I have walked for about 5 to 6 or 7 miles every day for three weeks. Even with a slight head cold I got out to walk. I end up doing about 13k steps every day which puts me at about 5.5 to 6 miles. Sometimes I go higher. Today though due to a combination of factors out of my control, I am taking down time. No time spent seeing more of Taipei besides around my airbnb today. When I decide to take some time, I remember like this morning over latte down the street that I go to places longer for expressly this purpose. If I only had a week in Taipei, I’d feel duty bound to go for that day’s tour or location. With a month in Taipei, even with only a week left, I have narrowed down the must see places and have them marked. They get done next week. I like doing the museums and historic places at the end and I also will do the Taipei Zoo. A friend from Taiwan told me about the Gondolas there so I will go and ride them.
Last night for dinner I went to the night market and there is this most excellent steak restaurant right on the market that I ate dinner at. I had a nice Ribeye steak, noodles, and egg smothered in this delicious and spicy sauce. So good! I also visited what is called a tourist market and I don’t think I will opt to visit them. I prefer the non tourist markets like the one by where I stay. It’s authentic and the food is terrific there and its all over the place. Language can be a little problem but all the places have pictures and the owners go out of their way to sell me stuff. I buy all the fresh fruit there at night. Melons and pineapple and watermelons and some really nice apples.
So Friday is a good down day for me. I may go out later and have some latte down the street or not. I don’t think I will just sit in the room because I get bored so will see what I decide to do. Down the street is this 85 degrees Taiwanese coffee shop I like. Very friendly people there and I can sit and watch the people arriving and leaving the Taipei Bridge MRT station. I think people watching is a global thing every where I have been. Here the young men watch the young girls who may furtively watch the young men that are watching them. Life in Taipei is an interesting study to me. People are genuinely kind and want to help and most speak English. I was trying to buy an extended pass on the MRT and this woman heard me and asked if she could help. She did all the talking to the MRT clerk for me and told me how much to pay and what a great deal for 30 days it was. I get many many rides on the excellent MRT which is my default way of getting around the city now. So on down times I consider the remaining days a lot here.
Another thing worthy of consideration during down time is Vietnam. I think of Vietnam a lot because I guess its just part of my fabric now. I miss the frantic pace of Saigon and the laid back nature of Da Nang. Hanoi appeals to me for its both leisurely and rushed nature. I don’t particularly care for the Old Quarter so I try to get out of there when I can to places like West Lake or the wider tree-lined streets where the Mausoleum is. Most of all I think I miss the coffee culture there. I miss the shops in Phu Quoc Island right by the night market that I could sit at for hours and watch the boats and people going by. In Saigon it would be meeting my L for coffee or seeing other friends. Down times mean I think more of them which is a good and bad thing. I also know I have another 7 months before getting back to Vietnam so down times are not so down because of where I’ll go next.
Another thing for down time is some healthy self reflection and introspection. I do this while walking too but often when walking I slip into a semi ecstatic state where the steps just carry me away. In the room, I have more of a chance to reflect on the life of just being a hobo. No home, no pool, no pets. No nothing. I have so little of things that they fit into a 45L backpack. My worldly possessions are experiences and not things. Moments not times. So playing back them may be remembering that time in Hanoi when the woman asked me for boom boom from the back of a grab motorbike or the times in Siem Reap spent wandering the Angkor Wat temples or seeing my favorite of all time Bayon Temple.
Finally perhaps I dwell on the social media left behind. I think relatively rarely about twitter and instagram these days besides being glad to be gone. There is no upside to twitter folks. It’s just what it is. The absolute worse is Instagram though. Why people persist in that site with the elaborate selfies posed in front of beautiful UNESCO sites perplexes me. Perhaps even during down time I will not understand it. Finally there is blogging here versus at wordpress.com and what I have found of value after bailing on wordpress. I’ll just say there is nothing of real value at wordpress for me. I left because of the gradual decline of happiness at the act of creating I felt there. I felt a kind of moral and intellectual constipation there. No number of posts or contributions or likes or comments fixed it. What I wanted was a place to create and not be constipated. I wanted away from the ads and the marketing and affiliate links. Most of all, during down time, it comes to me that this is blogging again. This is creating for its own sake. You can read all the sites you want to be popular at blogging, host a site with 9k followers, have 8 kazillion followers on instagram or twitter. None of it matters during your down time or mine. Here I don’t worry about judging or being judged. I create here because I wish to and that is all. I feel that the last 20 years of blogging has been a downward spiral of the art and act of creation over the sustainment of currency.
So the final act of down time is to consider that blogging here is not valuable in any kind of financial or other sense except to me. To my desire to sustain and create and to also unfold my own little journeys here and there. Perhaps not limited by who finances me or gives me money to write a post.
Down times have arrived. Long live down times. For today. Tomorrow I go forth again and claim the sidewalks and the trails and the little things in Taipei I so like to find. Getting lost on purpose is always the goal in Tokyo or Taipei or Saigon. Find yourself by losing it all. Then my phone rings in Saigon and its L calling to ask if I am ok. If I have eaten lunch. If I am happy. Life is very good and I enjoy the moments. I have mentioned before that finding L was something I had needed but had decided I would never find again. I’m lucky. But as L says,
dearest Mike I am the one so lucky
Thank you my love.