Friday, August 31, 2007

Taipei update

I've been pretty lazy this week, but have gotten out a bit to check out a few places.

The Taipei Main Library is just east of Da'an park. There's a decent English language portion, study areas, newspapers, magazines, and wires for laptops. I got a library card (at the entrance, next to the checkout line) pretty easily. I'm getting used to people asking me to wait while they find someone who can speak English to deal with me.

Afterwards, I walked to the Linjiang St Night Market. I enjoyed a shaved ice dessert - I got almond jello, red beans, something I couldn't identify that everyone in front of me got, and tapioca balls. I chose my toppings by pointing - which is one reason I chose to get the dessert instead of a bubble tea, since it would be easier for me to order. With temperatures in the 30's, it's nice to have a cooling treat.

On Wednesday I tried to find the Eagles ultimate team, but apparently they're on break for two weeks. Luckily their practice field is near the ShiLin Night Market, so I spent the night walking around there instead. I got a Peppered Bun (Hu-jiao bing) - these are just like normal bao zi, but instead of steaming them, the buns are stuck to the wall of a small oven and baked. This gives them a crunchy texture. Inside is pork, green onions and black pepper.

Something common to night markets, and night shopping in general, is that there is usually someone standing outside the store with a microphone. Their job seems to be to talk non-stop to entice you to come in to the store. My Chinese isn't that great, but the bits I can catch are: "really cheap", "if you don't take a look, ...", "step inside", "50% off", etc. Sometimes you can hear the speaker from a few stores away and it takes a while to figure out which store is doing the advertising.

Thursday, I met old college first-year Pomeroy dorm-mates, Judy and Tina. They are both taking a break from NYC life visiting family and working for a short time. We met on YongKang St and Judy pointed out a dozen good places to eat. Tina met up with us after working at the hospital at one of her favorite Taiwanese restaurants. I already forget the name, but the address of the Da (Big) place is 65 Yongkang St, south of the main area. We went to the Xiao (Small) place which is further north around the bend. We ordered more dishes than we could finish and it was all really tasty. This place has a menu you write on to order - so if you can't read Chinese, you'd be ok just checking off boxes at random - it would still all be delicious and authentic. This place serves Taiwanese and new Taiwanese dishes.

This morning I woke up much later than expected. I think it was the combination of the Taiwanese beer and the late night addiction to Facebook that made me miss my target wake up time. Oh and lack of an alarm clock. I ended up jumping out of bed to run out and catch a cab to Shi Da for Orientation. I made it in time to get a seat in the small auditorium. There were supposedly 300 students there, out of 800 starting this quarter. Most students are from Japan and Korea. Only 17% are Americans and the majority are Asian (do I count as American or Asian? hmmm). I found out I'm in the 2 pm class (my fourth choice time slot) and picked up my book at the bookstore. I took bus 74 home, which is conveniently located just outside the MTC and goes straight up Fuxing N Rd to where I live. About a 20 min ride home. And about 1/10 the cost of a taxi.

Today I tried looking for a cellphone, after I realized that the one Lee Chen left behind isn't working. I went to FarEasTone on BaDe Rd, Sec 3 and talked to one of the 2 women working there. She offered me a Nokia phone for NT$3990 and a SIM card for $600. I wasn't ready to shell out that much money for a crappy looking phone. I was hoping to get a 6 month contract with a free phone, but they weren't offering. (At Orientation, they were offering youth discount cards [luckily with them, I still count as a youth since I'm under 30] - which supposedly get you a free phone to use for 15 days. Maybe I'll look into that. Oh and for anyone considering ShiDa, you'd also get the new student fee waived if you presented the card - so it'd be worth seeking it out before Registration if you have the time.)

Post cell phone hunt, I walked up north and stopped at AsiaWorld - where IKEA is located. There were tons of people shopping, but I didn't see anyone testing out the dining tables with a picnic dinner like Peggy has seen in China. In the mall, I checked out the basement food level, but there wasn't anything worth purchasing - mall food is overpriced, considering the wealth of cheaper food stands all over the city. So I headed back to my local night market on Liaoning St and got a Chinese Hamburger (NT$35). This is basically a freshly made folded mantou filled with meat, pickled veggies, crushed peanuts and cilantro. It was delicious! I also got some freshly rolled mochi products just a few booths down (NT$10-15 each). The peanut kind was my favorite.

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