Sep 24 - Never Admit Your Animal

So I was walking with my clients to get some grub for lunch. We walked past a statue of a cow, and they told me that the new year would be the year of the Cow. Without thinking I said, "oh yeah, I'm a cow!". A split second later I realized they could figure out my age immediately from that. Because in the Chinese astrology, the sign changes every year and they repeat every 12 years.

So that immediately pegged me as either 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, or 72. One of my clients was nice enough to comment that she thought I was 24. Another beeyatch said I looked 48 and laughed. I admitted that this was the year I will be Turning 36(5). Note to self...never admit your animal!



Sep 25 - Hanging out in Ximen

Taiwan is a pretty cool and modern city. It's like a cleaner more relaxed version of Hong Kong, and more wide open spaces. My hotel room is about 3 times the size of my apartment in Hong Kong--and it's cheaper! The MTR subway here is pretty impressive--probably one of the most advanced I've seen...up there beside Hong Kong and Singapore's.

I went out last night to the gay area--Semen, See Men, Seamen....oh wait it's Ximen! Very fitting name. Anyways it's a cluster of restaurants around the historic Red House Theatre right beside a really busy pedestrian strip, Ximending. Ximending is fun to walk around and is a bit like Shibuya in Japan, except with street meat. Unfortunately, the gay area was pretty dead--no street meat in sight here. I met some Americans who are teaching English in Taiwan and they said that the scene is pretty dead except on Saturdays.

So on Saturday night, I hit a bar called Jump which has monthly parties. It was the Madonna party and it....was....packed.... I could barely move throughout the massive club. I danced for a bit, and then called it an early night. The density of the crowd was just too much for me--although, the guys in Taiwan seem beefier than the rest of Asia. Gyms here must be doing good business. Too bad I can't speak any Mandarin...I couldn't really talk to any of the locals.


ticket, HKG to TPE, Thai Air: C$245
ATM rate: CDN$1 to 29.29 NT
cover, Jump: 700 NT (+1 drink)
- vodka soda: 200 NT


Sep 26 - I Hate Bus Tours

I was at my client's office yesterday and realized that the weekend had crept up on me and I really didn't have any plans. So I quickly searched the internet for tours and found a day trip to Taroko Gorge. I called the travel agent, bought my ticket, and early today was picked up, taken to the airport, and flown to the eastern side of Taiwan. That's the good thing about these tours, they are quick and easy. No thinking required.

Arriving at the Hualien airport, all the different tour groups of foreigners from Taipei were combined together into the same big bus tour. And we drove in a decent air-conditioned bus through a gorge between high cliffed mountains. Every so often, we would get out of the bus, look at some mountain and then get back in the bus. And then sometimes she mentioned the word "hike", it really meant that we were allowed to go walk a path for about 5 minutes. It kind of sucked if you ask me.

Yeah, I really didn't like the tour. We were constantly getting on and off the bus--and seemed to spend more time at the rest stops than the actual sites themselves. I got super miffed when the guide would take us to a temple somewhere and then say "don't go to the temple...we don't have time". WTF?! Okay that wouldn't have pissed me off if we really didn't have the time--but then they end up taking us to a granite shop and a sweets shop for over 90 minutes at the end of the tour. Grrr...

I hate tours that have alterior motives and the packaged tour to Taroko Gorge was a thinly veiled attempt to sell more stuff to foreigners. I just want to explore...not shop. Why were we spending an hour at a granite store and just 10 minutes at a neat little Buddhist temple on the side of the mountain? I would definitely not recommend this tour--hopefully you can figure out the tour yourself.

There were some nice places particular the Eternal Spring Shrine--a small shrine with a picturesque waterfall flowing from the surrounding mountain. The pictures show how nice the scenery really is if you ignore the stupidity of the bus tour.


tour, Have Fun Travel: 4900 NT
ticket, TransAsia Air to Hualien: 1455 NT
- time to fly: 30min
ticket, train to Taipei: 441 NT
- time for train: 2hrs 30min

Sep 27 - Taipei 101 and Sno Cones on Steroids

Taipei 101 is not a university course but a tower over 500 meters that dwarfs the other buildings of Taipei. It takes about 40 seconds to take the elevator up to the observation deck almost 400 meters high. From here you can see that Taipei is a huge friggin city. I was just bumming around the Xinyi district, so I couldn't really tell how big Taipei really is! You can also see the mountains almost completely surrounding the city. And lots of bridges and tunnels.

They also have a massive wind damper displayed for the public. It's basically a gigantic weight that moves opposite the sway of the building during windy days or earthquakes. This weight keeps the tower more stable. It looks really futuristic--like a giant shiny gold beehive. It's amazing what the engineers of these mega-structures can do.

The scary thing is that when I did a search for Taipei 101 online, I also got entries for the Burj that is currently being built in Dubai, and should be done by the end of the year. Talk about over the top--it is going to be over 800 meters high! Considering that it is 60% higher than the current tallest building in the world...that's pretty sick.

And speaking about over the top. After I did my tour of the tower, I dropped by the Mitsukoshi cluster of malls to have my final meal in Taiwan. I had some more of the crazy desserts they have here. Just imagine the sno-cone from your youth. Crushed ice with some blue or red syrup on it. Mmmm...brings back memories. Now, just add about 10 other toppings, douse it in sweet condensed milk, and you end up with the desserts they sell in Taiwan. They are super sweet and tasty. And very fun to eat as you dissect the different layers.


ticket, Taipei 101: 400 NT




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