You may have seen these ads of WorldVision (Vision Mondiale) in your hometown, just like I did in mine of Montreal. It was almost not surprising that I also saw them in Taipei, at the main MTR station…
A few days ago, I wondered how parking tickets were handed to offending motorists in a large Asian metropolis. And I had my answer the day after, while walking around in the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial area in central Taipei.
It was a middle-aged lady on a bicycle! Despite the ragged look of our supposed parking agent, she carried an electronic device like our local agents, and issued tickets that were very real.
I don’t know if it’s a standard practice there, but a regular bike is the perfect vehicle for such work in a crowded city like Taipei, which narrow streets would not suit very well cars that make frequent stops. A scooter probably would not have been an economical (or ecological) choice to cover small areas, especially to fine consecutively parked vehicles. If you look more closely into the agent’s basket, there was an EasyCard, Taipei’s transit chip card. The surgical mask: for health or privacy purposes?
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!
I am now in the outskirts of the city of Taichung, in Central Taiwan. I stayed at a hostel near Chung Tai University, and was the only guest there that night. Goes without saying that it was a little creepy staying by yourself in such a large place in the middle of nowhere… I am now heading out to the city, and then to Taipei.
I am in Kenting for Spring Scream. While my mode of transportation is the man-propelled bicycle, it is definitely the scooter that predominates in Kenting.