Mikes Thoughts

News, Views, Subterfuge

Been a little bit of time since writing anything here. I’m in Taichung now and have a few days left here. Taichung is a really nice city to visit with parks, museums, and tourist attractions that can be reached by walking or taking Uber or buses. There is no MRT here so I get around primarily walking to places. It’s my chosen way anyways since I often get side-tracked to see yet other places.

I looked at the calendar this morning on my iPad and I have just about two weeks left after two months in Taiwan. I read a few of the travel bloggers posts about things to do with your time and I studiously ignore them. No one builds an itinerary for a month in Taipei or weeks in places traveling down the coast on the High Speed Rail system. In two weeks I have two cities left to practice what I always do which is slow down in each city and just take what they offer. I’ll leave for Tainan which is the historic capitol city of Taiwan on Monday. Then a week later will leave for my final city here which is Kaoshiung. I have read only a little about each one so have no real destinations in mind. Then after doing what I do which is what I feel like doing, I leave for two more days in Taipei before flying to Philippines. Like I mentioned before, if I had it to do all over again I would not go to the Philippines at all and would spend the last month here in Taiwan instead. I would have liked to slowly work my way up the eastern side of the island on the regular train service.

It’s interesting that in a little over a month, I will be leaving for the US for a short visit. I have not been back for almost two years but there are things there I want to do as well. Besides spending more money than usual. I have wanted to ride Amtrak across the US and just about got it done except for the trip to Florida from San Antonio Texas. I do ride from Oakland to Texas and then Florida to New York before leaving for Morocco. So I feel somewhat like I took care of a thing I wanted. My primary reasons to go back are family and friends there. I do not know when I will make it back again. I don’t feel some urge to ever live in the US again. I found a life for myself and found a person I love in Vietnam and I want to get back to both. Vietnam has the ingredients for my life so I will always go toward making myself happy and being with my L again.

Just a word though on blogging and my lack of schedule. I have no schedule. I do not write posts before hand or schedule things to say. I don’t stay up all hours trying to figure out what crap I should write here. Sometimes I enjoy writing about a specific city like Taipei because perhaps it gives you a different view of what life can be like if you divorce yourself from schedules and itineraries and country and continent counts. If you go slow you will see more. Just try it yourself. Try walking somewhere and then taking a taxi to the same place. Which one will show the most of the city and the people and the parks. Forget the stupid and vapid instagram moments and your selfies. This is you out there going slow.

With a few weeks left, I kinda compare this with the same kind of thing I did in Malaysia. I spent almost three months in Malaysia earlier this year. Wonderful times in a place that is so culturally and historically diverse spent slowly seeing it all. I wandered KL for almost a month. Took a month in George Town and then lesser times in Melaka, Kuantan, and Port Dickson. Got see a friend back in PJ for a long wanted lunch and meeting. Slow times. No itineraries or plans.

In two years counting my few weeks left in Taiwan been only to a few countries. Each one has given me something more and vital and encompassing. I’ll never wish to just go at breakneck speed on day long itineraries to Kyoto. What is the gain there? There is none. You see what a day can give you. You get no sense of the life and moments and movements of people. I spent a month in New Taipei City in a district rarely visited by tourists and backpackers (thankfully). I went to a non tourist night market and found the hustle and bustle and a delicious Taiwanese steak dinner with noodles and eggs cooked for me. I did the day in and out travels on the MRT with a month long pass.

What did I learn? I learned that cities are not meant for instagram moments and planned itineraries. Saigon cannot bend itself to your itinerary so you will bend. You will see the three things and not the wonderful alleys and side streets. So be it with my few weeks left. I’ve seen less than the travel bloggers and instagram moment seekers and selfie takers. But then again, did they wander the one side street in Saigon where the kids waved and smiled and said hello bashfully at first and then wanted their pictures taken? Who lost and who gained is up for debate.

See you when I reach Tainan. A historic city that will let my feet touch its soul for a week.

I’m approaching the last evening here in Hsinchu Taiwan. I don’t know I will ever get back to Taiwan again much less Hsinchu. I wanted to spend a moment discussing a good way to see a place like Taiwan. Perhaps there is a fit if you might be interested in spending a longer stay here. US Passport holders can get 90 days. I would have stayed longer and forgot about the Philippines had I known then what I know now. Basically that I love it here and I have doubts about the Philippines. So here are a few notes about the details and the moments.

  1. Longer stays require no planning really. Take a month in Taipei. Why not? Do you think you can see Taipei in a week? Or 3 days or 24 hours? So take a month in the big city. Buy a month pass on the MRT. Get a SIM card good for a month with unlimited data. Find a longer stay place. I would look at Airbnb. You can often find a place close to the MRT stations. Mine was a block away and so every day, I would do some coffee first and then hop the MRT. Most times I had no plan. Remember I saw it requires no planning? Well, the longer you stay at a place, the less you have to worry about planning. The shorter duration you stay, the more you worry. If you only have a week, you may be hard pressed to actually see Taipei beyond the tourist haunts and tourist night markets. Maybe a museum or two. What about the daily life in Taipei? The little historic districts where the streets are filled with small shops and Taiwanese and others going about the rich tradition of shopping and eating you may miss completely. The non tourist night markets like Sanhe you may not even know about. I’ll say that the non tourist night markets are much better in Taipei. At Sanhe, its streets and streets of everything from restaurants to silverware to clothing. People throng at night to buy and eat. If you have longer, no planning for eating either. You just go. Perhaps its along with the wandering the small districts, finding that noodle restaurant that is a must try. It was like finding that Nasi Kandar place in KL where I felt so welcome and they checked every so often to just ensure the food was okay and that I was happy. So the main thing is the length of time folks. Shorter stays require manic planning and the 5 days in Taipei travel blogs and scouring instagram. Longer stays do not require anything like that. You have sweet moments with longer time to just wander the city, the parks, the neighborhoods. See the people tending gardens and talking to each other.

  2. Combine the longer stay with shorter stays that perhaps have a bit more planning. Try using the high speed rail system in Taiwan. You can ride down the western side of the island so easily and plan a trip that will take you to so many different cities and looks and feels. Had I to do it again, I would have done the high speed rail down one side of the island the TRA back the other side with stops in smaller places along the way on the eastern side. I would have taken another set of weeks riding the slower trains to see the cities and towns, the parks and nature, and whatever else I could find. If you combine your trip with a longer stay plus say a week per destination or maybe longer to fill up your 90 days in Taiwan, chances are you will not want to leave.

Of course, this means you have to bid adieu to your current time based traveling. You have to embrace the new YOU. This YOU finds no challenge in time spent, countries and continents counted, or days spent rushing to the next tourist endeavor. Slow down that YOU. You know its all gonna change the moment you turn your back anyways. I found this so often with Saigon. Every time I explored and wandered, it would change. A subtle character, a design, that building. The park on the corner looked different. I had pictures from before too. It still did not match up. But at least this way, you can tell people you failed at the mission but you succeeded at the desire. The real thing with travel or wandering or vagabonding is not the count of places but the places that count. What do you want of the memory? The instagram moments or the life moments?

Give it a few thoughts sitting in the international departure lounge for your next 3 days in Siem Reap to see it all. You will miss the smiling children running after you saying hello and the rural Cambodia right outside the city area where Khmer men and women smile and nod and say good morning. I wandered around Da Nang Vietnam last time I was there and I felt that I had found the place for me. A connection was made to some dusty synapses perhaps left rusty and unfired since before I left the US. A social and life connection to a place that I wanted to return to. I felt the same with Taipei and KL and especially George Town Malaysia. Maybe you feel it too but in the rush to re-claim your seat on the departing flight you shove it aside. The world awaits. Twitter fame is there. You can gain the followers with just another 10 countries and 2 continents. Your year comes up and you have succeeded in the counts. You never did slow down though did you. You never saw the peace and beauty of that morning by the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh when there was nothing to do next and all day to do it.

We don’t do the vagabonding above because we are marginalized in our travel. More is better, I think less is better. Try it sometime if you dare.

I like to read the releases about new cameras. I read this one just today. An interesting perspective it seems to me is that all of the cameras are expensive. I’ve traveled with the X100F. It’s nice if there are blue skies with no rain in the forecast. Make some weather and the camera is not so good. I lost one due to weather. Admittedly my fault. But I’d say If you recommend a travel camera it should be able to take some weather. Another choice is the excellent X-T3. If I had unlimited dollars for the camera body and lens maybe.

Here’s the main thing with the review. They all are damned expensive. Where are the cameras for the rest of us? The ones that you carry because they fit in a pocket and are tough. Maybe the GRiii and the Sony are the only ones. But then again it’s the price.

These are all travel cameras for the pro. Cameras to take professional photographs on professional travels to big destinations. Many of us don’t go to just the big destinations. Maybe we want something easier on the pocketbook. Easier in the backpack. Something you can use cheaper or lose and it’s not like an appendage going away.

Here’s my view. You don’t need any of those cameras. What you need is one you are comfortable with. Maybe it’s a Samsung Note 10 or a Pixel. Maybe a Fujifilm X-T30. Get the one that meets your criteria and needs. Be comfortable with its features and limitations. Don’t shoot in RAW? Ok. Want a point and shoot? Great.

Also think about your services. How do you archive and share the images? Is your mobile device a partner in this? It’s great to buy a dedicated camera for upwards of 2k but if you want to life the photos off using something like the FujiFilm Camera Remote app on iOS better read the reviews. Maybe settle for an adapter that you can use.

For me my desire was not to buy more but to go with less. I wanted multiple use devices. The camera should be a window to the world not a limiting factor. I don’t need 3k of gear. Do you?

What is it you really want? When you vagabond like me the devices are important but my happiness and satisfaction trumps all.

Maybe sit down with a notepad and write down your expectations and desires. Your needs and wants. Perhaps you find it can be done with less. Maybe for you a simple point and shoot with decent zoom lens works. Maybe you wanna shoot on auto 90% of the time. Maybe you don’t want to edit in Lightroom or photoshop. All good.

You can find it. It may already exist though. My iPhone 7 Plus was a great companion but after years I wanted different. Now the iPhone 11 fulfills my needs. I don’t need professional photographs suitable for printing and framing.

Do you? If so look at the things to make you happy with the results not with the top 10 in some magazine. If not you can find things out there to enable you to be happy.

I did.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the iPhone 11 doing the photography I like best which is a lot of small things really. Buildings, windows, bicycles. Maybe a bridge or two. I like bridges. I have also wanted to see how good night mode is on the iPhone because its been touted a few times as a game changer here and there. I really like what Apple did to up the game for a casual photographer like me. So tonight again, seemed like a good time to play. The iPhone 11 is a toy. It can take some nice photographs up close, wide angle, super wide angle and other things. Here is one.

What I really enjoy about the iPhone is its portability and how it just integrates well into whatever workflow I want. Edit the photos using the photos app? Sure. Edit with darkroom? Sure.

If you are just into memories and moments, to me the iPhone 11 and the pro make really good sense. I don’t want complex schemes or wondrous workflows. I want to take photographs, share photographs, and remember places. Places with memories and their moments.

Happily (for me), the iPhone does it all. If you want an app to go edit, I would definitely check out Darkroom. But for simpler and kinder and easier, just use the iOS 13 photo app. It will do nicely.

I happened to be walking today with no goal in particular. That’s the way I go about 99.9% of the time. I found this beautiful Cathedral here in Hsinchu and found those dark blue skies peeking out from behind. Lovely, just lovely; I thought.

I really like architecture and windows and how with a little editing in Darkroom subtle colors can come out and show you what I saw.

Now go forth and enjoy. I took this with an iPhone 11. I edited it in Darkroom. I was done.

I’m here in Hsinchu for my third day. It’s a beautiful day today so I decided to exit the room and sit on my balcony with a bottle of water. I should have bought some beer I guess but I forgot. I’ll deal with that tonight. Anyways, sitting on the balcony on a Wednesday with nothing to do, gave me some positive feelings about writing on the blog.

The sun is shining here in the city’s central district. Blue skies have small battles with clouds off in the distance but I think Mr. Sun is winning and the blue skies are gonna declare victory. If you have not been to Hsinchu its a peaceful and quiet place with its share of interesting city blocks, parks, and historic sites. I’ve been lucky each day to just walk a different way after a hot latte and have found interesting, provocative and even funny things. I went this morning to the big mall and helped two pretty Chinese girls take their picture together in front of Christmas decorations. They smiled, flirted a bit, and of course spoke very good English. Most of the people here do speak English I think. In a few places like smaller noodle stands, they find the young guy to help me but pointing at the menu helps as well. 

So what is it like after leaving the busy, tourist friendly metropolis of Taipei you may ask and why even bother you may speculate. I will tell you. I am doing this for no reason at all. I just decided months ago to ride the high speed rail north to south and spend a week in 4 different cities. I did not know then that each city would be completely different in history, culture, social scene. I had never been to Taiwan so each city was a dot on the map connected by the high speed rail. In retrospect, that is what did it I think. I wanted to ride another high speed rail in another country and get that wonderful feeling of moving along at over 150 mph. Watching the sights disappear in front of me replaced by new sights. Sitting in a comfortable chair with attendants offering coffee, dessert items, cold drinks and enquiring very often if I am okay and happy with the travel. 

The first stop was Hsinchu. It took about 40 minutes to arrive at the high speed rail station and then I got a taxi for about $7 to take me to the hotel. I found out upon getting to the hotel I had been upgraded and that I was early. Check in time was at 4pm so I left my backpack and went out for a walk and some food. I got back after 4pm and my room was ready and that’s when I found out I had an upgrade to a corner room with a balcony and I can sit out now and see the afternoon slowly propelling itself to evening here. 

It’s a relaxing, wonderful, retired type feeling for this old retired guy. It’s the “have no place to be and all day to get there” feeling. It leaves me wanting less and less except for the steps and the iPhone 11 camera recording a thing now and then. I can sit out here until the evening and the temperature hovers around the low 20s so the weather is just so beautiful. A cooler breeze echoes around and I can see off in the distance that the clouds are done battling with the blue sky enemy and they are moving out. Retreating and the evening with the always gusts of wind that makes this the city of winds will come back. Hats blow off of heads. Local people wear warmer jackets but its not cold here. It’s the same but the city of winds lets you know its not fooling around. I can sit on the balcony with no AC on and feel so good now. The sun strikes down on my face warming a spot and I feel this rather calm and peaceful and restful feeling. I know I have only 4 days left in the city of wind to enjoy the balcony and the walking here. Each day is different but the city reveals little things to me and the camera. It shows me a side of itself that is hidden from others that do not come this way. I don’t think there are many that do although I did see a whole bunch of European guys walking the street from a taco stand the other day and have not see them again. An interesting sight nonetheless. The city also has blocks of restaurants and its a city of small parks and the moat and remnants of a gate still guard the city. Perhaps doing silent homage to what was here before and what shall remain after I go. 

Go I shall because another city awaits my patient touch. Another city along the rail journey of the western side of Taiwan. A journey with no preconceptions so there are no misconceptions. I told the kind lady at the beef noodle shop I had no destination in all this and she agreed it was the only way to go. The train is just a vehicle not to just move me along at 185 mph but to move my thoughts along to other train trips in January 2020. I’ll board the Amtrak train then but it will not go 185mph. We don’t have that in the USofA. Maybe never will. China, Japan, Taiwan and other places have bullet type trains. It’s sad that we have bullets and guns but no bullet trains. 

So now I sit and the sun retreats itself to the buildings and casts the evening shadows darker and darker across this city of wind. Soon it will be dinner time in Hsinchu. Perhaps a chophouse restaurant for a ribeye steak dinner tonight and a few beverages. I will also talk with my darling L tonight because I have found I just need to see her and her smile and her wink. She tells me of her day at work and I tell her of my day at play in the city of wind.

So with the days left and the days spent, my time slowly ebbs away in Taiwan. They are nice enough to give me 90 days but I only use 60 of them. I could have just stayed another 30 days. I don’t have expectations for three weeks in Philipppines so I will just go and slowly prepare to leave the edge. This city gives me a day and a night and a few more to not think about leaving. I’m sure I will have culture shock going back because things in the edge are a certain way. It’s perhaps as I wrote before, the “same same but different” thing. There its just different. California is different. Texas is different. Florida is different. I go because I have to go but I also want to go. There is a daughter force waiting to see me in Florida but that time will also go away and I may not make it back to the city of wind but the edge calls me. Vietnam knows my name. It beckons on the same wind that playfully took my cap off today and swirled it down the street I was on. I hear it you know. It’s the same wind, same sun, but so different.

Same same but different.

I made it to Hsinchu yesterday via the high speed rail and then a taxi ride to the hotel. Today will go out and experience the city a bit with camera in hand or phone in hand or both in my case. It’s a windy here a lot of the time so you see a lot of people wearing heavier coats or jackets but its not really any colder nor does it have differences in weather that I can see than Taipei. I’ll spend a week here and then shuffle on down on the high speed rail to the next city Taichung and then on to the first capitol city Tainan. Then a final city and will turn around and ride the high speed rail all the way back to Taipei for two nights. I will have used up 60 of the 90 days I get on my visa exemption here and got to see parts of Taiwan that I had decided months ago sounded like a interesting set of cities but all contained in the route on the western side of the island that the high speed rail services. I did it all on a whim and just for fun! :–)

iPhone Photography Updates

I’ve given up shooting RAW photographs and using Halide and am back to the native camera app. There are a few reasons mostly around sloth and laziness on my part.

  1. The RAW photos take more work and upon looking at what I get back I can edit the JPEG or HEIC files and get similar results but the RAW photos take a lot more effort since they contain all the goodies while the HEIC photos are taken to reduce the workflow and give you the best out of the camera. My take is if I could take JPEGs with a FujiFilm camera, why not do the same with the iPhone 11. I’m lazy but editing the resulting file in darkroom or Snapseed seems so easy.

  2. I cannot see an easy way to send the RAW files to my iPad to edit. I’d like to move them and edit them in darkroom on the iPad since it has more room but it seems daunting. Again I guess I am lazy and really do not want to learn some strange and arcane way to do this.

  3. The workflow with RAW files is complex it seems to me and what I get back is not worth the effort put into it. I don’t particularly care for Halide or their form of support where email to support is never answered about basic usability questions either. The app is an editors choice but it has confusing menu options and why don’t we get more if its a pro app? I would like to try digital zooming but cannot in it because its locked to two zoom or lens choices. The app should open up the flexibility to change things. This creates a workflow trying to edit RAW files taken with the camera as I pointed out above that is just too time consuming. Maybe if the Halide support team would answer me about why I de-select RAW for the photo that RAW is still active in the settings? The app also does not make sense some of the time to me. I guess if I were a pro at this it would but things like menu options, missing basic functionality, not producing actual wiki or documents to help people learn, is really missing the whole point of the app.

  4. Finally its what I want at the end of the day or effort. I want to sit over a beer and like my photos. I don’t really care if you don’t like them. I don’t take them for you to like really. I take them to record my wandering. I like sharing them but I don’t share them for your approbation. I share them to show what I am seeing and where I am and perhaps to reflect on the choices and places I go. I also only share to a few social networks like Facebook and Mastodon. Sue me if you don’t like it. I could care less.

The real truth in all the points above is the laziness and sloth I have toward things. It’s why I gave up on real cameras and lugging around even the X-T30 Fujifilm camera and lens and batteries and SD cards and chargers and all that crap. It got boring and it got to be too much for me to want. Same thing happened with the laptop. I wanted simpler and easier so an iPad Air 2019 became nice as a second device after my iPhone 11.

What it all means in the end is I’m happy with the choices. I like editing the photographs the way I do. The iPhone 11 is a nice gizmo for things and the choices of lens on the phone make sense for what I like to do. I can step closer or crop photos if I want. I considered buying the moment Tele lens or their zoom lens. Why? Why would I do that? It just adds another thing and I question the value for what I do. I’ve seen some images purportedly taken with the Tele lens. I don’t get the claims they make to quality. It does not look much different to me than simply cropping the photograph or even digital zooming. And I guess the final thing it shows my disregard for the fundamentals of photography. I am not a photographer but I like taking photographs and sharing them. I don’t like the debate about shooting RAW photographs because of X or Y reason. It bores me. Let’s just get to the point where you show what you have done. If I like it, it don’t matter if it was a RAW file first or not.

Anyone can take photographs that are somewhat good with the iPhone or Android or Fujifilm camera at hand. You don’t need to do anything special. Put the camera on auto, shoot in JPEG, do whatever pleases you. They are your photographs. You did the walking and the wandering. If you want to gain followers, perhaps you need to do things differently. I don’t really know. Maybe Instagram is your thing.

It’s not mine. I like where I’m at now.

Today rode the high speed rail about 35 minutes from the central Taipei Station to Hsinchu. The train is very nice and speeds along at its highest rate at about 185mph. I think we got up to a bit less than that but its a beautiful ride especially with reserved seats in the business section. Hsinchu is windy so I think its known as that here. People wear warmer clothes here like big jackets or sweaters yet its not really any colder. It’s just the wind blowing. I have 5 days here to wander around starting tomorrow so basically will just go each day as I like and then eat dinner, drink some beer, and reflect on the day.

I ate dinner at this very nice restaurant owned by a Canadian that I found. The Park Restaurant is more expensive but I figure you get what you pay for in this game and I had a delicious sandwich and a vanilla milkshake. The owner came in so we chatted about living in Taiwan and his travels throughout Southeast Asia for awhile. It’s always interesting to only be at a place for a week like this since the chances of me going back may be less given the other places I may want to try here. There are some “chop houses” which are steak places to try, a few different noodle houses, and other places to find. I paid for breakfasts in the hotel so each morning will take what they offer.

Hsinchu does not have the sheer number of attractions as a Taipei so the type of wandering changes for me and becomes much more random where I just go each day. I know how fast the days will go by before going on to the next city. Then the next city and then the final city before heading back to Taipei for a few nights.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have days to let roll by and let them go as slowly as possible with no interruptions for places to see or go. I intend on finding nothing at all but still seeing a few things. It’s my best bet for wandering. Once I lock into things my fear is I would then grade the visits as failures or successes if I hit the places or tried to do it all in one day.

Hsinchu leads to Taichung which leads to Tainan. Cities in front of me and a month in Taipei behind. I got a final SIM card for a month of unlimited data which they do here easily. They do require two forms of ID which is a bit unusual and one has to be a passport. Luckily my California drivers license is still good. But the act of getting the SIM card here is to walk in, take a number, tell the clerk what I want and they do the activation and check. I walk out with unlimited data on the phone. I believe I have a phone number as well but I never use the local calling.

Today seemed a longer day because I was up earlier to get some things done like shipping a package to Vietnam for my L. That took about 30 minutes at the post office in New Taipei City. It’s not difficult but they want the form in a certain way with signatures and then they want the destination address clearly written on the forms. Now its my evening in my hotel room and the room is very nice. I had a basic airbnb apartment that worked well but having the hotel room is nice too.

Tomorrow its breakfast here and then some kind of wandering somewhere. More pictures with the iPhone. More memories taken. More moments spent. I’ll be writing here of a city I have never been in which is exciting to me. It’s new streets, new parks, a walking park I heard of today to go see. I have a week. Let’s see what I don’t do :–)

Today was the last day wandering this beautiful city. I just took off in any direction and walked. Beautiful buildings, small markets, then Oldies Burgers. Do that was a lunch stop for me. Very nice burger in an American style place. I walked back to the MRT station and rode back to the Bridge Station. 

So the time wandering Taipei for a month ended like all the other places have. A final walk thinking of the last month seeing this city. I let my Airbnb host know I would drop the keys off at her breakfast restaurant and then she gave me a box of pineapple cakes in individual packages just right for packing away. 

After some time taking a break in the room decided to go to this Japanese ramen shop and had spicy dry noodles and beef with soup. Poured the soup over the noodles and ate. 

Now it’s occurred to me that this is like so many other places I’ve walked for the month. I hate to see the time end. Cities like Taipei are made to be walked and seen with moments to spare. The rush of travelers and tourists with their 5 days to see everything reminds of this one person on a FB group that had one day to see Phnom Penh. A waste of time really. You can see the Wat Phnom and the palace and maybe the museum. You can drive around in a tuk tuk. What have you really done? You’ve seen a city in a day and you saw nothing. Same with a week and doing the Instagram moments or the travel blogger itineraries. I see them in Taipei and Tokyo forever hurrying to stand still. 

Here they have a schedule and a momentum. You can tell them a mile away. In Phnom Penh I fell my friend AV you can tell the tourists by their hurry up nature. 

only one beer tonight sweetie. Has anyone told you are a cute little Khmer girl? No time to eat. Got to go to the Wat Panom

AV just laughs and wishes them away and comes back to talk to me at the restaurant when their time is done. 

Hurry up. I remember that lingo. Hurry up and wait. So is the millennial lingo for traveling. But I have bad news; cities and temples and museums all change right after you leave. So you one visit wonders with your 40 countries and your instagram influencers you just move on. And on. And ever on. 

It’s good really because it leaves room for me to go so much slower. To ride the slow roads and see the little places with small temples and non tourist markets. But even with my snails pace the time ends. Moments conspire and the next city calls me. Tonight I’ll drink a bit and wonder a bit more. What does the rest of 2019 look like. But I know. 

It looks like nothing. Things pass me by that move slow but I just will continue. Now another month of Taiwan in 4 different cities a week each because i want to. Next Philippines and then the US. I told my darling L that the US is no bargain when I’m used to the edge. She knows. She waits. Saigon waits. Vietnam knows I’ll be there. To live and have more in Da Nang next year. 

Now it’s goodbye Taipei. Thanks for all the things you gave me and generously letting me take a few. Next blog post from Hsinchu City. Another place to spend some moments. To wander a street or two. Such it is. I love it. 

The moments always come to this even with slower wandering. I reach the last weekend. I chose a month in Taipei months ago because I felt the city had a lot to offer this old retired guy. I could spend weeks and weeks simply walking wherever but still see the touristy sites. I made it to a number of tourist sites here but some of my favorite things are not those. Here is a little list:

  1. Sanhe night market. This is a non tourist night market close to where I stay. It’s blocks and blocks of food, clothing, games and even nicer restaurants. I’ve enjoyed a steak dinner, Taiwan corn on the cob, and Banh Mi sandwiches. I also buy fresh fruit there. Skip the tourist night markets. Go to the local markets for the real market scene in Taipei.
  2. Historic districts and small neighborhoods with side streets and alleys with small shops give you the flavor of the city away from the big instagram moments. You can find them on google maps easily.
  3. Food is good here. Coffee is a big deal here. Find local coffee houses like 85 degrees but I also really like louisa coffee shops. I don’t do a lot of street food but I will partake if it looks sanitary.
  4. The MRT! What a great transit option to wander the city. I got a 30 day pass. You can reach just about all the places but I like riding to some random station and then walking.
  5. Finally walk the city! You cannot see it from a motorbike or a bus tour. You can see it up close and see the glitter and grit. It’s the same whether In Kuala Lumpur or Tokyo.

I’ve really enjoyed the city. I found a good Airbnb for only $400 a month. You can spend longer. You can really stay as long as you want. Try it. You don’t need to count Instagram moments or countries. Count the real moments. Those that link you to the places you slowly found and assuredly so many places you have missed. You will still miss them and even more with 5 days here. Stretch and slow down. What’s to gain from reading the travel blogs with their impeccable itineraries. Build your own. You may not do the amazing hop on or off tour or cram it all into a week. Who gives a F?

I don’t. I won’t judge you. Go for it. Be a hobo.

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