The Metaphorical and Actual Warmth of Tainan

Over the weekend before my sister’s birthday, our family decided to go visit my father’s old home in Tainan, which was a four hour drive (or around 300 km/187.5 miles) away from our current dwelling in New Taipei City. While I was thoroughly overjoyed by the idea of staying at a five-star hotel for only 3300 NT (or 110 USD) per room along with a complimentary buffet breakfast, I was more excited about the cuisine. Even though there are already a bunch of great desserts and foods in Taipei, nothing beats the hundred-years-old traditional foods that fill the streets in Tainan. Here are some examples.

More importantly, it really surprised me how…warm Tainan is. Yep, just when I was praising God for giving Taipei rain for nearly every day that I had been here, the rains stopped and the heat returned to boil me alive. Plus, Tainan being the south of Taipei made it a lot warmer than the northern city.

But humidity is not my focus today: I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the people here. When we first dropped by a store for some dried fruits and almond snaps, the store owner immediately struck up conversation as though we were old friends. It wasn’t in the same way that Americans politely smile or say “good morning”s to each other when they walk by, nor was it the same as a good sales person trying to get on your good side. It was as though he was willing to actually make a connection, leaving a positive imprint as our lives collided against each other by chance for the briefest second.

Not only did I gain a bunch of delicious jars of crackers wrapped in calligraphed paper bags from this little store (along with free, iced black/barley/homemade tea as he said that it was a miracle people like us from Taipei didn’t evaporate in the Tainan heat), I was also reminded of my footprints on the path of life since each deliberate step could have made a world of differences for others as it did for me.

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