Sunday in Taipei

March 13, 2016 · 0 comments

Today is Sunday.  It’s 10:35am in Taipei (9:35pm in NYC).  I’ve been out of bed for a little over an hour, though my alarm first went off at 7.  Before my 8ish hours of sleep, I spent about 20 hours traveling here from the other side of the world.  Because of the international date line, that 20 hours was actually a day and a half in calendar terms (I get the time back on the way home, when the 20 hour trip is only half a day).

I had this niggling suspicion at the back of my head/neck (but also sort of in my chest) that I’d forgotten something.  I won’t get into all that’s involved with that intuition – it’s saved me quite a few times, but also made me miserable as well – but suffice to say that it was correct (as it usually is).  I packed three suits, but only one dress shirt.  So today I will be walking around the Zhongshan district of Taipei looking for a white button-down oxford shirt or two.  Maybe I’ll go to the malls in Xinyi too.  I can probably get by on a single oxford shirt for the week (especially since I quit smoking), but it’s going to be a busy week and a single spill on my shirt will be disastrous.

I’m sitting on the third floor of a little Starbucks around the corner of my hotel.  (I’m staying at the Hotel Royal Taipei this year, instead of the Ambassador.)  I’m at one end of a 10-person table, which has four girls doing homework at the other end and some lady on her laptop kitty-corner from me.  No one is sitting at the head or foot (thank goodness).  I’m having a latte (partly because I’m embarrassed by the potential irony/stereotype involved in ordering an ‘Americano’ and partly because I don’t fucking like ‘Americano’ coffee anyway) because they don’t actually serve (percolated) coffee at Starbucks here in Taiwan.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed about how Taiwanese culture differs from American culture is that the concept of fast food and ordering from the menu seem to be foreign.  People don’t like saying “I’ll have the chicken francaise” or “I’ll have a #4” here – there’s always this back-and-forth with the waiter or counter person about what’s good at this establishment and what do you recommend and can I get it with this but without that and put it all on one of those big square plates (not the round one it normally comes on).  Maybe everyone just gets forced into their cookie cutter shapes in school and at work that the restaurant is the only place where they can express a preference or opinion.  Or maybe it’s just a culture of finicky pricks who don’t understand that the whole point behind standardization of menus is so that the line moves quickly and nobody has to wait for too long.

Google Now says that the weather for this week is going to be in the mid-60s, with rain scattered here and there.  I’m hoping it’s not consistently overcast and that there are at least periods where the sun is out (it was out this morning as I lay dozing between alarms).  Adjusting to the time change is so much easier when actual sunlight is involved.  The temperature is a little chilly for a land in the tropics, so the natives are all bundled up in down jackets and hats, while I’m walking around in nylon hiking pants and a 260-weight wool hoody.  Makes me feel good because normally I’m the one who’s cold when everyone else is comfortable.

Ok, so it’s just about 11 (when the department store supposedly opens) and I’m just about done with my latte, so I’ll say goodbye for now, dear reader.  If I don’t pick this back up later today, I hope your day has been and continues to be a wonderful one.

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