Happy new, new year

We are one year in Taiwan today, what a year it has been! The year of the pig that is, which is almost about to change…we’re getting ready for the year of the rat (year 109), starting on the 25th of January!

It has been a year with many ups and downs, but we are grateful for all the support and sweet messages we and Erik’s mother got. Back in Taiwan we were facing reality again, Erik is now also very busy with all courses for his PhD and we are both working towards the end of the semester, which fortunately will be next week. Then it’s time for our mothers to come and visit us:)

Luckily we discovered the many relaxing hot springs Taiwan is housing, which are especially nice since “winter” is coming. It hasn’t been proper cold though, although 16 °C already makes us wear thick coats now. We also made the mistake to go camping above 3000m in november, it was still 30 °C in Taipei but we completely froze up in the mountains at night. Luckily that trip had beautiful scenery and made up for the cold with some memorable pictures. Here we celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary, taking pictures in our wedding outfits that still fit!!!😅 (it has become a tradition).

Viola has became a master in Chinese overnight by the way. Before she started her course all beginner’s students had to do an official enrollment exam. After guessing all answers Viola appeared to be on an advanced level! It was very difficult to explain the Taiwanese test-oriented system that she was not prepared for advanced Chinese class though…it took a while but fortunately it was not too hard to proof she was still on a beginner’s level after a few classes;) 

Viola in calligraphy class
River side skeelering

With the weather cooling down we have more opportunities to be active again, Erik is inspired by the Taipei marathon and will run a half marathon next year while Viola goes all in for her first triathlon. Athletic tracks can be found all over the city and you can visit a gym for only 50 NTD (€1,50) for 60 minutes. Also the green and broad riverbanks have wonderful bike paths and you can cycle here for hundreds of kilometers all through Taipei, without even realizing you are in the city (it is also an excellent place to go skating on skeelers, although the Taiwanese seem to be a bit surprised by it). Luckily there are still so many hikes to discover as well, just outside of the city! For example the Taipei grand hike; a 92 km hike across the ridges surrounding Taipei. You can even win a sports towel when you finish the whole hike…it’s on our list😉

fake Christmas trees, green is however a rare find

Something else we need to discuss is that special time of the year, Christmas. Although Taiwan has a fairly large proportion of Christians, it is not a holiday that has been traditionally celebrated and if you don’t pay attention you could miss it completely. Unless you go to one of the special Christmas light shows, for example in Banqiao, with fancy lights, fake snow and too many people, but it helps to get you into the Christmas spirit. Also the local “Action” store sells fake Christmas trees, in color varieties from purple & silver to pink & blue; green is however a rare find. To have a little taste of the Christmas spirit we made some cookies, cakes and a full Christmas dinner. And off course we celebrated the start of 2020, there even was a firework show on the famous 101 building (more smoke than fireworks after a few seconds) but it was nice to celebrate with so many people on the streets.

The Taiwanese are busy with other things as the elections are in a few days. Many believe that the election’s outcome will have an effect on how our future in Taiwan will develop. Of the two main candidates, one candidate is more  focussed on the independence of Taiwan and opening Taiwan to the world by for example attracting more internationals.The other candidate is more conservative and still focuses on previous relations with the People’s Republic of China to achieve a united China. We have to see how it works out, but at least we are really looking forward to another year in Taiwan!

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