January 30, 2013

How to find the good places to eat in Taiwan?

How to find the tasty stuff

Before I went to Taiwan I read somewhere that the way to find the best food is to observe where the Taiwanese are lining up, and go there; If the Taiwanese are queueing for it, it is going to be good - they have high standards, and that is how I got to taste some of the best street food in Tainan, southern Taiwan.

A long queue outside a little hole in the wall indicated that something interesting was happening, so I walked closer. I couldn't see what was going on to start with, there were simply too many people around, but I could smell it; A wonderful aroma that I find hard to describe, a smell of vegetables, something frying, various spices, and more. You could even feel that they were using good oil, there was no smoke but just a very pleasant smell in the air - so despite not being hungry, I took the advice and went to stand in line. While waiting some Taiwanese people asked me what I was going to have, and to that I had to answer that I didn't know - I was still not able to see what they were cooking at the stand. When they asked me how I knew to queue up where I was queueing up, I could just tell them about the advice I had been given; They laughed and said that it was good advice. The rest of the time in line we spent talking mainly about good food, and a little bit about where I came from and where I was going next.

Street food in Tainan

January 23, 2013

The first meeting - my new country

The first meeting

As I already mentioned, I am about to start the new chapter, to move on, take the next step.

Hiking just outside Taipei, Taiwan
Hiking in the north of Taiwan
And the next step is to give up corporate life (for now at least, but maybe forever, something time will tell), give up the comfortable live I am living here, and go for the new challenges, move on to Asia, the region I have been dreaming on for so long, and test my barriers there, see if my wings will carry me and how to make Asia my home, the way Germany became my my home when I moved here.

I am in Asia every year, even if I visit different countries, so I do have a feeling for what I am getting myself into. Not completely, that I admit, but I have a feeling for this part of the world. Never the less it felt important to me to meet my new home country before I actually move there - so in December, shortly before Christmas, I boarded a plane and set off to visit Taiwan for the first time.

The plan was to partly stay with friends, do things with them as well as on my own, and partly travel around, not to make any final decisions on location and school (I do already have some sort of plan) but more to get a feel for the whole country, so that I would know what to expect.

January 21, 2013

Learning Mandarin - and why in Taiwan?

Why mandarin, and why in Taiwan?

Well, looking back at what I have done in my life, it is really only one thing that I regret: That I didn't study more languages.  Study them well so I could become completely fluent, and not having to think about it, just talk. I am going to repair that now, it is anyhow time for a break, if I don't do it now I am afraid I am going to get stuck, just because life is so comfortable here.

Taiwanese temple roof with dragon decorationI want to speak Chinese and be understood, and I also want to be able to read and write in mandarin, and to be able to fully learn the language, I need to be able to focus on it. I can not expect to pick up a language that is completely different from my own language at an evening class once a week, while I am busy doing everything else, and that is one of the reasons I want to take time off to study  It is a big challenge, I know, with the language being so far from the western languages I already speak, but I am know I can do it, if I only set my heart on it - and my heart is set.

Chinese (mandarin) is a language spoken by an enormous group of people, can you imagine how fascinating it must be to be able to have a conversation with all the people that speaks mandarin either as their first or second language? A whole new set of doors will open, regardless if I chose to go back to the "corporate world" after I am finished with the first year or if I decide to do my own thing and work in another field it will be useful, and it will be useful regardless if I use it for business or just for private reasons. You can never learn too many languages!