Rubbing my eyes and slowly getting out of bed, the alarm going off in the background, it is 4 a.m. and time to get out of bed. My wife, Sunshine, and I are packed and ready to head east to the City of Ottawa (also known as the Capital City of Canada) for the 2014 Travel & Vacation Show. As representatives of Taiwan and the Tourism Bureau (New York) we are setting out on a two-day adventure that will have us talking about and sharing our many experiences while living in Taiwan.
While living and exploring the unique landscapes of Taiwan, I would regularly wake up long before the sun welcomed the new day. Whether I straddled my bicycle or motorized scooter, or took to the highways and hills in my car, waking up and hitting the road before dawn was always a favorite past time of mine. With the sun just peeking over the mountains it was always an easy task to find a breakfast shop brimming with customers looking for their early morning nourishment. While tea wasn't necessarily on their minds, a wide selection of breakfast snacks could easily be found at any one of the many breakfast shops that dotted the cities and townships.
We arrived at the show (in Ottawa) shortly before the opening bell. With a little help from Sunshine and a fresh kettle of boiling water awaiting my retrieval, we were ready for the first steep of the day. In short order the first few arrivals at the show in stopped by for a sampling of tea and a few stories about life on Isla Formosa. The day could not have gone any smoother - even with our incredibly early start and non-stop steeping and talking until 5 p.m. that night. Many new friends from the City of Ottawa and the surrounding areas had so many questions and queries that covered topics from big cities to hiking to food and culture and so on. Answering each and every question brought me back to so many of the wonderful experiences I enjoyed for the first time after arriving in Taiwan.
Friends from Far and Wide
The thrill and excitement of attending these shows is very difficult to explain. The family of Taiwan representatives that flew up from the New York Branch of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau - Thomas and Rachel - and others from Ottawa and Toronto made this event worthwhile attending. Their support and teamwork helped to make this event - the second one for my wife and I - very special. In addition, a brief and inspiring visit from the Ambassador of Taiwan, Liu Chih-Kung, made the rest of the day and the following Sunday a weekend to remember.
It's Sunday evening, 5 p.m. Time to pack up our tea-making equipment, a few pineapple cakes and head home. What a busy and chaotic weekend; what a fun time we had! I think back to those April weekends that saw myself along with several friends head down to the southern tip of Taiwan for long holiday weekends filled with music, friendships and lots of laughter. Yep...Spring Scream! Ever year on the first weekend of April, Taiwan music and art lovers head south to soak up the warm sun, take a dip in the beautiful ocean and enjoy musical acts that number in the dozens. Well, Ottawa doesn't quite hold the same allure and attraction of Kenting, Taiwan. However, it was on this ride home that Sunshine and I could look back on with the knowledge that we introduced Taiwan and Taiwan tea to a crowd of Ottawatonians that will surely steep on again and again...and again!
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”