A patchwork of farms and houses in Taiwan's west, photographed while approaching Taoyuan Airport.


A patchwork of fields and houses in Taiwan’s west, photographed while approaching Taoyuan Airport.

Compared to the fractal structure of cities, the randomness of the countryside is weird and hard to make sense of for me. There are no centers, no hills, no sights, metro or train stations – in this part not even a highway. And yet, of course, for the thousands of people living here there are places of importance and meaning. Lines of significance, drawn on a map I don’t understand.

I remember how my thoughts also became darker for a split second while looking out of the window. Living in Taiwan I am by now used to scenarios throwing around words of “attack,” “invasion,” and “landing.” Since spring 2022, our shared consciousness is then drawn to scenes from the vast empty fields of Ukraine. But Taiwan is not Ukraine. There are no vast empty fields for armies to conduct their war games.

Taiwan, that is an Eastern half with hardly anything but mountains and jungles. And it is a Western part, with nothing but streets, fields, and homes.

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