Back to Sweden (Another Far Country)

DSC_8117Landing in Sweden felt like entering into a memory or a dream. Is this real, is it really happening? Was this here all this time when I was away? Everything looks the same, nothing here is unexpected or hard for me to grasp. I make my way through my life here within the safe path of habits and I’ve done this before. And yet my eyes are so sensitive to everything I see, and my skin shivers at the slightest touch of cold wind.

I was away from Sweden for a long time before. It was two years ago, and coming back to Europe again was a disastrous feeling of confusion and hopelessness.

This time coming home was easier. No life-changing moments. No feeling of turning myself inside out or upside down. I was even mentally prepared for moving from a tiny dorm room – into the lifestyle of plenty that I grew up in.

DSC_8120DSC_8123I was in Sweden for less than 24 hours, enough time to get a good nights sleep and some great Swedish meals, before my parents announced it was time to go travelling. The weather was finally becoming warm. And during summer in Sweden we have a golden rule: never waste good weather! You never know when it will get cold again.

One of the most famous songs of this country goes something like “Summer is short, most of the time it is raining. But now when it’s here: enjoy. Fall will be here soon. Maybe it’s only sunny today.” Encouraging, isn’t it?

So instead of sitting home waiting for the jet lag to pass, I was taken to sit on a boat, and wait for my body to get used to the new conditions.

DSC_8124DSC_8192DSC_8130I must say that Sweden is amazing. What kind of place is this, really? The air is so clean, the towns so quiet. If you wanted you could drink the water even in the muddy lake of my hometown. (Some other parts of lake Mälaren is quite clear, but right outside Västerås the water is really brown)

But one unexpected thing got me annoyed: the daylight. Hey, it’s ten pm, I have a jet lag, and I desperately want to sleep. How come the sun is still up? And how is it even possible to walk in a forest at 11 pm without any need for artificial light? (The two pictures below)

My body got used to the regular early sunsets in Taiwan. That’s the issue here in Sweden. The summer nights are impossibly long and fantastic, and winter nights are impossibly dark and … less mind-blowing. We have a”uneven distribution of sunlight” as an engineering friend so beautifully described it.

DSC_8214DSC_8224The small towns. The overly cute and petite little towns of Sweden. Like miniature worlds, complete with pizzerias and stone churches. This is taken in the town of Strängnäs. But after the hustle and bustle of Taiwanese cities even my town Västerås feels very small.

DSC_8132DSC_8137DSC_8134DSC_8138DSC_8203Would you have imagined staying in Taiwan is the question my mother kept repeating to me. Would I?

Yes, I guess to. I could fancy living almost anywhere.

In the end of the day: Sweden is not really home. I love Sweden. If anywhere is home, it would be here. But I am not thinking we are supposed to get overly attached to our lives.

I imagine life as a long journey towards the real heavenly home waiting for us. What is around is now, is just for now. It is all just passing by. Only the final destination will remain constant.

DSC_8183But I loved living in Taiwan, I really did.

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And So I Leave Taiwan

DSC_6183When things are almost over:

  • remembering to give back borrowed books and outfits
  • trying to go surfing for the last time
  • seeing a friend fight back tears when saying goodbye
  • and trying to hold my own tears inside
  • realizing all the things I never found time to do
  • saying goodbye to the staff at my breakfast place, and being asked to stay in touch
  • hunting stamps for important papers
  • checking out
  • returning keys
  • saying goodbye and goodbye and goodbye

Wondering if travelling is really really worth the pain of leaving dear ones behind.

And then:

boarding an airplane.

being lost in the darkness and boredom of overnight flights alone.

DSC_0651When you read this I have almost arrived home. And just as painful as leaving things are, just as happy I will be to return back. Nine months of long distance relationship is finally over!

DSC_0992I am not taking out my bachelors degree. (Simply because my University doesn’t force me to do it), but I think these past three years are still worth a small celebration. I even stole an outfit last term, and the official photographer, in order to get myself a graduation photo.

Thank you Taiwan for this year

Thank you dear friends for making me laugh with you, and later cry after we said goodbye

Thank you Taiwanese sun for marking me with a nice red painful colour

I will miss you, and we will meet again. God willingly. 

Heat in Taiwan

DSC_7866It became really hot here in Taiwan now. Summer in a subtropical country with high humidity and eternal sunshine – yaaaayy. Even a short walk from my dorm to the bus stop becomes a small challenge. At times I will glare enviously at the locals who are having umbrellas to shade themselves with. But I have decided that I am not that integrated in the Asian lifestyle for using sun-umbrellas.

At least the sunshine makes Hsinchu quite photogenic. I did not do any edit on these pictures, but the colours are really popping.

DSC_7872My short walk from the bus to University made me feel like I was slowly getting fried. While passing the constructions outside campus some of the high-up workers stopped to wave at me. DSC_7874The entrance of National Chiao Tung University (above), and my beloved library (below).

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Shifen and the wrong Lantern Festival

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One day in Taiwan, already months ago, we did a trip to Shifen, next to Pingxi. I was there before, if you remember? (Read here: Pingxi Hike part 1, part 2 and part 3.)

It was a very unplanned trip, but honestly I didn’t care much. We had a good time together, even though it was dark, rainy and crowded.

DSC_6220DSC_6187DSC_6194One of the things we went there for was to paint a lantern and send it of in the air. We were happy to do this during Lantern Festival, thinking it was the right time of the year.

What S tried to tell me many times (but I still didn’t understand?) was that it was not that Lantern Festival. So we were apparently there and thinking we celebrated Lantern Festival, even if we got everything wrong. As I said, in despite of everything we still had a very good trip.

DSC_6260Lanterns rising up in the rainy sky.

After it got dark painted our own Lantern and send it of. I wrote in my best Chinese, S wrote in his best English and the third friend wrote in German.

DSC_6272Note to ignorant foreigners: The Lantern Festival is not for this kinds of lanterns. Always listen carefully to your local friends.