So the big disappointment of the trip was they turned my favorite pub into a ladies' underwear store. I dragged James all the way out to our old neighborhood for an afternoon of three-cup tofu, stir-fried lamb, shrimp cakes and Taiwan Beer, but it wasn't to be. It also served to remind that our old neighborhood was seriously out in the boonies: half an hour into Taipei proper, plus another bus or subway ride to wherever you're headed. Sheesh, things were different back then.
Other than that the trip has been awesome and the shock and disbelief I'm registering above also illustrates how I'm feeling now that it's almost over.
We spent four nights in Taipei with James' grandma and two nights in Kenting at the Howard Beach Resort, which was decked out in 1950s-style decor and replete with haunted house, bowling alley and creepy spa outfitted with heaps of fake flowers in the basement.
One day we rented a scooter and drove all along the coast and also inland a ways through some sleepy little towns. That was a fantastic day.
This trip was such a wonderful respite after a hectic first month in Beijing. It's tough too though, because a month ago I knew I'd see James this week and now he's about to go back to the States and I wont see him until the fall or later.
I've enjoyed beijing here and reflecting on how different our expat life was in Taiwan versus Shanghai (and now Beijing, for me). In Taiwan, our main support network was James' family, so we quickly adapted to some parts of life here (James' uncle loaned us a car and we were treated to lots of great family outings and were introduced to lots of people who wanted to help us), but there were other things we went about totally backwards because we didn't have an expat community to guide us. If I could time travel to us in Fall 2008, I would have all kinds of advice on how to do the English teacher thing differently. I also would advise us to move into Taipei. Cheap rent in Nankan was great, but we started having a lot more fun once we had a friend group in Taipei.
I really do love it here. I hope I'll be returning many more times.