227. Don’t chase money, boys or power but always, always, always chase waterfalls.

There are a lot of things in life that it’s better for your heart not to lust after. One of the things that is most certainly not on that list is waterfalls. Chase them to your heart’s content. They’re always beautiful, big or small, they’re always a lot of fun and they’re always a welcome reprieve to dive into throughout hot Taiwanese summers.

This weekend’s waterfall hunt took me to Taichung where hidden fairypools beckon the more ballsy of passers by to launch themselves off high rocks into deep blue pools steeped with vertical rock. And given this heat and the blue of that water, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be launching myself into it.

 

226. Sometimes, you just like to make life difficult for yourself.

I think I’ve known for a while that I’m not the sort of person that takes the easy way out on a regular basis – I do like a challenge, and I do have a terrible habit of making life unnecessarily difficult for myself.

My most recent occasion went along the lines of this. My Chinese teacher asked me to give her a speech about any animal of my choice. She gave me two minutes to prepare for talking for three minutes about said animal. I imagine that, had it been any other person, they might have picked an animal that was easy to talk about – a dog perhaps, or the more adventurous might talk about a lion or a giraffe, or being a huge fan of pandas you might think I would have chosen one as my topic. Of  course, I did not. No points for guessing what I did tell you about because you’ll literally never land on it. Continue reading “226. Sometimes, you just like to make life difficult for yourself.”

225. Chinese may be one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, but aspects of it are laughably simple.

Everyday that passes where I’m trapped in a classroom teaching English, I grow more and more grateful that I never had to sit down and learn it as a second language because, well, quite simply, it’s really quite ridiculous. Realistically, who needs that many tenses, and why have rules if you have more exceptions to them. I take my hat off to anyone who attempts to master a language that is just one big mess.

We’re all probably aware that Chinese is no walk in the park either, particularly for western ears. The sounds, the characters, the tones are all alien to our method of communication and mastering can take a few years of really intense studying, even if you’re completely immersed in it. So, when I come home on an evening and attempt to master a little bit more of it, there are a few occasions where I’ll momentarily question my sanity for not choosing to live some place where I can pick up the language in three months. But here I am, seven months into trying to master it, thoroughly enjoying its complexities, and even more so, its simplicities. Because, whilst it’s really damn difficult, there is so much to it that isn’t.  Continue reading “225. Chinese may be one of the hardest languages in the world to learn, but aspects of it are laughably simple.”

224. The only thing that is better than an egg waffle is two egg waffles – particularly if it’s free.

雞蛋仔 (gai dan zai) or rather Hong Kong’s most delicious of street eat treats, the egg waffle, is one of the greatest things to grace the planet – it really is and if you haven’t ever had one then you simply must go and search for one this instant. So you’ll imagine my happiness at recently finding a great stand approximately a 3 minute walk from the door of my apartment block here in Taiwan – dangerous stuff for someone who loves them as much as I do.

It’s a Saturday night and you’re going in for an early one, and you stop by said stand to purchase a singular egg waffle to round off your busy day perfectly. On this particular day I wanted a plain one, nothing fancy, just the good old fashioned original. However they accidentally gave me a chocolate one, the worst of things to happen as you can imagine. They handed it to me apologetically and proceeded to start cooking another one for free. Now, a person who likes egg waffles now and again/ who is a little indifferent to them perhaps/ who has something terribly wrong with their tastebuds might have said something along the lines of ‘No, don’t worry, chocolate is fine, don’t trouble yourselves with making another one’. Sadly, I am not one of those people and those words did not and will not ever exit my mouth.

Two egg waffles for the price of one – no brainer.

223. A layer of skin is one too many.

I think I’ve mentioned it before that it’s a tad hot in this part of the world at the moment, but I’ll say it again for good measure – it’s really hot. But if you’re like myself and you enjoy hiking this won’t phase you all that much – simply bare in mind that within the first few seconds of your ascent the sweat will be dripping off your nose, your hair will resemble you having jumped in a pool and your clothing most likely something similar. It’ll be hard and it’ll be hot and your skin will feel like a layer too many, but it’s sure as anything an achievement that you made it back without being bitten by a snake or died from a complete lack of water in your system because you sweated it all out.

Here’s to many more.

PS. Those cool fancy fabrics that are supposed to wick away sweat have a limit that is reached early on in any daily activity here – including brushing your teeth.

222. Twenty minutes is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to queue for an ice cream.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting Taiwan in the summer but let me quickly paint a picture for you – it’s hot and it’s sweaty and no amount of showers or lack of clothing can ever combat your rate of perspiration.  Continue reading “222. Twenty minutes is a perfectly acceptable amount of time to queue for an ice cream.”

221. A ‘swimming’ area is not always a swimming area.

You know, tropical island life is magnificent. It really is and I have a sneaky feeling that my time in Taiwan isn’t going to be limited to a singular year. Who can give up a life of mangoes, dumplings, mountains and deep blue waterfalls so readily – not I, I say.

And when Sundays come along and you’re staring at another week of kids in the face, the first thing you want to do is go some place where it doesn’t even cross your mind, and one of those places is of course, the Pacific. The big, beautiful Pacific.  Continue reading “221. A ‘swimming’ area is not always a swimming area.”

219. The sun will leave its mark.

I am eternally grateful for having skin that doesn’t turn into a typically red British mess when it meets the sun. I’ve always been quietly thankful that I’m not one of those glaringly white people on the beaches in Europe, quite obviously from the UK, who you need sunglasses just to look at because their skin is so white. That being said, having skin that turns to tan within an hour does have its drawbacks – chief being that you quickly end up fashioning the outline of whatever clothes you’ve been wearing for the next three months.

This summer, I’m sporting a nice big white X on my back from my running vest – it’s this season’s must have. Shoe lines to compliment it – in the shape of two white strap lines across my feet. Anything else? Of course, add a nice shorts line to that equation. Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?

 

218. 8am is too late.

As it so happens, I am in fact a morning person. You’ll rarely catch me sleeping past 8 nowadays, even on the weekend. I simply find that before noon, I’m doubly as productive as I am after it, and thus it really benefits me to get out of bed. I also find that with the hot summer days now in Taiwan, the mornings are cooler and anything in the afternoon needs to be completed with air conditioning or a cold mountain river to jump into. Continue reading “218. 8am is too late.”