4th of July is so much better outside of the USA. You can take part in all the red, white, and blue cliches that might be a little cringe-worthy back home. I saw photos in my FB feed of friends around the world in cowboy hats, eating handfuls of Doritos and M&M’s, pretending to be American for the day, and it delighted me. I wanted to get my ‘Merica on, too!
Amy and I were down in the beach-worshipping community of Kenting for the weekend holiday. This southern city is gorgeous, tropical, and the best place in Taiwan to get some sun. Our hostel was a bit out of the way, in Hengchun, and our room was coincidentally celebrating 4th of July as well. The bed had a American flag pillow on it and a Jack Daniels ad hung above it. We were off on the right foot.
After a day of sunbathing, body surfing, and getting our faces smashed by waves by trying to wrangle them in an inter-tube, we were starving/dehydrated and downed some sweet and icy, orange-green tea and French fries at the Happy Panda campground that overlooks Baisha beach. It was a perfect American-Taiwanese snack.
The main attraction in the area is the night market, open air bars, restaurants, and beach shops on the main Kenting street. We took the bus from Hengchun (only 20 minutes and much cheaper than a taxi) and immediately went to the corn dog stall for a corn dog the size of my arm, smothered in ketchup and mustard. Over-eating? Check. We also ordered a bag of fried Oreos and bought some beers from the Family Mart. The only place to sit and feast was in front of the police station. Open containers? Check. Lucky for us, Taiwan doesn’t have a law against drinking in public and a policewoman even helped show me a place in the station to throw away my trash and wash my hands. America, take heed.
One of the coolest parts of the night was having a drink at the “bars” that line the end of the road. They are on the back of trucks, which are covered in strings of lights, different currency that other bar-goers have signed, and other funky drinking memorabilia. Bar stools are along the side, where a small table has been pulled out. Our bartender stood high above us in the bed of the truck and poured us a mojito shot (so, this is a thing?) before getting our drinks. Phil Collins, Ice Cube, and Crazy Town played and made me feel like I was still in middle school. The night was smoky, sweltering, and the remnants of the full moon hung in the sky, as two Americans drank their Taiwanese cocktails.
To end the night, we bought sparklers from a street stall and tried our best to light them, as the night grew windier and the rain threatened to pour. We both squealed as the sparks shot out, looking like tiny shooting stars. I felt lucky to live in such a beautiful place and even more lucky to have been born in a country that gave me the opportunity to come to Taiwan and live the life I want.
Happy Birthday, America.
❤ from Taiwan.