Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day in Taipei

So I am back in Dili. The journey here is always a little bit epic. In this case with the assistance of inconvenient airline routing, freak storms, and the world’s most incompetent ground staff (I’m looking at you United-Dulles), this particular journey took a little longer. I got to spend a day in Taipei though, which was nice despite being a rather typical boring modern Asian capital. They have the standard temples and subways and skyscrapers (including, as they tell you ad nausea, the world’s tallest building.) Minimally boring highlights include the following:
Body temperature scanners at the airport – After SARS, Taiwan is still a little nervous about commutable diseases. As you head towards immigration at the airport you pass through a thermal scanner. Should your body temperature pop up higher than it is supposed to, you can be hauled off into a quiet little room where airport security personnel will perform a routine physical. Think cool thoughts.
Crossing Streets – The streets in Taiwan, much like DC, have countdown timers and little green man icons when it is “safe” to cross. The difference is that in Taipei, the little green man walks. He walks really slowly when you have lots of time, but by the last five seconds, he is hauling little green pixilated ass. It cracked me up to no end.
National Palace Museum – So when Chiang Kai-shek was fleeing the advancing communists, he and his merry band of followers stopped by the palace museum in Beijing and took everything they could carry off. Turned out to be a pretty good plan from the antiquities perspective – that whole Cultural Revolution thing and all. China now intermittently asks to have their art back – to which Taiwan responds with universal snotty sibling tone of voice – “you broke yours.” The collection is impressive. Though I find it a little difficult to get all hot and bothered about plates, no matter how fine the porcelain, the miniature carvings and the silk painting were worth it.

(4) Asparagus Juice – They have 7-11s in Taiwan just like back on LI. The selection is a little more varied and exotic (Taipei teenagers can even talk bums into buying them scotch…). And I like to try new things. So I bought the asparagus juice. Maybe it was the packaging (what is up with that white chick on the side panel?). Maybe it was the appeal of the unknown. It was definitely the stupid god damned thing I have done in a long time. ~bleck~ Not recommended.

(5) The food – I love the Chinese. These crazy bastards will eat absolutely anything – preferably barbequed on little sticks. I had dinner at the local street market. I sampled the local specialty – beef with noodles – which was good and filling – but nothing to write home about. (That statement is completely contradicted by the fact that I am currently doing that, but on with the tale…) I walked up and down the street – surveying all manner of plants, animal and indeterminate life on display. What did I want to eat? Sweetened intestine? Weird colored snails? Something that might be a fruit or maybe a crab? I settled on a raw clam omelet served over wilted spinach with sweet chili sauce. Though admittedly it pushed the outer limit of my chopstick eating abilities – I definitely got my $2 worth. It was fantastic. And I totally beat the house on this one. I didn’t get food poisoning. Not a single cramp.

Next day it was on to Bali with my boss. She had never been to Bali before, so we did some of the things that I did on the last trip. We went to a cliff temple, saw the monkeys (which I definitely eyed a little warily after that incident last time with shopping bag – if one of those bastards went after my new camera, we was going to be a sorry little monkey), saw the dance show, went to a spiffy dinner. Next day it was back on the plane and on to Dili.

And that is that. I am back working in the office in Dili. I likely won’t be doing anything fun for awhile, we are running a training all next week. I will try to get somewhere fun on Sunday, but I have a workshop to give on Monday so it might just have to be the office…

Final note: You will notice as of this week that there are ads on my blog. They are currently just on the bottom but will soon be expanding to other places as soon as I figure out this HTML stuff. Yes, I do get paid if you click on them, even if you don’t buy anything. No, you are not in any way obligated to do that. All proceeds from advertising will be used to do insanely dangerous and expensive things that I will later write about on the blog. So there is something in it for you too. And to make up for my blatant step into commercialism, I added more pictures this time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have been eating the strangest things. You would have eaten something really strange at the Thanksgiving dinner at Jen's house. I decided to make vegan desserts so Erin could eat them. The pumpkin pie was sooooooooo bad that when people tasted it, I think almost everyone spit it out. I decided that there weren't enough spices so I doubled the amount of spices I put in. Holy smokes - really, really bad. Luckly Jen had some good stuff. gb