Taipei is delightful in many ways but the unpredictable weather dampens any plan at a moment’s whim.  It has driven my creativity in finding alternatives to ever changing plans or new activities more suited to capricious days.  For instance, I have found myself giving my Canadian born Chinese friend salsa lessons in the middle of our dormitory lobby.  If reliable, clear skies determined the maintenance of an exercise schedule, I would never find a convenient time to exercise.  Instead, I have grinned with disbelief at having come to enjoy a slow jog under the warm rain, invariably, at the very least, once a week.

Sunlight deprivation is one element I have not been able to work around.  I don’t recognize myself. I find myself missing rooms streaming with light when only a year ago I converted them into dimly lit spaces. The spring season tortures me with the promise of familiar humidity and light only to be replaced by interminable, gray, chilly days.  I never fully understood the lure of beaches or rivers but the merging of bleak days into what seems to be sunless time, has me anticipating the warmth of tropical water and light.    However, the greatest surprise has been that I have always thought of myself as being highly adaptable.  I would have never thought that of all things; the weather would put me to the test.

My home town is cozy, relatively safe and finding that familiar freedom in Taipei has been unexpected.  The charm of many of the big cities I have visited has been obscured by a sense of menace.  I don’t know how it is being accomplished but to maintain a capital city with more than two million inhabitants without the looming unease of crime is admirable.  Although I don’t push my luck, I take walks at the parks or night markets without the fear of being mugged or harassed.  Equally commendable is the efficiency and cleanliness of public transport.  No fear of pick pockets or petty thieves detracts from the enjoyment of getting quickly from one end of the city to the other.  Most unbelievable was when my purse was returned with its intact contents two hours after I had forgotten it at a busy restaurant.  That I will never forget and I hope it will never change. Taipei has been a pleasant surprise. 

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