Saturday, January 30, 2016

Ni Hao Taiwan [1] Back to Busan

Hey guys. As you may know I went to Taiwan at the beginning of the month. I recorded some blogs while I was there and haven't had the energy to put them all together yet. But here they are at last.

Keep in mind that I record these videos mostly for my family. That being said, they may seem a little boring at times. My family is ever curious about my adventures and for them I record these videos. I share them publicly because I think that someone will find them at least a little bit interesting. I personally like watching travel vlogs and I know I am not the only one. Anyways here is the first video. More to come later.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Family Away From Family

   If there is a such thing as a home away from home, then there is certainly such a thing as a family away from family.

   Recently I have been missing my family quite a bit as I am sure any American does around the holidays. It is not easy being all the way across the world alone knowing that you should be with your family eating Thanksgiving dinner. On top of that, feeling selfish for being that far away. You know it is all your decision, not theirs, and yet you have to put the distance between yourself and them. It is a real tug of war.

   This week however has shown me that family does not always have to be blood related. The Tsai family and Chen (who will not allow me to share her picture online!) opened their hearts to me for one week and instantly I knew I was with family, not just friends. They didn't have to, and yet this whole week was filled with running from this spot in Kaohsiung Taiwan, to that spot, and trying really hard to overcome the language barrier between us.

   It did not matter that we didn't understand each other's words all the time. I understood their love, warmth, and caring. The sentiment was plain to anyone around, and was certainly not lost on me.

So I want to say, "Thank you," "謝謝," to the Tsai family, and to Chen, for showing me that there is no replacement for blood family, but there can certainly be additions to it. You will always be in my heart and this will not be the last time I come to Taiwan to see you.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Without a Right Arm

   I did something today that I don't do very often. I did not take a camera with me when I went out. I didn't forget it, it was on purpose. Today I was just not in the mood to carry all of my photo gear with me. Photography has a lot of tools required to get the job done. Sometimes you just don't want any of that. So today I did not record any video, did not take any photos, and felt like I was missing my right arm. It felt so weird not to have a camera on me.

   I have not been posting a lot of my Taiwan photos to my blog because a lot of them are going elsewhere and I don't have the time to write a full blog post each day. I tried that while in Japan and I felt I was more focused on the blog than I was just seeing Japan. That isn't to say that I don't like blogging, I just need to find the right balance. I think I have done that this trip. I have been taking photos, other than today, and you can view them on my flickr page here. Photography is something that will not stop even if everything else does. I want to use my flickr page more. I used to use it all the time and then I started to neglect it after a while. Please take a look at it from time to time and you may see photos there that will never go on this blog.

   I have also been working on a website for the blog and my photography for some time. I am simply not happy with the work I have to showcase on the site. Either I am too overcritical of my work (which is highly likely) or I don't have enough of a cohesive portfolio. I don't know which it is but I have revised over and over to no avail. Once I finally do have something I am happy with though this blog will be updated with my new site info.

   Anyways about today. Today I just simply wanted to walk around unhindered by camera gear. I really didn't do much but I did go to a night market, there are many here, and in this market I saw an elderly lady selling gum. Not from a stall, she was just sat on a chair with two wicker bowls filled with small packs of gum. I really wish I hadn't seen her because I can't stop thinking about her. This lady wasn't homeless, you could tell, she was just simply trying to earn an income for herself. Two things crossed my mind. One, she can't be making that much money from just selling gum. Perhaps a little pocket money but not enough to support herself. Second, I thought about my own grandmother. There is no way I would allow my grandmother to feel she needed to sell gum on the street in order to support herself. If she wanted to make a little extra cash then okay, and perhaps that is what this lady was doing, I have no idea.

   You know what? She is more than likely someone's mom. I could never allow my mother do that to make ends meet. My mom, however, has a long way to go until she reaches that age. So maybe it is a good idea to kick her out to the curb with a box of gum now so she gets practice for the future... Just kidding Mom!

   I don't know what the lady was doing. Perhaps she really was just doing it to stay busy and get out of the house. I can understand that. But if not, there is no way I could live with myself knowing my mother or grandmother was forced to do that. There is no shame in any sort of legitimate work, big or small, but after a certain age you should gain the privilege of sitting back and enjoying life.

   Well this post went all sorts of directions didn't it? I just can't get that poor lady out of my head. I couldn't just pass her by either, so I bought some gum, though I wish I could have done more.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

I Met a Chen

   Taiwan- Touch Your Butt Heart.

   I met a Chen!

   Yet again I am in another country lost and confused. It feels really good to be in that situation all over again. It is far too easy to fall into routines when you are comfortable with a place. Stagnancy is painful for me. I have only lived in Korea for a bit less than 6 months but already I was developing routines. Now, don't get me wrong, routines and being comfortable with a place is a good thing. But there is no adventure in it, no mystery. In my short time in Korea I have gotten to a point where I am confident doing all the every day things I need to do. Yeah, from time to time I still get lost and confused, but not as much as what it was when I began my journey in Korea.

   So now I am in Kaohsiung Taiwan. I am recording a lot of video too and I plan to put the video up as one long video when I return to Korea. I don't know how long it will be but I am here for a week so we will see.

   Today I met a person I have been wanting to see for over 4 years now. Chen has been a great friend to me, and one that I have never had the opportunity to formally meet. We met on a language exchange site called This is a site where you keep a kind of journal in a language you are learning and native speakers can correct your mistakes for you. In turn you do the same for them. It is completely free and a really good way to practice a language and meet friends from all over the world.

   If you were to ask me 4 years ago, "Where is Taiwan on this map?" I would have looked at you funny and asked, "What is a Taiwan?" I didn't even really know Taiwan existed except that a lot of computer parts are made there. But through Lang-8 I met Chen and everything changed from there. She was so kind and fun to talk to. Eventually I was introduced to other friends of hers and I developed relationships with every one of them the likes of which I don't even have with people back home. Because of this I became fascinated with Taiwan and I wanted to learn all about it. It wasn't long before I wanted to visit Taiwan and meet the friends I had made.

   Life has a funny way of getting in the way of things though. At one point I actually had a round trip ticket to and from Taiwan but a month before I was to take off, stuff just got in the way and I had to end up cancelling. Time and time again I would tell Chen, "I am going to Taiwan on blah blah date." Yet time and time again something would come up.

   Finally today I got to meet a friend I have been trying to meet for so long. I don't think I can explain how that feels. Also, I got to meet another friend I met through her who I call "big sister." Of course me being Alex, with my fantastically amazing memory, forgot to get pictures with both of them. Soon though! We will meet again tomorrow so...

   Chen is just as much of a wonderful person in real life as she is online. She is tiny, timid, quiet, and every bit as nice as she seemed online. I feel very lucky to have met Chen. After my first failed attempt to come to Taiwan, I started to forget why I was so interested in Taiwan at all. I guess it was that failure that really made me lose that spark. Now I am remembering why I was so interested in this place. Chen has helped me with that.

   Thank you, Chen, for being a friend, for being the spark that relights a fire of wonder and amazement in me. I hope that in 50 years you are as much my friend as you are today.