greetings from Formosa

Day Six on this island known as the Republic of China, or more familiarly called Taiwan, and i’m trying to process a lot of the stuff that i’ve experienced during my stay. Melanie has been a most excellent host, leading me all around Taipei and other parts of Taiwan while using her knowledge of Mandarin to communicate and get us around. We’ve done a lot of walking, some sightseeing, scootering (including an unfortunate mini-accident last night), and a lot of eating. I’ll go into greater detail about the trip when i organize the photos and post up a Weekend entry about Taiwan, but a short list of observations/experiences for those curious about me being in an Asian country not named Korea.

* pooping – not a fan of throwing toilet paper into a waste basket after wiping. supposedly their drainage system can’t handle paper waste. i’ve gotten pretty adept at wrapping the soiled paper like a dumpling so i won’t have to look at my own poop stains.

* Barista Coffee – not entirely sure if it’s a Taiwanese franchise, but Barista Coffee is eerily similar to Starbucks Coffee, even down to the decor and logo. Melanie and I had breakfast there once – the coffee was really strong and the “bagel burgers” were delicious.

* lots of signs – when you walk the streets of Taipei (or any place with lots of stores), you’ll notice that every store seems to have signs that jut out and face you. it’s like a huge pile of Mahjong tiles except these have bright colors and lights. i told Melanie, on more than one occasion, that this place was like “one big Chinatown.” hehe.

* palm trees – the weather was very nice for the first four days i was in Taiwan. on the third day, the temperature reached the sixties (we had to use our C-F 5/9 conversion). i saw lots of palm trees and thought about the time i went to Florida during Christmas time. but overall, it was still chilly enough that we needed to have our jackets on most of the time.

* 7-11 – no Indian or Pakistani store owners at the 7-11s in Taiwan. i feel like there’s one on every street corner, and they are a lot nicer than the ones we have in the states. haven’t really seen a Big Gulp slurpee machine, but every 7-11 has a pot with tea eggs (eggs in some soy sauce broth).

* money (NT$) – I used to make fun of Japanese money because you needed a lot more yen to have the same amount of dollars. i found it amusing to see Taiwnese currency in action. the conversion rate is something like 100 NT$ = $3 USD, so it was funny/intimidating when Melanie had to buy a corkscrew and it cost 500 dollars. a dinner for two at Peter Luger’s Steakhouse in Taiwanese dollars would be something like 6,670 bucks!

okay that’s it for now. i’m waiting for Melanie to get back with McDonald’s – i was craving some American food after nonstop Taiwanese cuisine. i told Mel that in New York, i have all kinds of food each week – Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, French, etc. – so some French fries and chicken nuggets would hit the spot. oh, i almost forgot. Mos Burgers are awesome! they have this one burger that has sticky rice buns and some teriyaki-seasoned beef with lettuce leaves that totally blew me away. wish they had one in the states. well, happy holidays!

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