May 31, 2009

Roadnotes: Taipei

The following is based on events that occurred on May 23 and May 24.

Jade Cabbage
We take the high speed rail from Taichung to Taipei. The first stop is the National Palace Museum, a place where things are actually old. They've got stuff from just about every dynasty, seems like, and an especially interesting jade cabbage.

Super Boots
Next, we take in Taipei's night market, where I buy some boots that will be perfect for a project I haven't officially announced yet (pictures will be posted eventually).

Pig Intestines
After the night market, we meet friends of the sweetheart's for dinner. I try pig's blood and pig intestine. The blood was fairly tasteless. The intestine was actually super good, but had a disgusting texture. It was like chewing...well, intestines.

Stinky Tofu
Later that night, I try stinky tofu, which wasn't bad, but apparently also not as stinky as some vendors' stinky tofu.

Taipei 101 Looks Like Bamboo
The first stop after breakfast the next morning was the tallest building in the world. What can I say? It's tall. Oh yeah - and apparently it was designed to look like a bamboo stalk. We didn't go up to the top because I didn't want to spend one hour of my life that day waiting to ride an elevator. But still, we could pretty much see that it was tall, so we felt satisfied moving on.

The Perfect Bed
We stepped into a great store called Muji, where things don't have a brand label, they're designed very simply, and they actually have products I want to buy. Unfortunately, it would be ridiculous to ship the perfect simple bed overseas, otherwise, I'd have paid the price. However, Google tells me they have Muji in NYC, so maybe I can ship from there. I'll look into it as soon as I'm not having fun.

Eslite Bookstore
Next, we checked out a very large 24-hour bookstore called Eslite. They had a lot of well-designed books, and great sub-categories, like Hypertext Literature.

Last Meal
My last meal in Taipei was an extremely excellent tofu burger at California Grill (not the chain). So yummy....

May 28, 2009

Roadnotes: Foot Massage, Paper Dome, Sun Moon Lake

The following is based on events that occurred on May 21 and May 22.

I'm still fresh off the plane, for the most part, and we decide to go for a foot massage. Or more like, those who can speak Chinese decide to go for a foot massage and I follow along.

I've never had a foot massage before in any language, but it's clear that I'm a tense person. Just about everything the massuese does causes at least a tiny little bit of pain, which I'm supposed to alert the masseuse to, but the real options are these:

Try to figure out how to tell someone I'm in pain in a language I don't know, or wait three seconds for him to do something else. And I can easily sit through three seconds of pain.

My foot massage diagnosis? I need sleep and I spend too much time sitting wrong and staring at computer screens. That's deadly accuracy.

The next day we head to the Paper Dome. It's a domed building made largely out of paper. The benches you sit on are an interesting kind of cardboard (or something) and the dome is treated so it won't be destroyed by the rain.

After the Paper Dome, we drive to Sun Moon Lake. Since it's right on the lake, we check out Wenwu Temple. There are people selling food all around the lake, so I have my first tea egg. It's a hard-boiled egg that's boiled again in tea. Absolutely yummy.

The sweetheart's mom goes by a strict rule of one egg per day, no more. Otherwise, I'd have had another tea egg immediately.

May 27, 2009

Roadnotes: The Heat

I'm in Wu-Fong, Taiwan. The humidity wraps itself around me.

To survive this kind of heat, you have to adjust your thinking.

If you think of the heat as your enemy, you're finished.

The trick is to think of the heat as Earth's loving embrace, as a gentle promise that no matter what, you will not be cold. If you can think of it that way, then it's like walking around with a god hugging you non-stop.

It also helps to suddenly become a sandals person.

May 26, 2009

Roadnotes: Taipei to Wu-Fong

The following is based on events that occurred on May 21.

I'm in the car with the sweetheart. We haven't seen each other in over two months and there's absolutely no weirdness.

"So," I say, "is it really foggy or is all that pollution?"

"Pollution," she says.

Even so, it's quite pretty.

May 22, 2009

Roadnotes: Seattle to Taipei

The following is based on events that occurred on and May 20 and May 21.

It's only the beginning of the trip and I'm pretty sure I don't know how to do anything:

1. How to unfold the table out of the armrest.
2. How to pull the movie screen watcher thing up.
3. How to tell what time it is.
4. How to figure out how far we've traveled.
5. How to eat my vegetarian meal without any utensils.
6. How to time the bathroom run.
7. How to call an attendant to get some water.

But eventually I figured it all out. So don't worry.

And, after all that, going through customs was a breeze.

May 21, 2009

Roadnotes: Sea-Tac International Airport

The following is based on events that occurred on May 19 and May 20.

I use my credit card to buy water from a vending machine. The directions on the machine tell you to press END to complete the transaction, but I can't find an END key.

I kind of feel like falling to my knees and pounding the machine repeatedly, shouting, "There is no end. There is no end."

But of course, there's always an end. It's what gives things value.

I press CLEAR. That seems to do the trick. Otherwise, I'm buying water for everyone until someone installs an END button.

Some youngsters traveling together are discussing their lives, which means they're discussing their virtual lives.

Someone from Canada that somebody didn't know friended somebody on FaceBook and then they chatted and it turns out that someone is so-and-so's best friend from before they moved to somewhere.

You can relax now, since you finally know who that is.

May 19, 2009

Roadnotes: Check

Hepatitus A vaccination
Hepatitus B vaccination
Typhoid vaccination
Prescription traveler's diarrhea medicine
Ear infection
Antibiotic for ear infection
Prescription cough medicine
One-quart clear zip-top plastic bag
Business cards
Camera battery charger
Cord for moving images off of camera
Laptop adapter
Persian rug mouse pad
Plug adapter (3-prong to 2-prong)
Web cam
Ear buds
Printed itinerary
Pajama bottoms
9 outfits treated with permethrin
Extra permethrin for the sweetheart
Insect repellent
Hand sanitizer
Puffs travel pack
Gift for the sweetheart
Northwestern Wine for the sweetheart's family
Seattle-made organic Fair Trade chocolate for the sweetheart's family
Shaving gel
Razor with some stupid name thought up by Gillette
Electric razor
Electric razor charger
Burt's Bees deoderant
Hair brush
Sonicare toothbrush
N95 respirators
My Name is Earl (Season 3)
The Complete Stories of Saki
Exile and the Kingdom
McSweeney's #24
Lonely Planet Taiwan
Chinese PhraseFinder and Dictionary