I think this photograph, taken at 2500m altitude whilst cruising through the breathtaking Taroko National Park in Taiwan, is a perfect way to reflect on the last year of being in this fascinating country. Although the path has not always been clear, it has always been an experience to journey down it.
Having left the UK (again) in 2017, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from this latest adventure. I hadn’t been to Asia before let alone lived in an Asian country. It was a hasty decision made from a cloud of uncertainty about what my immediate future held, or where it was leading me. I had a rough idea of what was in store, a year at least of teaching and living in a country that I had absolutely no idea about.
I can honestly say that the first few months were a struggle, emotionally and mentally. Having left a loved one in Australia after a year spent together, to then being in the UK for a family wedding, to then being in a country where I couldn’t communicate, was draining. There were a lot of tears of frustration and growing sense of anxiety building inside of me. Transitioning to a country in which you don’t speak the language, therefore, losing the ability to communicate the simplest of things, like asking for a coffee or getting a haircut (which I haven’t done since November), is utterly isolating. But one of our species greatest traits is perseverance, one that has seen me through tough challenges over the last 10 years of adulthood.
A trip to Vietnam to meet with my partner after 6 months apart was a welcome break both physically and mentally, reenergising and refocusing my short term and long term ambitions.
Come the start of the new year (2018) I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable. Having managed to pick up bits of broken Chinese, I was finally able to order coffee with confidence! Yay!
As previously mentioned in another blog entry, I had been travelling around my local surroundings by scooter, which was an extremely liberating feeling and one that always managed to soothe my anxiety. Living in a mountain township 30 KM away from Taichung City is a beautiful place to be able to drive and release tensions. In my time here, thanks to this trusty piece of 1990’s Taiwanese engineering, I’ve managed to navigate around the entire northern part of the island. Driving from Taichung in the West, over Hehuan mountain (all 3000m of it) and onwards to Hualien in the east, TWICE. As well as driving up the east coast en route to Taipei along the infamously treacherous roads of Qingshui Cliffs, 55km of cliffside roads elevated high over the ocean with nothing but a knee high barrier to save you from the drop.
Learning to drive a bike has been one of, if not, the greatest achievements of my time spent here in Taiwan. It has enabled me to adventure and explore parts of this country I could have never dreamed of reaching by any other means.
Geographically, Taiwan is a dream destination too. It sits just off the east coast of China and is in perfect vicinity of Japan, Korea, Singapore and the rest of mainland South East Asia. Whilst here I’ve tried to take advantage of that as much as possible. A 6 day trip in February to Japan fulfilled a childhood dream I never imagined would be possible. I ventured through Tokyo City, Mt Fuji, even took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) down to Osaka and then explored the bamboo forests of Kyoto. A mesmerising trip and an incredible journey through a country rich in history and culture.
Recently I managed to get to Singapore and experience what this tiny nation underneath Malayasia had to offer. I was not disappointed. Having been under British rule since it was founded as a trading point in 1819, it went through upheaval thanks to the Japanese invasion and constant political battles with Malaysia. After the Japanese occupancy, Singapore was briefly handed back to Britain before then breaking away as an independent nation after disagreeing with immigration and cultural policies with Malaysia. All of this fascinating information is what lead me to Singapore, as well as a keen interest in Singapore thanks to the Grand Prix. Seeing Marina Bay on TV every year as a young F1 fan always instilled a desire to go and experience the bay in person. Again, I was not disappointed. Singapore is truly a place of true beauty and inspiration. Architecturally, I have never witnessed anything like I did until going to Marina bay, seeing the famous Ship Hotel towering over the bay, both in the day and at night was magnificent. But by far the most exhilarating experience was a visit to the Gardens by the Bay and more notably, Supertree Grove.
Supertree Grove is a structure of artificial trees that look right out the set of Avatar. They tower over you like skyscrapers and truly make you feel inferior in stature. But at night is when this forest of oversized trees truly comes to life. Rather than explain I will just leave a video link below. Enjoy!
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VOLUME ALL THE WAY UP IN ORDER TO WATCH THIS. This was a small part of the Orchestral performance at Supertree Grove, Gardens by the Bay. Easily the most surreal experience of my life musically. Having performed themes from Star Wars and Inception, this for me, topped it. Goosebumps was and still is an understatement wow 😮 ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ I’m enjoying posting on Instagram and sharing all of my adventures from different locations I visit. Be sure to follow on FB and Twitter too! For more information please visit www.danielrcutforth.com ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ #travelsofdanielrcutforth #danielrcutforthdotcom #singapore #marinabaysands #visitsingapore #photograph #nature_perfection #exploreeverything #motivation #desire #shotoniphone #iphonephotography #inspire #instalike #adventure #explore #travel #instatravel #gotravel #instagood #travelblogger #igtravel #traveling #photography #travelingram #wanderlust #worldwanderers #travelphotography #tourism #traveltheworld
As I write this now, I’m currently on vacation in the beautiful beach town of Kending in southern Taiwan. Next weekend, Hong Kong.
I am just under 4 weeks away from finally returning to Australia, a year and 2 months after leaving under emotionally distressing circumstance thanks to the governments visa rules. Which again I will be at the whim and mercy of (also 7000aud poorer). But this time away, alone, has given me the opportunity to sit and reflect on my year here and the lessons I have learned about myself and what I want from life. I truly have learned more about my ability to dig deep and succeed, more than I ever have done. As previously mentioned, it has been an emotionally challenging journey, but I sit here now feeling complete, both thanks to my experiences and travels, as well as overcoming personal challenges and anxieties that have never quite left my mind.
Having left home at 18 under difficult circumstances, I have never had any financial security or ability to enjoy my life as fully as I have wanted. I have found myself in huge amounts of debt and other challenging issues in my personal life that, at times, I thought I wouldn’t break away from. Yet, I have always managed to persevere and try and better myself, well I like to think so. But, now having traveled parts of Asia, saved for a life back in Australia, and learned how to live like an adult for the first time, I can truly say that I feel content within myself. Which is an incredbile feeling.
August 19th 2018. The day in which a happier and better life will truly begin, back in my home, back in Brisbane.