Tainan is a place for adventure, passion, eating too much, and laughing. In one direction or another you will find a plethora of shops, food carts, temples, and milk tea. But what I found so special about this city weren’t these things, but the charm it had on people.
Many of the places in Tainan aren’t what westerners would call “normal living”. The buildings are hundreds of years old, and they are falling apart from the battle of Typhoons each year. The living spaces are commonly small, and don’t have the basic necessities that I would imagine from the United States such as a working stove, refrigerator, or even a shower you can stand up in. Yet I find solemn in the fact that it isn’t the place you are staying with that defines your experience, it’s the people you share it with. Each day some of the interns travel around the city, exploring new sights, smells, and sounds.
The culture was a blend of these new small boutiques and historic landmarks. We had a chance to see this in An-Ping. It had many amazing little shops that reminded me of local stores in Seattle. In the same area of Tainan there was a house that has since weathered away, but trees have replaced the walls and formations. Walking through the house reminded me of the long and rich history in this city. In the night we went to the beach and played music while listening to the calming waves in the background. There was no place I would have rather been.
Every adventure creates new memories, and each walk makes for a stronger relationship between friends. So while I’m not living in penthouse, it doesn’t define the experience I will have. When you are with people you care about, you forget the small things that might be uncomfortable. You are creating something bigger than that. Something that will last a lifetime. You are creating friendship. That is the magic of Tainan. It brings people together and it creates happiness. It reminds you that you don’t need a fancy car or a yacht to be happy, but instead you need intrinsic fulfillment, through giving, through connecting with others, and by looking at any situation as a chance to appreciate what you do have in life. One week in, five weeks left. I am so excited to see where each day takes me.