Originally, I wanted to give birth to Cassian in Taipei because of the anxiety of birth giving in the US. I was so close to giving birth in Taipei that O and his dad, and my cousins helped me initiate and gather all the required paperwork. Quarantining in a hotel + being separated from Oly was the main dealbreaker; But since O’s dad has been living in Taipei and has been unable to travel to L.A, we trekked over so Cassian could meet his grandpa.
FLYING THROUGH HIS FIRST FLIGHT
LAX -> TPE was Cassian’s first flight ever. While O and I are accustomed to flights, preparation to fly with an infant for the first time (anything above 3m old?) was excruciatingly demanding – from getting an infant passport, purchasing a ticket with unclear rules, 1 hr+ holds on the phone, waiting 24 hours before purchasing his ticket, packing his supplies, somehow wiggling through Global Entry… then fast following it with the actual 14 hour flight with him crying for the first ~2 hours. Just when I was about to lock myself in the lavatory for a few minutes to cool off, O managed to soothe himself to sleep for 10 hours that helped us rest so that for the last 2 hours, we could trade off holding/feeding him.
TRANSITING WITH MY TODDLER
Getting around with Cassian was quite the trek; while O fortunately got his international drivers permit a few weeks before we left, the car seat + making sure O was permitted to the right car shenanigan definitely forced us to be “creative” We couldn’t eat at certain areas (fortunately I had this portable baby chair that could expand on the floor since some restaurants only had stools that didn’t allow chairs to be clipped on) Thank you so much friends and family who helped us get around the city 😉
Thank the heavens we had a lot of breaks and were able to stay with grandpa. A million thank you’s to our family and friends for looking after Cas. Although at moments he was overwhelmed by all of the new faces, O’s Taipei home was a haven for him and to bond with grandpa.
ATONING FOR MY CULTURAL ARROGANCE
Throughout my upbringing, I was quite the arrogant asshole type of TCK (Third culture kid) I grew up embarrassed by my culture, pleading to my visiting cousin at my driveway I wish I was a white girl at age 7, crushing my mom that I quit Mandarin Chinese school by age 8. I’m haunted that I enraged my dad by asking him to turn off the Taiwanese news on the radio to play Radio Disney while being dropped off to fourth grade. Throughout my life, I only spoke Mandarin to Taiwanese relatives or if my family needed to gossip about someone around. I was a major POS. While I can’t take back anything I said or did, I can only “be better” like reading Mandarin books with Cassian and attempting to raise a more cultured, well-rounded kid (less of that arrogant American / douche in denial).
When O brought up the idea that we bring Cassian to Taipei, I lit up to bring Cassian to our families and a medley of Taiwanese foods from early on – starting from tea eggs (茶叶蛋) So yes, this trip hit really different for me to see how it could influence Cassian.
Since O’s dad and Krisha noticed we were walking to Family Mart every morning/night for tea eggs, they made us not half a dozen, but 1.5 dozen (yes, 18 happy tea eggs) when we were passed out.
If there’s anything that west LA lacks, it’s Asian food. O and I were craving it (like a person who hasn’t had it in years) While some things may be somewhat pricey, I’ve had a revived obsession for boba for the past year and if you don’t know – that $8 boba you may find in LA originates from Taiwan. Now, 45NT boba ($1.50 USD) were solid reasons for me to indulge in at least one cup every day. If I didn’t have time to stop by a boba shop myself and bloat my face, Ubereats was my late night jam to get me through grading students’ work and making an appearance for any US/Singapore meeting. With my complete lack of Chinese literacy, I stuck to basic milk tea (incredibly embarrassed that the dude at Rouhe night market didn’t understand me when I asked for oolong cha… because, it’s apparently more like “wu-long cha” Now, If I wanted to get REAL fancy, I’d pay 65NT ($2.13) and just point at the listing item/picture like a true American. My mom tends to complain about me buying milk teas (all that tapioca starch with sugar) so here’s to you mom: I always get ¼ sugar milk tea, rarely with tapioca balls (litereally just one drink throughout our 7 day trip.)
TAKING ON TAIWANESE BREAKFAST
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 市下巷20號
If you were with me in my 2018 trip to Taipei and heard about ANY craving I had when I was pregnant in 2020, it was that I needed more fantuan (饭团) While O had his international drivers’ permit, getting around with a car seat was tricky, many eateries didn’t have a baby seat, and Cassian was jet lagged for at least half the trip – so we had to improvise a lot. I am proud to say that Cassian really loved lo “bak” gao (蘿蔔糕)
RUNNING THROUGH Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市)
While traveling with baby is real rough, I figured to take advantage of the 13 hour time difference before my cool~ baby Cassian could adjust – by having us all visit Rouhe night market. Yeh-si (翻译) instead of Yeh (翻译) nightclub] While O and I thought we’d figure everything out, we were taken aback that at least half the foods have been globalized (What happened to the “real” Taiwanese street food, anyway?)
But like any sentimental parent wanting to document O and my precious family time for Cassian’s memory – I had to snag some photos. Thank me someday – You’re welcome, bubba.
With him gaining more weight and exposing him to TONS of food and us deciding between his 6 month or 1 year, I am so relieved we waited till his 1 year birthday to take him overseas; Since he hit his 1 year, he was able to enjoy a plethora of “exotic” food, crawl to relatives, and play with grandpa.
ALLEVIATING AT A-Mei
224, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Ruifang District, 市下巷20號
I’ve visited this now touristy spot 3 times now since it’s conveniently close to my cousins and uncles in Hutong (Sorry cousin for having you drive us here… again) Now similar to the night market, I was here more for the experience than the actual food/snacks. What I craved other than fantuan was the tea. And that Oolong overlooking Taiwan’s magical mountains with Cassian was so surreal.
No. 19號, Lane 120, Dunhua N Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Of course, I couldn’t check out a city without dropping by a cafe. I drank so much milk tea / boba throughout our trip (Thank you very much late night Ubereats) that I almost felt nauseous inhaling more. Fortunately, my stomach was barely able to go for some more on my last day. So here ya go – some delicious photos of some bougie looking tea shop with excellent tea… all within that 65NT ($2.13).
FINISHING EVERYTHING WITH Family
Every day was a day for Cassian to play with O’s dad and meet relatives. Since 2 grandparents passed away before I was born, the only memory I have of my grandfather was attending his funeral, and I only “really” remember my grandma (who passed away when I was in high school), it was critical that Cassian spent time with O’s dad as much as possible.