JP’s City Awards

I awarded my annual Cities-that-I’ve-Been-To Awards last night at a gala celebration.  Nobody actually showed up, but I looked damn good in my tuxedo, and I could speechify as long as I wanted without fear of the orchestra cutting me off.

  • Best Hilltop Suspended Cable Car under $2 USD:  貓空纜車, Taipei.  Other cities really can’t compete with this.
  • Most Convenient Convenience Stores:  7-11, Taipei.  I can buy water, top off my metro card, pay my cell phone account, buy spicy peanuts and malatang, toilet paper, free wifi… and sit in the window and watch people go by, if I want to.
  • Best Massage:  Yide Massage, Shanghai.  They’re trying to up-sell you to the oil foot massage now, but go with the traditional Chinese foot massage.  Taipei foot massage comes close to their anatomical knowledge, but they’re much more interested in finding where it hurts… and if it doesn’t hurt, in hurting you until it hurts… although I was starting to learn to appreciate that…
  • Snappiest Peanuts:  Shanghai.  Whether I buy them fresh from Carrefour or in oily packages from the convenience store, I have never anywhere experienced that level of snappiness.
  • Most Civilized Commuters: Taipei Metro.  They stand right/walk left on escalators. They let people get off the train before they themselves get on.  They stand in orderly lines as they wait for the train.  They help old people and give up their seats to folks who need it.  They AREN’T. MESSY.   It’s funny, I know a few people who distrust this level of civilized cooperation; more than one person I know has called it “robotic.”  To those people I say, go ahead, cut in line, make a mess, be as barbaric as you want to be; Taipeinese people are not forced to behave that way by rules; it’s just that they have no desire to be barbaric like you.
  • Worst Internet:  Shanghai.  The Chinese government battles the hurtful perception that they are fearful and backward by being fearful and backward.
  • Worst Coffee:  New York City.  Not even a contest.  I have never seen so many people roasting their own beans as in Taipei.
  • Best Vietnamese Food: Seattle.  No contest.
  • Most Pathetically Car-Dependent:  Seattle.  Manila at least has jeepnies and a couple of trains.  Public transit in Seattle is dreadful.  Some people go out of their way to tell me that it’s good enough and to suck it up; these people are sorely ignorant.  Sorely. F-ing. Ignorant.  If you walk out your front door in Seattle, it could take you hours to get somewhere in Seattle without a car; in cities all over the world you can get around without checking a schedule.  Yes, I know people who are car-less in Seattle; they do not have the freedom that car-less people have in big cities like New York, Shanghai; or similar-sized cities like Boston or Washignton DC, or smaller cities like… haha pick any city in Western Europe.
  • Worst Mexican Food:  TIE; Taipei, New York City.  Mexican food in Taiwan never failed to make me sad.  The same was true for New York City, and YES I’VE BEEN TO QUEENS.  I know plenty of white people and recent arrivals who say the same about Seattle, but I know where to find it all here.
  • Biggest American Junk Food Culture:  Manila.  I saw zero evidence of healthy food in Manila.  There’s American junk food on every corner, and Filipino versions to fill in the gaps.  I heard rumors that some of my nieces like to eat salad; I hope it’s true.  There is a lot of junky Chinese food in China and Taiwan, but at least some of that is made from vegetables.  I know that there are many American readers who will want to bash America for exporting that garbage, but there’s something else going on… Filipinos are hungrier than other people, and let’s face it; American chain restaurants are so damn easy to franchise…


  1. 朝 cháo, zhāo: to face; towards; dynasty / morning; day
  2. 櫃檯 guìtái: counter; bar; front desk
  3. 發蠟 fǎlà: hair product
  4. 沖洗 chōngxǐ: to rinse, to rinse off
  5. 網誌 wǎngzhì: weblog; blog
  6. 探戈 tàngē: tango
  7. 森巴 sēnbā: samba (rhythm, dance)
  8. 塊四步 kuàisìbù: quick step (ballroom dance)
  9. 倫巴 lúnbā: rumba (ballroom dance)
  10. 西班牙兩步 xībānyáliǎngbù: paso doble (ballroom dance)
  11. 纜車 lǎn chē: cable car
  12. 果醬 guǒjiàng: jam; jelly; preserves
  13. 餅乾 bǐnggān: biscuit; cracker; cookie
  14. 華夫餅乾 huáfūbǐnggān: waffle
  15. 補習班 bǔxíbān: cram school
  16. 鬆餅 sōngbǐng: muffin; pancake
  17. 臺 tái: Taiwan (abbr.); (classical) you (in letters)
  18. 附近 fùjìn: (in the) vicinity; nearby; neighboring
  19. 美好 měihǎo: happy; fine; glorious
  20. 身影 shēnyǐng: figure (of human body); silhouette
  21. 提高 tígāo: to raise; heighten; improve
  22. 略微 lüèwēi: a little bit; appreciably; slightly
  23. 聲音 shēngyīn: sound; voice
  24. 原本 yuánběn: original; originally; formerly
  25. 沉浸 chénjìn: immersed/steeped in; be permeated with
  26. 一齊 yìqí: at the same time; in unison; simultaneously
  27. 回答 huídá: to reply; to answer
  28. 而且 érqiě: moreover; in addition; as well as
  29. 搬動 bāndòng: move; shift
  30. 椅子 yǐzi: chair
  31. 過來 guò lai: come over; come up; be able to handle
  32. 鋼筆 gāngbǐ: fountain pen
  33. 田野 tiányě: field; open country
  34. 古人 gǔrén: people from ancient times; ancient man
  35. 造字 zàozì: create a Chinese character
  36. 表示 biǎoshì: express; show; indicate
  37. 飛機 fēijī: airplane
  38. 某 mǒu: a certain; some
  39. 姓氏 xìngshì: family name
  40. 確認 quèrèn: confirm; confirmation; verify
  41. 發現 fāxiàn: discover; to find

3 thoughts on “JP’s City Awards

    • ah yes, taco popo? I remember Ange was telling me once, “oh, mexican food is just everything thrown together,” and I said “that’s what chinese food looks like to someone who is not familiar.” she said “no..” and I said “yes.” And then I told her by the way, nothing on the menu is actually mexican. Then I actually read every item on the long menu and, I was right, nothing NOTHING was actually mexican; it was all what Chinese people think American people think is Mexican food.


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