You know how when someone asks you about your on-and-off relationship with a person, you would just sigh and say, “It’s complicated”? Well, that has always been my answer when someone asks me about the relationship of Mainland China and Taiwan.
Due to this complicated relationship, I had to fill out so much paperwork that I’d lost track in order to go on the exchange program at National Taiwan Normal University during my senior year.
But politics aside it was all worth it, because Taiwan is such a beautiful and peaceful place.
I lived in Taipei for half a year, and I’ve always cherished every piece of it, along with the bits of memories I have of the city. And one big chunk of memory is all about coffee shops.
The famous Taiwanese author Long Yingtai once compared Taipei to Hong Kong in her book, saying that while in Hong Kong people are always in a hurry, in Taipei, you could spend as many afternoons as you want curled up in a coffee shop with a good book.
I don’t know about the intenseness of Hong Kong, but I do have a lot to say about the “relaxed-ness” of Taipei. And with every big city in the whole wide world adapting a more and more fast-paced living style (like New York, Beijing, Tokyo, etc.), the relaxation you get in Taipei seems to be more and more precious.
One of my favorite coffee shops is Xiao Gongguan on Zhongxiao East Road. It is in an alley right across the street of National Taiwan Normal University. The shop is small and cozy. The best thing about it is that the menus are all hand-drawn. Everything on the menu looks so cute that you will have a really hard time deciding on what to order. The coffee shop has a balcony on the second floor that has a great view of the whole alley. When nights come, the street is packed with trolleys selling all kinds of Taiwanese snacks. It is the perfect place to see what the nightlife in Taiwan is like.