A Love Letter

Everything I read on how to write better blog posts has similar advice for the opening paragraph, it seems I’m supposed to write a real grabber of a statement here.

Am I doing this right?

I played with a clickbait title once and subsequently felt bad about it. This space isn’t meant for such tactics anyway.

This post covers Taiwan. More specifically, our time in Taipei. But, more specific than that, it isn’t as much about the place, but the people we had such a great time with and why that is.

Something of a constant theme over this past year is just how important others are to us (no surprise, really). Being thousands of miles away from all our friends and having nothing but yourself or each other for companionship can teach you a few lessons. One being: don’t unjustly piss off your only companion.

We’ve been lucky to see some family and quite a few friends along the way, as well as making a few too. But when you’re moving as fast as we’ve been, it’s usually a whirlwind type of thing. Taipei, with our 40+ night stay, offered us time to do things differently.

I’m embarrassed now to admit Taipei would not have been on our schedule had it not been for Tom and Betty getting married here. Boy, what we would have missed.

Taipei has an amazing cafe culture with superb selections of beans. The city offers everything from three Michelin star dining experiences to the night markets that have made the entire region famous for its cheap and abundant street food. The island offers a variety of climates and therefore also offers a lot of foods and fresh produce as well as excursions and topographies to explore. I’m really encouraging you to go.

The people are generous, helpful, and really seem to like that you’re there. The number of times I responded with waves and shouting 你好 (Nǐ hǎo) on each of our morning runs are too many to count, and always included a big smile and often “Good morniiiiing!” from the opposite lane. Not to mention the old ladies with fans practicing Tai Chi under the trees along the riverside, the guide runners helping the handicapped be out and get exercise and the mess of people renting bikes on the weekend for rides out towards the sea. Everything about Taipei made me happy. Outside of the oppressing heat.

Betty put us in touch with some of her family and friends, we also plugged into the Columbia Alumni network and were immediately able to find ourselves a little crew. We participated in the Taipei 101 Run-Up, we had running buddies to help us through the hot thick air of early morning runs and show us new routes, I started learning Jiu-Jitsu, we went to cocktail hours, shared dinners, and we traveled to Tainan with a group who were able to show us the real Tainan.

On top of all that we were surrounded by people who are working on ideas, companies, passions, and getting together regularly to capitalize on these ambitions. Being together, if for nothing else, for the energy of working amongst each other. We were happy to have been included and made good use of the time.

Near the end of our stay was the wedding celebration. It was beautiful, fun, and delicious. I might have even cried a little. It was also extra nice to see so many faces from our days in New York as well as make a few new friends. We may have these last two weeks in Japan, but our time in Taipei seems like the real capstone to this year.

Thanks for reading.

Picture: Sunset overlooking the coast near Jiufen.

Categorized as Travel

By Daniel Hatke

The author was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University he worked in the asset management industry in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is fueling his curiosities through taking time off for extended travel and experiences in Europe and Asia, as chronicled here.