On my third day in Taipei I planned a trip to the part of Taiwan where I spent my first 8-9 months of my life before moving with my family to Hong Kong where my brother and sister were born (lucky them – makes getting a birth certificate so much easier). Looking at my very first passport I am wondering if I was in any one place for very long at all – there are immigration stamps from all over Asia over a period of 7 years. Back to the point….. It was my third day in Taipei and I had no appointments to keep. So off to my “old haunt” it was.
According to various websites Tianmu is where most expatriates live. It also was the place where the US military and foreign civilians used to live. It still has that international flair and surprisingly more Taiwanese here speak fluent English than in Taipei.
With an old photo of our home in 1965-66 I traveled to Tianmu. Having really no idea what I was looking for I just roamed the streets, walked to the American International School and through residential areas on the hillside to a small park that looked a little neglected. Up and down streets and small alleyways. I peered over fences and cracks in walls to see how people lived. I was stopped by a young mother asking if I was lost. We struck up a conversation and I showed her the photo of our old home. She told me that sadly many of those nice homes made way for apartments, but remembered them from when she was a child.
After 5 hours of roaming the streets and alleys of Tianmu I called it a day. Now you too and can roam the streets of Tianmu via Google Maps
Tianmu was not on my list because it was a tourist destination or because I was thinking of spending time where the expats lived. I think I made the trip to Tianmu to find out a little more about my past. Although I only spent 8-9 months there I am sure that Taiwan left an impact on me. Be it ever so small. What I do know for sure is that growing up in Taiwan and Hong Kong led me to uttering my first words in Chinese and loving strange looking and smelling food (even at a very young age I loved sardines and artichokes). Taiwan is a part of my past and I am glad I had to travel there as it really was not on my bucket list.