Tuesday, 30 January 2018
The pattering of rain is a constant in Taipei, which in this time of year is plunged into a rare cool by intermittent cold fronts and northwesters. Raindrops striking the walls and windows of our small rental in Zhongshan District like a chorus of weather emit varying pitches as they fall from different heights, some echoing as they land on awnings before casually gliding off.
Treading carefully past quickly formed and near-invisible puddles on the busy streets, one instantly recognises the sights and smells of this rainy city, the Taiwanese capital, ruled by its made-up and dressed-up city folk.
Having not written anything for this blog in more than a year, I suppose I have our rowdy neighbours to thank for spurring me into action. Lying awake in bed at 4:40am, only imagining how we’re going to complain to the pair next door, the urge to write something suddenly hit me—not enough to make me get out of bed and start typing, mind.
For once I’m not listening to Spotify while churning out a blog post. The sounds of Taipei outside my window provide a muted symphony to which I may carry out this annual grind. After all, I need to get my money’s worth from my yearly WordPress domain name subscription. Ugh.
Less than a week ago we were still basking in the warmth and brightness of Cape Town’s latest drought-hit summer. It is remarkably quieter there and life is lived at a noticeably slower pace. Notices asking Capetonians to conserve water had been visible the day we arrived in Sea Point in October last year and only became more and more frequent as the hotter months approached. Guidelines asking for sub-100-litre water usage per resident per day were also quickly amended to 83l and then 50l as the dreaded ‘Day Zero’ moved ever closer on our calendars—it’s now 12 April.
It’s fair to say I know little about the true political reasons behind why such a distressing and disruptive natural disaster was allowed to creep up on South Africa’s largest tourist hub, creating the inevitability of the Mother City becoming the world’s first major city in which “taps run dry”, as reports quaintly put it. But, needless to say, it is certainly surprising to know even the country’s wealthiest aren’t out of reach of the government’s ineptitude and myopia. We are able only to play our part as visitors one litre at a time. Our three-week sojourn in Taiwan should save the Cape Town municipality roughly 2,100 litres of water, which in the grand scale doesn’t amount to much.
Though our stay, however short it may be, will undoubtedly be leaving the city in worse shape than when we arrived, I’m glad to have finally experienced life in Cape Town, which we have chosen as one of her two permanent homes for the foreseeable future. My only hope is that the water crisis is resolved in time for our next visit this coming southern hemisphere spring.
It’s hard to picture a city bordering the Atlantic and Indian oceans running out of water.
Of all the things planned for 2017, at least Cape Town came to fruition. Only 12 months ago I had laid out grand-ish plans for the coming year and even proclaimed as much in my previous blog post—the sole addition to ‘Quote, Unquote’ in the whole of 2017. Poland and Thailand were just two of the places I wanted to visit, but plans changed and I ended up making the best decision by going back to Taiwan with Litta for four months. A predictable visit to Zagreb and then our favourite Budapest followed in the spring and summer—something we will repeat in reverse order once we leave South Africa in early March.
It was a special autumn visit to Plitvice in October 2017.
After a stay at the beloved palace that is Hernad 43 and another Airbnb apartment in Zagreb or maybe even on the Adriatic coast, a second trip to Cape Town in as many years is on the cards, possibly even including a visit from my future mother-in-law who I know will love the nature the expansive Table Mountain National Park has to offer. Again, we are imagining a Southeast Asia tour with Chiang Mai and Bali in mind at the end of this year; again, it is impossible to say whether circumstances will allow it. But I am announcing it here, for myself, as usual, so I may look back in a year’s time and smile at plans either fulfilled or altered for the sake of something even more special.
Naturally, the plan is not to wait another full year before I bash out another blog post on my laptop.
In the meantime, I will enjoy where I am and what Taiwanese city life has to offer, which is consistently good food and typically exceptional company.