One of the things I miss the most about living in the States are the fun weekends. After a long week of work, my favorite things to do are catch happy hour with friends, try a new restaurant, laugh late into the night, lay in parks, or nurse a hangover in a dark movie theater. Oh yes, and end it all with a home cooked meal on Sunday night.
I haven't had much of this yet in Taipei. We've spent many weekends traveling or having family time, and I felt like we hadn't hit a "groove" with too many people that we've met here. Of course, we have our Taipei BFFs and I am SO thankful for them, but busy schedules as of late has kept us from doing too many fun things. It's something that's been getting me down recently. We came from having such a wonderful, warm group of friends in Brooklyn, and then moved to a place where we 1) had to find things to do/places to go that we enjoy and 2) had to find people to do this with. We've had one too many nights out at ATT for Fun, and while it *is* fun, the club scene is not something we want to do with any regularity.
But! This weekend was totally different. I felt like we got out of our comfort zone, found some spots we love and remind us of home, and met people that I think will become new friends. Hooray!
On Friday, Dan and I went to dePlace to do some work in the afternoon. After mulling over our (non-existent) weekend plans over a happy hour beer, I decided to reach out to Mark, a fellow American who shares a mutual friend with me. We made plans to meet up with him (and a group) later that evening. For dinner, Dan and I had some AMAZING ramen (and were pleasantly pleased that we could read a lot of the menu), and then hung out at Family Mart with small bottle of whiskey and some beer (this is much more fun than it sounds). We finally met up with Mark and his group of Fulbright Scholar friends at R&D, which was like Taipei's answer to our prayers for a Brooklyn-esque cocktail bar... one that's just dark and scene-y enough to justify spending $350NTD on an Old Fashioned. We had a really fun night getting to know new people, including several strangers, one of which was wearing a duck mask.
Saturday morning was bit...rough, and I decided I needed to spend some time in the kitchen to recreate my favorite Brooklyn comfort meal of chicken meatballs and mashed potatoes from The Meatball Shop. It's not easy with only one stovetop burner and no oven, but about an hour and a half later, my humble meal was ready to be eaten :) We had a late lunch while watching House of Cards, and felt pretty pleased with ourselves. That night, we went to the National Concert Hall with Conti and Kate, who had free tickets for us to see Taiwan's Symphony Orchestra perform. While I haven't always loved long classical music performances, this one was just the right length and included some soloists that kept things interesting. Following the show, we headed to Corner Office to see Ben who was back from military training for the weekend. Corner Bar felt like home - an American style pub that serves authentic Western food and has a huge beer list. Seeing Ben was great, and we also got to meet his friend David who works there. I think we'll become regulars, and I'm excited to get to know David more!
Today, we got delicious brunch with Mark and his friends. We had fun conversation, really good food, and I left feeling really happy about our budding friendship with Mark. And it's always refreshing to hang out with some Americans. We share the same sense of humor and have similar takes on living in Asia. After brunch, we thought we'd call it a weekend by spending the right of the afternoon and evening on the couch watching House of Cards. But as we settled in, Conti and Kate asked if wanted to hang out in a cafe. We couldn't say no to another offer to see people, so now I'm writing this from a beautiful cafe in Songshan Creative Park, where we're all having coffee and getting some work done.
I'm leaving this weekend feeling so fulfilled. I got to see and meet lots of great people, we found nightlife that suits us perfectly, and I ate good food, including some I made myself. I feel home!