Of course, the qualification here is that when I make statements like that, when I talk about Taipei's reliability, I'm talking about it in the context of where I spent the first few years of my life - where I'm constantly going back to, where I know even better than the places where I used to live in Singapore. Things don't change much there. The food stalls that I ate at when I was a child are still there, the night market is still there, the buildings are still the same crumbly, blackened, familiar constants, the streets are still narrow and dirty, and motorcyclists still speed by me as I'm trying to make my way back to the apartment.
Sometimes I find myself slipping and calling it "home". Sometimes I find myself believing in that concept that I still sometimes find myself wishing were true. I'm especially nostalgic for Taipei and the life that could have been, but never was, when I'm back from Taipei - back to Singapore. There's nothing wrong with Singapore, but god, I miss the convenience, the foreign familiarity, the soft warmth of the people, and hearing Chinese everywhere. Hearing the nicely-accented Chinese, nothing like the hackneyed, rojak shit in Singapore, and not too sharp and cacophonous like the mainlanders' accent that it alienates me.
A part of me feels at home in Taipei. I suppose it's inevitable, considering I make a pilgrimage there at least once every two years. But beyond the fact that I go back there so often, it's the fact that I could have had a life there. I don't know why this still matters; but it does. And somehow, I can always count on Taipei - Yonghe, to be exact - to calm the storm, steer the ship right again, and to be the familiar, never-changing bastion of reliability whenever I go back, time after time.
The flight was at 1 in the afternoon and we touched down at the Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (Chen Shui-bian's change of name still doesn't exist to me) four hours later. My third youngest uncle came to pick us up and we went to Ximending for my dad's favourite beef noodles. I didn't eat anything, obviously; and unlike previous years, I didn't feel like eating at the place next door. Reason being this: I had lunch on the plane, then suffered massive indigestion, which meant my stomach was bloated and painful as hell. It made me not want to eat at all, but because I knew I'd get gastric, I bought a sandwich from a cafe at the airport - and it was SO good. It was way better than what I've eaten from Subway, and pretty much better than anything I've ever eaten from Singapore. It was just a basic tuna sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes and cheese and some sauce but it tasted fantastic.
We didn't do much on the first day. My mom and I went to the night market to get some disposable underwear and socks and I gawked over how cheap the clothes were over there. And that was pretty much it.
No pictures to post. I took a picture of the air conditioner's remote control to show Wei Chuen and a picture of my brother sleeping. Oh, and pictures of myself, as always, which I doubt people are interested in, so let's just move on.