It is now early afternoon of day three. I have developed a theory. Humans invented cities to mask their smell. No way in the tropical heat that boils me like a salty ham would i survive in a jungle. To a hungry jaguar my smell would be a beacon like the golden arches, advertising a convenient, if slightly toxic snack. The cities with its barrage of smell is protection from beastly predation.
Myself, I like my stink, but part of civilization is thinking of others, so I shower everyday. Maybe twice. Uncharacteristically. Part of my civic duty.
Day two continued: We went to the prearrange metro stop. We were to meet Jeff at 12:30 just outside the platform. On the way to the train I was chewing gum in the station. A cop stopped me and made me throw it away. I was lucky. I could have been fined $7000NT (around $215 american). Got off the train. We were early. We had ridden to a part of the city we had not seen before, infact we had not seen much at all and still I can't really figure out how big it is. We will walk more. At the foot of the station stairs by the exit was a Buddist nun. She stood in the hot sun, in her long grey robes, in her hands she held a bowl for alms. Her eyes were shut and she was chanting quietly. When an offering was put in the bowl she bowed. Passing the Buddist nun and entering the station I saw a Catholic nun in her full habit that was kaki colored and she headed up the stairs toward the train.
This district was very business. Tall buildings, tall reflective buildings lined wide avenues. Along the avenues were islands of trees, palm trees and others which I must get the name of later.
Whereas the district we are living in at the hostel is crammed, all gas stations and street vendors and tennaments everywhere, this neighborhood was sunnier, breezier. Money-er. We went back into the train station. Jeff arrived promptly at 12:30. He man is very tall. I hadn't realized it because when i was given his height it was in centimeters. but the man is well over 6 foot. He beckoned us follow him. He had an habitual slouch and a genial smile. We passed his co-workers on the street and it was obvious from the deference they paid him that though he called them "co-workers" they were actually his employees. I asked where is office was and he pointed right behind me at a large caramel shiny building. "Can you use chopsticks?" he asked. We all said we could. "Do you eat chicken?" We nodded. "Pork?" yes "Beef?" yes. He raises and eyebrow "Snake?" Of course he has no idea how willing I am eat snake. But Want will be my master for now because he was only joking.
We walk into a small restaurant across the street from his office. Very simple. Flimsy tables, white walls. Menus on clipboards, entirely in Chinese. He checked of nine or ten different dishes. "Can you eat...hep, hop" "frog? yes we love it" "oh really?" "yes" "OOOKAAAY"(hey was skeptical). The dishes came out one by one on simple white plates. soon there was hardly room for our tea cups. Cold chicken with the most translucent skin; A ham and cabbage dish; Thin thin slices of pork belly draped over a mound of baby radish sprouts drizzled with a delightfully salty brown gravy; Oysters, all shucked, cold, in an oyster sauce accompanied by crispy hollow tubes,like savory crunchy funnel cake; more pork, thin ham like strips, sauteed with onions over julliened cucumbers; a metal bowl still bubbling with bits of frog seasoned with what, prepared how, i don't know but grabbing the hind quarters of Kermit was delicious and heavy with ginger. A plate of starchy warm bittermelon; chili chicken; some beef thing with onions and maybe more I can't remember.
He taught us Taiwan boxing. He taught us not to ask for tofu because if you say it wrong you could be saying you want to eat a woman up. He told us he never eats rabbit because he was born in the year of the rabbit. He was amused sitting next to megan who is a tiger "Rabbit sits next to Tiger, OH No!" He was very fun and very generous. He even tried to assist us with getting a cell phone but we will pursue other options.
After lunch we decided to walk to the Taiwan 101 building which enjoyed at one time "tallest building in the world status"
We walked that afternoon until our feet could barely support us anylonger. From a payphone I managed to contact Adam, a Richmond transplant. He made plans to meet us at 8pm.
We waited on the train platform as he directed. He was there at 8. His face I could not place but the tatoo on his arm was very familiar to me. I know I knew him in RVA. And he recognized me too. He was accompanied by his friend Weiwei.
He took us to a belgian bar. This may be a false impression but things seemed to be grouped here in Taipei. There is one street that is entirely outdoor sports supplies, like Patagonia and Archterix and then other knock offs. The belgian bar he took us to is called Odeon. It is in the same neighborhood that Megan and I went to the night before. Along two blocks of this street, you would be hard pressed to find anything but Belgian beers to drink.
so there we broke the ice. I think he and Weiwei decided maybe we were worth a little more time. He invited us to his apartment to go up on the roof. Taipei is surrounded by mountains. These were dotted with lights. Other than 101 and one or two other extremely large bulidings, the sky remains unmolested by probing, prodding pointing building like pictures I've seen of Shanghai or Kuala Lumpur.
On the roof we had a language lesson. The Taiwanese are great for wearing these protective masks, they look like hospital masks but many of them are designer and have burberry print or hello kitty printed on them or something. About20 to 25% of the people one sees on the street are wearing them. These masks have a name. (I can't quite remember but it was something like shotien but that could be very wrong). The only thing that separates the word for mask from the word for blow job (which is also shotien) is the tone. Also the word for "buy" is mai. the word for "sell" is also mai, but these are separated by the tones. I must be careful if I buy a mask that I don't instead, sell a blow job.
We then went to a bar called ChowChan which directly translated is playground but their official english name is "The Fucking Bar". We were the only foreigners in the place. It was full of what i would call upper echelon emo hipsters. Weiwei assured me that the people trickling in were all very famous. Artists, musicians, tv stars. it was a young place. It was inexpensive. They played great music. The were artfully disdainful and amused by our motley crew. I hope I can find it again. I want to go back.