Yesterday night, I met with my Montreal Taiwanese friend Frank’s cousin and his friends, university students in Taipei. We hung out at this cool (I’d say hipster) student cafe called the Mo!Relax in the area near the Taipower Building metro station, also located strategically between two or three of Taipei’s universities, I believe.
It’s sort of what our Montreal’s Cagibi would be if it was in a bustling Asian metropolis of several more millions people. Like, not even, this is a bad bad comparison, as there is nothing quite similar to be found in Montreal. It’s just this small cafe with loud hip music, CDs of foreign and local indie bands lining the walls, university students behind their laptops, perhaps procrastinating. (Edit: obviously, there are cool student cafes in Mtl… Just have not been, cannot think of anything right now…)
Then, we hit the night market and had simple extremely cheap, somewhat healthier than what you’d get for equivalent price back home. It was, for two people, a snack of noodles, boiled vegetable with a hoisin/garlic sauce, and some tofu with the same sauce and green onions, for the equivalent of 4CAD (not everything is cheap, say at the cafe…).
Then, today, I ventured off to the biggest Eslite bookstore in town, located in a new area of Xinyi, where Taipei 101 is built. The “bookstore” in fact spans several stories and is probably like the big Barnes and Noble you find in New York (or Chapters in Toronto?). It’s really big. Each floor specializes in something, and one of them is the music store! They hold a lot of interesting products, and I got out of there with 60CAD worth of Taiwanese indie music CDs.
Then, I headed back to the university area, one stop further along the green line, at Gongguan. I stopped at The Wall, one of Taipei most famous live houses. It’s a basement, that also has a cafe, a tatoo parlour, a cute stuff store, and one of Taiwan’s most successful independent record label store called White Wabbit Records. I think that they mostly specialize in indie rock stuff. Among other things, WWR distribute stuff for Arts and Crafts in Taiwan (and in Asia?) and hold stuff from Stars, Emily Haines in store. I’ll write something more specific later.
Finally, after getting lost between Gongguan and Taipower, I connected with the metro and jumped all the way to Shilin, beyond the river. After walking outside the station, thinking that I got off at the wrong place, because there was noone on the streets, I finally hit the stretch of alleyway where the Shilin Night Market starts. It is one of Taipei’s most famous, and I passed several people who weren’t locals. This one in particular is not only a food stall market, but also a market for clothing and cheap jewelry stuff. Also more on night markets later…
Now, if I can wake up in time tomorrow morning, you may catch me on 102.3 FM Radio Centre-Ville, at 10:30 PM EDT, when I call the Cantonese-language show to talk about my trip to Taiwan.
I am back in Hong Kong tomorrow evening. I’ve been following hockey, and may try to find a bar on Friday morning to listen to the first Habs playoffs game… Or hack my connection to watch it on the web!