Posts Tagged ‘China’

Taipei? Fuckin’ eh!

July 15, 2010

I’m glad that I decided to stop over in Taipei for a week before heading back to Canada. I never thought I would go to this small island so I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that they manufactured half of the world (70% of LCD displays, laptops, and computer chips; about 30% of servers and dsl cameras; and don’t forget that the company HTC built the Google phone), but I didn’t know that they had some great coffee :), good music, and very nice people. Not only that, I was offered three jobs within the week that I stayed.

With GN’R’s Chinese Democracy running through my head (if only because of the title) I take to the streets of Taipei. My first impression is that the city is a mix of Korean Kpop and Family Marts mixed with western novelties such as Starbucks, 7-11s and good sanitary conditions all covered by a blanket of funny characters called Mandarin (like the fruit).

I find a place to eat: spaghetti with meat sauce, bacon, fried egg and tea with honey in it. Yes, it was THAT good.

Calorically satisfied, I venture out of the restaurant saying “Thank you” in English because everyone here (except one taxi driver) is able to communicate with me in near-perfect English. I go find a proper up of coffee made by a local joint and then go sit in a park. While in the park I see in the distance a few old men sitting on benches and I couldn’t help but think that they were thinking up the next thing they could manufacture and sell to the world.

I decide it is a good idea to get my teeth cleaned. Ow. Not a good idea. Though the dentist was cute, she drilled my teeth hard, and it hurt. What would be used to tighten bolts on a race car in Canada is what they used to scrape my teeth. What I found most amazing is that they let me walk out without paying so I could get money from the ATM. I wonder if they trust everyone like this? I return and pay the $800 NTD (~$24) for the abuse and say “Shey shey” (Thank you).

Looking for a coffee fix after having my teeth “cleaned,” I stumble across Monument Coffee. Here, you have a choice of how you want your coffee prepared. If you want it prepared the Chinese way (which gives it more caffeine than a solo espresso or Americano) it will cost $1 per minute to make, topping out at $5.85. But it was phenomenal. I’m no pro coffee taster, but this coffee ranks up there with one if the best. A stronger cup of coffee, marked by dark chocolate and maybe brown sugar flavours (really? Sure.) And since it was raining cats and dogs that day, I decided to order the hazelnut milk tea. Costing somewhere around $2.60 per preparation minute ($160 NTD = $5.20) this cold beverage was just as good as the coffee.

A few days later I want to check out some museums. Taipei has many great museums. I visit four: the Taipei Astronomical Museum, Fine Arts Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, and the National Museum Of History. All were worth the money, and it’s hard to pick my favourite. If pressed, I’d say the National Museum of History simply because it had a vast collection of paintings, sculpture, ancient artifacts, and a special exhibition on the three kingdoms of China.

Visiting museums often makes me wonder what the museums of the future will keep from our time? DVDs? Books? McDonald’s toys made in Taiwan? It fascinates me to think what future generations will marvel at and consider “museum worthy.” (Serker berker merker lerker “BOOK.” Ashen bashen goin sacken lieven “Read” blacken slacken macken “with eyes.” Gerble gobble jabber babble “English.” <Crowd> Ohhhh!)

And Taipei even has a tall tower, Taipei 101. It was the tallest tower in the world until Dubai finished their Burj Dubai in January 2010. English teachers in South Korea will appreciate me stopping in front of the entrance and exclaiming, much to the confusion of those around me, “Look at the tower! What a tall tower!”

Though the entry fee was quite steep, up I went, some 89 floors, in a very sleek and quiet elevator. After taking some pictures of myself looking out into the Taipeian night, I stopped by the crystal shop on the 88th floor. Looking over the sparkly coral ornaments in the glass enclosures as if I had the money to buy one, a nice looking lady came over and asked if I’d like to see any of them. After politely asking for the price in Canadian dollars, I couldn’t stifle my laugh when she told me the price ($6,000 for a necklace?). I told her that I’m not looking to buy, just look. And then she left me alone.

But what really got me was the description of the citrus crystal. After suggesting that the crystal should be placed on one’s desk, the little card read “Citrus crystal will attract the opposite sex.” Well no shit. Who wouldn’t be attracted to someone who has a $10,000 crystal sitting on their desk? Feeling kinda out of place, I decide that I’d spent enough time to have justified the over-priced entrance ticket and it was time to go.

After a week in the Taiwan capital, I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I could live in Taiwan, especially after researching jobs. But, to Canada I go. I haven’t seen my family or many of my friends for over a year and a half and the heart string are tugging at me.

Good-bye Asia! See you again… soon?


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