Friday, March 20, 2009

Taipei, Taiwan 2009

I look out the window every day and see the thick air surrounding the tall buildings. It makes me crave the fresh green countryside, and wonder if there is one?

Taipei is just another first world city full of cars, rushing people and tall buildings. It's a concrete jungle. I'll admit it's organized and the people follow strict rules of the city's organization. For one - I have to laugh at the underground train system. There are lines to where you stand before you get on the train to make it more efficient so when the passengers getting off the train don't bump into the passengers getting on. The lines are marked on the floor and it seems everyone makes a conscious effort stay within those lines - even if they curve a bit. Anthony and I would wonder what would happen if we didn't stay in between the lines, would the train police write us a ticket? Would we spend time in a Taiwanese jail? But it's a contrast to Sumatra which has NO order. It feels good having some kind of organization after coming from complete chaos in Indo.

We enjoyed the 4 days of the Taiwan bike show and saw great vendors (including our friends at Ergon) and were attracted to the new and improved weight weenie cycle components. The feeling was different to Interbike in Las Vegas (it's got great energy there) but we enjoyed it just the same. Anthony picked up a bicycle resource guide that is the size of 2 Las Vegas yellow pages and is in hog heaven. I, personlly, loved seeing familiar faces, like Gizmo Bill and his wife Colleen. After not being with people we knew (or at least I knew) it was nice seeing western friends from back home. We enjoyed the company while having a very lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant close to one of the great malls. Unfortunately the original restaurant we chose, Ostrich, was out of business. It's hard depending on Lonely Planet especially when the world evolves so quickly. I am curious what else we will find that no longer exists in Sri Lanka or perhaps East Africa?

Taipei does suck the life out of you. I am finding myself very tired and wanting to find an escape route. It's not easy to get out of the city by bike. We are going to take the train closer to our desired destination, the mountains, and cycle from there. Though Taiwan is a small island it's not that small. Plus, there are hoops to jump through as far as traveling by bike. But we are getting used to it - it always seems to be harder to travel in the first world countries than the third world ones because of the bureaucracy.

But we are off hopefully today to find the charm Taiwan has to offer. I am craving a different flavor - and if I get on the subject of flavor I would think of the food here. So I'll just give you a quick overview of what I feel the food is like here and I can some it up with ONE word: VILE. What are these people thinking? There is absolutely no flavor here - and I am not a big fan of the congealed pig blood on a stick nor the chicken heads and feet, I won't eat it. Everything else is pretty rubbery and I find there is one particular spice that I do not enjoy at all and I don't even know what that is. I have come to the conclusion, and acceptance, that I just don't care for the Chinese cuisine. I don't have to either. I don't need dim-sum in the afternoon - I'm OK with fresh fish, rice, veggies/fruit and chicken and I do not have to force myself to enjoy any dumpling with mystery filling inside it. Even Anthony - who is so daring and tries everything - finds no joy in the food here. He is just adding weight because he is curious of what each food tastes like. The verdict is: rubber. All different shapes and colors of rubber. I am hoping that the countryside will provide something new for us to try and enjoy and perhaps a breath of fresh air.

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