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We are what we think & my blog entries reflect how I think. Have a sip of the poison of my mind.. It's not always lethal.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Final Day In Taipei

View from the hotel room window
I guess this is gonna be a shorter entry as compared with the entries of the previous few days since we have to make our way to the airport from the hotel for our flight home in the afternoon.

Having just woken and freshened myself up, I started taking a picture of the view outside our hotel room's window as you can see in the pic on the left. Well, I did mention yesterday that lots of buildings here in Taiwan could use some new paint jobs, didn't I?

Yesterday, I've also mentioned that I'm gonna give a last moment 'tight hug' to Taipei today since today is our last day here for this trip, meaning: I'm gonna cherish this final day and breathe in Taipei's cold air till the very last drop before they have to drag me kicking and screaming up the plane later.

Walking into the bathroom, I begin snapping this pic of the shower mechanism that I've really enjoyed using. Not only does the water get sprinkled out from the sprinkler, as per usual, you can also set the water to shoot out in little jet-streams at the same time through those round metallic parts below the sprinkler.

Do that and those little jet-streams will give additional concentrated washings for your body areas below the neck, like your back, etc. A nifty mechanism. Lots of my shower sessions doubled as playing-with-water sessions because of it. I'm sure gonna miss this.

We have finished packing our luggages and are now ready for checking out. Closing the door behind us as I take one last look at our hotel room, I wonder when we can be back again. I think my heart hurts.

Down at the hotel lobby, I started taking pictures:

The hotel lobby
The lobby's waiting area

大顺大饭店 (TS Hotel) may seem to have a rather spacious lobby in the photos above but in reality, it's actually small but comfy cozy. Free Wifi is available for house guests, just ask the reception for their Wifi password. There is also a single computer terminal in the lobby behind those two couches there by the plant for free Internet access 24-7.

大顺 is a simple no-frills comfortable hotel that provides cost effective accommodation and is located at an excellent and convenient location just a stone's throw away from the heart of 西门町 and the train station. Walking to the train station is just a couple minutes short walk away.

JSP Burger
Done with our checking-out process and reconfirming with the always friendly, courteous and helpful hotel reception regarding our booking with 飞狗 transportation service for our ride to the airport later in the afternoon, we begin walking out of the hotel and the sweet cold air outside washes over us as we head towards 西门町.

We do not have enough time to travel out of 西门 and we have already returned our transportation cards yesterday anyway, so the plan is just to hang out at lovely 西门町. Walking by JSP Burger, I just have to take another photo of it again since we are gonna miss the burgers here.

Sigh, knowing that you are about to leave the place you love and which you are gonna miss is like waiting for an amputation operation that is about to happen. There is a heavy sadness about this.

西门町 this day

Ah, now that we are at 西门町 leisurely hanging around and doing some casual shopping, it's inevitable that we come across good old 阿宗麵線 again, which is the star mee sua delicacy of 西门町. If I'm not mistaken, their official website is this one.

Suffice it to say here that paying a visit to 西门町 without trying the mee sua at 阿宗麵線 is like going to Tokyo without trying their Ramen. You get the idea. There's pork in the mee sua, in case you didn't already know. Lots of folks are willing to eat standing outside here.

Well, it's an early Friday afternoon, so there isn't that much of a crowd here. We've spent our remaining time shopping around while breathing in the vibes of the place that will always remain in our memories.

It is time to say goodbye to 西门 as the hour approaches when we have to get back to the hotel for the booked coach from 飞狗 to come pick us up for the airport. The amputation begins and I have to leave a piece of myself here since I love 西门..

**Tightest Hug for 西门**

Waiting at the hotel lobby, the coach from 飞狗 soon arrives and we bid the hotel staffs goodbye as we begin hauling our luggages to the coach.
So long, TS. May I have another chance to play with your shower mechanism again some day in the future. Some day..

View across the road from the transit point
During our previous virgin trip here, we didn't have to do a transit as we made our way to 桃园 airport from the hotel, so I'm surprised when the driver suddenly but politely announces that we have to disembark for a transit now that we are halfway to the airport.

So we are now disembarking with a groan and I have absolutely no idea where we are as I look around at my surrounding back out here in the cold again. On hindsight, we could have disembarked somewhere in or around 桃园.

Did I just hear you mutter a 'Duh'?

The transit admin booth in front of the store
See the two women sitting at the booth there? They are the administrators for our transit (well, at least one of them is since the other one could just be a friend who came over to shoot the breeze, so I suspect). So we did the transit administration with them.

There's a store just behind them and I'm debating with myself if I should go use the washroom inside right at the back of the store since our transit transport will arrive at any moment and I've already seen other transit coaches come and go. Ah, what the hell, I'll just go take a pee quickly.

I got lucky, I'm standing outside the store again moments after having quickly gone to the washroom and our transit transport has just arrived. So after helping the driver to load up our luggages, we continue with our journey to the airport. Everything seems to be going by in fast-forward mode here at the transit point.

At 桃园 airport
We have arrived at the airport. After checking in, I went outside the airport terminal again to enjoy and breathe in every last bit of the cold weather again as I'm able to, since I'm conscious of the dreaded fact that I'll have to face the humid tropical shit we have for weather back on home-ground again soon.

Actually, it's pretty cold out here because of a rather hyper constant draft and I have to stand behind a pillar to shield myself a little. Then, this pretty air stewardess came over with a guy and they both stand in front of me around this litter bin, took out their cigarettes and started smoking while being completely exposed to the cold draft.

The stewardess is quite something, smoking out here in the chilly wind dressed only in her stewardess uniform and she doesn't even seem to flinch, much less shiver.

For myself, standing here outside alone while my Lioness is getting some warmth inside the terminal building, I begin to tell myself that should the humid weather back home become too much for me, all I'll need to do to feel better is to close my eyes and remember this very moment outside the airport terminal and the sensation I'm feeling right now.

For some strange reason, I begin to entertain the silly thought of taking a plastic bag, open it wide in the direction of the constant draft and trap as much of it and the cold air inside the plastic bag by tying it up and taking it home with me. Then should I need to beat the heat and humidity back home, I'll face the opening of the plastic bag towards myself, open it up and enjoy Taipei's cold again as the trapped air in the plastic bag rushes out towards me.


But of course, I dropped the idea. And with that, I begin making my way back into the terminal while turning my head back constantly.

So long, Taipei. So long.

**Tightest Hug for Taipei**

- De Lion Speaks

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Taipei Day 5 - More Shopping, A Monument of Love & Hunger

Time really flies when you're having a good time. Before we knew it, it's already the fifth day and we have to fly back home tomorrow.

Parliamentary building
Money flies fast too when you're having a good time that involves lots of shopping. So today, we have decided to head over to a Taiwanese bank to exchange some of my Lioness' SG dollars for extra local currency since we are running out of local economic vitamin M (i.e. money). I didn't standby enough SGD but I have my credit cards with me.

The nearest Taiwanese bank is within walking distance from 西门 and after asking the hotel staff and a local while on the road for directions, we begin to make progress towards the bank and passed by what I think is their parliament building, so I took a shot of that.

Speaking of which, Taiwanese parliament involves quite quirky scenarios if you've seen the news footages, which is something that always strikes me as odd and out of place. A friend of mine told me years ago that he saw on the news a footage of this cabinet member dumping a waste basket over the head of another halfway through a speech in parliament. Now that's badass.

Now that we've made it to the bank where no photography is allowed, I begin to utilize stealth to take photos of my Lioness doing the transaction with the teller anyway so that we can have our memory of this event in visual form.

I know that I'm not supposed to be doing this but it's not that I was planning to rob a bank, heh. I happen to be a law-abiding citizen who does nothing wrong except for maybe taking pictures in a bank on foreign ground. But it's all for memory's sake, there's nothing sinister about it. So keep your stones and move on already.

So we headed back to 西门站 train station after we were done at the bank to make our way back to 五分埔 to shop for clothes again. Standing inside the train, I just have to show here how the inside of a Taiwanese train looks like on a Thursday morning:

Inside the train

Back home, while I was right smack in the middle of a typical working day, I sometimes see tourists enjoying themselves while us locals go about our daily work routines. As of now, I'm having a role-reversal and wonder about the local folks before me in the train: what are they working as for a living and how is their work routines like?

I then begin to imagine myself living and working in Taipei just like they are and wonder how life would be like as such as compared to my own real life back home. Well, at least they get to enjoy seasonal cold weather like now, which is something I'm jealous about since the weather back home is like dreaded summer throughout the entire year. How I wish I could take the cold weather home with me.

Back to 五分埔

Arriving at 五分埔, it's quite a different sensation seeing the streets and shops with only sprinkles of people here and there. Well, today's a weekday morning, so this should come as no surprise. It's nice to shop around in cold weather without a crowd, I must say.

Arf got some fashion sense about me
We wanted to savor the barbecued squid again that we had during our first trip here and we bought that from a mobile stall at the back of the place near this particular red temple, so that's where we are heading to now.

Oops, now that we've reached the back, we don't see any stall selling barbecued squid, too bad. Looks like we are gonna miss out on the squid for this trip (and we did miss out). But I saw this really cute dog hanging around at one of the boutiques here and took a snapshot of it. It's adorable, isn't it? It has a fine fashion sense too. The Taiwanese folks in Taipei love their domesticated dogs to come in small sizes and fluffiness like this.

The cafe
Now we are done at 五分埔 and after getting cute T-shirts with cats for both our mums, we headed back to the train station. Passing by this little cafe across the road from the train station, I decided to pop in there for the experience. I'm figuring that since we always pass it on the way to 五分埔 and back from it, we should go in there and experience it for the memory.

Remember that nagging feeling that dreads me about the thought of us coming to the end of our trip I wrote about yesterday? Well, that motivates me to go into the cafe too since it looks cozy and I've always wondered about the place, having walked pass it so many times.

So we are now having drinks and a plate of snacks in there, sitting at one of the tables just next to the pavement you see in the pic there and this is the view of the inside of the premise from where I'm sitting:

So I'm glad we came to patronize this little cafe and I will remember it for a long time to come. Like I've said, I can be emotionally attached to places since they are like monuments that stand witness to my experiences, memories and the thoughts and feelings during the moments in time when I was there at those places. In other words, they make up my story, threaded together in this blog.

A view of the scenery outside the train
Our next plan is to head to 渔人码头 (Fisherman's Wharf) at the northern coast of Taiwan where 情人桥 (Lovers' Bridge) is located. After dumping the stuff we bought at 五分埔 in our hotel room, we headed to the train station to make our way all the way to 淡水 where we have to take a bus to 渔人码头.

Well, this is going to be our final train ride during the day for this trip, so I whipped out my iPhone and took a shot of the scenery of the view outside from inside the train's cabin I'm in as we get closer to 淡水. Well, I love Taiwan but I gotta say that a lot of their buildings, especially their residential ones, could sure benefit from a fresh paint job.

No offense meant at all but I do wonder why their government don't look into this particular infrastructure matter. I think Taiwan is truly a wonderful place but they should look into better maintenance for lots of their buildings. Just saying, simply because I hope for the best for Taiwan. I did mention that I love the place, didn't I? We came back here again not without a reason, fresh paint or not.

Arriving at 淡水, I'm hoping to see again this gentleman busking with a sort of musical instrument I do not know the name of playing near the shore of the lake there. His musical instrument makes a sort of haunting but yet beautifully unique sound.

So I am quite disappointed that I don't see him here today. Perhaps the weather here is too cold today. This place is just next to a huge body of water, which accounts for the fact that it's a lot colder here. Still, I can't help but wonder if he no longer plays here though. I hope he's doing well. We have to move on and so we hopped onboard the bus that will take us to 渔人码头.

Arriving at the destination really feels like a trip back in time since everything here still looks the same and nobody shifted the sea here elsewhere. The only difference this time is the weather, which makes it even more of a pleasant flashback experience.

But the price for the colder weather is that the sky here today is covered with grey clouds which will blanket up the glory of the coming sunset. During our previous virgin trip here when the weather was hot with clearer skies, the sunset we saw here during then was quite a sight.

But for me, I'll choose cold weather any day.

That's me playing tight-rope walking near the water's edge where yachts and small boats are docked. I did the exact same thing during my first time here and my Lioness took a shot of me doing so, so that's what I'm doing again as my Lioness snapped away with our camera.

I guess I can compare this photo with the previous one to see how much I've grown or something. I was wearing a T-shirt previously but this time, I'm in my coat and leather gloves.

Yup, it's really cold here this time of the year, so if you are coming here during this month of the year, be adequately dressed since this place is right next to the sea and places near huge bodies of water during the cold seasons will turn you into a popsicle if you have next to nothing on your skin.

Dusk is approaching and the lights are starting to come alive. See that cafe there with the outside seats at the bottom of the stairs in the pic on the right? My memory of this cafe is strong in my mind because an English song with Spanish arrangements was played here during the last time we were here and I was serenaded by it. Just think something along the lines of Sting's Desert Rose.

I wish I knew the title of that song I heard here previously. It was so sad to the point of anguish but so romantic at the same time my goosebumps stood just listening to it while I was feeling as if my heart was being torn out of me. When you hear music that touches you in a particular place, your memories of that place become empowered.

No, they are not playing that same song now that I'm back here again. What a pity. My goosebumps remain in their original positions unmoved.

The center of attraction in this place is the Lovers' Bridge, so I'll let the following pics do the talking here:

On the steps of Lovers' Bridge

Lovers' Bridge at dusk

Lovers' Bridge when night has fallen

When night falls, the beauty of 情人桥 truly shines, like love blossomed; just like a bloomed rose. For some reason, this monument of love seems lonely, overlooking the northern sea all on its own. Perhaps it needs a companion bridge.

The cold is making us hungry, so we are now looking around for a place for some chow but most of the restaurants and eateries here are closed and we can't find anything that we think can fill us up, so we begin to walk away from the area and ended up at this seafood place situated at this bend of the road.

While walking to this place, we had to cross a stretch of wide open space where the winds from the sea made us feel so cold that I experienced some pain in my ears. That is making me think that we better end up successful in finding a worthwhile place to dine after braving the cold and the painful sensation in my ears.

Apparently, business at this seafood place is poor since there are no customers here that I can see and one of the folks working here has to stand by the road waving a luminous lightstick to attract the drivers of passing cars.

In the end, we decided not to eat here since I'm having the feeling that if we did, we would be over-charged, as well as the fact that we are running low on Taiwanese currency again by now and the restaurant does not accept credit cards.

So it's back through that stretch of wide open space again since the area at this seafood place seems remote and I think we might get lost or something should we continue our hunt walking deeper and further into the area. I figure it's best to retrace our steps and head back to familiar ground and take a bus back to 淡水 from 渔人码头.

So that was what we did and we have arrived back at 淡水 after waiting at the bus stop and hopping onboard the bus with 2 other Korean ladies.

We went into the first restaurant we came across at 淡水 but decided not to eat there in the end since they made us wait for too long. So we are now heading to the outdoor stalls at 淡水老街 instead to temporarily suppress our hunger with the snacks and small bites sold there before heading back to 西门 to have steamboat opposite our hotel.

After all, being at 淡水老街 without trying their snacks is a wasted experience. And I just had to have a bite again of the wild boar sausages selling here, Asterix and Obelisk.

Back at 西门

So that was what we did before heading back to 西门 where we surrendered our transportation cards to get refunds for our leftover amount. Surrendering our transportation cards makes me feel a tinge of sadness, as it means that we will be leaving Taipei tomorrow. Sniff.

Signage at the steamboat restaurant
We are still hungry. Following our plan, we are now at the steamboat restaurant situated at the opposite stretch of road across from our hotel to have a proper dinner here. We've passed by this restaurant many times during our current and previous trip already, so this calls for having an experience of the food here. This is making me wonder why we haven't yet patronized this restaurant that is so close to our hotel.

It's funny how certain things in our immediate surroundings that we come across too often can sometimes get neglected or overlooked in favour of other things further or far away. Perhaps I'm mentally far-sighted or something and my mind's eye tends to leapfrog over things just around me, which is not a very good thing.

Inside the steamboat restaurant
But having steamboat in cold weather with a hungry stomach is undoubtedly a very good thing. I just wish that this restaurant had a hotplate-steamboat combo like my favorite restaurant at 忠孝复兴 though.

So how's the food here? Well, the food is alright but nothing mind-blowing. We weren't floored by the time we finished our steamboat dinner here since we are still standing firmly on our feet. But by all that's digestible, being able to satisfy our hunger finally after enduring it in cold weather which magnifies hunger is something quite beyond mere words.

Now that our stomachs are completely satisfied, we popped over to 85° cafe which is like just next to the steamboat restaurant where I just bought some good old Taiwanese Caramel Macchiato.

Sitting here side by side next to my Lioness at the bench outside 85°, I whip out my phone and begin to take pics of ourselves together as well as our immediate surrounding because I know that we are going to miss this place again after tomorrow:

85° cafe

View from the bench outside 85°

I also took shots of the lobby and the main entrance of our hotel earlier:

This actually feels like a desperate last moment hug with a loved one before you have to leave him or her for a long time to come.

This is our final night in Taipei for this trip. Join me tomorrow as I give Taipei that desperate hug.

- De Lion Speaks

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Taipei Day 4: of Shopping, a Gay Pub & Night Markets

It's the 4th day of our second trip back here in Taipei. The feeling I'm having about this is neither here nor there. I don't know if you've experienced it before but being halfway through a holiday trip is the twilight zone between knowing your holiday is gonna end soon and you are halfway to having to go home and returning to the grind of normal life, and the fact that your holiday is down to half-life remaining for you to enjoy yourself and indulge in what's left of your trip.

It's like a tug-of-war and you are what's getting tugged.

That's a bittersweet feeling, for sure. So I'm telling myself to focus on enjoying what's left of this trip and squeeze every ounce out of it; kinda like squeezing an orange dry until it's all wrinkled up in order to savour its sweet juice to the very last drop. So yeah, we are gonna squeeze the juice out of the day and make no apologies about it.

There is this store selling beancurd along the stretch of stores and shops just outside our hotel and we wanted to experience it, so we are here now having a taste of their beancurd with almond nuts.

I had to interrupt the young dude manning the store and he had to stop playing some game on his iPad when I placed our orders with him just now. The beancurd is not bad, but we are not floored. I'll conclude this as a 'experience it once and move on' deal. Beancurd is not something that can really satisfy your hunger, so it's off to 西门町 now to hunt for a proper meal on this lovely freezing morning.

西门町 in the morning (click to bloat for clarity)

During this time in the morning, 西门 is just starting to come alive as the shopkeepers prepare for business for the day. So we found this little place which is similar to a Hong Kong mini restaurant eatery and I'm having a plate of fried rice here while my Lioness is having some soupy thingy.

My fried rice is palatable and quite fragrant because it's fried with eggs but I don't really like the soupy dish she's having; it has a kind of taste I've never quite experienced before. Put a new unfamiliar experience into your mouth and swallow it and there's a chance you might not like it just because the taste is alien to your taste buds anyway, even though that doesn't necessarily mean that the food is bad. Anyhoos, whatever.

We had our very first meal in Taipei here
Moving on after our meal, we came inside this small shopping mall where we had our very first meal and dinner at this particular restaurant inside during the very first night we arrived in Taipei 2-and-a-half years ago. The restaurant seems quite out of place, since just right outside it is an entire clothing section occupying the entire floor.

Nevertheless, it's good seeing it again and peeping in from the outside, I can see the same seat we occupied during our first time here and this makes me picture our past selves sitting there having our Japanese dinner. Well, I think I've mentioned somewhere before within this blog that I can be emotionally attached to places I've been to.

There is this street at the side of the main area of 西门町 we didn't visit before, so that's where we are heading now to squeeze this unexplored side portion of this trip's orange to see what we can experience there. So when this small shopping mall with the handle 'Shinjuku Plaza' pops into view, I just have to go in there to see for myself if they are really selling Japanese Shinjuku merchandise. Here's how the inside of this little mall looks like upon entering:

True enough, there are boutiques here selling Japanese fashion stuff but not in entirety. It's a mish-mash of Japanese and local fashion, actually. And some of the boutiques here are situated in the most isolated places within the mall - within the stairways. It's at one of these stairway boutiques where I bought a pair of funky pants.

It does make me wonder how some of the boutiques here fare and survive, considering the minimal crowd flow and the fact that it's situated just outside the fringe of the main shopping area of 西门. But it's a wednesday morning, so perhaps this can't really be the constant situation here, i'm hoping.

Anyway, the boutique personnel here really know how to dress up and for that matter, I have been really impressed by most of the boutique sales girls here in Taipei - lots of them dress to kill and I did catch myself saying 'Wow' under my breath at the sight of many of them. Compared to the general fashion scene back home, it's no contest hands down.

Of course, you may present the argument that on home ground, our weather is too humid to dress up fashionably but hey, even though it's freezing-ass cold today, lots of the sales girls working inside the shopping malls are wearing thin material summer dresses (why should they wear their coats and jackets inside heated malls anyway) funked-up by accessories, vibrant colours and even summer hats; fashion that not many girls back home dare to experiment with where most of them just play it safe wearing mostly black or some other non-cheerful colours and without much (mostly without) fashion accessories, which the Taiwanese are masters in mixing & matching with.

Now that we are done exploring Shinjuku Plaza, we head out and came into this CD shop since my dad-in-law has requested my Lioness to hunt down a karaoke CD of songs by some Taiwanese artiste. After this, we strolled back to the main area of 西门.

Back at the central area of 西门, we decided to try out some of the snacks sold here. She bought this chocolate-coated thingy on a stick. For me, I'm now waiting for my mochi (muah chee) to be made from a street stall as you can see in the pic. Mochi is basically fried flour coated with peanuts and I wanted to find out if the Taiwanese version tastes any different from home ground's.

While all these are going on, I can't help but feel a tinge of lost as I know that we are approaching the last day of our trip here. It's a subtle feeling but it's there alright; it's a little voice that tells me to cherish every remaining moment since I heart Taipei lots.

Once my mochi is ready, I took it to a corner and begin to chow down on it and I'm quite surprised to find that it tastes exactly the same as ours back home. Not that that's a bad thing though, since the similar taste is a good one, so I ain't complaining. Besides, the cold makes one hungry easily and makes everything you usually like to eat more palatable. The cold makes your taste buds livelier somehow.

So my take about the mochi freshly made from the street stalls here: they are basically made the same way from the same ingredients as the mochi back home. However, the Taiwanese mochi bought in ready-made packaged forms have more variety in assorted tastes & flavours, which is something lacking back home - just like the Taiwanese folks have more varied tastes & styles in their fashion sense as compared to the drab 'play it safe, don't jump out of the usual regular box' herd mentality 'fashion sense' back home.

Gosh, even the differences in creativity and variety carry over to the food department - one ventures out of the comfort zone while the other chooses to remain in it.

Next, we have to get some yummy snacks for the Homies back home. See the pic on the left? This shop is a great place to get packaged snacks and it's just a stone's throw away from the 西门 train station's exit nearest to the main area. Just stroll around 西门 and you should come across it. This place makes for great last-minute snacks buying.

They sell exotic stuffs like ducks tongues too, though those are to be consumed, not meant to be packaged and kept for days. Speaking of ducks, I love their duck drumsticks, those are really yummylicious.

The alley next to 红楼剧场 (the building on the right)
We continued shopping at 西门 before heading back to the hotel to dump everything we've bought in our room and rested for some time to catch our breaths and recharge ourselves. That's right, the shopping ain't over yet.

By now, late evening has fallen and the plan is to go back to 五分埔 to shop for more clothes, but there is something I have to do here first: go back to 小熊村 for a drink just like what we did during our first trip here. This pub is situated just behind our hotel in the alley behind 红楼剧场, a cultural museum.

小熊村 means 'Little Bear Village'. Endearing, isn't it? We discovered this little pub during our first time here when I saw the lights and seats from a distance outside 红楼剧场 that scream 'Pub' to the observant eye and the perceptive mind.


Right, so the name is endearing but I've concluded that this is also a gay pub, since we saw groups of men who kinda behaved & gave out such vibes when we first visited this place.

Yummylicious Caramel Macchiato
I have no problem with that since we are being left alone in peace here. I'm straight and even though I don't agree with nor condone the sexual orientation of gays, I don't discriminate against them since they are humans too and since I wasn't and am not being harassed here, I'm cool with coming back since I really like the ambiance of this place.

I just have to make sure that I don't drop anything here and having to bend down to pick it up. Just kidding.

And of course, we just have to have their caramel macchiato once again and a mug of beer for myself too since my Lioness doesn't take alcohol. Anyway, perhaps we are here too early since me & my Lioness are the only customers sitting here at the outside seats embraced by the cold.

At 五分埔

After our drinks at 小熊村, we took the train and we are now back at 五分埔 to hunt for more clothes, which is the main agenda for this trip. Oh, I just have to show you the co-op washrooms here, since we do not have such toilets back home which are shared by both gender in such a manner.

As you can observe, the only thing separating the men and the women within this same washroom are the cubicles - half of the cubicles have the female symbols on the doors while the other half have the male symbols; all within the same washroom.

My gosh, this washroom really stinks, I'm outta here.

The cafe near 饒河夜市

We've heard that 饒河夜市, another well-known night market is quite within walking distance from 五分埔. So now that we are done here at 五分埔 for tonight, we begin asking the locals here for directions and while walking towards 饒河 after a short period of time, we decided to stop at this cafe just a stone's throw away from 饒河 for some hot beverage since the weather is really cold.

I'm happily sitting at one of the outside seats (again) sipping my coffee when I look to my left and realize with horror that just next to me right now is a stall selling 臭豆腐 (smelly bean curd). My gosh, I can't stand the smell of those things but luckily, the smell didn't drift over my way and I didn't catch whiffs of those things, so I continue to sip my coffee without having to change seats, phew.

The main entrance of 饒河夜市
After we were done at the cafe and moving on, we found and reached 饒河夜市 and the view of the main entrance of the 夜市 before me now is exactly what you can see in the pic there. Blogging like this is like taking you along with me on my journey, dear reader, and that's a pleasing thing.

So we are walking around and browsing the wares here at 饒河 and my take on this night market is that it's just like any other regular 夜市 in Taipei. Maybe we've missed something, but this night market is like any other; not that that's a bad thing, though.

In conclusion, if you've been to any other 夜市 and you don't have enough time for this one, I don't think you will be missing much. But as with any other places, visiting this place just for the experience and the memory is good though.

View from the other end of 饒河夜市
I'm glad we are here when the weather is cold because during our previous trip in the month of September, the weather was hot and humid and walking through a night market under such conditions, what with the fumes from the cooking of the food and snacks and the trapped heat under the tarps everywhere, you feel sticky, scruffy and dirty all over and everything combined just saps you of your energy. Not pleasant.

Shopping and moving around in colder weather sure as heck is a lot more pleasant and I'm finding myself to be a lot more energetic. Anyway, I found more wild boar sausages here and bought a couple of them, munching while walking around. They are cheaper here as compared to those at 九份 but the sausages sold at 九份 are tastier.

That kinda make sense economically: 一分钱, 一分味, heh.

The bus stop where our bus never came
The plan is that once we are done at 饒河, we'll take a bus from here that goes back to 西门, but it's getting close to midnight now, so both of us started to hustle our way towards the bus stop.

So we are at the bus stop now for some time already but the bus we've been waiting for didn't come. I'm beginning to think that perhaps we've missed the last bus back to 西门. So my Lioness went into the dessert shop behind us and the middle-aged woman in there told her that there shouldn't be any more buses heading towards 西门 at such an hour.

Inside the cab
All is not lost and the Universe didn't explode, for 小黄 came to our rescue. '小黄' means 'Little Yellow' in Mandarin and that's what the Taiwanese affectionately call their taxis. You've guessed it; their taxis are all painted yellow. If you are not a Chinese, you'd probably have thought initially that the name meant something racist when I mentioned 'Little Yellow', didn't you? Far from it, there's nothing racist about this, the name just denotes the colour of their cabs.

Besides, why would the Taiwanese intentionally give self-derogatory racist names to their own cabs? Come on now, everybody knows that only SPGs are racist against their own kind, mm-hhmm? Racism sucks balls, by the way.

Well, it's déjà vu as we are sitting in the cab heading back to our hotel since we took their cabs too during our previous trip to Taipei; not once but twice - once during an afternoon and once during a night then.

We are having some chit chat with the cabbie and when he tells us that booking for a cab over the phone in Taipei is cheaper than flagging one down on the road for the journey, I find myself having trouble wrapping my mind around such a concept. This doesn't make much sense to me but I'm not a Taiwanese, so who am I to question their rationale for doing things their way.

(I'm still scratching my head over this one till today, though).

Anyway, tomorrow will be our second last day in Taipei for this trip before we have to make our way to the airport on Friday afternoon for our flight back home, which means that tomorrow will be the final full day we have to enjoy Taipei from morning till night.

So come with us tomorrow, we'll take you to visit the Taiwanese monument of Love that overlooks their northern sea, among other things.

- De Lion Speaks