Back in the States, Part 3

The last full day of our trip, Michelle and I split off from my parents and their friends to do some of the things our friends told us to do that were not a normal list of tourist attractions. It was probably our most adventurous day, not being able to rely on my parents’ friends to speak and translate for us.

First on the list was to see if there was any shopping we could do. It was our last full day. We showed up at the SOGO just before 11:00 AM and it wasn’t open yet. These girls, dressed like Mary Poppins, were being lectured before they stood in front of the door like statues. Just before the store opened two of them came out, one wearing a headset, hooked up to a loud speaker. She gave a speech in Chinese that we could not understand. The other one was little help as she was using sign language. They went back into the store. Moments later, the counter workers all came from one end of the store at once, moving to their stations with precision matched only by a fleet of Imperial Storm Troopers. The doors opened and Michelle and I rushed in, excited to see what other crazy things went on in the store. We headed up a couple floors to get away from the crowd and soon realized everyone was bowing to us and greeting us as we walked past them. One set of workers would bow and greet us. Ten feet later another set of people would bow and greet us. Michelle and I were so confused, but we didn’t want the royal treatment to stop, so I told her we should keep going around in circles. At five minutes after the opening, they disappointed us by stopping and going back to their stations. The magic kind of died off after that.

This is a MOS Burger Seafood Rice Burger. It’s pretty good, but it wouldn’t stand a chance in the States.

Nothing says Asia like meats from all parts of an animal laid out for display in the middle of a humid day. It’s a good thing the woman in the wheelchair in the back is wear a mask. We wouldn’t want the meat to get contaminated.

Don’t forget the chickens.

This picture is something we crossed on the streets. This picture is for Angie and Vicky.

Tongs? Half the fun is running your hands through the piles of panties!

Randall told us to eat at this restaurant, gave us directions on how to get there, and even gave us a phonetic pronunciation of the name of the restaurant. After some confusion, we ended up in the right area, and this restaurant seemed to be the only restaurant around, but we were still unsure of ourselves. The restaurant looked like a place Randall would eat at, but we attempted to say the name of the restaurant to the employees to see if they would give some sign of recognition. Well, that didn’t end up working, but fortunately one of the employees spoke very good English and assured us we were at the correct restaurant.

The food was delicious here. I can recommend this restaurant to those in Taipei, and I can even explain how to get there now.

Later that evening, Michelle and I headed to Snake Alley, a night market area with the supposedly seedier elements of Taiwan. While getting directions from Randall, his mom told us not to go there, because there were lots of bar girls. Are you kidding me? As soon as I heard that, I knew I had to go. Showing up there, it seemed like any other night market, except that they sold adult DVDs and toys. You can see some NSFW picures here and here.

Lungshan Temple is located right outside the subway station next to Snake Alley.

I don’t know about all this incense. The place smelled so bad to me.

Her butcher’s knife moves so fast. The frog didn’t see it coming.

This is why it’s called Snake Alley. There are a number of store fronts that have numerous snakes in cages. We stopped at this one, and the owner pulled two cobras out of a cage. Just look at the grin on the man’s face. He loves his job. At these restaurants you can eat snake soup or order snake shots. I thought, “Why the hell not? I’m on vacation.” I chose shots.

Venom. Bile. Blood. Mixed with alcohol of course.

Having not eaten since lunch time, the shots gave me a pretty good buzz, so dinner was in order. After getting a soda to rinse out any leftover taste, we stopped at a teppan place. Michelle’s scallops on the left are quite spicy.

Finally, to make the trip complete, we knew we had to go to a bar, lounge, or club. Per Vicky’s recommendation, we went to Fifi, a lounge across the street from our hotel. It was quite expensive as we were warned. Drinks were priced like drinks in L.A. at ten bucks a pop. It was cool to get out and see some local night life.

Having tons of time to kill at the airport, we found some ways to entertain ourselves. “Look! We’re native Taiwanese people!”

So here’s my one sentence synopsis of Taiwan. Don’t believe the hype. I definitely had fun on this trip, but if my brother did not have his reception in Taiwan, I would have gone a whole slew of other places first. Although I didn’t get to explore all of Taiwan and can’t say definitively, it seems to be lacking the grand attraction that other destinations have. Rome has its Coliseum. China has its Great Wall. Hawaii has its tropical seascapes. A trip to Taiwan is more like a trip to New York City. There are a few things to see, but unless you know someone there, it’s not nearly as fun. I recommend visiting Taiwan if you are already in Asia, because making a whole trip to Taiwan just for Taiwan is probably not worth it.

One thing I would like to note. Taiwan is full of people that are unfortunate in the looks department. I made this observation during the trip and had my observations confirmed by someone else. I’m not trying to be overly critical here either. The people on the television are good looking but seem to be in the .1 percentile. After that, there is no gradient of looks. I began wondering if all my Taiwanese friends looked similarly and I was just less judgmental of them because they are my friends, but really it’s just the people of Taiwan. I’d love to hear an explanation of this if you have one.

The full set of pictures I put up from my trip is here.