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My heart's love, Taiwan?

The stroller my dad was pushing went over my toes for the sixth time. My stomach reeled like a mad bull from the fifteen hour airplane ride. Looking at my worn out Reebok sneakers, I shuffled down the exit ramp. The smell of exhaust clouded my nose, making the bull reel in my stomach again. My sister muffled her cough with her hand. Painted gray, only a little blue peeked out in the skies above. The bright yellow paint of the taxi parked in front of us jutted out in the otherwise gray scenery. The driver slammed the trunk loudly after placing our hefty suitcases inside. As the car bounced on the uneven road, I smashed my nose on the smudged cold window and titled my head back to admire the passing skyscrapers; I was in Taiwan. Where my father had grown up, it is like my second home. I love the interesting stores, the love in our family and the different environment. ????? ??? ???? (Because of this, Taiwan is my home)
We usually return to Taiwan every year. Each year, we encounter more special memories to keep in our hearts. The first day we are in Taiwan, my grandparents give me and my siblings traditional "red pocket" money to spend. We are always very excited and chatter non stop, planning where to visit. Around 30 Taiwanese dollars is equivalent to one US dollar, so things are extremely cheap. One of my favorite places in Taiwan is the shaved ice store downstairs. An open store, it has no outside wall, and the air blows calmly in. Stray dogs loom around and guardedly gape at me. We sit on the wobbly black chairs, our elbows on the sticky table, and ponder the chipped green sign, which serves as the menu. There are so many flavors, old favorites and new ones to try, we can never decide. My favorite flavor is the delicious creamy red bean ice, which I always eat. The cold ice relaxes me and I savor the ice on the edge of my tongue. My aching jaws resolutely crunch my frozen treat. Licking our bowls squeaky clean, my sisters and I cannot wait to go to another special place. Five minutes from our home in Taiwan, there is a bookstore/gift shop. Even before I walk in, I get goose bumps on my arms from the cold air conditioning. The hardwood floors are always squeaky clean and shining; I can see my reflection if I bent down. Colorful stationary, yarn, pens, stickers and more adorn the entire store, even the stairways. My collection of "cute little things" expands greatly every time I visit the store. After I visit the bookstore, there's another favorite place I have to revisit. A cup of cold bubble tea might really take your troubles away, or at least make you forget about the heat. The tea store differs from an American tea store. A brown counter placed just off the side of the road, there is no door or any form of entrance. As I balance on the creaking wooden platform and call my order, I can just savor the ?? (milk bubble tea) I can never get in America. If I'm hungry for food, there are endless choices. My dad likes to take us out for Taiwanese vermicelli. Plastic bowls of oysters and intestines are added to the vermicelli. Swimming in MSG-based soup, the thin noodles vanish amid my famished siblings. My brother adores the dry noodles from the family owned store around the block and he always hogs it. When my dad takes out a steaming hot bowl, we gather around the coffee table and dig in! Sometimes, I go out for a walk with my dad. Along the wide road, dozens more of the ?? or "little eat" restaurants add flavor to the atmosphere. Taiwanese stores range from small to big. Street markets supply everything from basic necessities to fake brand name items. Their owners loudly holler the day's deals and I cannot hear anything else. Banners wave in the winds with Chinese writing?? ???? (three for a hundred Taiwanese dollars) on them. Housewives push ahead with their babies on their back. Daring motorcycles shove you to the side of the road as they whoosh past. I can spend hours and hours browsing through endless racks of flimsy clothing, digging through boxes of gifts and spending my red pocket money. These little shops are one of the high points of Taiwan to me. Some days, my siblings go out and I stay home with Mom. The quiet tranquility of the house with the wind gently lifting my hair, the rattling of the wooden beads hanging on the kitchen doorway and the sounds of the people outside often soothe me into an almost hypnotic state. Everything is so calm and I’m drowsy too. Then, suddenly, the bright bugs-killing lamp my grandmother borrowed would electrify and zap yet another poor mosquito, causing me to startle and snap out of my daydream. Oh well, there’s no time to rest while there’s still so many stores to explore!
My huge face covers the entire side wall. I smile and gaze at the immense portrait of myself as a sleeping baby. Taking a trip to Taiwan always reminds me of the love in my family. The warm summer nights when we go downstairs for some shaved ice, the cool breeze lifting my hair as I walk hand in hand with my brother, the sounds of my sisters laughing during the comedy movie all remind me of my blessings in my family. Our visits to Taiwan are like a jewelry box of precious memories, which I treasure like diamonds. Like flashbacks, they often play in my head while I’m sitting there enjoying the breeze. I remember sitting together on the hard floor in front of the TV learning the seed stitch from my ?? or my grandmother. Twisting the knitted stitches, I would knit amid the hectic scramble going on around me. As the TV played movie after movie, I would learn all the beautiful flowers and stitches Grandma had mentally stored up over the years. Her face smiling, her dyed hair is tied into a loose bun. My frustration in not being able to get the most difficult cables was melted away in her patience and skillful fingers. Arm in arm, I remember climbing up with my ?? (grandpa) up Alishan Mountain last year. I clung onto his arm for dear life and clutched the wooden handle of my umbrella. Each foot carefully placed on the slippery and muddy steps, we victoriously made it to the top. Back in my grandparent's apartment, I am a little homesick and I hide in the guest room. "Melodyyyy…" my mom would holler and I would reluctantly go to the dinner table. My siblings all rush to the living room and I find my family seated around the coffee table. We are all smiling and eat with enthusiasm. If I close my eyes, I smell the ??? (white flower oil) on my grandparents and the smell of my other grandpa’s soap. I always breathe in deeply because I know they remind me of the ones I love. My rancor at being in Taiwan would slowly melt away as Grandma's noodles melt in my mouth. Looking around the table, I can only smile at my loved ones. There are bad memories when I think about Taiwan, but the good ones definitely outweigh them. Each time we leave Taiwan, I know that I can’t wait to come back, because there’s always someone I love there.
Some days, if I am lucky, I get to go with Grandma on the motorcycle. The first time I got onto the black, shiny leather seat, I was terrified and gripped Grandma’s waist with grip. However, the faster Grandma went, the faster my fears melted away. The wind's fingers run through my hair as the scenery goes by in a blur. Air rushes through my throat and makes me want to scream out loud. As we whiz past the street stands, I can catch a sniff of each stand. There’s the Chinese fish balls and tempura on a wooden stick, different types of drinks, fried food and more. It’s also terrifying and I always have a picture in my head of the motorcycle jerking to a sudden stop, my body falling backwards, striking my head on the road and my head splitting open. I always anticipate riding on the motorcycle; it's something I don't get to do in the US. But the fun in Taiwan is not just limited to my thrilling motorcycle rides. Our rules at home bend more in Taiwan. Mom lets us watch TV all day and we lounge around the TV slurping red tea with the fan making our clothes puff up. Sometimes, I step outside on the balcony facing the street. The intimidating, stray dogs stretch warily far below on the street. Delicious scents waft in the air from the store downstairs. I catch sight of the uneven bricks and cobblestones on the sidewalk which always jab at my flip -flop clad feet. As the purplish sun disappears behind the looming hospital across the street, I open the screen door and go inside. As we leave Taiwan, these memories stay lodged in my head. Everything in Taiwan is a far cry from home in the US. However, that’s what makes it so much of an escapade.
“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character,” Henry David Thoreau quotes. When I first catch sight of the airport near my home after the turbulent airplane ride, I think of how much I will miss Taiwan. I always learn a lot from Taiwan such as how to improve my Chinese by watching soap operas on TV. How to bargain for the lowest price at street markets. How to sip bubble tea without choking on the bubbles. How to knit cables flawlessly. How to unwind in a spa and how much I love my family. No matter how uncomfortable the airplane ride or the jetlag afterwards, I always want to return to Taiwan. ?????? ????????????? ???????? ????? ???????(Every time I leave Taiwan, I am sad. However, I know that I will return soon. Deep in my heart, Taiwan is my beloved home?



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melodeess said...
May 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm
woops! the weird ???s are supposed to be chinese characters. guess they didnt show up. sorry about it!
 
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