Yesterday I did another morning market walk; it was spectacular again. When I wound my way back out to 師大路 I stopped at a wonton cart. I didn’t really know what or how to order; the menu didn’t seem to correspond. But I sat down and ordered “the same as that guy, for here.”
I ended up with a bowl of slippery wheat noodles in sauce, and another bowl of little wontons in a sea of screaming hot chicken broth. It was pretty spectacular for a street cart. The other customers were elderly men, young women in scooters, and at least one young lesbian who I imagined seemed personally fulfilled but professionally frustrated.
Oh, and me; a big American tourist in an oversized Hawaiian shirt.
The thing about hot noodles and broth for breakfast is that it melted through the protective shell of chill that I had put on my skin, and after a few bites I had sweat through my shirt.
Here are some of the things that have caused me to sweat through my shirt in the last four days in Taipei:
- Eating noodles.
- Walking three blocks.
- Stoping to watch a sidewalk artist.
I’m here in Taiwan to do two things: study Chinese and write. I’m taking it seriously, like it’s a job. After the noodle-sweating affair, I went to Helen Coffee, one of my many air-conditioned “offices,” where they also serve me coffee and 多士 toast. Helen Cafe used to be a pleasant bus ride through town from my old digs, (squatting at Skritter Jake’s old place), but from my current situation it’s a quick zip on the subway. So I started my laundry and zipped up to Helen Coffee up by the 228 Peace Park, and sat and wrote for a while, and then took a little walk to rediscover that neighborhood a little bit.
Afterward, I zipped back down to check on my laundry and to cool out. I ended up meeting one of my three roommates, who was shutting himself in all day to study.
By the time I was done with it all, it was time for a late lunch, so I zipped back up to the Peace Park and found my favorite tonkatsu place from two years ago. It’s kind of a tonkatsu factory, but the quality is high and they have their a/c set to “tundra,” and it’s a good way to spend $8 USD. I didn’t bother to read the menu or use language to order, I just pointed to a picture of the thick panko-fried pork chop, dressed with some mayo and a couple of handfulls of bonito flakes waving in the heat. The meal comes with miso, shredded cabbage, steamed rice, and a fruity jello cup that’s black and smokey tasting.
After that, I went home. I used to tell people that the heat doesn’t bother me when I’m on vacation, so I guess I’m not really on vacation this summer, because the heat is bothering me. Also, studying and writing is my job, so I’m not on vacation. See?
Anyway, back at home I just tried to rest. I know it’s partly still the jet lag that makes me feel like my engine is stalled during the early afternoon, but also the heat. I feel silly traveling all this way to be holed up in my room, but that’s the program for now.
Later that afternoon I got on a train to 淡水 Danshui, the last stop on the subway line, a kind of touristy town at the mouth of the river. When I got there I met up with 喬丹 and Hong Kong A, and the three of us walked through the night market and along the river during the sunset, stopping occasionally to play the ukulele.
There are a bunch of irritating looking, expensive restaurants along the river in Danshui, fancy places that have a nice view and overcooked (I imagine). Luckily we found a more blue-collar seafood counter, which is more like a deli the more I think about it. We grabbed some beers from the fridge and ordered some side dishes from a menu form on a clip board, and then walked back out to the counter to pick out our main dishes. We found a nice plate of head-on peel-and-eat shrimp, and a big section of panko-fried white fish that was meaty and delicious. I have no photographs of the food because I was so hot and sticky that I did not want to take my phone out of my pocket. 喬丹 later messaged me a photo that he took.