Friday, 20 January 2012

Rain, rain go away!

I've got about a half an hour before I'm meeting Sally so I have time for a rain dance and an update!  I've lucked out on the weather so far- keep your fingers crossed that today stays on the dry side of the 50% chance of precipitation.
I didn't go too crazy for my friday night in Taipei but I did do some exploring.  I checked out the Shin-Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store just because it was relatively famous for its 9 floors.  It was pretty huge and I was surprised to find its only the largest department store in West Taipei... I can't imagine what else you would sell in a larger store.  At the banquet, the guys I was sitting with told me Taipei becomes abandoned during the Lunar New Year season as people travel South to their hometowns.  That sure hasn't happened yet- at least above ground, there were huge flocks of people, best described by Uncle Bob's term "cattle" which he endearingly named the slow moving Las Vegas masses.

Then I pursued the underground malls connected to the train station.  Lots of people selling clothes, shoes, food... there were video game arcades, massages, some strange medical treatment that Penny has used to increase circulation to keep away colds.  Not too many booths designed for tourists but I was successful in my hunt for postcards.
As you can see from the picture of downtown, American stores are much more common here- I've seen multiple Subways, a Dunkin Donuts (that made me feel right at home), many Body Shops and Pizza Huts.  Watching Pizza Hut commercials on TV, their products weren't even recognizable.  This inclination was verified when I googled the menu.  It highlights the "hot saw" platter" with Germany cheese sausage, pigs in a blanket (but they call them ham rolls) and "French style pizza" (I can't even figure out what that's supposed to mean).  The pizzas are more familiar but they put noodles on them and offer exotic options like Korean Kim Chi BBQ and Japanese Takoyaki.
Speaking of food, the free breakfast in the restaurant upstairs at the hotel revealed similar dishes to the first breakfast at Yaoshen.  They served a variety of dishes- meaty things, eggs, green vegetables, peanuts, rice and toast.  I couldn't really figure out the connection between the random offerings but all the natives created interesting sandwiches and rice bowls by mixing the various things.
Not much else here- speaking of things that boggle my Western mind, my hotel room has so many switches- figuring those out has been a fun side project.  Here's a sign in the elevators that always makes me giggle.  Hopefully I won't get trapped in any elevators and need to use it for reference:
In Chinese class, we learned that Chinese people don't like the number four because the Mandarin word sounds like "death".  Sure enough, there was no fourth floor on this hotel and no fourth room on each floor.  Here it's all about lucky number 8!