When I landed at the Taoyuan Airport in December 2019, I was excited to start my life abroad. I expected to face the usual experiences of living abroad -- such as different cultural norms, language barriers, and customs.
What I didn’t expect though, was to find myself on an island I never heard of: Kinmen.
A year ago, with only two Chinese words ( 你好 and 不好意思) and two suitcases, I moved from Taipei to Kinmen. As a curious person, I discovered the best way to explore was by scooter and I became fascinated.
I’ve explored tunnels that are said to be haunted, stood on the balconies of magnificent Western-style buildings, and walked the empty shells of abandoned traditional homes. Every piece of history I see makes me wonder what happened there before -- whether they were ordinary people, rich families, or military service men and women.
Living in Kinmen and making videos has impacted me as I believe Kinmen’s image shouldn’t be defined by war. While I have an interest in the war-time relics, it’s important to see Kinmen’s history pre-war time and experience its creative future.
After a year, you’d think I may be bored. Yet like day one, I still love to ride my scooter down unknown paths, wander villages, and hike around Taiwu. Living a 5-minute walk from the beach is just a bonus.
But I cannot talk only about the unique destinations. The local people are just as important as they are truly welcoming. I particularly enjoy smiling at strangers when they stare in curiosity. They usually smile back and we create a positive connection without a word.
But luckily, my Chinese has improved. This hasn’t just made daily life easier, but when I get invited into a strangers’ home for tea, I can attempt to have a conversation. Although I learn most of what I know about Kinmen through what I see, I try to get to know local business owners, chat with people in the street, and ask questions when I need help. While it’s not always easy, it helps me build a better relationship with the community.
My unexpected year on Kinmen is unforgettable. After traveling 13 to countries, Kinmen is a place unlike any other on cultural and historical levels.
撰文/ Kayla Marie
攝影/ Kayla Marie
翻譯/ Elaine Lin