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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.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Back To Taipei

The deserted alighting area inside 桃园 airport
Ahhh, good old Taipei..

It's good to be back here again with my Lioness after 2-&-a-half years ago (2008). Taipei was the very first overseas trip destination me & her went all by ourselves, followed by Hong Kong, Macau, Hokkaido and Tokyo. Actually, our first overseas trip was to Malacca, but that was my previous company's incentive trip, so that doesn't really count since we went with my ex-colleagues & ex-boss on a sponsored trip.

Touching down at 桃园 airport, the first order of the day is to go to the washroom. Coming out from the washroom later, I begin to notice that the area is deserted. Where did everybody else go? Don't people need to pee after a 4 hours flight?

Anyway, this time round, we came back here with boutique-shopping as our main priority. We've already taken a load of pics during our first trip here, so unless there are scenery changes, I won't bother too much with the photo-taking.

Besides, we'll be staying at the same hotel and going to the same places, so that ought to minimize the need to shoot for pics since this will be like a recap trip retracing our steps.
So most of the time throughout this trip when I had to take pics, I didn't even bother to do it with my camera, I just whipped out my phone from my pocket & snapped away.

Buy your coach tickets here
Since this is a free & easy trip, we have to buy tickets at this row of booths within the airport where different ferrying coach companies provide services to take us to our hotels. We bought tickets from FreeGo (飞狗) to get us to our hotel '大顺大飯店', just like we did in 2008.

Seems like the airport didn't change one bit at all after all these couple of years. While waiting for the coach to arrive, I popped outside to see if there are any changes to this particular exterior area of the airport I remember well the last time I was here. Now that I'm outside, I'm dismayed to discover that the weather is not cold at all today in Taipei.

Time has stood still in Taipei since everything I'm seeing before me seems unchanged after all these while. That makes me smile because this is like going back in time. Consistency is a good thing when you are going back to a place you miss. And I miss Taipei.

Standing out here observing how the personnel of the coach companies work, I can deduce that theirs is a system of utter absolute chaos as drivers argue with coordinators in a manner that makes my head spin even as just an observer. I'm sorta half expecting fights to break out among them as I entertain the thought that I've always had the assumption all along that when it comes to work, the Taiwanese had it laid-back and more stress-free. Guess not across the board.

Some time later, our coach arrives to whisk us away. The driver will stop at several hotels along the designated route to unload batches of us tourists and the journey will take awhile.

Have I mentioned already that I'm dismayed at the weather because it's quite a warm day? When we came here in 2008, it was during September when the weather was as humid as my home country, since September will see the onslaught of the typhoon season in Taiwan. Since it's March now, Taipei ought to be cold or at least cooling.

However, it was reported in the news that a cold spell will come from the direction of China towards Taiwan the following day. Can't wait for it to hit us. I chose to come here in March precisely for the cold. Rather move around & shop shivering than be drenched in your own perspiration. Besides, being able to wear my cool autumn clothes again will satisfy my vanity. Can't do that back home.

The transit place
The coach then stops at this particular place pictured on the left for us to transfer to another coach which is actually a 'downgraded' coach more akin to a bus.

See, that's the problem with 飞狗; they involve transfers to other coaches-wannabe 'buses' along the way and we have to transfer our heavy luggage as well. It's not a big deal but it's irritating enough to make you wonder about the stupidity of their system. We were luckier in 2008 since back then, we didn't have to transfer rides from the airport. Oh well, at least our current driver is courteous.

I find it strange that some of the other tourists in the coach, especially those whom I think should be from Hong Kong judging by their Cantonese accent, are wearing winter wear on this hot day. They didn't even take off their winter jackets as though it was snowing outside.

After a break at the transit point, we continue with our journey. Familiar sights caught my eye as we are being driven along and when I see that 90% of the people in the ride have gotten off at their respective hotels, I know we are now getting close to our hotel at 西门町.

Rounding a corner, I can see this stall selling duck meat and I turn to my Lioness and exclaim excitedly that that must be the rather famous duck stall in 西门. A huge sign by the road that tells us we have indeed reached 西门町 confirms that I'm right. Damn, it feels so orgasmic to be back!

As our ride inches towards the small road leading to our hotel from the main central area of 西门町, my heart leaps with joy as I spot 85℃ cafe at this corner and oh look, over there further up is JSP Burger! The area still looks the same and when we alight opposite good old 大顺 hotel where we will be staying, it really feels like a journey back in time. My elation knows no bounds.

And the hotel didn't change at all, both inside & out. A good thing, that, since we are back to relive the memories of our first overseas trip we went alone as a couple. I just wish we could be staying at the same room we stayed during our previous trip on the 5th floor. This time, we will be staying at room 601 on the 6th floor.

After dumping our luggage in our room, we head straight out for dinner after paying a visit to the 5th floor where we stood outside the room we stayed previously as memories came flooding back. I even checked out the stairway. I can get really emotionally attached to places. So saith the Emo.

The hip Hippie boutique
So we proceed to the central area of 西门町 which is a stone's throw away from 大顺 to have our dinner. I tell myself not to be too dismayed by the weather today and just wait patiently for the cold spell that is supposed to hit Taiwan tomorrow.

Did I mention we came back here mainly to shop for clothes? Look at the pic on the left, it's boutiques like that we came to raid. The reason I took this pic was because if you've noticed, the clothing is 60's Hippie-esque. Heck, even the salesgirls in that boutique are wearing Hippie headbands to complete the look. How come we don't have such fashion back home? The Taiwanese do indeed have much better taste.

Where we bought the 青蛙下蛋 drink
And we just had to have the '青蛙下蛋' drink again. After asking around for the location of the nearest stall in the vicinity selling that drink, we found it eventually. During our previous trip, we had our first taste of that drink over at 士林夜市 which caused orgasms on our tongues but the one we are having this time around is just meh.

And no, we won't be going back to Shilin Night Market this time since we didn't enjoy the food there and the thought of being enveloped by the prevalent smell of 臭豆腐 (smelly toufu / beancurd) that permeates the air there again sickens us.

We are having our dinner here
Right, so food-wise, we came back for the Taiwanese BBQ hot plate that got us high the last time we were here at this particular restaurant in 忠孝复兴. We will be hunting down that same restaurant again but not today since we are hungry and just want to have dinner in the immediate vicinity after our flight and all that travelling from the airport.

So we picked this restaurant that sells BBQ and the name of the restaurant cracks me up: "我就励害". LoL, the Taiwanese are so quirky. It means 'I'm the expert' in English.

Turns out the BBQ here is just so-so. I ordered a huge chunk of beef which turns out to be tough as hell to cut up into bite-sizes. I think that explains why their scissors designed for cutting up meat are kinda blunt, what with all their non-tender beef wearing out the edges.

Later, when I was taking a break chilling outside the restaurant and upon seeing my Lioness struggle with trying to cut up the beef for me, this really hip young waitress volunteered to help. My Lioness tells me as I come back in that the waitress ought to be regretting helping since she ended up struggling too. I'll bet the poor helpful girl suppressed curses under her breath.

So in order not to waste too much time, I ended up having to force-swallow chunks of the beef bigger than normal bite-sizes. Small wonder I'm feeling so stuffed to the extent that I think I might be on the brink of being physically sick. I never like to waste food. Because I'm feeling kinda sick now, we decide to go back to the hotel to rest.

曼青 draws the crowd
Along the way back now, I can hear drumming coming from within this crowd gathered in a circle outside Watson's. I know about this young drummer girl who busks in 西门町 from the YouTube videos I've seen of her performances. She can even sing & compose. Her name is 陈曼青. Could it be her?

And lo & behold, when we got to the crowd, there she is in front of me drumming and I suddenly feel better. Gosh, it's surreal bumping into 曼青 in real life after watching and admiring her drumming skills & excellent beat-timing on YouTube. It's a strange sensation like fantasy I've been marveling at all along has just popped unexpectedly into my own dimension of reality.

My Lioness can see how excited I am, rooted to the spot and just watching 曼青 play. But uh, she became agitated and tells me with a scowl: "I thought you said you had to go back to the hotel to rest? Then what are you still doing here?".

I don't think I've mentioned yet that the drummer girl is cute, have I?

So I have to tear myself away and resume heading back to the hotel and yeah, I'm kinda pissed. Heh.

Anyway, since I have a sick stomach to nurse, I'll see you tomorrow. I'll take you up a mountain.

- De Lion Speaks

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