The first two weeks.

Rumors of our death have been greatly exaggerated… yes, we’ve been here for two weeks, and we’ve been fairly quiet, but that’s because we’ve been fairly busy! Today is the last day of my ten-day work week. Yes, I wrote that correctly. Last week, I started my internship on Tuesday, worked an event over the weekend, and am ending this week early to enjoy a well-deserved long weekend.

Where do I even start? Well, there’s much more time to talk about my internship ahead, so I will probably save that for another time. Let me tell you instead about the lovely city of Taichung. Taichung is on the western coast of the island, three hours south of Taipei. We’re in a valley basin here, and on the twelfth floor of the building where I work, I can look out the windows to the north and west and see the mountains in the distance that surround us. Early summer is the rainy season for East Asia. Yesterday, it rained from the time that I got to work until the evening, barely letting up to a drizzle. Today, it is grey and overcast, but I don’t mind since that means it’s not so hot! Taichung is in the high eighties most days with extreme humidity, and it’s only May… 

We get up in the morning between 6 and 6:30 am; it’s a habit we picked up from jetlag and are purposefully holding onto. Going to bed at 10 pm and waking up at 6 am is so much more productive! Most mornings, I get ready for work, and we set off to find breakfast first. We’ve found three pretty reliable places so far: 阿根蛋餅 (A-Gen Egg Pancake), which does these crispy dough pancakes with an egg on one side, and either bacon, cheese, or some veggies sprinkled over it. Then they roll the entire thing up and cut it into five or six sections that you drizzle hot sauce and soy sauce over. We freaking love these things. The other place is A-Bao, just across the street. (No, we don’t understand this A- thing.) A-Bao makes some fun breakfast burgers, and this morning, Steve had some chicken and tomato wraps while I had a chicken cutlet and egg burger. Another place called 永和豆漿 (Yonghe Soymilk) does veggie and pork buns, soup dumplings, other breakfast foods, and of course, soy milk. That location is on my way to work, and specifically open from 5 pm in the afternoon to 11 am in the morning (in other words, overnight).  

By 5 pm, I wrap up at work and leave to walk back home. Work is a comfortable 15-20 minute walk from home, and I’ve also discovered two buses that go almost directly between the two. In the nighttime, Taichung cools down to a very pleasant mid-to-high 70s. After I get back to the apartment, Steve and I take a walk around the neighborhood and find a good place to eat. Taiwan is full of great food, but sometimes, it’s hard to find too, what with Steve’s prejudice against seafood, and my own liking for hotpot. So far, we can both agree on a teppenyaki place that comes with free miso soup, a large open buffet that usually tends to be the most cost-effective option, and a great beef noodle place that is the priciest but no doubt most delicious and well-made.

After dinner, we usually go for a walk in the People’s Square, which is a large grassy park only a few minutes from where we live. On the north side of the park, street performers and singers often have their set-up on the sidewalk, crooning some love songs or performing a breakdance. In the middle of the park, people gather to let their dogs run free. We’ve seen quite a few golden retrievers, many tiny Yorkies and Shibas, both of which Taiwanese people adore, and very excitingly, some corgis as well. Occasionally, we get some beer from the 7-Eleven and sit and watch the dogs romp about. The evening is my favorite time in Taichung – it’s bustling yet quiet, and cicadas buzz in the trees, which will always sound like summer to me. The breeze is mild, and we simply get to watch the people and the dogs play and enjoy an iced tea or a beer.

On the way home, we buy a box of fruit, usually mango or pineapple. Mango has been expensive as of late (40-50 NT a box), but I know mangoes are going to be very ripe within a month, and then we’ll feast on them like nobody’s business! When we get home, we enjoy the fruit while we catch up on TV shows from home – after an episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones, it’s almost time for bed. We set the A/C on high, and drift off.

Today, we’re planning to go to Fengjia Night Market, Taichung’s largest and most famous, to celebrate the end of my incredible work week. Tomorrow, my first day off, we will spend perhaps watching a movie, and I’ll be able to upload some photos. So far, I’ve been taking many more photos with my phone and tweeting them, so you may see more tweets here. Then on Saturday, we head to Tainan for two days! Maybe I’ll write again soon about something that isn’t food, but then, that wouldn’t be telling the truth about Taiwan…


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