Not just settling into a relaxed happy spot, but feeling a shared identity and understanding with a country’s people. It’s much more bizarre when that feeling strikes after arriving alone in a corner of the world where you have no relatives left.
But here I am on my first day in Taipei at a streetside dessert specialist, hunched over a steaming bowl of sweet tofu pudding, and everything seems familiar. The no-frills setup dictates a no-nonsense customer service that feels all very apropos. “Soft tofu pudding with taro dumplings” jumps out at me from the menu board in a marriage of independent ingredients I know well, remixed in a new way.
Such new presentations of habits and cultural elements from growing up Chinese-Canadian would become a theme of my trip tracing Taiwan’s west coast from Taipei in the north to its southernmost point in Kenting National Park. A familiarity and novelty of things that struck me for the first time on visits with family to Hong Kong and through Guangdong.
Whether you’re the first generation out, or the second generation born away from your family’s roots (like me), a trip to Taiwan is sure to bring you feelings of being lost and feelings of being found…