Machiavellian: Sick Leave
Trip Start Aug 30, 2005
49Trip End Aug 29, 2006
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Where I stayed
So with my intricate deception in place, it was off to Thailand. First though Taipei, Taiwan: 1 day layover en route to the final destination.
Arriving at airport in Taiwan, it was a quick trip through customs as Canadians have a 30 day visa. It was then to Delight Hotel, which I hoped wasn't as dodgy as it sounded, on the airport shuttle bus. After being in Korea with the psychotic bus drivers, Taiwan was sterile. Very orderly driving, adherence to speed limits and no alarming swerves on the highway
First thing I noticed was how clean Taipei is compared to Korea. No trash... none. Second thing I noticed was the amount of scooters and bicycles. Almost exclusively, people choose one of these two forms of transport, followed distantly by public transit and taxis. So after that I found the dim sum, which was a delicious and welcome change from the spiciness of Korean food. It was a great meal! Then it was to the local bar for a drink; as it turns out the local bar in closest proximity to the dim sum was a foreigner hangout called the Brass Monkey. It was okay, but obviously a foreign English teacher hangout... non-inclusive of new people. Strange how people get like that in a foreign country; they know more than anyone how lonely it can be at first in a new country. Just one of those observations I can make now that I've done it.
After a pint it was off to try and find the local night market... in my flip flops. Bad choice. After a futile and lenghty search, the only reward was large blisters on my feet the following morning. Of note I walked for about 2 hours until 2:30 AM to try and find a night market
Next morning got up for the inclusive western breakfast, which was great. Did the e-mail thingy. Then out into the rain armed with my umbrella. Yes, that's right I had the forethought to bring my umbrella... I know I'm an old man. Which I then promptly left in a taxi later that day, so any impression I made just now is out the window.
First, I need to navigate across a city filled with Chinese characters. Fortunately the metro system is very English friendly and getting to my first destination was no problem. Lo(u)ngshan Temple. In the rain it was elegant and mysterious, an amazingly intricate work of art. While still functioning as a living, frequently used temple. Only knock on it was its urban setting, taking away from its ambience.
It was then to the Peace Park. Nice little park with some historical significance and architecture. There I witnessed a decimation of classical rock pieces by Taiwanese high school students... in English. Just imagine Guns n' Roses "November Rain" with 'R' and 'L's mixed up. To give credit though one of the girls was fantastic. Then I visited the museum, which wasn't historical whihc is what I was hoping for, but more modern about whales and stuff.
I got hungry so it was off to the world famous Din Tai Fung restaurant on the recommendations of the staff at the Handicraft store. Grabbed a taxi and this is where I left my umbrella. There was a que at the restaurant... all the way outside. It didn't take long to get in though with seven floors in the restaurant. It was worth the wait for the quality of the dumplings, steamed buns and beer. UMMMMMM.
I then decided to try and walk to Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world. I should have known from physics that parallax error made it look a hell of alot closer that it was. 45 minutes later, I stopped instead briefly at Daan Park and then into the Chinese market under the overpass. I was pleased with the market as it had more Taiwanese than foreigners and a lot of unique items. Time was tight though, with my one day layover, so I left the market and settled for a few distance shots of Taipei 101 as a sacrifice for the stops. Then it was off to the airport.
While playing Big 2 on the plane I realized that both countries I was traveling to begin with a T. Strange.
With that last introspection comment it was off to Thailand!