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Taipei

I may have prematurely said things about Taipei yesterday. Imagine, if you will, that you went to a city, only to hang around on Parramatta Road or Bergheimer Strasse. You'd see a bit of the city which is every part as real as the rest of the city, but doesn't really encapsulate the magic of the whole city itself. It was like that with me and Nanjing Road East (Section 1), it was busy and bustling - but the really cool Taipei was in a number of different areas.

Having a few hours to kill (Yesterday? Two days ago?) I headed out to walk around Taipei. I do that in all of the cities that I have time to go exploring★★ in. I'm not sure if I'm practicing it, but it sounds a lot like psychogeographic drifting, where you let your feelings / subconscious guide you through the city. Put simply, if you're walking down a street and you reach an intersection - always choose the path which has the most shiny things, brightest lights, or loudest music coming from it. I'd love to be hooked up to a GPS, just to see where exactly my subconscious is taking me.

Anyway, I'd wandered myself off to Taipei 101 yesterday. It's one of the coolest buildings I've seen. Not only is it really big (which it really is), but it's also got a lot of great elements to it, acting as a shining example of both engineering prowess and design finesse. The interior is impressive, and the view from the top floor, looking out to the mountains surrounding Taipei is breathtaking. Naturally, I took no pictures. Somehow, I just didn't feel right walking around with a camera and acting like a tourist in Taipei.

I had a fair amount of fun there - Masha and Birgit can expect their postcards from Taipei within the next few days - but I was just absolutely zonked by the time I got back to the hotel, picked up my luggage, and set out on my onwards journey to Australia.

Thinking that you're late for checking in to your flight, having a panic set in, and not knowing the language really gets the adrenaline kicking in. From that point on, my plans for sleeping during the flight were purely academic. As soon as I got in to the airport, I was hit with this giddy euphoria - a knowledge that finally, after 18 months away, I was on my way back home. For those of you who were talking to me while I sat at the airport, you know what I'm talking about. I was looking forward to that instant of time when I look out of the window of the plane, and for the first time in far too long, I would see the water breaking on Sydney harbour, the lush vegetation surrounding it, and covered by a smoky haze, the vista of the city would be found in the distant background. That's what I look forward to when I come home to Australia.

As is my wont with these blog posts, I present a mild mental detour - What's the etiquette on picking up on plane journeys? If, hypothetically, a particularly beautiful person sat down next to you, is it proper to strike up an eager conversation with them? Do you really want to know the person sitting next to you? Isn't it just enough for them not to steal all your stuff when you go for a bathroom break? How do you even pretend to look civilised when you're digging into food with a plastic knife★★★? As you may have guessed, I was faced with this dilemma - and in the end chose to try and get some sleep. What really got me though was that at the end of the flight she said "Bye, and Take care!". Thanks for the sentiment and all, but you do realise that the sum total conversation we had was variations upon "Excuse me", reaching a crescendo when I asked to borrow a pen? Then again, she was Canadian★★★★, so you can't blame her eh?.

My feelings are pretty mixed now that I'm actually back in Australia. Admittedly, it's only been about 8 hours since I landed, but things don't really seem quite right here. Maybe I miss walking around in Heidelberg and being guaranteed to see someone. Maybe the city has changed in the time that I haven't been here. The traffic definitely is worse. Maybe everyone who lives here changed in the last year and a half. Maybe it's sleeping in a place which you know isn't your own. Maybe it's me who has changed. It looks like I might have to wait till I get back in to some kind of routine, spend some time with family and friends - really get into it, before I can decide what exactly it is that I have missed about my old life in Sydney so much.

★ - It's tough writing for two mutually exclusive readerships, but I apologise to Shaunak and Anita for unwittingly singling out the streets they live on.

★★ - Have a read of the writing style on that site! Horrible!

★★★ - I never noticed before, but you're right Caroline - they only give plastic knives on the Australian legs of journeys

★★★★ - It's not stalking if you're sitting next to the person right?

1 comment

Aaron *

Canadian, eh? Well at least we get real knives on our flights! ;)

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