Visiting Taiwan was familiar yet foreign. I recognized places from childhood, but a lot had changed. I was inspired to (re)learn about the people, nation, and my hometown in Taipei. There was so much hope and love (and delicious food), not to mention everywhere was clean, orderly, and convenient. We spent one week in Taipei and another week touring around the island. It was wonderful to show my husband where I grew up and eat our way around the country.
This time, Jiufen was packed with tourists from Hong Kong and China. We took a shuttle up the winding mountain and squeezed through the crowded and narrow alleys. After trying several street food stands, we escaped the crowds by visiting a cozy tea house overseeing the ocean. The staff taught us to make tea with their loose tea leaves and tea sets. Each tea set was hand-made by the owner, giving it a personality of its own.
We didn't have time to browse around the handmade tea set collections on the way out before venturing to our next destination. There are so many other tales, old and new, that I could share from each town in Taiwan. Each is as precious to me as that afternoon of delectable tea, snacks, and the ocean breeze in a small mining town north of Taipei.