My second Taiwanniversary was five days ago, on August 21. On that day in 2007, I landed in Taoyuan Airport and after 18 months of living apart from Ron, we were reunited.

Eight months earlier, I had flown over for a one week visit in December 2006. In addition to seeing Ron again (and getting engaged to him), the point of that trip was to see if Taiwan was someplace I could countenance moving to; if I had absolutely hated the country, Ron would have moved back to NYC and our lives would have turned out very differently. Fortunately, I had a fabulous time (and, yes, I know one week was a ridiculously short amount of time in which to make such a HUGE decision, but twenty-something reporters living in NYC don’t have the luxury of time!).

That visit was my first to Taiwan as an adult; my last before then had been as a 10 year old in 1991, when I attended a family reunion with my parents and brother. I thought everything was fascinating and so wonderfully different from NYC. I recently looked through the photos I took on that trip and it was very interesting to see what caught my attention.

The bright lights and vertical neon signs were intriguing:

A Taipei street at night

I was enchanted by all the gashapon machines and frittered away many a NT$50 coin in them:

Vending machines

There were painting exhibits in subway stations! Paintings that no one stole… or peed on!

Metro station art exhibit!

The only drink label I could read was the one that said “Pocari Sweat,” so almost everything I bought out of vending machines was a delightful (most of the time) surprise.

Taiwanese drinks

Indeed, every single soft drink and snack food I purchased on that trip was worthy of a photo:

Alcoholic Calpis and jelly snack

I threw my Blythe doll Templeton off of Taipei 101:

Templeton faaaaaaaalls!

I had never imagined that street cats could be so sultry:

Sexy beast

And I first discovered the aesthetic concept of “morbid kawaii”:

Sad fishcake

The fact that I couldn’t read Chinese yet allowed me to make up all sorts of dirty stories about perfectly innocuous subway ads:

Vaguely dirty Dr. Milker ad

I fell in love with a poddy tree…

I love this poddy tree

…so did Catherine Jr.

Catherine Jr. in an awesome poddy tree

My appetite got all excited by a restaurant that sells cattle offal. Mmm, organ meats! (I’m not kidding, by the way.)

Mmm... cattle offal...

After living in a place for two years, it’s easy to get jaded. When I go to 7-11 now, for example, I don’t think “look at all those cool drinks that I’ve never heard of!” I think “seriously, Uni-President, would it kill you to sell one sugar-free comestible? Damn you!” The same thing happened to me in NYC. I was so busy working and getting on with my life that I didn’t really appreciate the city until I had made up my mind to move away. I really regret that. As a result, I try not to take my time here in Taipei for granted.