As the aircraft descends through thick cloud, I am given glimpses of my new home. Concrete structures dot the barren landscape, the architecture similar to that which graces the islands of Greece. Yet unlike Greece, the facades are tinged with a yellow hue, those that are not, stand as they were laid, grey and without colour. It is industrial in form, and whilst not beautiful like the streets of Paris or Rome, it is interesting and commands exploration.
So now here I am, in Penghu. Outside, the notorious winter wind howls at the walls of my new home, as if in protest to the walls presence. It is eerie, yet not unpleasant and an element of life here on Penghu that I knew to expect. And with 24 hours having passed since my arrival, I have established my presence and created my space in a two room apartment supplied by the school I am to work for. It is spartan but all I need for now. My only complaint is the very hard bed: through the night I actually contemplate what surface would be more comfortable, the floor or the bed? Seriously! Yet I sleep reasonably well and on waking this morning, exploration of my new surrounds is foremost on my agenda. I have never been one to fear new places, so with camera in hand I head off in the direction of the morning market that my fellow teacher says will supply me with all the food I need. She is right, it is awash with so much fresh produce, some of which is foreign and unfamiliar. I too am foreign yet I feel comfortable and the local people welcome me with warm smiles and offers to sample their produce. I have found my new supermarket, I am sure of that. I buy only a few items, yet I know I shall return daily.
I leave the narrow streets and head in the direction of home. I stumble upon a western style coffee shop around the corner from where I live. Warm smiles invite me in. Christina introduces herself and asks why I am here. I explain. Her English is limited, my Chinese non-existent, yet we manage to share a little of ourselves as I sip on an iced latte. She invites me to sign a wall that many others have done before me, afterward, I bid her farewell and head for home.
Home, that word does not yet fit. I do not know if it will for some time. I am still a little raw emotionally, not sure if I am where I need to be. Yet I will heed the words of my beautiful son, Rob. ‘… don’t come home when your are sad Mum, give it a go, you will be glad you did…’