After two years and counting, I am still amazed every time I look out of the windowed balcony doors of my cozy apartment that is perched on a mountain just outside the city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan. From my 12th floor vantage point, I see a contrast of worlds. I look down on a beautiful suburban neighborhood with a zig-zagging, palm tree-lined road and four-story, compact houses all hugged by and hidden within jagged hills (yes, the kind you see in traditional Chinese paintings). Just beyond my neighborhood, where the hills slope and slide into flatter plains, there are fields and farms: pineapple, guava, wax apple, and other fruits that I can’t name yet. Stray dogs and the occasional monkey in the trees sprinkle the landscape with noise and activity. Further out are the glowing lights, the haze, and the towering edifices of the city (the third largest in Taiwan); I can see the high speed trains zip by while smoke stacks puff into the cloudless blue-gray sky. Kaohsiung is a harbor city, and on the clearest of days, I look past the buildings and see the twinkling of the ocean along the horizon; a small island juts out into the water, and boats drift along the sea. The windows on the other side of my apartment look out on a mountain covered with bamboo and other greenery, against a backdrop of mountain ranges stacked one behind the next and fading out of view. From mornings in cloud cover so thick that I can’t see past my balconies, to radiant sunsets over the mountains and ocean, to the twinkling lights of the city at night, I will never tire of this view.
* I’m taking an online graduate course, and the instructor asked us to introduce ourselves by describing what we see out our window (plus some other teacher-y stuff that I didn’t want to bore you with). I enjoyed thinking about this and writing it so much that I thought I should share.