Saturday, 26 January 2008

Random thoughts

I'm at my paternal grandparents' apartment now. Using wireless I am 'stealing' from a neighbour (tee hee hee - don't tell!). After not having internet access when I was staying at my cousin's place in 'woop woop' I feel like I've struck the jackpot.

I was staying with my 40+ year old spinster (bachelorette?!) cousin and am now staying with my 80 year old grandparents. I don't know which is worse or which is better but I won't get into that.. it's a bit too personal and likely to bore you.

I am constantly checking up on weather reports whenever I am online and can't believe it is snowing in Shanghai AGAIN! Man! I'm going to freeze when I get back. (ETA: I just saw the snow on the news on TV. Waaah... as much as I hate cold weather there is that magical fairytale quality about snow. The snow in Shanghai is very light, does not stay on the ground and melts quickly.. it is kind of like white, solid rain. Apparently it is snowing all over northern China right now).

The weather in Taipei is... I won't lie... shite. It is what my husband would call "England weather." Cold, grey, dreary and drizzling. Constantly drizzly. It never rains like this in Sydney. It's either dry or it's raining, really raining. But in England and now here in Taipei it's just sprinkling which is kind of frustrating as you sort of need an umbrella and sort of don't. It is about 12-16 degrees here.

Some of the things I really like about Taiwan so far: The variety and cheapness of food, the amazing food courts, the shopping malls and shops in general (where I am free to browse at my own leisure and don't have to bargain unlike in Shanghai!), the politeness and helpfulness of the local people. The non-smoking-ness is unbelievable. It's not just the non-smoking law but the fact that it seems people rarely smoke full stop! It is even better than Sydney where my lungs are accosted by stupid smokers whenever I walk along a busy city footpath. I also love the Japanese-ness of so many things from the shop layouts to the products that they sell to the quirky behaviour (like the elevator ladies who wear hats).. it's all pretty cool.

Some things I don't like at all: The masses of stairs everywhere. (Counted 75 steps from one MRT station exit to the street level). The stupid footpaths that step up and down and are narrow enough as it is but also littered with scooters, motorcycles, stands selling random things, it makes me feel so ugh and so claustrophobic. Not to mention if you have luggage with wheels, a pram, a wheelchair, am elderly with a walking stick/frame, heavily pregnant, or have a broken foot/ankle/leg you are stuffed. You have to go onto the road which is downright dangerous. Or just stay at home and become a hermit. And then when it's raining everything is slippery and disgusting. Also the steps on the bus. The first step is huge. When I came back from Kaohsiung my legs actually buckled underneath me while I was trying to get onto/into the bus! I had a heavy backpack on and a bag in each hand so no hands to hold the rail and gosh it was embarrassing. This man kinda pushed my bag up the stairs for me. and luckily the door didn't trap me I was taking so long to get up those damn steps!

It sounds pretty weird but the stupid up-and-down narrow, crowded footpaths are actually one of the things I remember the most about Taiwan.

I keep thinking I want to move here instead as so many things are better than in Shanghai but I think I still prefer Shanghai more because if I lived here we'd probably live in a tiny place and lots of things would go mouldy and mildew due to the year-round high humidity, we wouldn't be able to afford an ayi or take taxis very often, plus the crowded claustrophobic feeling I just don't like. Kaohsiung is nicer and more spacious (not to mention has warmer weather which is good in winter time) but the air pollution is really bad there, probably even worse than Taipei due to the industrial zone and shipping harbour there. I probably sound like a spoiled brat but after lugging my heavy bags back and forth I really miss the convenience of taking a taxi when I really need to. Besides, I am not 'allowed' to anyway due to my paranoid family. But that's another story.

PS Another great thing about Taiwan is that there is no TGF (the great firewall)!

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