Thursday, April 4, 2019

15 Years Ago Today: My Taiwan Journey

04.04.04

April 4th, 2004. 

15 years ago to this day, I left my family for a two-year work contract in Taiwan. It was the first time I have ever left my children behind to work in a far away land. 

Those were the two longest years in my life.

I reluctantly boarded that Cathay Pacific plane for a 90 minute flight connecting flight to Taipei, stopping briefly in Hong Kong. 

I even doubted my decision of working abroad. What was I thinking? I have a college degree, I was employed in a government office, I was doing fine.

However, my eldest child, my daughter, was about to start college and my meager salary as a government employee would not be enough to send her and her two brothers to school. My ex-husband offered no help financially. A boy with his toys, trapped in the body of a man. 

When I submitted my application for work abroad, I was hoping my ex-husband would "man-up" and say, "Let me be the one to go overseas to work," but that never happened.

Oh well, past is past and that is all he is. An X. He eXited my life when I was barely a year into my work contract. He eXcluded himself from all responsibilities of raising our kids. So in my heart, he ceased to eXist. He left in 2005 and we have never heard from him since then. I have no regrets with ending the relationship with a bum.

Anyway, living by myself, working my butt off in a foreign land was a learning experience for me. I learned a lot about sacrifice, about frugality, about establishing friendships and looking out after each other, and about adapting to a foreign culture.

I learned Mandarin which was good, especially if you want to haggle for the price of an item. I learned to drink more tea instead of coffee, how to cook delicious, authentic Taiwanese food, and to travel that small island all by myself during my rest days.

Me (in blue shirt) with my workmate, Rosie at the facility's park
However, I would love to go back to Taiwan for a visit. I would love to see my friends again and visit the places where I used to hang out when I was there. I would like to see Tao-Yuan City once more - my home for two years. I would want to spend a few days in Keelung, Yilan, Taipei, Shilin, Songshan, Taichung, Chiayi and Kaohsiung! I want to travel to Danshui, sit by the riverbanks in the early morning to watch the sunrise, then enjoy the street party and night market in the evening. 

At the National Cinema Park in Shilin, Taipei
This is one experience I will treasure forever. Would I wish to do it over again? Maybe, maybe not. If I would, I'd rather work as an English tutor instead of doing another nursing home stint.

I flew home on the 29th of March, 2006. The feeling of being with my kids once again was indescribable. I could not speak. I just hugged them all tightly.

15 years have gone by so fast.

What has changed? I am older, a little heavier and so much wiser. My kids are grown, now all college graduates and two of whom are gainfully employed. I am now a grandmother to one charming little boy.

What has remained the same? I still practice my Mandarin, I still cook Chinese stir-fry, and I still love Jerry Yan. Yeah! 😍

There is just no place like HOME.

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