Shopping Mecca of Lights and entertainment outside
I am walking through Yonghe, the second most densely populated suburb in the world, getting lost, trying to find an elusive coffee shop. Enjoying being lost. Taipei is like the labyrinth. There are so many entrances but they are hard to find. So many doors but you are not sure where they lead. It is magical and daunting depending. I am lost down a back alley, passing doors to temples with red lights and moving to the side of the alley to let scooters pass me by, and then the man I am following decides to let out a big fart and then proceeds to shake it out of his pants. He doesn’t care that he is not alone. Go ahead. Fart. I will simply turn the corner. It makes me laugh and feel disgusted at the same time. Needless to say, this is socially frowned upon in the West. Hold it. Seriously. But here, men will blow snot rockets, hog huge loogies and fart when the time is right. Girls will wear t-shirts just past their butts with a pair of pantyhose and boots and VOILA this is the outfit. Just No Pants Day again! But hey, the guys like
it and that’s all that matters I guess. These are some of the things that, simple as they are, are so different on a massive scale than what I am used to. It leads to the question ‘What is wrong with it after all?’ I do not have an answer for this question. So I also stopped wearing pants, life is so much easier without them.
Asia is liberating because it is so far away. Interesting because there are so many things that are different from the West. Magical because of the way people live. At times all of the places I have traveled to blend together in the one moment. I realized today that this is one of the best ‘lost walks’ I have had here so far and it is because the weather is so nice. Opening into spring, time to buy a bicycle.
In the distance I hear ice cream truck music. To the untrained ear one might actually believe it is the ice cream man, but neh. When you hear ice cream truck music coming down the street, it’s not the ice cream man, it’s the trash man. That’s right, the ice
cream music is like the Amazonian conk shell calling out to all of those needing to dispose of separated recyclables and general trash. He comes twice a day every day of the week, and it’s like a freaking block party, E’erybody’s there. It’s genuine and very interesting to see how Taiwan deals with its trash. They are super serious about recycling. This is due to the fact Taiwan is an island and has limited space for landfills. You can find a recycling receptacle pretty much anywhere you find a trashcan, but it is hard to find a trashcan. Which has ultimately led me to believe that the Taiwanese people eat their trash. Where else do they put it? ; probably in their mouths.
I also have a picture here of an icecream man who looks like a trash man. A handicapped one at that. Things just aren't what they seem so you can't take things for granted.
Another great difference from the west, I see on my daily MRT ride (Mass Rail Transit) to and from work. The latter half of my journey takes place out in the open amongst the picturesque landscape of tropical mountains and Taiwanese
Ice Cream Man
just inside those little trash can bins is frosty cold creamy icecream!
buildings. It is mostly apartment complexes that are made of simple tiles and bricks, and rising up into the sky. The buildings are overflowing with vines and plant life, cascading over the edges, coming through window cages and there is this embrace between Mother Nature and the city. It is like a land of birdcages. My train ride is level with the birdcage rooftops. In some ways it looks pretty ghetto, but it’s real and it’s how they live. Europe seems to be in a perpetual state of cleaning their old buildings. But here cleaning the edifice of buildings is not on the top of the list. It rains so much I think they don’t want to spend the money on the up hill battle.
Taipei has so much to offer in terms of nightlife and activities. Above all of these are the night markets. The night markets are the lifeblood of the shopping and entertainment around the city. There are night markets in every district and neighborhood. They are filled with street food vendors, small markets, racks of clothing, music of all kinds, and people. Lights shine and blink from every angle, steam rises from grills, deep
fryers and woks. You can buy almost anything you want in these markets. High-end fashion, off beat hipster fashion, glasses, towels, shoes, household goods, slippers, games, snake blood, stinky tofu, whatever. And the best part is that they open when the sun goes out and stay open late into the night. It’s an early morning late night city and this is mostly what lends to Taipei’s reputation of being extremely convenient. It’s easy to live here. Once you get used to it, and are no longer overwhelmed by first impact, you can easily find whatever you need. Farm fresh fruits and vegetables by day, clothes fashion music and lights by night.
If anything, I am not bored here. Taipei offers a wealth of music events, student life, and a healthy sized expat community. More to come! Love and miss you all
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