Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Taipei, Taiwan

I'm about to say something that is downright blasphemous.  I will be shunned, mocked, and cast out like a leper but it needs to be said:

I liked Taipei better than Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is the cultural and financial epicenter of Asia, the perfect combination of east meets west well on its way to world domination, while Taiwan is a footnote on the map, at best.  There's something about it, something I can't quite put my finger on, that makes me recommend it high above Hong Kong.

Perhaps it is this short list of LOL OMG WTF pictures that draws me to loving Taipei:

What in the hell is that?

What in the hell is that green thing and why is it forbidden?

Why in the hell does this shopkeeper have Nazi flags on their wall?

Why in the hell didn't Playboy think to name themselves Sexy Nuts?

Disturbing/hilarious, all of it!

Perhaps what makes me like Taipei so much is the way in which we, big 'ol white people, were treated.  An example: While waiting in a long line for an elevator to get down 80+ stories the line dividers were parted and we were escorted out of the mass of people.  Where were we going, you ask?  Why, we were being escorted to a hidden, private elevator along with several obviously rich businessmen to jump the line and get to our destination 20 minutes early.  What did we do to deserve such treatment?  Be white, I guess.  One straggler tried several times to get on to our elevator but he was told in no uncertain terms that this elevator is not for the likes of him.  It is for important people.  It is for us.

I might have liked it because our hotel, priced at about 60 Euro per night, was nothing short of amazing.  It had a jacuzzi with a TV stationed above it in the bathroom and 2 channels in English: CNN International and (free, not even pay-per-view) porn.  Take your pick!  

The highlight of this already amazing hotel was the toilet, which housed more technology than all of the Apollo space missions combined.

Pardon my French, this was a bidet, not a toilet.  We couldn't read which setting did what, but the pictures on the buttons gave us a good indication of what was in store for us.  There was pulsating, there was swirling, hell there was probably even heated jets of water.  I've never had so much fun in a bathroom in my life.  Had there been a minibar I would still be there to this very day.

So far in this post I've covered Nazi memorabilia, white privilege, pornography and toilets.  I think this is the point where I kick it up a few brows and move on to the cultural stuff that we did.

National Palace Museum

One of the biggest museum collections in the entire world.  So big, in fact, that only a tiny fraction is on display at any given time.  They have Ming vases and stuff.  If you want to see the best stuff China has to offer...come here instead.

Long Shan Temple

A really beautiful, old, peaceful Buddhist temple.  Usually places of worship give me the heebie jeebies but I found the burning incense, praying people and offerings really pleasant and relaxing.  I also found them really hilarious.

One does not love their god until one leaves a box of white Oreos as an offering.  Maybe I'm an insensitive arse, but that's funny right there.

Taipei 101

The tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010, we went to the 80-something floor during the daytime to see as far as the clouds would let us.

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall

We visited at night, so instead of sharing the place with busloads of tourists who scream a each other despite being one foot apart we shared it with teams of teenagers practicing hip hop dance routines to boom boxes.  It was really freaking cool.

The more I reflect on it, the more I like Taipei and I imagine the city is just the teeny, tiny tip of the iceberg of why Taiwan is great.

I liked Taipei because it was cheap, people spoke better English than they give themselves credit for, and the local brew, Taiwan Beer, is legit delish.  I liked that there weren't many tourists yet we weren't gawked at or openly avoided.  I liked that I saw several western families with their older adopted Asian children, showing them their fatherland.

Or, I might've liked it so much because of the free porn.

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