Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taiwan, Day One

So after Yamakasa was over, I went back to my apartment to sleep for a few hours before I went to the airport to fly to Taiwan. It was SO FAST. Less than two hours, direct! Fukuoka really is a convenient place from which to travel to Asia. My uni friend Joe came to pick me up at the airport, which is about 40 minutes outside of Taipei. The bus ride into the city was very interesting, but I remarked to Joe how I could already see the Japanese influence on this very Chinese place. It started raining when I first got there, but soon let up.

Taipei Main Station, a horrendous piece of architecture, but very convenient for taking trains out of Taipei and the subway around town.
View of Taipei from my hostel, which was run by a very nice Japanese expat.
Crowded, noisy, full of motor scooters, and SO many eating options!
Don't ask me what these are called. Mine was a meat filled bun (DELISH) and Joe's had some green veggie and onions.
Taipei 101 looming in the distance! Until recently, the tallest building in the world (or at least Asia, I think).
It's supposed to look like bamboo. I really like it, even if it's a bit weird. It is also simply MASSIVE.
Somewhat posh area around Taipei 101.
Sunset in the city.
That's just the base of it! The square-ish thing attached is a gigantic, fancy mall.
Mmmm. You know me and my shiny reflective glass building fetish!
Inside the mega posh mall. Every designer you can think of, and some you can't.
View from the 89th floor viewing deck.
"Is that one of those Chiang Kai-shek memorial halls?" "Yes, precisely."
That's the area we walked through to get from the subway to 101.
Evening over Taipei. Surprisingly, there are few skyscrapers in this quite modern city.
Not sure what direction we are looking here. It's all Taipei, haha.
Taiwan has beautiful mountains.
The gajillion tonne damper ball that keeps Taipei 101 from swaying in the wind. According to Joe, not the most sophisticated technology its purpose.
You can buy "damper baby" goods in the giftshop. They turned the damper ball into a cute character good, just like they do with all sorts of seemingly uncute things in Japan!
The city starting to light up.
Busy busy.

A huge lobster made of red coral. The gift shop was really pushing coral and jade jewelry, but I would have preferred this ridiculous and unnecessary carving.
Longshan Temple, which is technically Buddhist (I think) but is full of statues of Daoist masters and is often considered a non-denominational temple.
But a lot of people come to actively pray.
I felt a bit weird taking these photos, since people don't really pray much at Buddhist temples in Japan, apart from a quick clap and head bow.
The entrance to the Longshan night market. Taipei is particularly famous for its night markets, which are full of food/drink vendors, clothing stalls, knock off goods, and even little old ladies selling sex toys (I kid you not, I just didn't have the balls to blatantly snap a picture of one).
Quite popular places to hang out at night.
So near this night market is a covered shopping street known as "Snake Alley," where the big attraction is watching snakes being skinned and gutted in front of you, then having its meat prepared as a meal for you. I didn't notice the no-pics sign, but the guy sitting behind this MASSIVE CONSTRICTOR looked super bored, and didn't care.
This is Snake Alley. Some famous person was doing a TV spot or something and everyone was taking pics of him, so I took a picture of them all taking pictures.
Mantis shrimp. Fierce buggers, and huge! They don't look appetizing to me, and I hope never to meet one.
A typical street corner. There is food EVERYWHERE in this city. The problem is reading the menu ;_;
I forget what these funny looking fruits were.
Being a partially tropical country, Taiwan is just rolling in delicious and super inexpensive tropical fruit. Delightful!
More motor scooters than anywhere I've seen.
26 is the new 21?
This trendy area is sometimes compared to Shibuya in Tokyo, though it's not nearly as big. But it has everything you could want as a young, hip person with money to blow.
They were sitting on what looked like porch swings.
Modern Toilet Restaurant. The menu looked normal, but nonetheless, we chose NOT to dine there.
We had hot pot instead. It was so cheap, like MAYBE $6.
And we EACH got a massive bowl of veggies, in addition to a plate of thinly sliced mutton.
This is a kind of blood pudding cake thing with rice inside. Surprisingly tasty!
Mmmm hot pot. A filling and delicious way to end my first day in Taiwan!


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