Last week, I returned to Shanghai after spending almost three weeks in Taiwan. Taiwan is gorgeous, delicious, friendly, and relaxing. China is also those things, but less often and rarely at once. It’s an exciting place to live, but a tough one as well. Still, I’m happy to be back, and to be teaching.
When I first arrived in Taiwan I spent a few days in Taipei, and one of the things I did— when I wasn’t stuffing my face, which I was doing constantly because the food is so good it’s stupid to ever stop eating—was visit Hsing Ting Kong temple with my friend of one day, Mike. Hsing Ting Kong is a Buddhist temple “guided by the divine character of En Chu Kong,” and Mike prays there regularly.
Mike and I had been talking about Taiwanese fortune telling over a lunch of dumplings and dumplings and beef soup and more soup. He told me his sister once visited a fortuneteller who told her to eat less beef, and when she did, her problems, which anyone else would have thought were completely unrelated to her beef consumption, improved. I told Mike I’d love to see a Taiwanese fortuneteller. After an annoying session with a psychic two years ago I swore I’d stop bothering with “that kind of stuff” (shamans don’t count) because I always obsess about whatever I’m told, but I decided visiting a fortune teller in Taiwan was okay because it was a relevant cultural experience, and also because hey, maybe this would be the person who could tell me how to fix my life. What if all of my problems were the result of not eating enough fried chicken and this was the only person who knew it? (Fried chicken from the night markets was one of my favorite things to eat in Taiwan and I’ve craved it every day since I got back to China.)