Taipei! Day 2/3

 I’m looking at my alarm clock with time set to Tucson, Arizona, USA time where it is 6:30am Sunday morning, but it is 9:30pm Sunday night here in Taiwan.

Just flipped through the TV channels: game shows galore, giggling teen heartthrob singers, soaps, and tiresome stuff in any language.  It does have Reuters & CNN news in English, plus HBO showing “Harvey Milk” with Sean Penn in English and Cantonese sub-titles.

The 45-minute taxi ride from Taiwan’s modern airport–humming with construction for more indoor people movers–was a slightly elevated expressway, elevated just enough that we could glimpse bits of worn-out homes and apartment buildings.  All the newer buildings soar into the sky, each with its own architectural tower that disguises lightning rods or water storage tanks.  The highway scenery was very green and lush, even palm trees.  Loved the mile-long hedge trimmed to look like a dragon.

Our hotel is on the outskirts of downtown Taipei, in the Science Park area, chosen because it’s close to Texas Instruments so Steve can hop a shuttle for a  15-minute ride. When we exited the expressway, we entered “ordinary” streets–which look like one of the biggest Chinatowns ever.  The first thing that came to mind:  it’s all Greek to me.   Wrong language but right feeling.

All the signs are in kanji, an English word here and there.  Loads of mopeds, driven by young, old, girls and guys, often as many as a dozen in one lane ahead of the cars.  Every rider wears a helmet.  The moped density is actually a little scary.

Our hotel is part of the worldwide Royal Chain, very nice, feng shui clearly used in the design.  The lobby holds a boulder-sized vase filled with hundreds of deep purple orchid stems.  Our 12th-floor room is larger than I expected, a nice view of the city, and I find myself drawn to two older, wooden side-by-side homes with rooftop gardens.

Our room is well designed, great attention to detail.  The work desk has open shelves above it and a small box containing a mini-stapler, eraser, ruler and paper clips.  “Green” signs abound; clearly conservation is important here.  The usual hotel bathrobes are nice, but I’m especially impressed by the disposable recycled paper/fiber slippers which are super white and super soft.  We have a table and two chairs in front of the large ceiling-to-floor window.  A tall, narrow cupboard contains an electric tea kettle, cups,  fixings for tea or coffee, a mini-safe, bar stuff.  The ultra-modern bathroom has a marble tub, separate walk-in marble shower, and a sophisticated toilet with buttons for heat, bidet, dry, something mysterious…fortunately the flush handle is simple.  Tomorrow when I’m less tired, maybe I’ll push all the buttons and see what happens.

Most of the shops on the streets around our hotel are closed Sundays, reminiscent of Japan and Europe.  We had our first adventure at lunch, eating at a hole-in-the-wall noodle shop.  No one spoke English, so we did the time-honored point and gesture.  We had a wonderful bowl of noodles in a bit of soy broth with a few green vegetables, not all that different from ramen packets, but these noodles were handmade and fresh.  We watched as they dropped them into boiling liquid.  Delicious, $1.05 per bowl.

Dinner was equally adventurous, but higher rent.  We did a dim sum Chinese buffet in the hotel.  The buffet had an assortment of cold salads, two soups, a generous dozen or so types of dim sum/dumpling/spring roll foods.  I couldn’t bring myself to try the chicken feet & veg roll, but a deep-fried radish cake was quite nice.  Steve tried the Peking Duck.  I liked the soup of day with mild chicken broth, carrot slivers, radish slices and tiny chicken cubes.   The dessert selection was surprisingly large: small chocolate cake squares, petite fours, panna cotta with mango sauce, fresh papaya and Asian pear slices,  almond tofu mini-cubes in almond syrup, and a self-serve freezer with tubs of ice cream.  The ice cream flavors included vanilla, chocolate, green tea, red bean and sweet corn.  The green tea and red bean tasted stronger than Japan’s version, and the sweet corn was just that, vanilla with corn kernels and sugar.  So-so.

Our waitress brought us each a drawing entry form, asking us to write down 5 numbers from 1-35.  Steve won a prize, and whatever it was, it was scheduled for one week away.  Since we’re staying just a few days, they gave us a consolation dessert instead–a plate of four chilled mango chiffon squares.  Nice, but we’re still wondering what the “real” prize was.

So Day 2 smooshed into Day 3 comes to a pleasantly tired close.  We can’t read nor understand the language, but we feel at home.  Those five years in Tokyo have surfaced from our past to the present.

Goodnight from Taiwan,

Globetrotting Donna

And now some words from Steve…

Day 2 & 3 merged, that is when you get 14 hours in the air and a 15-hour time change.  So we left Saturday morning and arrive Sunday morning.  25 hours for this leg, from door to door.  We slept more than I thought, Donna slept quite a bit.  We both do not feel too bad, Donna has a few aches from that 14-hour leg and long corridor treks.

Cathay Pacific is a nice airline.  Seats are a little crowded, the lumbar in the back seemed like it would make a miserable flight.  But the chair does not lean back, the seat slides forward and it made it comfortable.  Individual TVs, 100 movies in English.  These you can select at any time, fast forward, pause or reverse.  Also each seat has an outlet for the computer power cord.  Pretty cool.

Taipei is warm, about 85 and humid, but did not feel bad.  Today was downright windy, I think a front is moving through with slightly cooler temps.

Donna is yelling at me for spamming up her blog.  That is the price she pays for technical support.

Steve the Husband.

2 Responses to “Taipei! Day 2/3”

  1. Kim A. Sheridan says:

    Hi Guys,
    My partner was in Ajo doing her thing and did not hear the message until Saturday.

    Thanks for the link. It looks like your activities so far are going to be busy. India is an amazing country full of beauty with many stark contrasts.

    Kim and Theresa.

  2. Globetrotting Donna says:

    Hey K & Th,
    Thanks for the post. About to leave hazy, crazy Taipei.
    Drizzling here, wondering if we’re getting any rain on Calle Javelina.
    Cheers, Donna

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