparently every fruit known to man is grown and in season and fresh.
Alright. I really should sleep. I’m about 99% packed (except for our PJs and Gamera’s hair thingies), we’re set to go with our 3 large suitcases, 3 boxes of books, and 4 small carryons. I’m really worried about schlepping those boxes, but oh well. Only a problem for short spurts of time. But man, it will be a pain in the ass.
Wish us luck!
We will be coming back from the future and arrive before we left. MAGIC!