Monthly Archives: July 2014

Winding Down in Taiwan

(Ed. note: Thank you to all who commented on Terry’s blog – it makes us feel wanted.) Well here it is Sunday morning – our last full day in Asia for 7 weeks. It still boggles my mind – we leave Shanghai tomorrow at 4 pm and get into Vancouver tomorrow at noon – 4 hours before we leave. So unless something truly unusual occurs, you can sit back from the edge of your chair and stop waiting with baited breath for the next edition of The Jiaxing Express until late August or early September. Since Terry’s Photolog was so popular, we will leave you with some photos which haven’t made it into any blog, mostly because they don’t come with an applicable anecdote – but are interesting unto themselves. So let’s start with a couple of photos taken of some small purses which Terry and her BPAGs (birthday party attending girlfriends) saw while they were in Shanghai. (Ed. note: Terry has been asked if she is going to write a followup to her first blog about the weekend. Her response “I’ll try, but its going to very hard” Husband’s translation – “Don’t hold your breath.”)

See below

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I leave you to develop your own caption.

I leave you to develop your own caption.

From Hong Kong, SAR of China

The guy sitting down was the "Leader" although neither of the other two seemed to ever be in sync - with him or each other.

The guy sitting down was the “Leader” although neither of the other two seemed to ever be in sync – with him or each other.

Terry and Friends

Terry and Friends

The sign says that this entrance is closed to non-governmental workers. Just how do THEY even get in?

The sign says that this is Government Offices Area.  Just how do THEY even get in?

These are edible seafood of some sort - at edible to the people of Hong Kong.

These are edible seafood of some sort – at least edible to the people of Hong Kong.

The 131 people (I counted them) were lined up at 10pm for the Japanese restaurant noted at the bottom - not the Starbucks.

The 131 people (I counted them) were lined up at 10pm for the Japanese restaurant noted at the bottom – not the Starbucks.

From Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei 101 - guess what - it has 101 floors and when it was built it was the tallest building in the world (I think).

Taipei 101 – guess what – it has 101 floors and when it was built it was the tallest building in the world (I think).

1/8th of Taipei - from the 91st floor.

1/8th of Taipei – from the 91st floor.

It took 34 seconds to go from 5th floor to 91st floor.

It took 34 seconds to go from 5th floor to 91st floor.

Terry, Geoff at Taipei 101 during the day...

Terry, Geoff at Taipei 101 during the day…

and at night.

and at night. Perhaps someone could explain to me why a professional company was cutting everyone off at the knees.

This woman was just too tired in the heat at the flower market to stay awake. Wait for Tainan though.

This woman was just too tired at the flower market to stay awake. Wait for Tainan though.

Why would someone build an evergreen privacy hedge on the top of a building?

Why would someone build an evergreen privacy hedge on the top of a building?

Ready for rain or sun. Very imaginative bike rider.

Ready for rain or sun. Very imaginative bike rider.

These were much more neatly arranged than anything you would find in China - or Vietnam - or Thailand - or....

These were much more neatly arranged than anything you would find in China – or Vietnam – or Thailand – or….

From Tamshui, Taiwan

Geoff crashes a selfie

Geoff crashes a selfie

An empty wall - but at least you know where the stairs were.

An empty wall – but at least you know where the stairs were.

A non-empty wall - with the stairs still in place.

A non-empty wall – with some of the stairs still in place.

Terry felt this battery operated bobble head tiger was "Simply Grotesque"

Terry felt this battery operated bobble head tiger was “Simply Grotesque”

From the “Get Out, Take a Picture, Get In” Tour (Ed. note: From the “There is a God Department”, as I am putting the next few photos in here, Terry gets an email asking her for her review of our Viator tour. She was honest, let me say that!)

Rock formation

Rock formation

Rocks on the beach (of the Pacific Ocean)

Rocks on the beach (of the Pacific Ocean). Guide: “In the distance you can see the most northeast tip of Taiwan. Take a photo” (Ed. note: Woo hoo) 

This cat was sitting on the roof of a cat store. I was HUGE.

This is for all you cat people. He/she is sitting on the roof of a cat store. It was HUGE – 20 feet long at least.

Someone has a love for aggregate. How they ever got all of it up to this narrow little street is a wonder.

Someone has a love for aggregate. How they ever got all of it up to this narrow little street is a wonder.

From Tainan, Taiwan

Dentist Office Maybe?

Dentist Office Maybe?

This is some kind of dessert restaurant. Terry refused to give it a try. Of course that may have been because we had just finished the finest Indian meal we have ever had.

This is some kind of dessert restaurant. Terry refused to give it a try. Of course, that may have been because we had just finished the finest Indian meal we have ever had.

This woman was sound asleep - and I mean sound. She might have been dreaming of...

Remember the woman in the flower market in Taipei? Well, this woman was sound asleep – and I mean sound on the street last night. She might have been dreaming of…

Aaaahhhhh.....

Floating away ….. or perhaps…

A mural in the underground passageway which goes under the railway station. We think it is a crab pulling a chicken leg.

…a crab pulling a chicken leg. These last two are murals in the underground passageway which goes under the train station.

 

Every hair salon should have a full sized horse lamp  in its front window. (Ed. note: this was not the bad salon - it was the magic one!)

Every hair salon should have a full sized horse lamp in its front window. (Ed. note: No, this was not the bad salon – it was the magic one!)

The magic salon - Zebra. They put a plastic mask over your eyes to prevent hair from going in your eyes.

The magic salon – Zebra. They put a plastic mask over your eyes to prevent hair from going in your eyes.

Meet Jovi - the man who put a smile back on my little wife's face!

Meet Jovi – the man who put a smile back on my little wife’s face!

The Shoe Blog

And so this year’s shoe blog comes to an end – and If I am truly honest, a bit of a whimpering end. No stunning OMG ones, no WHY? photos, just a regular pair of Chinese shoes.

If the rivets aren't enough, you have the plexiglass half heels.

If the rivets aren’t enough, you have the plexiglass half heels.

Next year, all new stories, all new photos. Have a great summer everyone and hope to see you in the next 7 weeks. (Except, of course, you Dave and Debbie – we have no intention on visiting another hot humid part of the world in the next little while!)

Anping, Ancient Village

(Ed. note:

  1. First of all, I must issue an apology to many many people. I was cursing those of you who hadn’t bothered to make comments over the past little while – particularly on the most recent posting, which I had decided was among my finest work and where I gave you all an obvious opening with the title. However, Karen and Mal pointed out this morning that for the past little while, the comment section has been closed to them. So please accept my apologies for the nasty things I was saying about those of you who wanted to comment but couldn’t. Also, please let me know via email or when you see us starting next week if this has been a problem for you. Thanks.
  2. Today’s post is a pictorial display. Captions by Terry.)

 

All the photos in this blog were taken in Anping, one of the original townships on Taiwan.  First stop was at this place, the Julius Mannich Merchant House, where we had a passable fast-food style lunch.  Snore.  Give it a miss if you ever visit.

All the photos in this blog were taken in Anping, one of the original townships on Taiwan. First stop was at this place, the Julius Mannich Merchant House, where we had a passable fast-food style lunch. Snore. Give it a miss if you ever visit.

 

A temple viewed from Fort Zinlandia.  Many religions have taken root on Taiwan, from different forms of paganism to Buddhism, Taoism, Confuciousism (?), as well as some Christian forms.

A temple viewed from Fort Zinlandia. Many religions have taken root on Taiwan, from different forms of paganism to Buddhism, Taoism, Confuciousism (?), as well as some Christian forms.

3.

This is a view from Fort Zinlandia (the Dutch had a foothold here and built a few “Red Hair” forts), looking back toward the city.

4.

Sort of a map on the wall of the lookout tower in the fort.  FYI, it had to be at least 35C when we were wondering around this village.

5.

This is a giant model of an Anping specialty:  a long coiled fried bread thingy filled with cream or ice cream, we’re not sure.  See the regular sized unfilled models hanging above?

6.

I stumbled upon this place coming back from buying yet more water.  The baskets are filled with the shucked shells of oysters.

7.

On the other side of the canvas, this is what you see–an entirely female cast, busy shucking oysters.  Notice the ergonomically correct seating.

8.

The women at this end of the work space are the only ones smiling.  They rinse, size and weigh each shucker’s oysters, and keep a tally on a blackboard.

9.

In case you couldn’t recognize the ages of these ladies, have a look.

10.

Judging from the gray hair and hunched backs of most of these ladies, they have been doing this job for a long time.

11.

Here’s the tally board.  Looks like a few people called in sick this morning.

12.

This is a sword lion.  When a soldier came home, he put his lion-faced shield on the door to indicate he was home and put off would-be robbers. Once the town-folk recognized that it worked, they took up the sword-lion imagery to protect their places.  They are an Anping icon.

13.

This little house is part original stone work, part add-on brick.  The bicycle-truck on the left fits with the ramshackle nature of the place, but notice how clean the street is.  The big yellow bag is full of recycling, cardboard separated and out front.

14.

Taiwan is peppered with all kinds of temples.  This style is different from any we have seen elsewhere in Asia–so intricate and colourful!  I was struck that these bolts of colour and design is missing from the Chinese landscape.

15.

Another view of the city from an elevated platform at the Anping Tree House.

16.

There’s the platform and where those giant banyan trees are is the site of the treehouse.

19.

It’s not really a treehouse but rather a house overtaken by the trees and preserved in order to create a tourist attraction.

18.

Where the root to the left does a hard right angle down is where a wall once stood.

19.

These gators look like they want to invade the tourist center.

20.

Part of beautiful local art on an exterior wall.

23.

A street vendor washing oysters.  The water goes from under the sink into the storm sewer.

The Shoe Blog Dresses Up (?)

The women of Taipei, Taiwan and Tainan, Taiwan have generally been quite well dressed – despite the heat and humidity. They clearly don’t shop at any of the four stores below.

24.

Just when you think – there couldn’t be an uglier dress in Tainan than these two…

24a.

…you see 3 more…

24b.

…and then 4 more – but all of these pale in comparison to…

24.d

THE WINNER!

When Are You Going to Learn to Keep Your $%^&*#! Mouth Shut, Geoff!

Today was our second day in Tainan – and it was another hot one. I don’t understand this, but right now at 8:30pm it says it is 30° but feels like 37°. Today it was up to 34° (Ed. note: Who cares what it felt like – I was wet and hot) and tomorrow it is supposed to be 32° but feel like 40°.  We started off the day with Terry going off for some kind of spa treatment with a quartz rub or some other bizarre treatment. She came back with her skin going “Oh yeah, Baby!”

We left the hotel and headed for the Chikan Peddler’s Noodle House. This was a very interesting place. The decor leads you to believe it has been there for a long time. This is reinforced by Judy, the owner, a delightful woman who informed us that her family has been in the business in that spot for 100 years! The meal consisted of tastings of 8 traditional Taiwanese dishes – from oyster omelets to Tainan sticky rice. 7 of the 8 were very tasty. The big specialty, however is Danzi Noodles – a particular specialty of Tainan in general and the Chikan Peddler’s Noodle House in particular. Here is the description direct from their own website:

Originally the old days of traditional noodle pasta snack flavors Road, its delicious smell of urine and meat soup is a bowl of delicious decide the biggest player. Chikan noodle soup using pig large bones, onions and other vegetables boiled, replacing the traditional manual add MSG, let the soup even more delicious sweet nature. Meat smell of urine is the soul of noodle. From three different parts of the body temperature of pork, Taiwan red onion, shrimp, beans shade of pure oil, sugar, garlic Taiwan dozens of ingredients with different heat, stir fry just the right skills, gotta spend a full day of work before achievement pot pressing fragrant aroma of meat smell of urine. With concentrated garlic, white pepper, black vinegar seasoning five Indian, coupled with a handful of coriander Wando, rich layers of rich soup unforgettable.Reluctant to eat too fast, good taste, is Chihkan noodle wonderful place.

Ah yes the fragrant aroma of ‘meat smell of urine’. Who could not love it. (Ed. note: Maybe the fragrance was traditional – we had no sense of it – or maybe there was something lost in translation?)

Now Judy, I am confused. You say that your family has been in this spot since 1914 or so - but the internet research says you have been there since 2002. You wouldn't con an old guy, would you?

Now Judy, I am confused. You are certainly lovely and all and you said how beautiful Terry is, but you say that your family has been in this spot since 1914 or so – but the internet research I did says you have only been there since 2002. You wouldn’t con an old guy, would you?

From there it was a short walk to the Chikhan Temple – which was once the Dutch Fort Provintia in the 1600s.

Those Dutch built walls to last.

Those Dutch built walls to last.

Beautifully kept and manicured gardens.

Beautifully kept and manicured gardens. Check out the color of that sky – not like China’s sky just across the South China Sea.

Goldfish by the hundreds in the ponds surrounding the temple.

Goldfish by the hundreds in the ponds surrounding the temple.

I have a question. When is it okay to say “In Business Since XXXX”? Is it after 1 year, 5 years, 10 years? And everyone has to be the King of something, I guess. Me, I’m the King of Opening My Big Fat Mouth When I Should Keep It Closed!

The King of Thick Fish Soup Since 1988

“The King of Thick Fish Soup Since 1988” and darn proud of it too!

We then wandered through The Temple of Sacrificial Rites, followed by Tainan Confucius Temple and the highly over-rated Fuzhong Street. Maybe it was too hot for many of the vendors to open, but a street that came highly rated on a number of sites was a complete bust.

Okay. This morning Terry says to me “Put this in your memory bank – when we get back to the hotel, I want to Skype Salon 55 so I can make an appointment for next week. I desperately need a hair cut.” Okay, I can do that. As we are winding down our day, though, we pass by a salon which looks pretty hip and happening and I say “Hey, why not get it done here?” Terry thinks “You know they do look good and I could use an hour or so of sitting” so in we go. One guy speaks quite good English and translates exactly what Terry says (at least he seemed to). We were there for a good hour – hour and a half and lots of the women were getting really cute haircuts, so I’m thinking – Great. Then I look over just as Doris (Terry’s stylist) is finishing. I see her walk away for a bit and I see Terry fluffing up her hair – and I think Oh oh, I don’t think the customer should be fluffing when the stylist is “done”. Terry looks in the mirror and shakes her head at me. The stylist comes back and hands Terry a tissue since she can see my lovely wife is on the edge. She gets up and leaves – but in the you get what you pay for department, it was only $17.00 and that included a 20 minute shampoo and head massage. For the next half hour as we walk back to the hotel Terry uses many, many adjectives and adverbs to describe how her hair looks and what the “stylist” has done to her. (Ed. note: Including the fact that Doris felt the need to use all &^&*ing 10 pairs of the scissors she had in her little side pouch.)

Brilliantly, I keep my mouth firmly shut – for a change – UNTIL I make the mistake of saying that she has a nice bottle of cold white wine waiting for her at the hotel. We get back. Terry opens the wine. Terry tastes the wine. Terry thrusts the wine at Geoff and demands that Geoff tastes the wine. Geoff has mistakenly bought Terry a bottle of Moscato, which is quite, okay very, sweet and not one Terry enjoys at all. Aaahhh.

Next I hear the water running and see that she is washing her hair – then she has a shower and washes it again. I wonder if she thinks washing it will make it grow?  I say nothing because I have finally learned To Keep My $%^&*#! Mouth Shut – well, at least insofar as suggesting Terry get her hair cut in a foreign land. (Ed. note: Henceforth “Remember the Alamo” shall be “Remember Tainan”!)

Remember the fabulous Taipei Flower Market? Well after the hair debacle we decided to go to the Tainan Night Flower Market. Guess what – it is a misnomer, a lie, a complete falsehood – there was nary a flower to been seen. There were thousands of people,

One of the twenty or so aisles filled with hungry, but patient, people.

One of the twenty or so aisles filled with hungry, but patient, people.

there were hundreds of stalls selling stuff and maybe 50 to 60 stalls selling food. We had 2 beer, 7 large oysters and 12 large clams for $3.00.

There was something for everyone - from chicken to cicadas

There was something for everyone – from chicken to cicadas

You choose the prawns you want then she skewers them - alive - before they get grilled.

You choose the prawns you want then she skewers them – alive – before they get grilled – alive. I didn’t see this, but Terry tells me the guys at the top looking at me were actually fishing for the prawns with little hooks that had bait on them. Seems more sporting than just grabbing them out of 3″ of water…

Do you know the difference between the crap they sell in the Showmart building during the PNE and the crap they sell in night markets in Asia? None. I don’t know whether that is disconcerting or comforting.

This is for our friends Matthew and Zander. Get your parents to bring you to Tainan. You drop balls (bottom left) into a slot and it doesn’t matter it they land in the little cars or not – after you drop all the balls (about 20) into the slot, YOU GET A PRIZE! Pick anything you want from the wall!

Hey, it's not the Jiaxing way.

Hey, it’s not the Jiaxing way.

From there it was back to the wine store next to the hotel for Terry to choose her own wine and then off to 11 hours of sleep. Today’s activity is to find a salon to do a colour job to minimize yesterday’s damage – and no, don’t expect to see any photos of Terry on the rest of this trip!

The Shoe Blog

Last night at the market…

The mesh keeps your foot cool?

The mesh keeps your foot cool?

The Four Hour “Tour”

In a effort to see more of Taiwan, we left the city one afternoon and went off with a small group tour in a van.   The other two people were a young German woman with a French name and a Chinese woman living in Australia. It really is a global world. The young woman was on her way home after doing 3 months of an anthropological study in Auckland, NZ. She was of the ilk that only answers your polite, friendly queries and never asks one herself. The Chinese woman had just a wee bit of English and while friendly enough, mostly chatted with the “guide.” I use the term loosely.

The name of the tour company is Viator Tours. FYI. Undoubtedly the worst tour we have ever been on. We were to visit the NE. Coast of the island and a gold-mining town called Juifen. First a 50 minute ride to the coast, where we head north for about 10 minutes and stop at an area where there are interesting rock formations. “That is the Pacific Ocean,” the guide tells us sagely. “Get out, take pictures here. Go!”

Why do people always cut off the feet?

Why do people always cut off the feet?

A very moonscape like rock formation.

A very moonscape like rock formation.

5 minutes later, we are hustled back in to the van, retrace our path and stop again to “Take pictures of the two colours of water in the bay, caused by pollution from the closed copper mine.” Terrific! Pictures of a polluted bay. In any case, the old copper mine is far more interesting. Geoff and I throw the guide into spasms when we cross the highway to take pictures. He desperately wants us to get back in the van in under 5 minutes but we thwart his plan.

The mine was active from 100 years ago until 20 years ago when it was abandoned. Didn't take long for nature to reclaim it.

The mine was active from 100 years ago until 20 years ago when it was abandoned. Didn’t take long for nature to reclaim it.

The main tunnel entrance - also soon to be reclaimed.

The main tunnel entrance – also soon to be reclaimed.

Finally, we return and the tour proceeds. (Ed. note: The tour is actually billed ” Chiufen Village (Jiufen) and Northeast Coast Half-Day Tour ” We were done in 3 hours and 50 minutes – which make a day 7 hours 40 minutes long, I guess)

This is a cemetery. The shrines are homes to hundreds of generations, apparently. We weren't allowed to stop to get less blurry photos.

This is a cemetery. The shrines are homes to hundreds of generations, apparently. We weren’t allowed to stop to get less blurry photos.

We head back in-land, up into mountains. It really is a beautiful country! Everything is green and lush as we pass through old villages and climb to Juifen. The gold mines are long gone but Juifen has embraced tourism in a big way. The village is stuffed into the side of a mountain, with narrow paths snaking up and down from the main roadway, itself not much more than a sidewalk. Like the rest of Taiwan, it is super clean and presents a gauntlet of vendors for the tourists to pass through.

The street of Jiufen

The street of Jiufen where you could buy anything from…

gaudy bejeweled owls...

gaudy bejeweled owls…

fish eggs...

to fish eggs…

grilled snails

to grilled snails

to who knows what.

to a glutinous mass of who knows what.

You can even buy ice cream. Has this ever happened to you? You order the ice cream, the vendor puts in a cup and weighs it. He sees, apparently that he has given you too much, so he scoops a little out - see the scoop mark - and then puts the scoop and the little bit of ice cream he took back into the bucket of water.

You can even buy ice cream. Has this ever happened to you? You order the ice cream, the vendor puts in a cup and weighs it. He sees, apparently that he has given you too much, so he scoops a little out – see the scoop mark – and then puts the scoop and the little bit of ice cream he took back into the bucket of water.

You can watch an excavator preparing a new site and scooping the dirt into...

You can watch an excavator preparing a new site and scooping the dirt into…

a three wheeled truck small enough to pass through the street.

a three wheeled truck small enough to pass through the street.

We have an hour to check the place out before the guide catches up to us again and herds us down one of the paths. “This is the place of the making of a famous movie, “ he says, pointing to a nice looking hotel/restaurant/bar. “The movie is called ‘The City of Sadness. Take a picture of this door. Stand here for the best shot. Go!”

The City of Sadness tea house

The City of Sadness tea house

That was the tour, in a nutshell. From the school of “You get what you pay for,” it was certainly a way to kill an afternoon but informative? Not really. The above dialogue was really pretty close to what he actually told us. The drive back did get a little interesting though, as a monsoon-like rain came on, flooding a lane of the highway and slowing down traffic. It was about that time that the guide (we never did get his name) told us that it never rains in Taipei. While I didn’t actually say BS, I did mention that it had rained every day we had been there and twice we had been caught in rainstorms. “Oh, ha ha, that is true.” Who is this guy and how has he managed to be employed as a guide?

Back in the city, the driver is trying to make his way to the three stops by back ways, for whatever reason. He must know, as we have figured out in a day, that the streets are mostly one ways. You can’t just deke around. After many false starts, he finally brings out the full Chinese driver in himself and heads brazenly in the wrong way down numerous lanes to cut off corners. Remember the company: Viator Tours. Viator.com I think these might be the same people who got us on the bus-to-boat tour from Vietnam to Cambodia. At least that one was a great adventure.

That night it was back to VG for dinner.

A mussel with a fork for comparison

A mussel with a fork for comparison

Lagavulin on a Rock

Lagavulin on a Rock

The Shoe Blog

The next time you think YOU are having a bad day, just think of this poor woman.

Both of her shoes AND her umbrella fall apart at the same time!

Both of her shoes AND her umbrella fall apart at the same time!

Taipei 101 Edition 2

Now, where was I? Oh yes, we left Chiang’s place and wandered over to Starbucks – there are many, many to choose from in Taipei.

"Hey, I've got an idea. Let's go to Starbucks. You can sit there and do nothing and I'll sleep" "Okay, let's go."

“Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s go to Starbucks. You can sit there and do nothing and I’ll sleep” “Okay, let’s go.”

On the way we spotted a number of high school students in their uniforms. This is notable because just above the pocket on the right breast their student number is embroidered on. It is good identification of any miscreants, I guess.

After mostly avoiding the daily monsoon (Ed. note: More on these later) we caught a cab out to Tamshui, which translates into “River”, according to the tourist information woman. It is quite a cool area of little shops and arcade games – kind of Playland meets Gastown. There were a ton of high school kids wandering around – guess it was the end of year party. I did not know that my lovely wife could be so cynical. We spotted these people in the midst of cleaning up after what was clearly a very recent fire. Admittedly they did seem happy and were smiling and laughing – but did Miss Terry have to suggest that it was “Insurance fraud happiness”? I was shocked and appalled!

"Insurance? What insurance? We're just happy no one was hurt."

“Insurance? What insurance? We’re just happy no one was hurt.”

Always good to clean up after a fire in your flip flops.

Always good to clean up after a fire in your flip flops.

After a cold beer we climbed the hill to Fort San Domingo. This has been the “home” to the consuls of the nine different countries that have ruled the island of Taiwan over the years.

I've really worked on my upper body since I got sent to the joint.

I’ve really worked on my upper body since I got sent to the joint.

William Morris was heavily involved in the decorating of the home which the British Consul used. Who is William Morris? Glad you asked. He invented the wallpaper. He used incredibly beautiful floral patterns in his fabrics and wallpapers. He was also a proponent of not renovating, refurbishing or knocking down and building new buildings, but rather just allowing them to decay through daily use. An interesting concept, even if it’s not feasible today.

Some of his patterns.

Very beautiful patterns.

Very beautiful patterns.

BTW: This was also the home to The Shoe Blog for this posting.

From there it was back through town to the train station to catch a cab back to town. However, as we approached the station it started to spit – really just three or four drops. Suddenly everyone around us was running quickly to get under cover. I was thinking what’s the hurry and about four seconds later we were in a monsoon. How they knew just by those few drops is beyond me – but they knew!

We had spotted a restaurant a couple of blocks from the hotel called ‘Really Good Seafood’. Now if you bill yourself that way you better be good so we asked the front desk if it was. Oh yes, they assured us, so off we went. Hmm, how to describe this place. When we walked in to the dining area I first thought of The Eight which we went to for Dim Sum in Macau. Then I opened the menu. They had about four set menus – all 8 courses each, ranging from $1660 to $4400 per person. Yes, that was my reaction too – until I remembered to do the math and slowed my heart down – $50 to $150 Cdn). The wine was similarly priced – except the top end was in the $20000 – $25000 range ($700 – $800 Cdn.) The maître d’ came over to help us with the menu and suggested that there was enough food in one order to satisfy both of us so we went for the $2300 or $70 meal to share. What do you get for $70?

  •  Sashimi – 5 incredibly fresh pieces
  • Abalone Soup aka River Over the Waterfall – too much for us to finish
  • Lobster Tail – Deliciously grilled
  • Melange of Vegetables – vegetables are vegetables but these were good
  • Filet of Beef – Melt in your mouth
  • Crab Dim Sum – Creamy with great chunks of crab
  • The maître d’ informed us that they would like to buy us an additional fruit plate and pudding so that we didn’t have to share the one.
  • Fruit – see vegetables
  • Pudding – vanilla custard with wildberry compote                                                         

We have been fortunate in Taipei having four fabulous dinners. They certainly equal anything we have had in China.

The Shoe Blog.

As you know Terry has feet which appear to be one size too big for Chinese stores to carry. Luckily, Taipei caters to bigger sizes.

Hey, they fit!!

Hey, they fit!!

Taipei 101

There are some things which are difficult to understand in life. (Ed.note: At least they are for Geoff). Here are two examples.

Terry mentioned the lack of litter in the streets. It is more than a “lack”. Taipei is estimated to have a population of 3,913,000 people. It doesn’t seem to matter if you walk down one of the incredibly beautifully treed and landscaped boulevards, a back lane or a food street.

This is just one of many, many boulevards in Taipei. It truly is a beautiful city.

This is just one of many, many boulevards in Taipei. It truly is a beautiful city.

There is NO litter, food scraps, paper wrappers etc. etc. The bizarre thing is that we walked yesterday for about six blocks with an empty water bottle looking for a place to get rid of it – no garbage containers. We finally just left it on the table where we had breakfast. Amazing. Today, I saw a man in a suit walking towards me and just before he passed me, he bent over and picked up a piece of paper off the sidewalk. We were in a restaurant and a delivery man brought in a 12″ x 15″ box of what were probably pastries or muffins or something similar. He dropped them off at the front, the woman said something to him and he went into the back and came out with three obviously used but still totally usable similar ones. The Taiwanese must lead the world in recycling!

I once taught a lovely young girl who had Tourette’s Syndrome. She was just the same as everyone else in the class – except that every fifteen to twenty minutes she would say “F**k” out loud. She had no control over it – it was just a verbal tic and after the first few times the kids never even noticed. Why do I tell you about her? Well, just because. Actually I think our taxi driver yesterday had a form of Tourette’s. It was very strange. When he wanted to change lanes he would turn his signal on and off, on and off, on and off rather than turning it on and leaving it on. That was his left hand. His right was in constant motion. If we were stopped, the gear shift was going from neutral to drive and back constantly; if we were in motion he was clicking something on the temperature controls on and off, on and off etc. If he was going to change lanes, before he moved to the signal he would point in the left or right direction with his index finger. If he was going to slow down, he would move his right hand up and down gently to indicate “Slow Down”. If he had to step on the brake hard, his hand came up like “Stop!” When something met his approval he gave a little thumbs up. It appeared that whatever he was processing with his brain had to be acted out through his hand. Now, I am a firm believer that people with any kind of affliction, disability, or whatever the current politically correct term is, should participate in any activity/occupation they wish and are capable of doing. So one on hand driving a taxi in the middle of a city of almost 4 million is proof that it can be done, while on the other I wonder if his insurance covers him since he did seem to make a lot of spontaneous movements.

Taipei is quite a multicultural city. We also saw a sign for the “Thaippanyaki Restaurant”

"Would you like a Guinness with your Kobe Beef, Ma'am?"

“Would you like a Guinness with your Kobe Beef, Ma’am?”

Here’s a conversation between Terry and these girls (there were about 8 of them):

Terry  “Hi what are you doing?”

Spokesperson “We are making flowers to celebrate a Korean festival.”

Terry “Oh, you’re Korean.”

Spokesperson “No, we are Taiwanese”

Of course you are.

"No, we are Taiwanese"

“No, we are Taiwanese”

Also yesterday, we saw some cool looking masks and Terry asked the shopkeeper “Are they Chinese opera faces” Response “NO, Taiwanese opera!” Okkkaaayyy! Don’t confuse Chinese and Taiwanese – on the other hand we get “American” all the time and we don’t freak out…much.

We spent time yesterday at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. The Taiwanese hold him in very high regard. Every hour on the hour the two soldiers who stand at attention are changed through a ten minute, sloooooow stepping drill program by two others. There is a lot of high stepping and toe dragging and stamping that goes on. (Ed. note: Today we saw exactly the same procedure going on across town at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.)

The job of the volunteer (in suit, fyi) is to wipe the sweat off the faces of the soldiers!

The job of the volunteer (in suit, fyi) is to wipe the sweat off the faces of the non-blinking soldiers!

The only reason these did not make The Shoe Blog is because of what did!

The only reason these did not make The Shoe Blog is because of what did!

While we were standing around, a volunteer came up and asked if she could help us. She was quite disappointed to find out that we were Canadians and not Americans. This was because it took the wind right out of her speech. She asked what we thought of the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek and Terry said that it reminded her of the statue of Abraham Lincoln (Ed. note: Which we have only seen photos of.) “Oh you are so smart!” Indeed, the architect modelled it after Lincoln – right down to using the same Vermont marble for the walls. So if it looks familiar…

Chiang was quite a benevolent, happy fellow, apparently.

Chiang was quite a benevolent, happy fellow, apparently.

There are 84 steps up to the level I am on -so you figure out how big this place is!

There are 84 steps up to the level I am on -so you figure out how big this place is!

The memorial was opened in 1980 and 7 years later, they added the opera hall on the left and the theatre on the right. Sadly, the photos do not do them justice as they are HUGE!

How big are they? Well I think they are about 500 yards away from where this photo was taken.

How big are they? Well I think they are about 500 yards away from where this photo was taken.

We had many more adventures yesterday – but you will just have to wait, as we are going back to the restaurant with the mussels and fantastic whisky for dinner!

The Shoe Blog

Okay, so shoot me. I had planned on using a different pair of shoes for this edition, but since they came about on our adventure after the museum, I will keep them for next time. These puppies were on a young lady on the subway. Besides wearing them she had on a pair of denim short shorts. Terry described them this way: (Ed. note: Sadly, Geoff was unable to get a photo as he was consistently, but unintentionally, blocked) “You know when people/women have a sweater or, in this case jean jacket, wrapped around their waist and tied in front? Well, she doesn’t – the shorts just have a “pair of sleeves” coming out of the side seams and tied in front. Who would buy these? Who would design these?”  Still, she could likely take out the eye of a snake.

if you don't find these too stimulating, just wait. The next pair will leave you in a state!

If you don’t find these too stimulating, just wait. The next pair will leave you in a state!