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Archive for October, 2006

Only in Taiwan

As mentioned before, I like to wander the streets of Taipei in the early hours of the morning, and the Zhong Xiao area offers a completely new experience with a gazillion times more lights and signs to see as well as a few small parks to visit. During my peaceful walks I have seen a few bizarre things which I have classified in the “only in Taiwan” category.

Sun Yat-Sen is the founding father of the country or something or rather and there is a Memorial Hall dedicated to him at the edge of the shopping district. The area has a large building in the middle of a wide open space which includes a few gardens and a pond, all elegantly designed and kept in pristine condition. The building is used as a performing arts theatre and the outside area is basically a public park with people just sitting around chatting, riding their bikes or walking their dogs. To get on with the story, as I was walking through the area I see far off in the distance two figures on a bench. Upon closer inspection I can make out a male with his female companion doing the hanky panky in the middle of the Memorial Hall. Must be a new way of paying respect to a prominent historical figure.

Another weird event happened right downstairs from my place in a lane with a fruit market. As I was walking down the lane I notice a couple passionately making out to the side. Trying very hard to ignore them when passing, the woman lets out two loud moans, one of them very high pitched, which got my attention and I look their way. The guy had almost taken the girl’s top off and one hand was down her pants. All this was happening in a non-secluded lane close to a brightly lit fruit market. Talk about taking public displays of affection to a whole new level.

This last one really tops my chart of wtf’ness. The cops here are really big in to the whole random testing thing at night and pull over scooters or cars to perform alcohol tests or vehicle and license compliance inspections. On this particular night two cops were doing their thing outside Sogo and were directing scooters to the side of the road with the normal red traffic glow light tube thing. A cop was waving down a scooter which was slowing down, completely typical behaviour. Then all of a sudden the cop runs towards the scooter and smashes his traffic stick on the rider sending broken plastic flying. The scooter picks up speed and hoons off into the distance. This all happened so fast that I pretty much stopped walking and just stood there trying to figure out wtf happened. I guess I’ll never know.

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Please do not leave rubbish and banana skins lying around. huh?!

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A cafe next to Tai-Power Building. One of my favourites.

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Double Ten

Been a while since my last update, been a bit busy with Uni and work stuff. Actually, that’s a lie. I’ve just chosen instead to go out more and enjoy the convenience of my new location. So in order to catch up I’ve decided to just pick up the pace and maybe increase the frequency of posts for the next week or so instead of doing one massive one.

So to pick up where we left off, the 5 day long weekend finished with Taiwan’s National Day known as Double Ten as it occurs on October 10th, coincidentally it’s also my mum’s birthday. Usually on Double Ten, there is the usual National Day celebrations of any country which would include parades, marching bands and the like. However on this particular Double Ten the Red Army, as coined up by the local media, whose mission is to depose President Chen from office decided to hold their own illegal parade.

This time, instead of focusing their attention on the Presidential Office, they marched right by my place and down the shopping district and lingered a while outside Sogo Department store shouting “give us coupons (給我禮卷)” as the company was involved in a scandal with the First Lady. That was actually pretty funny to be honest, especially when an old man standing on a bench is shouting it.

Though it’s blatantly obvious that most of the 300,000 (or 1,300,000 depending on which newspaper) people in red are not really the hardcore protesters. They are only there because it’s fun. When else could you walk down the middle of the street with your friends shouting slogans against the nation’s president and disregard any traffic laws. I guess the restaurants and shops in the area would be laughing all the way to the bank. Maybe they should give President Chen a high-five on the way.

Just like to mention that yes, the hardcore protesters like Shih Ming-Teh have not disbanded yet. They are still lingering outside the Presidential Office and have been there everyday since the whole debacle started. That was so long ago that I’ve forgotten. Though apparently they are paying people money to stay there, and it’s not a small amount either.

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Mid-Autumn Festival

Last Friday was the Mid-Autumn Festival and represents on the Lunar calendar the end of the summer harvesting, the the start of festivities. On this particular day the moon is meant to be at its brightest and roundest for the year, hence the tradition of eating Mooncakes.

This year, Mid-Autumn Festival falls very close to Double Ten (Taiwan National Day), so it is basically a five day weekend. The locals are using this occasion to really enjoy themselves and have gone on a BBQ frenzy. In almost every open area available, there are people huddled around a charcoal grill either fanning the flames or flipping meat. Even walking down Zhong Xiao, the trendy and up-scaled shopping district, you would pass multiple BBQ’s. It is a bit weird to just see people squatting around a smoking grill on a busy street eating and drinking while shoppers in their fashionable clothes and LV bags walk pass.

My class level at Uni decided to hold our BBQ at a park next to the river. This river basically runs through Taipei from north to south and has been walled off with barriers since it is prone to flooding during Typhoons. The city has built non-essential facilities along the river bank such as basketball courts, tennis courts, bike paths and car parking so it is an ideal location for BBQ’s as we can eat, then play ball afterwards.

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Focus! Don’t burn the meat!

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Random group shot

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Moved House

Haven’t updated for a while as I have been busy moving apartments, getting my subjects at uni organised and also starting to teach English again at a different Kojen school. I moved from a relatively quiet and serene apartment complex with a nice garden and a swimming pool with the drawback of being at the outskirts of Taipei to the noisy urban metropolitan, hip and trendy centre of where all the action is. It can be compared to moving from Rowville to right across the road from Myers in Melbourne.

I now have Sogo, Breeze Center and its movie cinemas, Eslite 24hr bookstore, Asia World, Ikea and the ice skating rink all within 15 minutes walk.

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