I have been living in Taoyuan City for more than two years.
Last night was probably the last time I will ever sleep here. I had moved out of my apartment a few days ago (note: this blog has been on autopilot for a few months, so this will be published months after it’s written) and staying with a friend since then. Tonight I’m going to the airport.
The French comic book artist commented on all of the horrible, unpleasant things about Taipei, saying one could write a book ‘100 reasons to detest Taipei’ … and yet he loves Taipei.
Personally, I felt that Golo was describing, not Taipei, but Taoyuan City.
When I ask Taiwanese people ‘what is the most awful place in northern Taiwan’, ‘Taoyuan City’ is often one of the answers, though some people claim that Zhongli (which is right next to Taoyuan City) is even more awful. Taoyuan City is often near the top of ‘Worst Traffic in Taiwan’ lists, and some people refuse to visit me in my neighborhood because the traffic is too awful (I did not have a car or scooter, so traffic was usually not an issue for me). It’s dirty, the buildings are all kinds of concrete rectangular boxes (unless they are aging brick buildings), there’s poverty, recreational drug abuse, the gangs, the public transit system is not so great, there are all of those factories in Guishan right next door to pollute everything, and most people think the only redeeming quality is that it’s cheaper than Taipei.
To learn more about Taoyuan City, you can check out the blog The Taiwan Adventure.
People have often asked me why I live here. Why would anyone who had grown up in San Francisco choose to leave and live in Taoyuan City? Well, after spending most of my life in a famous city like San Francisco, it’s nice to live in a not-famous city. Downtown Taoyuan is actually pretty convenient once you know your way around, and the rent is shockingly low (compared to San Francisco, though even my friends in Taipei were impressed). The fact that much of it is bland, typical Taiwanese urban area actually had it’s own appeal, since I was interested in learning what a ‘bland Taiwanese urban area’ is like. There are plenty of weeds and wildlife – even the center of the concrete jungle has lots of birds, and once time a lizard crawled into my apartment. And the monotony of the city actually helped me focus on things such as the people, or learning the language, or other things. Sometimes over-stimulation is not so great.
Every single post in this blog up to now has been written in Taoyuan City, as well as every post I’ve written for other blogs (Manga Bookshelf and Hacking Chinese) up to now. This is the last one written (though I have a few more in the pipeline which I may publish later).
When I moved into my apartment, the first thing I did was clean everything. It was already reasonably clean, but the Grand Cleaning was my way of claiming the space.
The last thing I did in my apartment – right up to when the landlord’s representative came to return the deposit and collect the keys – was clean the apartment. I did not have to do it so zealously, but the same act had the opposite meaning – instead of claiming space, I was relinquishing space. Once I had cleaned a space, it was no longer mine.
Some Taiwanese people asked me what my favorite place in Taiwan is. I said the first thing which came to the top of my head – ‘Taoyuan City’. They asked ‘Why?’ I answered ‘Because Taoyuan City is the most wonderful place in Taiwan’. Well, nobody took that answer seriously. But Taoyuan City has been my home in Taiwan. It’s where I’ve felt secure and happy. It’s where I came to rest after my adventures across Taiwan, and it’s where I’ve had some of my happiest moments. So yes, I love Taoyuan City more than anywhere else in Taiwan.