Sunny Afternoon

Last night for dinner I met Aussie L and J down by 師大 Shida. It was a pretty different experience than what I am used to; very individualistic. You get your on pot of broth with your own heater. You order your own plate of meat and you get your own bouquet of veggies and fish cakes. While your broth is coming to a boil, you get up and get your own damn sauce from the mix-it-your-damn-self sauce bar. If you don’t like how it tastes, it’s your own fault.

Later you can help YOURSELF to a bowl of ice cream… which you reach into the case to serve YOURSELF. I had black sesame flavor.

There was a drink later, and then back in a cab to the hotel for some jet lagging. I feel like I went to bed around 10. By 2am I was awake again, and by 4am I decided to just get up.

The highlight of my day comes at 7am, when the breakfast buffet opens. Yesterday, it was Canadians. Today, it was a boisterous herd of hard-working-looking Chinese folks who piled their plates high and who didn’t know what the fruits were. The men sounded like they had food in their mouths even when they didn’t. I shared my table with a lady who asked me what passion fruits were (百香果!). I asked, and of course they were Beijingers, of course they were.

My table mate wasn’t into the passion fruit… too sour. She didn’t like the half baby potato, served in foil and topped with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles either. She did, however marvel at the chicken nuggets, which she had never had before. Chicken meat, I said! Later she got up and served herself a bunch more.

I cannot wait to see who will be down there tomorrow.

After breakfast, I went back up to the frozen tundra of my room, read some guide books and tried to plan what I was going to do with my day. I’m really not a sight-seeing kind of guy; so anyplace where I have to pay to look at old things and then leave empty handed is out; that means no historical museums or landmarks, bleck!

Long story short: I took a cab to Taipei 101. Here’s the obligatory up-skirt photo.

I haven’t yet done the old “temple-in-the-mist” shot yet, but there is time. Until then you can look at this guy’s shots.

So the area around Taipei 101 is a huge luxury shopping center; there were so many high-end designers I began to despair. Phones, handbags, designer clothes… that’s it. Those are the only kinds of stores I’ve seen. Seriously, I have know idea where Taiwanese people buy pencils.

This the only part of town I’ve seen that isn’t dominated by shady sidewalk colonnades, There was a long row of hundreds orange bikes that you could rent with your Youyou transportation card.

All of these buildings had wrap around balconies, and most were connected by a system of skybridges. For your safety, many buildings are equipped with safety slings, for those occasions when you lose your damn mind. Also, try not to get distracted by the typo in item #7.

On my way back to the hotel, I had a great conversation with a chatty cabbie, who gave me a lesson, complete with lecture notes. Here, he writes my words of the day:

When I got back to the hotel, I realized it was not going to to rain today, so I told myself, this is the day where I stop being a taxi-taking-foreigner. Those are $4 cab rides, for goodness sakes!
So I walked to the train, which was totally not far, since it was sunny out. When it’s raining like it has been, all-afternoon monsoon rain, that walk is loooong. So I walked to the train, and took it a couple stops and discovered what seemed to be another computer market. After walking around a little, I realized, no, it’s not another computer market, it’s the same computer market I found the other day, when I was walking around in the rain looking for a sim card. This town is way smaller than I thought it was; and the train system is way more local than I had imagined.

Those black triangles on the train station platform indicate the direction that passengers flow; exiting passengers through the center, entering passengers through the sides. Not pictured: separate doors for fat people.

Just kidding, I’m the only fat person on this island.

Anyway, it was a Sunday afternoon, and the the trains and train stations were mostly empty.

The characters at the bottom read: WARNING: POMMEL HORSE STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

I went back to my cafeteria here in the hood for dinner. Fried fish fillets, garlic shoots, something called “bocai,” deep fried kong pao chicken, “longxin cai,” and a stuffed bean curd.

Tomorrow? 9:30 lesson, then maybe Danshui. We’ll see.

2 thoughts on “Sunny Afternoon

  1. You’re so right about the size of the city being smaller than you think at first.

    Danshui, reachable on the train, is a nice spot in the afternoon on the weekend. Not sure what it’s like on a Monday.. Plan to be there in order that you can be around in the sunset… there’s a ferry you can take, from Danshui, around to “Fishermen’s Wharf”.. great spot for the sunset.. many people take photos from the wharf area. When it gets dark, catch the ferry back to Danshui and then hop back on the train!

    What’s great about those lines and symbols painted on the floor in the train stations is that people actually follow them religiously. And if you do want to climb the escalators, instead of just standing there, people actually don’t stand on both sides blocking the “express lane”.. it’s a bit too uniform for my liking.. but very efficient.


  2. Pingback: “Breakfast Buffet Day 4″ and “Vocab I don’t memorize” | you don't have to read v2.0

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