Sunday, June 12, 2005

Taiwan - Day 2

Another night, another hotel. This time it�s the Monarch Plaza Hotel in Taoyuan. It looks like a much nicer hotel the Highness but Shirley said it costs about the same. My 2nd day in Taiwan was spent mostly in Taipei. Shirley and I went downstairs to the hotel lobby for a buffet breakfast. In Taiwan, I guess they have to provide both Western and Chinese breakfast. The food was pretty good and both of us had lots of porridge and fried turnip cake. As we were about to check out at 11:30am, it started to rain heavily. The weather forecast pretty much said thunderstorms for the rest of the week, just in time for the Liao family tour of Taiwan.

After lunch at 5th uncle�s house today, we checked into the hotel and then headed off to Taipei. Until now, I was thinking, �Hey, the traffic and driving is not too bad� maybe I can rent a car and drive around Taipei.� As soon as we pulled off the highway, I decided that it would have been a really bad idea. The people drive crazy in Taipei. It seems like people have very little patience and absolutely will not show you any courtesy on the road. Maybe it�s more of the Asian passive-aggressive behavior shining through. To avoid driving and parking headaches, Shirley�s dad parked the van in an underground parking lot and we took a taxi to Taipei 101 which is currently the tallest building in the world but soon to be overtaken by a building currently under construction in Dubai. Most of the 101 floors are taken up by office space but there is an observation deck near the top that offers spectacular views of Taipei. I used to live near this area but it�s definitely like nothing I remember. Attached to Taipei 101 is a shopping area that has some really expensive designer stores a la Rodeo Drive or South Coast Plaza.

Looking up at Taipei 101

Looking down from Taipei 101 (the yellow square building is the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall)

The rest of the day was spent in a shopping center a couple of blocks from Taipei 101. The main floor was packed full of cosmetic counters and they seemed to have every brand in the same building. Shirley found the SK-II counter and bought something that we can�t find in the U.S. anymore. What was kind of weird was that it took forever to pay with a credit card. Imagine the cosmetic section at Macy�s times 10 and only having one cashier to process all credit card payments. My father-in-law said that the younger generation is using credit card more and more but a lot of people still use cash, including him. Next we wandered around the food court level then the bookstore. Shirley bought a couple of books, including a Psychology dictionary that gave definitions of English terms in Chinese. I was looking through maps of Taipei trying to find the street I lived on 28 years ago but there are too many alleyways with the same name. I did find my elementary school on the map; maybe next week when we�re back in Taipei, I can take the MRT and walk around the area. We ended up having dinner in the food court. I had some kind of beef dish with egg on rice plus miso soup. The food was not too bad and really cheap; I think my dinner was only NT$110 which is about $3. After dinner we took a taxi back to the park and drive back to the hotel. We have two rooms: Shirley is sharing with Silvia and I�m sharing with Shirley�s dad. The Internet connection is not free so I�m typing this up in Word to be pasted into Blogspot later, hopefully with some pics. I also found a three-prong outlet in the hotel room but it�s in the bathroom. My computer�s AC adapter has a three-prong cable so I need to find a matching outlet in order to recharge the batteries.

Tomorrow is going to be an early day since we have to pick-up Kevin and Shirley�s mom at the airport around 6:30am. After picking them up, we�re going to drive to the Liao house in Tainan.

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