As for me, diving into Taiwanese stories was all about getting a better understanding of this peculiar island I chose to call home for a year (and beyond). Reading is a way to apprehend a whole new world, and in this case, it allowed me to understand the debates, the traditions, and this culture so far different from mine. Reading as a way to embrace this island’s contradictions.
Even though I’m sitting in front of my breakfast, my tea getting cold, my feet all so curled up, freezing, on the tiled floor, that’s the taste of sand coming back before anything else when I launch the Spanish app on my phone.
I came to realize I never stopped dreaming of that place. The building itself, the neighbourhood, the little square where we used to play with my cousins. I’m still wandering around this place quite often at night in my dreams.
Moi, là-dedans, je m’amusais de plus en plus avec mon vélo Hello Kitty à Hualien, avec cette idée de tour de Taiwan qui me démangeait de plus en plus. Il faut avouer que ça me faisait flipper, de partir sur les routes à vélo comme ça pendant plusieurs semaines : j’ai même jamais fait de randonnée de plus de 4 jours ! Alors j’ai trouvé un compromis avec moi-même : j’allais pédaler la côte Est de Taiwan. De Taitung à Hualien.
When you decide to go on a bicycle travel trip, for a long period of time or not, you kind of face the same old fears that when you decided to go backpacking for the first time… ‘How do I pack my bag in a smart way’, ‘which itinerary should I follow’, ‘which gear should I buy’, ‘how could I avoid selling my kidneys to replenish my bank account’, and the same old ‘how do I stay alive while travelling the world?’ (yeah, I did ask myself that one more than once), in other words how to achieve your traveling goals, and in that case, on a bicycle…?
He’s taking me on his motorbike to show me the city. I’m getting kicked in the face by Ho Chi Minh City. When I first arrive in a new country, there’s always at least a little bit of cultural shock. I’m trying to grab the meaning, the direction, the movement of lives, of people. It’s not as much of a surprise because I read about Vietnam. I’ve seen so many pictures and movies.
But right now, on Alessio’s motorcycle, that’s a whole different story: I’m experimenting Vietnam through a complex range of sensations.