Monday, September 17, 2007

Taking Taipei by storm

Since we didn't have anything special planned this weekend, and we thought it was best to avoid the Pig Pen for a little while; Stephen and myself decided to take a train up to Taipei to visit some friends from our training group.

Rachel and Shane, not wanting to break their record of not having spent a single weekend in Jubei, also met us up there.

The train is cheap and only takes about 2 hours. It was relatively painless despite having to sit on the floor because we missed the train we had originally purchased tickets for. Thanks Stephen.

After we arrived in Taipei, we met up with our friends Nick and Tim. We all got a bite to eat and exchanged some hilarious stories. Then we stopped by the 7-11 to get some drinks and hang out at their apartment for a while.

Later we went to another all you can drink place called TU (Taiwan Underground). It was only Taiwanese people there and I got the impression the staff wanted to keep it that way. The bouncers and bartenders were all very rude, as were the male patrons of the bar whenever we tried to dance with any of the girls. I guess they didn't like the competition.

But the night went off without incident, and all made it home with their heads intact.

The next day we woke up and walked to a breakfast shop and got some Dan Bings. These are essentially breakfast burritos: a rice tortilla wrapped in eggs, bacon, and cheese, and smothered in syrup. They are fantastic. We polished those off with a bit of tea. Passionfruit green tea has become my favorite. I sometimes drink two or three glasses a day. There is also a pearl milk tea here which is high on the list. If you can find either of these at home, I strongly encourage you to try them.

With a full stomach, we left a few hours later to go to the National Palace Museum. In 1949, when Chaing Kai-Shek lost the war to communist China and fled to the island of Taiwan; he took many pieces of art from the Forbidden City with him. These are now all housed at the National Museum. All in all, I found it a little boring. It was mostly pottery and a few pieces of bronze here and there. There was, however, a very cool ivory decoration (pictured above). It was carved from a single piece of ivory and is 17 concentric, spherical balls; one inside the other. The craftsmanship was superb.

Soon after seeing that, we lost interest and went to the cafe to rest our feet.

On the way back to Nick and Tim's apartment, we stopped at the Longshuan Temple. It's one of the biggest in Taipei city. It was very crowded with people praying, throwing fortune sticks, and burning incense and paper money to honor their ancestors. It was a beautiful place and I wish I knew exactly what was going on. I also wish I wasn't such a goon and taken touristy pictures of people in their place of worship.

We made the trip back to Taichung later that night. I also met a new friend who is a fellow teacher for Hess. She's a very cute girl named Sue. Although she was born in Taiwan, she was raised in California and lived in New York city the past 5 years. She speaks with an American accent and likes fried chicken and potato chips. In fact, the only way you can tell she is Taiwanese is because she speaks Mandarin and plays badminton.


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