I took a stroll through the snacky area at 公館 Gongguan, where narrow streets at acute angles to each other are lined with snacky vendors selling snacky snacks. I wasn’t terribly hungry but I did allow myself to buy a roast corn with spicy spices painted onto it. Yes, I found a Taiwanese elote. I sat in the park and ate it slowly as Aussie L desperately tried to get me to go to his place so he could make an Indonesian curry. I knew he wouldn’t understand but I told him it was a North American imperative.
Verdict: Should have gone to Aussie L’s. Next I wandered some more, and finally found myself at the froyo shop. I was being very choosy, and an employee came over and tried to be helpful, but I made it clear that I was not illiterate and confused; just illiterate and choosy. In the end, I got probably the least exciting flavor combination possible, but it was exactly what I wanted. Sweet milk froyo mixed with original tart froyo, a little scoop of sliced almonds, and a spoonful of kiwi chunks. I’m going subtle in my old age.
It’s a straight shot back to my room, but it was early and kind of cool and breezy; probably only 87 degrees F with darkness falling. So instead I decided to get lost in the neighborhood.
So the grand avenues here in Taipei like Roosevelt Road are loud and hot and smell like exhaust. It’s lined with banks and a military recruiting center and social institutions, like the Taiwan Academy for Banking and Finance. The subway has stations on major arteries like these. These major arteries create the major shapes on the map. Roosevelt is a major road, so is Heping Road to the north of me.
Cutting into these grand blocks are the interior roads, like Shida Road and Pucheng Street; here’s where you’ll find quicky mart corner stores, the snacky night market zones, and things like eyeglass shops and hair salons.
Between the interior roads are the narrow capillary lanes and alleys. These can be just around the corner from the noisy roads, but they are quiet and peaceful most of the time. I was walking alone in one alley, and all I could hear was a single air conditioner. When a couple walked by talking quietly, I could hear them clearly.
When I was here two years ago, I was in a working class neighborhood. The lanes and alleys were had a cheap noodle shop here and there, mostly just residential buildings.
This neighborhood, however, from Gongguan back up to Shida, has a more affluent vibe to it. The residential buildings I passed were clean and well kept; the gates to the buildings are decorated with faux wood paneling and plants. The storefronts are all clean and well-lit and they look charming inside. The restaurants look like places that grownups eat, and the cafes look comfortable but also discreet. These are places that you’d go if you were an author who wanted to be left alone, or a history teacher trying to keep a romance private.
On my walk, I saw several Vietnamese restaurants, a few Indian restaurant, a Belgian place, a few gourmet-looking burger joints, an Egyptian restaurant, and a lot of Chinese restaurants where none of the customers or employees looked stressed out, or worried about their parking expiring.
In other words, I may or may not have stumbled upon 65th avenue NE in Seattle.
I also walked past a place that had 200塊 weekday specials. Tuesday was “eat healthy” night, I think Thursday is “Mexican night” (a picture of fajitas), ” and Friday is “steak night.”
I walked all the way up until I got to Heping Road, and then doubled back to into the quiet part of the Shida Night Market, and finally walked through the snacky section to get back to my building.