Hot, Hot, Burn

Wednesday, May 10th, 2006

The temperature here is remarkable. When we left Canada, it was mild enough to be comfortable outside, though it snowed on our penultimate day in the country. When we arrived in LA, it was on the warm side but we still couldn’t abandon the long underwear. Finally, upon arrival in Taiwan, we experienced heat.

May 08 2.jpg
May 08 3.jpgOn our first day, it seemed so lovely to be so warm and let our skin absorb the moisture in the air. “Isn’t it so nice,” we said, “that we can walk around in the evening and not wear a jacket!” Then the rain started falling, and we thought “Oh my, a little sprinkle. We had better go back to the hostel.” And then we got trapped by the DOWNPOUR of rain, under an awning fifty feet from our door. (That was Lesson #45 of being in Asia- we continue a burn-rate of 20 Lessons/day.) The next day, we began our touristing with a walk to Taipei 101, currently the tallest building in the world. The building was great, the heat was astonishing.

May 08.jpgAfter having bought about 10 bottles of water, I convinced Marc to try something new: sweetened rose water. It tastes great and, when the cold bottle is held to the forehead, it seems to create the illusion of being cool for a couple of seconds.

Now, we are at Meg and Kent’s apartment in Kaohsiung the heat is consuming. The good news is that our extremely generous hosts have a balcony with a fantastic view of the city and the mountains beyond, which is a perfect place for happy hour. Surely, we will become a little more acclimatized as our jet lag wears down and our beer consumption increases. It’s not for nothin’ that my favourite beer is sold cheap at every convenience store, which are conveniently located every two blocks.

Number of Times That We Have Been Lost So Far: 6
Number of Items That We Have Lost So Far: 4

P.S. I can hear the experienced travellers we know reading this and scoffing, “You think this is hot?! Wait until you reach Beijing/Dubai/India/Thailand.” Yes. We know.

Taipei Supper 101

Friday, May 5th, 2006

We quickly learned how to get necessities in Taipei. Someone told us Taipei is a good city for us to transition to Asian travel. Most people speak at least a little English. Most signs are posted in English and most places have very good signs. The metro is very easy to use. They even provide a very good map of the city for free.

Taipei day 1.jpgFood can be a little challenging. The key factor is selecting a food stand where we can communicate what we want. Some restaurants and stands have pictures, others have English menus. Some just have food on display at which to point. It’s also possible to point at meals that have been served to other people. Most food vendors seem used to selling food in this fashion.

On our first night we selected a small restaurant with pictures of noodle soup. We pointed at what we thought was chicken, but were served barbeque pork, which was better anyway. The pork and broth were very tasty. The soup also included baby bok choy, an egg and a slice of white something with a pink flower that had no flavour at first, then tasted like fish or fake crab. I suspect it was some sort of fish log. The smiling proprietor brought us some ice tea at no extra charge.

Taipei day 1B.jpgDessert was a bit of surprise. I picked out something pink from a display case with the assumption it was soft, fluffy and creamy. I’m glad we didn’t wait until we got back to the hostel to eat it because it turned out to be frozen. The outside was covered in sticky gelatinous rice. The inside was like strawberry ice cream, but with a slightly waxy texture. We’re sure to have more pleasant surprises.

There are so many places to go in Taipei and so much food to try. We could spend a three weeks here instead of a few days.