My Valentine’s Day 2012 in Hsinchu, Taiwan, ranked among the best days I’ve had here in a very long time. Thanks to my dear friend Amy, Tuesday night was fun, easygoing, and managed to incorporate the word “tit” without being inappropriate.
All these pictures were taken with my iPhone. My lovely prosumer Nikon, perfect for all the incredible pictures I missed, sat bored in my room all night. I’ve really got to start taking it with me more often. I’ll learn eventually.
Escaping the busy shopping center where the theater is located, we made our way to Aroma Thai, a very small restaurant tucked away on a side street in the middle of downtown.
After receiving our chicken soup to go,
we walked to a park nearby to sit on a bench and eat, people watch, and catch up.
which was decorated with red lanterns, blue Christmas lights, and a large, rotating dragon display.
We left and continued on through a network of alleys and small side streets. Our goal was to find a Chinese fortune teller Amy had researched as part of her thesis. She stopped to ask for directions, and a doctor fluent in English ended up helping us find the teller’s stall, which was closed. We thanked him for walking with us, and he invited Amy and me to dinner next time his bachelor son is in town. Nice try, Doc.
Parting ways with the doctor, we fought our way through scooter traffic to a temple.
Surprised it was open, we walked inside and greeted some of the worshippers and staff.
I just had to hold back from buying the shirt on sale.
Amy and I exited and continued our stroll. The night was becoming foggy, and the crowds thinned out as the evening progressed. On one nearly-deserted street, we happened upon a Tibetan store. Twenty minutes later, we emerged; on my wrist sat one of my purchases, in my purse were the other two.
Amy: “No! The clasp of your necklace! It’s… that’s what we call it! It’s come around to the front.”
No money for us. We left, but not before I got a picture of me drinking out of another plastic bag.
It was incredible seeing the details on each puppet, some a foot tall, others three feet tall.
Amy talked to the shopkeeper and her family in Chinese while I took pictures and admired the craftsmanship.
pausing briefly to smell flowers at a small flower shop and look at a gate in a small alleyway.
It’s been a long time since I’ve truly enjoyed Hsinchu. Caught up in my routine and what I don’t like about the city, I’ve forgotten that there are still a lot of places in Hsinchu I haven’t seen. The people are generous, and there are little treasures hidden away that, when I find them, remind me how lucky I am.
I’m an American living in Taiwan, on the opposite side of the planet from my home country. Not many people get to experience something this intense. I need to make every moment count.