Saturday, March 6, 2010

More Fun Stories from Taipei

Where to start? I've got a lot of things to write about on this post, so I'll try to condense it as much as possible.

I'll start with an interesting conversation I had with an older lady, but let me give some context to the story first. Me and Casey were at the night market Friday and were eating and talking when a guy around our age comes up to us and starts talking to us in English. Now two things are interesting about that to start with: 1. He's Taiwaneese but has an Australian accent and 2. In Asian culture people NEVER come up to someone they don't know.

We start talking and he had spent 6 months in Australia working (hence his accent) and his mother invited us over to where they were eating so we could - bond? Anyhow, there is a girl a little bit yonger than me there at the table and somehow me and her mother start talking about US - Taiwan relations (Imagine that - me talking politics!). Now the girl is acting as a translator (she is or had studies in England).

What was interesting was that the mother (who I would say was maybe 50) said that she liked Americans but did not like America. I asked her why is that. I mean, we have pretty much stuck our neck out for Taiwan in relation to their right to be "independent" of China (but still the US doesn't "recognize" Taiwan as a "country"). She said that there were two reasons she didn't like the US: 1. We rip off Taiwan when we sell them weapons and 2. She saw what Nixon did in 1972 as selling out Taiwan for the economic interest of the US. I can't say I can blame her for her feelings. It was very interesting to me because I had always assumed that the people of Taiwan would have a very favorable view of the US - but I can definitly understand where she is coming from.

But this is just one person - you can't please everybody.

Anyhow, now to more interesting things... Today I went into Taipei again. And I didn't get AS lost this time! Anyhow, I decided to visit Taipei 101 - which was the tallest building in the world until the one in Dubai opened up earlier this year (but does that count because last I heard they had to close that building because of electrical issues). It only costs about $8 US to take the elevator to the top. Contrast that with the CN Tower in Toronto. It cost like $36 to get to the top of that place. They even have an outside observation deck where you can see smog for miles. It's quite lovely...

After that I decided to start walking in one direction and see what was around. Now I've decided that I have "explorer ADHD" or something. I start walking and then I see some alley where there are people walking around so I go see whats going on. It's actually a good way to see some interesting and unique things. I'll let the video explain what I mean by that...I found this by walking to where the people were:

Anyhow, I did find out a few things today. The night market in Jiantan was the BIGGEST letdown ever. I thought it was going to be this really cool and big night market - I had heard a lot about it. I mean, it's even called a "Tourist Night Market". No. Not even close. It was at best a food flea market. If you want just some local cruisine (which you can find in most any night market) Jiantan is for you. But I don't think I'll head back there for awhile. I headed back to the night market off the Longshan Temple MRT route. I think that is my favorite night market so far - it's the famous one that I ate snake at last week.

Another thing I learned is that it is very difficult to find dudes sunglasses. I walked around for at least 6 hours today and I only found 2 places that had any kind of el cheapo sunglasses for guys.

But I did find a new place that I will be checking out again. Its called Ximen and it seems to be the place to go. While in Ximen I did the riskiest thing since I've been here: I ate at MCDONALDS! I got the Big Mac (which when I saw it, the only thing that went through my mind was "Where's the beef?") But they gave me a large drink and medium fries and it cost about $4 US. One really random thing though that I noticed was that they just gave me 1 ketchup packet. I'm guessing if I asked they would have given me more, but really?! I mean, isn't it self evident that when you have a medium fry you'll use more than half an ounce of ketchup?

Oh going back to the night market off Longshan Temple. I don't know if this was what was going on, but I'm pretty sure it was. I walked kind of off the main part of the market because there was a wall that had some items on it and I wanted to see if there was anything there I needed. Right as I get to the end of the wall (where it turns into the sterotypical creepy dark alley) a woman comes up to me and starts talking to me. I'm just giving her a blank stare but then she grabs my arm and trys to pull me with her into the alley. Now, the first thing that goes through my mind is that she's a hooker. The second thing that goes through my mind is that she's not a hooker but is working with other people to get foreigners (who will have cash on them) into the alley where someone will pull a knife or something on them. So with this immediatley running through my mind I pull my arm away, turn around and get back on the main market area. So the moral of this story is this: during night time, its not a good thing to have "explorer ADHD". I could be wrong though...but I doubt it.

Anyhow, at the end of the day, I was able to find my bus stop very quickly this time. I think I've memorized where they are all at after last weeks fiasco.

Oh and one last thing, I found this crazy looking rock walk thing. It was the most painful thing to walk on barefoot, but after walking on it I felt really good.

Then I saw the sign and it all made sense.


Steph said...

Ya...."Explorer ADHD" could be a very dangerous disease if diagnosed without quickly prescribing a buddy system....and think about the terrible consequences if something were to happen to you, you'd never get to marry Jennifer Aniston! Tragic.

RJ said...

i know! i must fulfill my goal of marrying jennifer aniston...even if she already is 40-something!

and yes, i don't think ill be wandering off into alleys at night any longer. during the day, yes. night, no.