Jan 19, 2013

I'm a Swedish Man in Taipei

It is getting more and more difficult to find experiences that are vastly different from our everyday life. The huge world I grew up with, where people would cross the baltic sea to find different types of products (read alcohol), has now been reduced to something way more smaller and convenient. If you want chinese, italian or japanese food, you don't have to cross seas , mountain ranges and continent, but most likely just go down to the corner restaurant. 

I wouldn't label myself a globetrotter, but I have done my fair amount of travelling. And I love it (apart from the airports) as you experience new things. However I have never felt a cultural difference as in Taipei, Taiwan. Like being lost, not knowing how things are done. It is nice to still get that feeling in this world that now fits in your pocket.  

There are so many advantages of travelling with your passport in order, like actually getting to your destination as scheduled. I wouldn't make the same mistake twice, now would I? So this time around, I actually had some time to visit Taipei. I started off by going to the Longshan temple, that was wrapped in incense like San Francisco on a foggy day. Old ladies dressed in black were chanting from ancient books and I had this incredible urge to ask someone what was going on, but did not want to disturb anyone as they all seemed very deeply focused on what they were doing. 

An intense smell of delicious food draw my attention to a small alley next to the temple, and here I could confirm the simple rule of three for travelling; smile, point and pay. Will solve most situations. No need to actually know what was inside the dumplings, and I was somewhat relieved to see they were filled with cabbage. Then it was off to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which is a huge square flanked by massive buildings. I was mostly interested in two other things though; the fact that these were vending machines in the middle of the park, like shy squirrels that begged to be fed nickels, and the groups of young children practicing different dances. How am I supposed to take in the Taiwanese culture while having to listen to 'Barbie Girl' over and over again?!? 

Sometimes I really wish globalization would not foment sharing of products, or at least when it comes to Danish pop music...

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