Tuesday, April 1

Taipei 2008: the prequel

i'm back....miss me?

i also can't let this go unmentioned: i'm sitting in Professional Responsibility and my professor is talking about deception and legal ethics and he starts going into this hypo and starts it by saying:

"i'm going to build this building. yea, it's 3X larger than everything else aroudn it but i don't care. i'm going to build it, just like a penis into the sky."
ahem, excuse me professor? that's really the only reason to come to class. anyways, back to the point of this entry...
for spring break this year, Princess and i went to Taipei for 10 days. technically i'm an ABC, but i spent many summers as a kid in Taipei and it always holds a special place in my heart. then when i was legal drinking age...phew, Taipei became my favorite playground as well.

we took a thursday flight out so we could maximize our time in Taipei and manage to have 2 full wkds in the city. we had a nightmare incident occur with lastminute.com: they lost our tickets (it happened in an X-files mystery kind of way; they were supposed to send it via FedEx and supposedly someone in Feil signed for its receipt but Princess never got it) and then we called American Airlines (AA) and were told that our reservations were on record so there was no worries. on the day of the flight, all hell broke lose. i've never spent that much time at check-in counter. apparently, lastminute.com had issued us paper tickets when they should've just made it e-tickets. and lastminute.com had the authority to change it, but they were too lazy. basically, w/only 30 mins left to get onto our flight, Princess and i had to pay for "lost tickets" ($100 each, although lastminute.com has promised to reimburse Princess for the fees-we'll have to see if that pans out) before they would issue us boarding passes.
the flight over was fine, tho 17 hrs is always brutal. we made a stop in Tokyo Narita Airport. the Japanese really know how to live. the terminal was nice: shower rooms for freshening up, free internet lounges sponsored by Yahoo, delish food. the only negative is how expensive everything is. we transferred to Japanese Asia Airlines (JAA). i totally recommend flying Japan airlines from now on. the food was awesome, the service was all smiley, and complimentary booze! after this trip i've made a not-so-shocking discovery. Asian stewardesses are so much nicer than white ones. ok, i know that statement's not PC but whatever, it's true. the flight from NY to Taipei was all asian stewardesses and the service was all smiley, dainty and polite. on the way back, the flight from Tokyo to NY was all white stewardesses and they were bitchy, rude and curt. it made a big difference.

we arrived in Taipei around 10 pm on friday night and altho i was raring to go, Princess was exhausted and jetlagged so we went straight to bed. the next day we headed over to DanShui, and since it was a wkd, the place was packed. tons of ppl on the street, eating street food, buying crazy cheap things, playing carnival games. we took a break at Red Castle for tea and coffee which i'd never been there before although i've been to DanShui many times. the view's amazing and it's a really nice setting. altho we were there in the late afternoon, the place would be an amazing dinner date. later that night, we went to RaoHe Night Market, which was Princess's 1st experience w/a Taipei night market. following the night market, we went out for KTV, which as everyone in Asia knows, is a huge going-out activity. we tried to get into PartyWorld (this and Holiday KTV are the biggest KTV chains) but the place was booked (see? it was friday night and KTV was booked). instead we ended up at K9 which is located in the 24-hour shopping center Core Living Mall. Princess proceeded to polish off an entire bottle of red wine by herself and then all hell broke loose. there were only 5 of us there that night and 2 of us managed to make-out scandalously. i was not 1 of them.

we did a lot of shopping in Taipei. phew, Princess can shop! i've realized we have very different clothing styles. she's classy and elegant vs. me who's casual and teeny-bopper. when i took her down the main shopping strip, for the 1st time i understood what it's like to be a boyfriend accompanying a girlfriend shopping b/c we would go into stores totally Princess's style but not mine and i would have to wait on the side while she tried on clothes. we checked out WuFenPu Night Market, which is all clothes and nothing else. that's my favorite shopping area. plus, at that point i'd gotten really good at bargaining w/vendors. i took Princess to XiMenDing, another favorite place for shopping but also for hanging out. however, this was the day before Princess got sick so she lost steam really quickly altho she did manage to maximize the shopping. lastly, we went to Shilin Night Market but at that point we were both really shopped out and we only shopped for souvenirs and trinkets.

so aside from major shopping, we also ate a lot of food. this is pretty typical for Taiwan. the country's all about food and drink. yet the ppl stay so skinny! i just don't get it and it's just not fair. aside from all the street food: deep fried thick japanese mushrooms, skewered quail eggs, seasoned guava and asian peaches, stinky tofu and duck's blood (don't knock it till you've tried it); there was also official meales that my family took us out to eat at.
G-ma took us out to a ladies luncheon w/her friends on top of the Taipei World Trade Center which was so elegant and "ladies lunching" style. it was about 6 courses including shark fin soup. then there was the Japanese meal Princess and i had in XiMenDing. it was at this adorable place called Big Car Wheel (that's a direct translation). the place has been around for decades and it's novelty is that is has the little train that goes around the sushi bar and you can take things off it. while the food was good, the ordeal was a little trying b/c Princess can't read chinese or speak it and so i had to do all the translation and read the menu (which didn't come in english-and my ability to read chinese isn't that great). of course a trip to Taipei isn't complete w/o visiting Ding Tai Fun: this is the must go to place for soup dumplings and chicken soup. the reputation of the restaurant is still going strong (it has probably been around for a decade or just under) b/c we still had to wait 45 mins before we could get a table. i know, i know, chicken soup sounds plain but it really is worth it. and asian chicken soup is never the same as the chicken noodle soup we have in the states. it's just not.

lastly, there was Ma-la hotpot and shabu shabu. i'd never had shabu shabu before and now that i have i think hotpot is 100X better. i can't say why, but it just is. needless to say, there was a lot of food consumed and just thinking about it makes me feel blech but at the same time crave for all of it again. especially asian bread. and all those small 24-hour restaurants for drinking beer and snacking. ah, Taiwan Beer. i miss it all.

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