Today I landed in America. Months of theory are suddenly turned into practice, and amidst a haze of jet lag and general exhaustion from having gift-wrapped a previous chapter of my life, I am suddenly presented with such a wall of potential experience lying in wait that I can do little more at this point than shake my head and wonder how the hell it all happened to fast.
Relaxed rushing around in Taipei taking care of paperwork like ending cell phone contracts and ensuring bank accounts can be accessed, was matched with quite the most surreal experience of the year; watching a team of impossibly polite strangers pack your life into boxes and crates, with nothing but a ‘sorry sir’ and ‘excuse me sir’ to engage with. Luckily, a rather wonderful group of friends was there to scoop me up and treat me to my last bites of Taiwan, ending the culinary experience as it began; with a plate of Gongbiao Chicken in a loud and roudy restaurant, naturally washed down with some jars of Taiwan pijiu.
Hugs and rushed goodbyes complete, Yuyin and I made our way through the rain to the airport, ironically tracing the steps I made out to Hongshulin all those years ago (ie: along back roads, full of betelnut girls and dodgy furniture stores). A hop, skip (Tokyo Narita) and a jump, and before we knew it we had cleared customs and were blazing through the city on our way to our temporary accommodation. The day was full of ironies, but top amongst them is surely that our apartment friend Erick of Facebook fame can virtually see into our living room. Well, almost.
What a day to land. A photogenic city in the worst of light, today it was bathed in a clear, warm blanket of autumnal sunshine. Kicking off proceedings at Hog Island Oyster Company at the base of Market Street in the Ferry Building, crisp Napa white wine washed down oysters where zesty flavours whipped, cracked and fizzed in my mouth, the flavour experience extending beyond the tongue, into the roof of my mouth and somehow down into my belly. Suggested serving: under blue Californian autumnal skies.
A Blue Bottle coffee (the best cappuccino i have ever had?) and a banana tartlet later, and it was time to take in the Embarcadero, slowly approaching the sea. Yuyin and I were shaking our heads in disbelief all the way, but it was all we could do to stop ourselves turning back when we saw the silhouette of the Golden Gate Bridge set against a perfect graduation of oranges and reds, sliding into the Pacific Ocean. Stop this now. Leave some for later! It must be downhill from here. But keep me believing – you can see why people wrote songs about this place.
Tomorrow, the gluey bits start to come together; social security, initial apartment hunting, and meeting colleagues for the first time. But for now, I am happy to relive perfect autumnal oysters, set on the most perfectly fabulous plate I could imagine.