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“A teardrop on the cheek of time.”

“A teardrop on the cheek of time.”

Love inspires grand monuments and grand statements. Here, the¬†Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore was waxing poetic about the beauty of the Taj Mahal. I’ve read this quote countless times in guidebooks and introductions, and you know, that’s quite a statement. When we planned to visit India, I knew that we needed to go see the Taj. Not quite because I was dying to make the trip to Agra, but more because I knew we would regret visiting India and not seeing it in person.

The Preparation
Knowing it would be a difficult trip to plan, we made no other plans for our five days in Delhi. After some online research, I was overwhelmed by the logistics of taking a train to Agra and transportation from there to each of the sights in the city, so I suggested to Steve we try a tour group. We checked out a few places on the Main Bazaar that advertised day-trips to Agra. One place suggested a bus trip (leaving at 6 am, coming back at 11:30 pm) for 500 rupees a person, which sounded a little too cheap to be good (less than $10 USD per person, really?).

We also stopped by the travel desk at our hotel to inquire, and they suggested we hire their car and driver to visit three different sights in Agra, which would be more of a 12-hour journey for approximately 6000 rupees ($100 USD). We went back to do more research, but barely an hour later, the travel desk called our room to let us know there were two other travelers also hoping to go to the Taj tomorrow, so the price was just halved the price to 1500 rupees per person. After a hurried conference, Steve and I decided to go along with this unexpected opportunity.

Continue reading “A teardrop on the cheek of time.”

Taiwan, how will I miss thee? Let me count the ways.

Tomorrow evening, Steve and I will board a flight out of Taipei to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Our last day in Taipei will be filled with frantic errands, like mailing a package off to the United States, hanging out one last time with friends we’ve barely gotten to know, and ordering our favorite dishes for dinner one last time.

For several weeks now, I’ve been saying goodbye to Taiwan. Every time I walk by a market stall and catch a glimpse of a snack I once tried, I silently mourn the fact that I won’t be able to try it again. Each time I buy a tea drink, I think about the many desolate tea-less countries ahead, and that I won’t just be able to buy us tea to go with our lunch. In small ways and big, I am feeling nostalgia about our time here already.

“One green jasmine tea, half sugar, half ice, please.”

I am going to miss Taiwan.¬†There is just no way around that simple fact. I think Steve and I have made it pretty clear that we think Taiwan is the bee’s knees when it comes to so many things, but on this, our next-to-last evening in Taiwan, it’s really hitting hard that not only will we have to say goodbye to a number of amazing, beautiful things, but that we will also need to take on a different frame of mind for travel in other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia. It is a mixed blessing, but right now, I can only grasp how sad we are to be leaving Taiwan. Reader, if we have not convinced you yet that Taiwan should be a destination for you too someday, here is our last ditch attempt.

Continue reading Taiwan, how will I miss thee? Let me count the ways.