Jackwell Cafe and Guang Hua Digital Plaza

Kerry, #AccordianKerry on Instagram, was the person who befriended lots of people at the Taipei hostel and brought them together. She knew everyone’s story.

Formerly a teacher in Canada, Kerry had sold her house and now travelled around, busking where she could. She was in Taipei to see her sons, who lived here. When I arrived in Taipei, she was at the hostel — and she was there when I left.

Kerry had mentioned open mic night at a club she went to. I didn’t get around to going to it on the one day I had the opportunity to see her. She also, daily, went to Jackwell Cafe to work and socialise. She’d created a community there. On my final day in Taiwan, I went to the cafe. It was a nice small friendly cafe. She knew all the baristas and some of the regulars.

Afterwards, I went to the digital plaza, which is full of electronic/computer shops for me to geek out.

I previously wrote about having to book an outward flight before I was allowed on the plane to Taipei from Tokyo. The three and a half weeks I gave myself in Taiwan was not enough, but I suspect double that amount of time would have been insufficient.

Before I went to Taiwan, I wasn’t sure of its development status. I vaguely remember how, in the eighties, Taiwan was the place cheap goods were manufactured, a role now largely taken by China. I also know that Taiwan has had, for many years, some of the most advanced semi-conductor manufacturing facilities. So, they have been catching up with their western counterparts and are now just as modern as any country in the world.

I saw in India that countries that were once less developed have, in some ways, leap-frogged the West, with its ageing infrastructure. The likes of India and Taiwan haven’t had to install copper telephone lines all over the country. Instead, they installed mobile phone masts and fibre-optic cables for faster internet connections. They also have been using electronic money for some time too.

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