Tag Archives: taiwan

Taiwan Makes it Rain

Apparently 55 year-old Taiwanese men are the new rappers of the world. A man was arrested for making it rain in the middle of traffic. I’m just hoping these aren’t my brother’s in-laws.

Poor, Unfortunate Souls…That are Ugly

Let me preface this post by saying, this is not meant to be mean. This is a discussion piece based on observations I have made in the past couple of years with trips to Asia and the recent Olympics broadcast.

I was discussing the Chinese gymnasts with Wendy, and we noted they weren’t very good looking. I’ve brought this up before. China has the same problem that Taiwan has in the looks department. For a moment, I was going to say that the Chinese have a higher percentage of better looking people, but then I realized how many people are in China. I’ve probably seen very few of them, and the ones I’ve seen are in the city. China probably has just as high of a percentage of ugly people as Taiwan. Still, I can’t put a finger on any reasonable explanation for this.

This isn’t a matter of standards in beauty either. The people on Asian television are good looking. They have the same standards of beauty that we do in America. Symmetry is desirable. Just look at what China did in their opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Then Wendy asked me, “Who’s the most Chinese looking of the people we know?” You all know what she was really asking. I’m sure I have met some, but my friends are not in this category. None of my friends have this characteristic, unfortunate look. Chinese and Taiwanese people are always sad looking, sometimes even scowling. Their faces are droopy. Maybe it’s all the smiling we do in our country that make us more symmetrical.

Perhaps it’s a lack of makeup and hair care. Wendy also noted have bad hair. I can buy the hair argument, but the makeup is not the answer. This ugly epidemic is more than a cosmetic touch up. The rule is, “If the barn needs painting, you paint it. Don’t built the barn out of paint.”

So, why are the native people so ugly in China and Taiwan? What other nations have ugly citizens?

Disclaimer: If you are offended by this post, it’s probably just because you’re ugly…or Chinese, which we noted is the same thing unless you’re from America.

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.

Back in the States, Part 2

The next was spent wandering around the city to see some sites and gorging ourselves on some more questionable food items, just like a city trip to New York would be like.

The very boring museum of stuff taken from China during the revolution. If I were China, I wouldn’t even ask for it back. They have a rock that looks like a piece of stewed meat. Yay?

The best thing we found in the museum.

Taipei 101. Don’t let the Taiwanese fool you. Although they adamantly believe it is the tallest building in the world, it’s not.

Everyone with us knew that Michelle liked all her foods spicy, so we made sure to give her hot sauce for everything. These are spicy pot stickers, which explains the grin on her face.

This is round two of dinner after stuffing ourselves with half a dozen dumplings each. Delicious.

The next day we decided to head out of Taipei to check out some of the natural beauty of Taiwan. We booked plane tickets to head to a town outside of Taroko Gorge and tour into what I like to call, Taiwan’s Grand Canyon in Marble Form.

Home on the hillside.

I know the girl in red. She was in a different tour group that crossed ours and recognized me. Small world.

Maybe it was my apparel.

The path into Mordoor…I mean Taroko Gorge.

The weather was gorgeous. It was one of the first days there was blue skies this year.

I was hoping to get to cross the bridge, but no luck.

This whole mountain is made of marble. This looks like someone took a chunk out of it.

Protector of the gorge.

We hiked up a whole lot of stairs to see a temple and a giant golden statue. At the top a monk asked Michelle and me if we could carry down a couple bags when we made our way down. We said we would do that, figuring we could score some karma point or whatever brownie points these monks have.

This is me, getting tired and wondering what we’re carrying.

This is the free ice tea they give out down below. I guess they make it up top and trick tourists to carry down. The rest of the day we kept saying, “Those monk-ees tricked us!”

It’s got my hand! Save yourselves!

We saw a long line of people around a food stand and people standing around eating.

We had to join in on the fun.

Round two. Duck. The name of the game was eat the duck and spit the bones on the table. We followed the lead of multiple locals. I sure hope they clean these tables.

We decided to eat at the Modern Toilet Restaurant. This dessert is pretty disgusting. It doesn’t help that the bowls are shaped like squatty potties. The novelty wasn’t worth it.

One more day left in Taiwan to blog about, along with my synopsis of Taiwan and its people. Stay tuned.

Back in the States, Part 1

I’m back and jet lagged. I have lots of stories to tell, but as not to completely waste your day away, I will break things down into a couple, more manageable posts. They’re still going to be long, so don’t start unless you’ve got some time to kill.

This trip was planned originally, because of my brother. He got married a month ago, and his in-laws live in Taipei. Well, a dinner reception was planned for him. I figured I might as well make a trip of it and invited Michelle along to experience Taiwan.

The island of Taiwan does have some things to see, but we were in Taipei most of the time, and it’s a city like you would think of any major city in the world. It’s got shops, restaurants, and a few landmarks. Knowing that I wasn’t going to see a lot of tourist sites, I was determined to at least be adventurous in my dining while I was in Taiwan. That’s a lot to ask of me, a very picky eater.

This was my first impression of Taipei. Very clean.

Our transportation to the hotel, my second impression of Taiwan. Kind of weird.

Our room. I wrapped that bed cover around my shoulders and pretended to be the emperor.

Our first view of the streets of Taipei. How exciting!

These scooters put out so much pollution. They’re everywhere.

Our first meal in Taiwan. We ordered it by pointing, not really knowing what was in it. It had something squishy in it.

First lunch in Taipei, also ordered by pointing. This meal was delicious.

For all I know, this button could release the hounds.

Yes, I visited a fish store. Their fish are better quality, even the fish that come from South America.

The dinner settings at my brother’s reception.

Which one of these is not like the others? Which one of these just isn’t the same?

Nothing says class like swan ice sculptures.

Waiting around for everyone to show up so we can pretend to understand what they’re saying.

Michelle getting her Internet fix.

Howard Plaza Hotel.

7-11 is a full meal stop for busy people on the go. We saw a guy eating a lunch in a box and asked him where he got it. 7-11 was his response.

Mister Donut. These are delicious. They’re not overly sweet like American donuts, but the way they’re baked makes them perfectly chewy.

Din Tai Fung! It’s just like in Shanghai, but this was the original restaurant.

Taiwanese. More than meets the eye.

The Modern Toilet Restaurant. Does the decor make you want to eat?

Consumerism seems much more active in Taiwan. Everyone seems to be constantly shopping. This is a designer t-shirt store with prices close to what shirts like this would sell for in America.

All the fruit is so much sweeter in Taiwan. Cherry tomatoes are no exception.

The streets of Taipei are like this for pretty much the whole day and night.

Kicking my feet up and relaxing at the boardwalk.

Sun setting on a cloudy coastline.

Night markets are awesome. Imagine a county fair coming to town, but instead of once a year, it’s every single night! There are dozens upon dozens of vendors selling their foods. A lot of the locals would choose a booth and have dinner there on their way home. It makes you feel so alive to be elbow to elbow with the locals, doing what they do, eating the same food cooked by the same chef behind he counter, smoking his cigarette. Being on vacation, we decided we wanted to eat everything. We would eat from four or five different vendors’ booths in one night.

Every culture has fried stuff on a stick. How can you beat that?

Imagine a piece of fried chicken the size of your face. Pretty sweet, huh?

All the school kids are in uniform, holding out their bags as if begging for their piece.

I’m not holding the chicken out of the bag. It goes right to the bottom of that bag.

You’ve met your match, chicken! Prepare to be eaten!

The flash cards Alice made for us worked out well. Beef noodle soup, please!

That’s two and a half days of my vacation, summarized so far. What will happen next? Will we get out of the city? Will we get sick from the food we eat? Will we make the venture to the night market known for hookers and seedier elements of life? Will we learn enough Chinese to get around or be doomed to pointing at food to order? Stay tuned. Same m@ time. Same m@ channel.

Everyone’s in Town!

I’ll start this post by contradicting the title. Everyone is not in town. Michelle went to New York with her girl friends for a weekend trip. I was a free man this weekend. I didn’t shower or change my underwear. Ahh, the good life. I did get a chance meet up with some people that were in town.

Friday, before Michelle left for New York, Jessica came into Torrance to have dinner. She has back from China for a couple weeks. We showed her how cool Torrance had become with Del Amo having a Lucky Strike, Ra Sushi, and a BJ’s on its way in Summer 2008. We tried not to make America sound too cool before she had to go back to the Motherland to put lead into children’s toys.

Randall was back this weekend for Chinese New Year’s celebrations and he brought the beautiful weather with him. Originally the plan was to have lunch with a bunch of friends. I apologize to everyone. I woke up late and didn’t get a chance to call people. I got to have lunch with him and his family. When I mentioned my parents were both Shanghainese, but my dad was born in Taiwan he said, “That’s Taiwanese!” I looked at Randall and said, “Told you! You’re not better than me!”

It should be a busy week this week. My brother’s wedding is this weekend. After flying back on Sunday I have to make my way north to stay with Kyung for some work for a couple days up in Thousand Oaks. It should be a fun couple of days arguing with him about whether Captain Picard could kick Boba Fett’s ass or vice versa.