Well, the conference is over. I have a meeting with my contacts at Wistron Corp. tomorrow afternoon. The rest of today is free, as is most of the day tomorrow. I took the MRT (Taipei metro/subway) to the Zhonxiao-Dunhua station (the blue Bannan line from Taipei Main Station) and walked over to Eslite, which is a 24/7 bookstore on Dunhua Road South. Decent bookstore; it’s about the third I’ve been to and the only one with English titles. Not so many, but enough for me. I picked up House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (I’ve read just about everything else Reynolds has written and had to check to see that I hadn’t read this one) and a book of short stories by Philip K. Dick. Though I was looking at them intently, I did not pick up two books by Peter F. Hamilton – as per his style, they were the first two of a trilogy, each book probably 1000 pages long. I’d really only need the first book (it’s doubtful I’d read both before I return to the States), but I couldn’t bear to leave only the second book of a trilogy all by its lonesome among all those Chinese titles. Who would want to pick up only the second of a trilogy? Maybe I shouldn’t be putting myself in the place of the next English-only reader to wander into that bookstore, but I did. Plus, it felt kind of weird to carry the extra weight around (thank you, ultralight hiker friends – I think).
So here I am, sitting at a Starbucks with my tall black coffee, ogling Asian chicks and smelling the smells of Taipei. I’ve been telling myself that I wouldn’t just get coffee at Starbucks (this is the third I’ve been to so far) and try some of the other coffee shops, but I figured Starbucks would have wi-fi. This one doesn’t, which is why I’m typing these words to you in Word, dear reader. So I lost out on both accounts. Although not really, because I’m still typing to you while drinking my delicious and familiar tall black coffee. There’s a little poodle-dog in a stroller with a blue and white striped t-shirt and red overalls on, looking expectantly at me right now, as though I’m going to get up and get his mommy. His haircut makes him look like a monkey. I “what do you want, little monkey-dog?” in one of those baby-only voices, but I don’t think he spoke enough English to take offense.
Taipei isn’t much different from any other city. Or maybe I should say “not much different from the Chinatown section” of any other city. Except it’s all Chinatown here, Taipei being located in the Republic of China and all. Not everything smells like Chinese food, but that’s really only on the main streets. If I wander off into the side-street areas, everything smells like Chinese food. Which is not a bad smell, but it’s certainly not going to be the determining factor in my decision to never leave Taiwan.
Did I mention how fucking gorgeous I find Asian women to be? THAT might be a determining factor in my decision to never leave Taiwan. Not ALL Asian women, of course – there are less-than-beautiful (on the outside) ones, just like in any other country. But I really have to say that even the so-so looking Asian chicks (on an Asian-only scale) are fucking beautiful to me. It’s like my bar has been lowered, though that simile is too much a negative one to be properly descriptive. Anyway, there’s lots of eye-candy for this skinny honky here in Taipei.
November is National Novel Writing Month and although I’m signed up for NaNoWriMo, I haven’t written a single word of my novel – nor have I spent any time on the NaNoWriMo site. As much as admitting it feels like weakness to me, I’m dealing with a bit of sensory overload right now. I’m not sure how badly jetlagged I am, but I’ve only been getting a few hours of sleep at a time in the past few days. Last night I went to bed around 11, woke up at 2, then again at 4:30, 6:30 and finally 7:30 to start the day. There were probably a handful of other wakeups in among those, but they’re the ones I can remember.
So, as a result, I really don’t want to do much but hang out and read my book. Getting to Eslite was an accomplishment; there are two temples I’d like to visit (and say some prayers): one for a warrior and one for a doctor (the temples, not the prayers – those will be for me). I’m for whirled peas and blowjobs, but I really only pray for the latter. And by blowjobs, I mean love in its purest sense.
That’s not really true; I just like the way it sounds. My prayers mostly take the form of requests for the ability to be virtuous (humility, etc.) and that the Universe continue on as it’s supposed to be – I guess there’s a hope/prayer in that latter one that an underlying characteristic of the Universe is that things work out for the best for all involved (in a relative sense, obviously). Not sure if that makes much sense, and I don’t really know that I’m optimistic enough to believe that the Universe is inherently good, but I’m trying to be (hence the prayers).
But yeah, there are certainly a lot of things I’d like to do while I’m here in Taiwan, but I’m not sure that I feel like running around like a tourist right now. I‘m enjoying just sitting here and soaking up the atmosphere. Which is wicked sticky right now: it’s been threatening to rain all day and it’s probably 75 degrees out. Add that to the smog and you’ve got a great recipe for a sticky Ted.
Tuesday night (the night before the conference started) I went to the pre-conference dinner, which was in the Yakuza-feeling restaurant on the top (86th) floor of Taipei 101 (a wicked tall building – the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010; surpassed by Burj Khalifa). On the limobus ride there, we passed a Mountain Hardware store and another outdoorsy-type store in the same block. I dropped a pin on the map of my (work) iPhone so that I could find them later. Fortuitously, the pin is not far from where I am right now. I’m going to head over that way in a few minutes to check the stores out – maybe someone there can give me a suggestion as to which mountains are nearby and climb-able. That’s my plan for Saturday.
That’s it for now: my coffee’s almost done and I should probably start looking for a place to pee.