Saturday, October 31, 2015

Danshui - Taipei by the Sea

Danshui or Tamsui (淡水), literally “clear water,” is a lively yet laidback seaside district in Taipei known for its street life and scenery.  Only a short train ride away from the city center, I—flanked by Wesleys—hopped aboard the MRT and headed out there to catch the sunset (my brother’s last, and my first in Taiwan).  It was perfect timing for my brother to join us in exploring our country of heritage for the first time together.  My brother wasn’t even born yet the last time I went to Taiwan with my family.  It was surreal that we were doing this.

My parents have shared many good times in Danshui in their youth.  Dad was a college student in Danshui for two years.  He went to school and lived in a dormitory up on a hill overlooking the water, with an unobstructed view of Guanyin Shan, the mountain in the background of some of these photos.  He told me that the mountain is named after the goddess of mercy, Guanyin, because the peaks resemble the face of the goddess lying down - but only from higher up, not from the bottom where we were.  The pictures that we took do not resemble what he remembers Danshui to be like - due to a spike in tourism in the area, it is no longer the quaint fisherman's village that it used to be.  He recounted how he worked at a restaurant here to make extra money in order to take out his girlfriend, who happened to be my mother.  My mom would take a long bus-ride from the city to meet him, and then they would go out on his motorcycle, with Mom sitting side-saddle, as was appropriate for women at the time.  Someday, it would be great to go back with my parents and let them be our tour guides and storytellers.  The sights and sounds of modern attractions were exhilarating, but if only we could see what they saw when they were young lovers out there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Taipei: Grandmother's Place - A Photo Essay

Taiwan was not exactly our number one honeymoon destination, but we made it our first priority when we realized that Po-Po would not be able to come to our wedding, or to America at all, for that matter.  I did not grow up around her and I rarely had the ability to go to Taiwan, but every memory that I have of this woman has been one which I look back on lovingly, respectfully, and happily. I can vividly remember her scrubbing the floors each day on her hands and knees using her ratty old rags.  I can recall the taste of her hot and sour soup which she made daily when I stayed in Taiwan, just because I loved it so much, especially with the extra vinegar.  I know her cute, distinctive accent which I cannot imitate but can instantly recognize.  Also, there was that one time where she sat in front of the TV and chowed down an entire baguette - it must have been a meter in length.  She smiles a lot and she has some darn good eyebrows.  She wasn't a hugger or a gusher, but she showed us through all of her selfless acts of service that she loved all of us grandkids.