Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 Asia Trip, Taipei Day #3 Morning

This is really a continuation of the previous post; I kept falling asleep while writing the post and it was getting too long anyway.

I'm not sure if I'm still jetlagged but I got up at ~6am. My parents gave me the phone number for my aunt in Taipei. Even though I call her 小姑, she's only ~4 years older than me. I called her up at ~9:30am and it was obvious that I woke her up.
Her: hello (in Chinese)
Me: Can I speak to xxx (her Chinese name)
Her: Speaking (or something like that... I couldn't understand what she said)
Me: Umm, this is xxx (my Chinese name)
Me: I'm visiting from America
Me: I'm xxx (my dad's Chinese name) son
Her: Oh! blah, blah, blah...

I was worried she wouldn't remember who I was since it's been 33 years since I left Taiwan. Happily, she knew who I was and we arranged to meet for lunch near another MRT station since she wasn't too familiar with where I'm staying.

Small lane outside my friend's apartment. The entrance to the 忠孝敦化 MRT station is a the end.

忠孝敦化 MRT Station

Map of surrounding area. They built an underground mall extending to the next MRT station. My friend's apartment is next to the circular park thing near the bottom of the map.

I got to the designated MRT station a few minutes early. Since there are multiple exits, I waited in the central area wondering how I was going to recognize my aunt. I think because my dad has been sending photos, she recognized me right away. Good thing since I don't remember her at all. We ended up walking to another department where the clothing company she's working for has a retail outlet. It was hot and humid (again) and I was sweating (again) when we got to the Japanese restaurant in the department store.

My aunt ordering food. The waitresses were really really polite... much different from my experience in China.

Roasted cuttlefish and cheese baked on some sort of Japanese potato-like vegetable.

Roasted fish

She ordered a lot of food and we ate for over 2 hours. She is an interesting person and though I couldn't understand what she was saying sometimes, we had a lot to talk about. She treated me to lunch (~$40) and then went back to her store where she asked me to pick out a shirt. Since it was an Italian brand and the style was contemporary, I thought most of the stuff was too flashy. I tried on a few t-shirts and shirts, and even the 3L (equivalent to XXL?) was too small. The clothes were really expensive too. The last shirt I tried on was ~NTD7000 or $200+... dang, that's more then the price of my most expensive Tommy Bahama shirt. I'm sure she gets a big discount but still... anyway, I couldn't find anything that fit so I said that I would go home, lose some weight, and she can get me something next time I'm here. Afterward, we walked around a bit, got some iced coffee, bought some pineapple cakes for my trip to Beijing, and said goodbye.

We walked by the Grand Formosa Regent, which is part of the Four Seasons hotel chain. Cheap rooms start at ~$400/night.

Small coffee house. Two glasses of iced coffee cost NTD330 or ~$10.

I got back to the apartment at ~4:30pm. Even though my friend was leaving for SFO that night, he suggested we go see a movie. We quickly got a taxi downstairs and saw a showing of The Expendables at 5:15pm. The price for two tickets was NTD540 or ~$9/each... pretty similar to US prices. The movie was directed by Sylvester Stallone, featured cameos by a bunch of people, including Arnold, and sucked really really bad. I wasn't sure if it was bad on purpose or Stallone was trying to make a good movie. For dinner, we went to a Japanese style BBQ place, very similar to Gyu-Kaku back home.

Grill with Japanese charcoal. The waitresses would occasionally replace the wire grill with their hands. We got a bunch of different style of beef, staying away from internal organs.

The group next to us ordered these huge prawns.

The restaurant was pretty small but had two groups with white guy-Chinese girl couples. John (co-worker) and I noticed this last night too while walking around. Not sure what, if anything, they find different about dating a foreigner in Taiwan. Possibility to leave the country? A chance to practice their English? Dating someone from a culture that respects women more? Once again, I'm disadvantaged because I look like an ordinary local person... without the man purse.

Okay, one more day left in Taipei... what to do?

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