I lived in Taipei for a whole month, volunteering in a hostel, which allowed me to get free accommodation et enjoy my free afternoons discovering and taming this new country I chose to live for a whole year. It’s hard to talk about Taipei, to list everything there is to see or to experience because the city is so big that even a whole month wasn’t enough to do everything I planned to do. And as I also like to feel the vibe of a city, I also spent some afternoons hanging out in cafes and bookshops, or Geocaching around Shilin while feeding the mosquitoes with my French sweet blood.
I knew the rock formations I came here to see were there, on the other side of the road. By the sea. But there was a path just here, leading to the mountains. I couldn’t help but follow it. It was a bit muddy and slippery and started to get narrower and narrower as I walked into the jungle. The butterflies and dragonflies were dancing all around me, in a festival of colours.
It seems like time has frozen, nature has taken over the land after a kind of cataclysm. The Resort looks like it’s still welcoming guests, but the villas nearby are dusty, messy and seem to have been forgotten for a long time. The pool’s empty. I feel like I’m walking into a forgotten world. Jurassic Park, Walking Dead, Lost, The Drowned World, I am Legend, just name it, it could have happened here.
The beauty of Jiufen lies mainly in its narrow alleyways and its famous night market where you’ll easily become like Chiriho’s parents – meaning you’ll probably want to taste everything you’ll see. The famous A Mei teahouse will make your heart sing when the red lanterns get lit when darkness comes. I think it’s the most photogenic place in all Jiufen – meaning you’ll probably have to queue to take a photo.
I still remember how I felt like a teenager, holding this giant stuffed shark in Vita’s bed, talking about love and French boys before falling sound asleep. It seems that getting older doesn’t make us stop being confused about love issues. She taught me Chinese chess, I taught her French. Her mother kept saying ‘Je suis contente!’ ‘- I’m happy- while I was trying to improve saying the four Chinese tones. I felt part of the Lung family, and it was heartwarming.
Houtong is a perfect stop for a relaxing moment, in which I highly recommend to get a cold tea or snack at one of the numerous themed cat cafes, a cat sleeping or purring on your knees. I really liked the vibes over there, a bit away from the crowded touristy places – maybe because I went there in the morning, for there were more people coming when I left in the beginning of the afternoon.