(Taipei and Taichung, Dec 2011)
More details of the trip will be in later posts. :) But let's just say it involved a lot of walking through light drizzling rain with our umbrellas, drinking lots of milk tea, going to a night market almost every night (and doubling back for the one we liked the best, eventually!), finding our way to quaint and gorgeous cafes that we'd manage to find on the internet (thanks Siang, for doing the cafe research!), eating and eating and eating tons of street food, spotting many dogs decked out in winter-wear... and really loving the 7-11 convenience stores that very incredibly, have warm food and drinks and microwaveable meals.
And just a couple of things that struck me (and the others, perhaps) during this trip to Taiwan:
1. Taiwanese taxi drivers are sososo nice. All the taxi drivers we met were incredibly friendly and helpful, and once they recognized our Singaporean Mandarin accents, they proceeded to recommend us places we had to visit in Taiwan... other Singaporean students/visitors they'd met before... their advice on which night market was the best (taking into account our age differences as well)... one even regaled us with a short tale on an Egyptian customer he'd once had, how large her eyes were, how PURPLE (yes, he used the word purple O_o) her skin tone was, how nostalgic he was of those moments when he'd met her... Yeah, they were real charmers, these cab drivers.
2. Taiwanese 7-11s are hands down, the BEST I've been to! Ok so maybe I've only been to 7-11 in a few places, but if you compare them to the ones in Singapore, we have so much to learn! There's nothing like coming in from a wet and cold afternoon outside, only to be warmed up by a can of heated soya bean milk and microwaveable rice ball/beef noodle soup set. And along those lines, the best place to be at when you have 6 hours to kill in wee hours of the morning while waiting for a flight home, would be 7-11.
3. 24 hour bookstores are the way to go. We went into the Eslite bookstore and I wanted to just keel over and die in book heaven. And that was at 12.30 am after our failed trip to erm the club. ;)
4. The key to attracting customers to enter your store at the night market (which is probably as cramped and as small as the next 500 ones before and after), would be to strategically place an adorable kitty cat on the floor in full view of passing customers. Because believe me, if they happen to be female, there's a very high probability they will go in there squealing, eager to pet the cat, and will end up browsing the store's items eventually.
5. Circle Scarves are the BEST piece of winter clothing to pack along for a trip to a cold place. It keeps you warm, acts as a neck accessory so you really don't need to bother about necklaces and the like (since there's no space there anymore anyway), allows you to hide your hold hands underneath (no need for gloves then!), AND provides a great cover for the camera that's hanging down your neck. Big big plus!
And, on a more reflective note,
6. We are meanest to the people we love the most. We all agreed this was probably one of the more meaningful statements to be bounced about (the rest of it was frivolous Cityhunter chatter hahaha) and well I had to put it here. X)
In the meantime, apart from busying myself with editing all those photos (and forcing myself to come up with some form of a study schedule because of year end exams that have been cruelly placed after the New Year in mid January :(( sigh), I shall be having fun reading some 幾米 (Jimmy) books that I got at Eslite, the awesome Taiwanese bookstore. Reminds me of the time long ago when I was half decent with my Mandarin. Used to be a huge fan of his work (the illustrations are really gorgeous, if you haven't already seen them before!) but I hadn't kept up with his books for a number of years. He's the same author who wrote and illustrated the book A Chance of Sunshine (向左走, 向右走) that was eventually made into a movie (which totally bombed! but the book is fantastic). I always feel guilty thinking about how my Mandarin has deteriorated to such abysmal levels. :( I wonder how people manage to stay effectively bilingual/multilingual because it's so hard maintaining a level of competency...even in one language, really.
So yes, more photos coming soon. :) And am soooo looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. Staying up for a 6am flight is pretty darn tiring.