Talked my face off in class for four hours.
Went to lunch with Pashan T to the ESL-themed restaurant called “Joe’s Time.” Which was weird. I had red Thai curry chicken and rice; Pashan T had Police Tempura (fried dough) and fried cheesy tater-tot wedges. And tall iced teas.
My one sweet for the day was the 全家 Family Mart 霜淇淋 soft-serve flavor of the month: 水蜜桃！THE HONEY PEACH!
I chilled out for most of the afternoon, and then went to dinner with Pashan T, who wanted to check out places across 和平路 Heping Road… a domain I haven’t explored this time, but somehow I have vague memories of going there two years ago…
Long story short: I stumbled upon the 2nd floor restaurant that Skritter Jake had taken me to in 2012, the time when I 請’ed him so hard he saw stars. We shared a table with an older couple, who ignored us except to stop me from confusing the soy sauce from the vinegar. We got cold cucumbers, tofu disguised as tripe sausage, kangkong, and two baskets of 湯包 soup dumplings. Each basket came with a screaming hot bowl of broth, which I was trying avoid but what are you gonna do.
After that I said goodbye to Pashan T (he’s over the Pacific now, on his way back to the states). Then I did a quick wardrobe change and met the gang at Revolver. Here’s who was there: Polish P, Swiss German S, French E, Polish D, Irish D, Taiwan T, Swiss French T, and everybody’s favorite, German G. Taipei A showed up later, and it started getting loud, so me and Taipei A bugged out and went to Something Ales for a quiet beer and a long and involved conversation about Mexico.
Today is my last full day in Taipei. I’ve got one more sleep and then tomorrow I’m wheels up. A lot of my friends have left and moved on; and a new crew has come to replace us at the Taiwan Mandarin Institute. I’ve achieved a lot of my Taiwan goals, but there were some things I didn’t get to… some people I wasn’t able to reconnect with… and some mandates of Aussie L’s that I didn’t get around to violating. I’ll have to find my way back somehow.
At this point it’s final goodbyes, last minute shopping, and sentimental meals. Like that grilled mackerel that I just ate just now, dang…
UPDATE: OK, so my plan this morning was to buy some tea to take back with me, as if I were going to integrate the Taiwanese tea ceremony into my life in Seattle; guh. Taiwan Amy 🐟 sent me to the train station, where there are many tea shops in the underground mall.
Here’s the deal; when they dug into the street to build the Taipei Metro, they also built “metro malls,” which are like shopping malls the length of the entire boulevard. I mean, you might as well build the underground mall, since you’re digging anyway.
When I got to the train station, I realized there wasn’t a single metro mall attached to the train station, but four. Four gigantic malls. The ones under the boulevards turned out to be luggage and underwear malls; but the QMall turned out to be exactly the shopping hell I was looking for. I looked around for gifts (wind-up toys? crazy socks?) and after a while I decided to bolt so I could go home and cry.
I pulled myself together enough to get that mackerel I was talking about, and then on the walk back, I wandered into the tea shop that I had not dared to enter. The Taiwanese tea ceremony is pretty complicated. Today, I entered.
I told the lady I wanted to buy a teapot and pourer thingy for four; I could buy the rest of the kit in America. She picked out some pots to show me, and I picked a purplish brown number. Then she asked me about tea, and I couldn’t tell her what I wanted, except for that I wanted oolong (because Taiwan Amy 🐟 told me I did). She showed me a photo of four shades of tea, and when I said “number 2” she said I was picking out all the educated choices for a dude that just wandered in off the street.
So there are a lot of steps I have to take to get this clay teapot humming; I have to soak the whole thing in water over night with a pinch of tea inside, throw it out, do it again; wipe the outside; clean but never wash the inside. Over all, only use oolong tea in the pot. There are a lot of rules.