I can still remember my talent management agency asking me if I wanted to go to Taiwan. I was a little worried about the language barrier, yet still excited to be going somewhere completely ‘new’.
When I first arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at how helpful the Taiwanese were. The fashion photographers I worked with walked out of their studios just to give me directions, and restaurant waiters tried to find English speaking customers to translate my lunch orders.
Taiwan was full of unexpected surprises and contrasts. It had mountainous terrain, incredible hot springs and national parks, but it was also a modern city and home to ‘Taipei 101’, which was the tallest skyscraper in the world until the ‘Burj Khalifa’ was built in 2009.
On that first trip, I lived in the heart of the city right above a bustling night market which never seemed to ‘sleep’. It was a melting pot of sights and sounds, from people making pancakes by the road side, to enjoying foot reflexology. I even saw a woman getting her eyebrows threaded against the backdrop of street food peddled on every corner.
Now, returning years later, I looked forward to being surrounded by nature, outside the hustle and bustle of the city. I decided to check into the Westin Tashee Resort in Taoyuan, which sits amidst lush wooded mountains at the edge of the greater Taipei region. It was so relaxing to sit on the balcony that I found myself ordering room service for breakfast, just so I could read my book and enjoy the view.
On my first day, I headed toward Lala Mountain which was a protected forest with breathtaking views of the tranquil river. For a moment, I thought I was in the Himalayan foothills of Rishikesh in India because the river reminded me of the beautiful Ganges.
After my nature fix, I was catapulted back into the bright lights of the city aboard the train to ‘Xi Men Ding’. I enjoyed the change in pace. This spot reminded me of Shibuya in Tokyo because it was a hip area for youngsters to hang out and shop.
I wouldn’t consider myself a gadget freak but before heading back to my hotel, I just had to stop by ‘Syntrend’, a paradise for tech geeks. It housed cutting edge technology on every floor, but unlike most crammed digital plazas, this was a high-end shopping experience. It created an inviting atmosphere and spaciousness for tech lovers to explore the gadgets. Despite not being a gamer, I still took a selfie with some of the ‘Pokemon’ monsters around.
Before leaving the city, I wanted to soak up some local culture at one of the oldest, most revered places of worship in Taiwan built in the 18th century called Longshan Temple. I was standing at the ornate entrance feeling compelled to utter a prayer of gratitude for my many blessings.
Gratitude is such a highly positive emotion. Simply focusing on something that makes you grateful automatically transports you into a positive space. This is why I’ve cultivated the habit of reviewing three to five things I’m grateful for at the end of each day. It really helps to boost positivity levels, easing the mind into a calmer and more positive state, especially before bedtime.
After walking the whole day, I was out like a light the moment I got back to my hotel room. Then again, it was really not hard to fall asleep with a smile on my face on such a divinely comfortable bed. This was definitely something to add to my growing list of things to be grateful for.