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There are too many places in Taipei that surprise me. From upscale Xinyi district to the fashion-forward and very young Ximending. Taipei is a mishmash of colors and passions.

The day of Amanda’s wedding is the same day the largest LGBT parade in Asia is holding on the streets of Taipei. Ximending (where we stay) is popping literally. Music is blaring and there are people dressed colorfully while some seem to have lost some of their clothes in the hullabaloo. We somehow get to Amanda’s wedding in one piece. It is at one of the biggest hotels in Taipei and there are more than 4 weddings holding there at the same time.

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Nelly has been keeping an eye out for us so we end up at the right wedding. There are red envelopes everywhere and gifts wrapped in red paper. Red signifies good luck for the Chinese. I learned this back in business school when presents from my friends always came wrapped in red.

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We find our table and then Nelly takes us to see the bride. She is dazzling and I am so proud. Not because she is getting married but because of the woman underneath all the gloss and finery. We hug and somehow we succeed at not messing up her makeup. Frank, the groom looks like Frank, except in a suit. We tease him and he laughs nervously.

It is a seven course meal for the wedding lunch and we eat till we can eat no more. I refuse to try the squid.

“Kiah, that is expensive food you are wasting” Nel chides.

“I draw the line at slimy animals.”

Chinese weddings are simple and complicated at the same time. Earlier they had a more traditional style wedding that involved a lot of bowing. Her bridesmaids all wear white dresses, albeit dumbed down white dresses but it is still maddening. Nobody else better wear white on my wedding. Unless they have decided to leave this world finally.

My favorite moment is when the bride walks in with her dad.. The groom is standing, waiting in the middle of the hall. When the bride and her dad get to where he is, father and daughter hug for a long time and then the groom exchanges places with the dad. The couple then bows in respect to her father and after a few seconds, Dad turns around and walks alone to the front of the hall.

That lonely walk by himself broke my heart. Yes, his own wife waits at the front but dammit he just gave away his baby girl. He just walked away from this being he has loved and cared for so long. I and Nelly cry a little at the scene. Gift teases me.

“I thought you were a tough African.”

“Shut up Thai witch!”

There is no dancing at the wedding but I end up with the bouquet so that makes up for that.

The wedding was my excuse to come to Taipei and while I loved every minute of the event itself, Taiwan, its beautiful landscape and amazingly kind people, stole my heart from the day I landed in Taipei and will hold onto a part of it for the rest of my life.

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