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taiwan diaries, part the second: taichung
Taichung, middle of Taiwan, as one can brilliantly deduce from its name. I spent about a day there, perhaps a day plus two hours, and it was where I added this entry from. It was uh, I don't know, it was just okay, you know?
Hmm, that above non-sentence is so brilliant that I'm completely gasping for breath now. This is kinda hard. I don't really know why. But I'll just do it anyway.
So, we took a flight from Kinmen to Taipei as the flight to Taichung was cancelled; the plane was supposedly out of order. Fucking bullshit. More aggravating was this: the stupid morons at the stupid airport didn't even replace the flight for us. Like, what the hell. I was quite pissed off but what could one do about it?
So we lingered in Taipei for about two hours, and then my cool uncle drove us down to Taichung. 2-hour drive. I saw the sunset, huge orange orb amidst the gritty grey of the highway. It was an interesting sight; the last time I remember seeing a sunset was that last time I was at the Chinese cemetery, but even then I couldn't see the sun in its entirety, only the orange-red hues it gave off as it went down. It was really nice, that view of the sun. Almost as if I was staring at the sun (sorry Mr. Barnes; I couldn't help it); you certainly can't get any closer than that.
We had dinner in this strange area. They have all these lavishly-constructed buildings which trick you into thinking that they're nice five-star hotels, but beneath the facade, they're actually crass, lousy places, like gambling dens and some sex-related stuff. They had a nice big building with pretty lights solely dedicated to Bingo. How interesting and decadent. Or maybe it's just me.
Dinner was pretty good. I ate a lot. I ate a lot while I was in Taiwan, in fact. I think I put on a few kilos while I was there, and I think I've mentioned this before too. Oh well. My third aunt whom I adore and her husband was there too. When I went in, I saw them, and so I went, "Gu gu"; saw her husband, wanted to acknowledge him too, but during those few seconds I suddenly forgot how to address him. I thought of things like "jiu jiu", "bo bo", etc, but "gu zhang" just did not come to mind. So I just looked at him, blanked, and then walked to my seat. I'm so smart, aren't I? I think so too.
I saw a few nice black dresses at Morgan before we went for dinner. And they were fucking expensive; NT$4000+ for a single dress. That's like S$200. They were really gorgeous though and I would've looked good in them. Oh well.
Like I mentioned before, I bought two DVDs so I won't go into it again.
Went to Starbucks. I didn't like the caramel rhumba whatever thing; didn't like the squashed chocolate bits. Should've ordered the regular caramel frappuchino. And Starbucks in Taiwan miraculously have English on their menu; the catch is, you have to say your order in Chinese. So my mom ordered, which was still okay 'cause her Chinese's good, but she left me to wait for the drink while she went to find a seat. So I was waiting, with the receipt in my hand, when the girl called out a name of some drink in Chinese. I wasn't sure if it was mine or not 'cause I had no idea what the heck she just said, but I was the only person lingering around, save for this other guy but he went back to where he was sitting without taking the cup. So, obviously, the thing was mine, but just to check, I handed the receipt to the girl and asked, "Shi bu shi zhe ge?" (Is it this one?)
So: my adventure at Starbucks. The tiramisu tasted like shit though. It was bland and dry and gross. No wonder they don't sell it in Singapore...I think.
(Beautiful bolt of lightning, just a few seconds ago. I love rainy days!)
My uncle bought a new house and it's really nice. It's big, has four storeys, the first being the garage that houses two cars, and the decor is amazing. It's very modern and comfortable and homey and they have a lot of cups on display, and they're really cute! The last time I went to Taiwan, which was probably three years ago, I had to sleep on the floor when we went to my uncle's place to stay. This time, we got rooms. My brother and I slept in one room, my folks in another; too bad there was only one bed in that other room, so my poor dad had to sleep on the floor. Haha.
I didn't sleep well though. I don't believe I ever slept well during the whole two weeks. I woke up at 1.30 a.m. Discovered that there was a mosquito buzzing at my ear. Got a bit freaked out; I hate mosquitoes and always will. Decided to ignore it and go back to sleep. But couldn't sleep, however hard I tried. So I switched on the light and proceeded to read Julian Barnes's "Flaubert's Parrot". And that was how I discovered four horrendous, hideous, grisly and blood-sucking mosquitoes in the room.
I opened the wrong side of the window. Silly me. And I only went back to sleep at 3 a.m. Had to wake up at 9 in the morning. Oh well.
The next day was quite tiring, most of all for my uncle. He drove us around for literally the whole day. Left the house at 10 a.m., and went to the 200-year-old temple. It's not a miao; it's a shi, but it's the same when translated into English. At the same time, I don't know what the difference is between a miao and a shi so hmm. I guess it doesn't really matter, though somehow I think it should.
I don't really have much to say about the temple. They're doing a lot of preservation works, taking down pillars and beams and replacing them with new ones. It struck me as kind of odd, as the "preserved" temple would cease to be the same; one would cease to be filled with the sense of awe that infiltrates a person as one stands in the midst of a building that dates back 200 years. The rotting wood, the slanted beams, the chipped and fading paint: that is exactly the point.
But if nothing is done to it, it'll just continue to rot away, and years later, it would completely cease to exist.
I'm convinced that life is a huge paradox in itself, so why should its myriad subsets be any different?
Another thing I found odd: I was taking photos while people were lighting joss sticks and praying. How very England, England-ish.
I'll skip the street that we went to next 'cause there's really nothing much to say, and I didn't buy anything anyway. Next stop: Danshui (I think; I really can't remember) Rest Station. Xiu xi zhan. Like those stops along the highway en route to, for example, Kuala Lumpur (which I really wanna go to in January next year to see Jielun) that allows you to get out of the car, walk around, take a piss, buy something to eat...in other words, not really places of much intrigue.
I don't know what's wrong with Chen Shui-bian and his pan-Green cronies but whatever the reason is, they practically turned the rest stop into a mini mall. Okay, if not a mall, a food court. It's so huge and it has such a great view of the city that you never really want to leave. It was amazing; the biggest rest stop I've ever seen. The food court is also bigger than the air-conditioned Kopitiams or whatever you get in Singapore. Really cool. And there was a nice fish tank inside too.
Typing this is making me miss Taiwan like hell but what's to be done about that.
Had lunch at a Hakka restaurant, at Miaoli (which is a predominantly Hakka region; hence). It was certainly different. Never saw that much greens before in my life. Liked the noodle, liked the fried rice, liked the soup, liked the chilli dou ban jiang (I don't know what it's called in English either), like the tofu, liked one specie of vegetable...yeah. I don't describe food well so I won't even bother either.
My uncle's wife brought us some bubble tea from her sister's shop and I absolutely loved it. First of all, the cup is about the size of a medium-sized drink you get from Mos Burger or McDonalds'. Second of all, the tea wasn't too sweet, wasn't too milky, and actually tasted like tea; usually, red pearl milk tea tastes like sweetened milk instead. Third of all, the pearls were small, which was a nice bonus too, just because. In short, the most brilliant bubble tea I've ever had.
Drove up to Taoyuan after that to visit my eldest aunt; up because it's en route to Taipei; and up because Taipei is obviously at the north of Taiwan. Looked through my aunt's photo albums while I was there. She's been to Turkey. How amazing. I wanna go to Turkey too. My cousins weren't home, though, so I didn't get to see them. Her eldest son, my cousin, has decided to enlist in the army, much to my dad's dissatisfaction. He's a bit of an oddball, but it really doesn't matter when a guy is as good-looking as him. Haha. His younger brother is slightly less so; guess the genes kinda worn out down the line or something.
Dinner was nice. Nice noodles. An acquired taste but I liked it pretty quickly. Also had the dougan haidai after like a fucking week in Taiwan, and my dad was still going off about how he's gonna get it for me once we're there in Singapore! (It's one of my favourite foods in the world and you don't get it in Singapore and I don't know what 'haidai' is in English, except that it's a sort of seaweed, so yeah.)
Also went to see the second aunt. I can't believe that her younger kid's all grown up. I still remember him as small little kid running around with us (when there was still an 'us', me and my Taiwanese cousins; no longer so though); totally didn't look like that almost-giant I saw that day. My brother's still taller than him though. The eldest son was at tuition, which was too bad 'cause I kinda wanted to see how he looks like now (ie, if he's cute). He was born in the same year as me, and born with an aversion to meat. How interesting.
We didn't stay there for long. Left about ten minutes later. So my uncle drove us back to Taipei, and then he drove himself back to Taichung. He's amazing, isn't he? He even brought my brother and I tea on our last day there. He rocks.
Apparently people in Taipei queue for four hours just to buy Dunkin' Donuts. Haha. Well, the stuff is good, so who could blame them? I wonder if people in Singapore queue for as long to get that Rotiboy thingy which I haven't tried but would certainly like to, if someone is kind enough to buy it for me.
This entry took an hour and twenty minutes to write. I'm already bored. Next one would be about Taipei; yay!
I love Taipei.