My favorite time of day was right around 7pm. This was partially because the city center lit up in rainbow lights, which for some reason are extremely calming to watch as they change from shades of red, to blue, to purple (my favorite, of course). The lights would power up on the famous 101 building, reminding us by the color, in case we forgot, which day of the week it was.
Another very important thing happened around 7pm; ABC was off of work and he’d send a call or text, and each of us walk down Xin Yi street to meet half way like school kids. I’d skip out into the brisk winter air, knowing that once I saw ABC, I’d suddenly feel warmed. Perhaps we’d run into each other below the giant TV screen that always had tulips on it (it was promoting a camera, I think), in front of the Wall Street Institute building, or in front of one of the numerous coffee shops. It was a little game; who could get farther first?
We’d then hop in a cab and go to a restaurant, take a walk, or venture to a nearby pub. It really didn’t matter where we went, because I had always been waiting all day to have a long conversation in English, and it was finally time. Plus, ABC was my favorite conversationalist. There was never an awkward moment, we never had to search for things to say, and we never needed to rely on topics like weather or politics to keep the conversation going.
Somewhere in the world, wherever he may be and whomever he may be with, I suspect he is still a great conversationalist. I believe this to be an innate skill.
Those were simply the week nights, though. It was the weekend when the fun really started. Though I spent a fair amount of time at clubs, dancing the night away, or at the flat of a friend, celebrating a birthday, I’d have to say my favorite weekend memory would have to be the evening we escaped the city and ended up at the top of one of the mountains surrounding Taipei; Yang Ming Shan.
Want to get there yourself? Take a cab (though it’s an hour ride), or board bus 260 from the bus stop outside Ximen MRT Station Exit 3. (please verify this before setting off on your journey as bus schedules are ever-changing).
Sitting at one of the mountainside restaurants as the sun slowly set, sipping on tea and eating some of the most amazing cheesecake I’d ever had, I felt warm and whole. I was a half a world away from everything I knew, and everyone I loved, but I felt complete. The city was buzzing just a few miles away from me, but I felt at peace.
Then, as the last of the red sunset bled away from the sky and the tip of the sun slipped below the horizon, in a dynamic exchange of light and energy, the city lights powered on. One by one, my beloved rainbow lights began changing slowly, simply adding to the mood. Lastly, as the sky turned black, the Taipei 101 powered on and turned indigo, reminding us that it was Saturday.
I pinched myself; something I always do when I want to remind myself to slow down and savor the moment. To this day, I still savor that moment when I made a very important realization:
Taipei is beautiful. Life is beautiful. There is beauty to be found in everything.