25
Oct 18

London 2018: Entertainment

On our trips to France and Spain, we didn’t go to any concerts or other entertainment because of the language barrier, but since we were in London, we went to three different performances.

Tina: The Musical

One of the big reasons Yiannis wanted to go to London was to see this musical. To be honest, I was sort of dreading it because I was sick, but it turned out to be wonderful (and much better than The Bodyguard, which we saw during our first trip and agreed was sort, well, awful).

The woman who played Tina Turner, Adrienne Warren, was freaking amazing. She had an incredible voice and presence. Everyone in the cast was great (the actor who played Ike Turner was so convincing, he got booed, the poor guy) and the story was quite moving at times. I cried at least once.

Something surprising I found about London was that their drinks in restaurants and whatnot seemed to be cheaper than in New York. Like eight to 10 pounds, which is under $15, when a glass of wine in New York can be $15 and a cocktail up to $20. It was also inexpensive at the theater, six to eight pounds, or just around $10, for a glass of wine. Meanwhile in New York theaters a glass of wine can be well over $20, which is INSANE. During intermission at Tina, I was tempted to get a rose, but I didn’t since alcohol had been making me even more congested and plus I’d have to pee.

Tawiah

We also went to a concert for this singer Yiannis likes. She was playing at a theater called The Albany in a part of town called Deptford. It took us an hour and multiple trains to get there, and looked very suburban and unlike any other part of London we had been to so I was kind of like, “Where the hell are we?”

I knew nothing about Tawiah but ended up really enjoying her music. It was very jazzy and soulful. The audience was a mix of mostly young blacks, some young whites, and a surprising number of older white couples (and two Asians, including myself). I couldn’t help but wonder if they had season tickets to the theater and didn’t know what they were in for.

On the way back, we saw this drunk guy on the subway. Not just drunk: he had pissed himself. A young white guy in a business suit with the front of his pants (or trousers) totally wet. In all my years in New York AND San Francisco, I’ve never seen such a thing.

Naked Boys Reading

Speaking of trousers, the readers at this event were without them.

Yiannis wouldn’t mind my saying he enjoys being naked in public. For instance he used to do naked stand-up comedy and just recently appeared in Spencer Tunick’s photography. So when he saw that Naked Boys Reading happened to be having their first open mike night the week we were there, he just had to sign up.

I was far more comfortable at this event than I’ve been at any of Yiannis’s naked stand-up shows. (There’s nothing like an obnoxious comedian and his gross junk getting in your face.) This was just gay men (and one woman) reading mostly literature. One older man read I don’t even know what. Neither of us could follow it.

Whatever you want to say about it, it was definitely a unique experience.


24
Oct 18

London 2018: Museums

One of my favorite things in the world are museums so of course I couldn’t get enough of all the free ones in London.

Wallace Collection

Like the Frick in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston, and the Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris, the Wallace Collection is a private collection made public. The staircase is pretty cool:

The museum has a ton of stuff. I kept thinking I was done only to stumble upon another room. When I reached the wing full of armor and weapons, it was time to go meet Yiannis, which was good because my brain was about to explode.

Victoria & Albert Museum

This was so nice, we visited twice. The first time was mainly to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit. We both enjoyed it. While it was billed as focusing on her fashion, I thought it did more than that. It juxtaposed her clothing with her work and other belongings, and also showed how what she wore changed with her ailments. For instance, she made her own shoes that compensated for one leg that was shorter than the other and decorated the corsets that basically held her together.

The second time we visited the permanent collection. My favorite pieces were this creepy little statue —

This one that reminded me of a ghost from Pac-Man.

This Chihuly piece.

This bust of Queen Victoria.

And these gorgeous chandeliers in the cafe.

The VAM cafe was actually the first-ever museum cafe, and the food was quite good. On our first visit, I got a fennel sausage roll (a billion times better than the one I got at Borough Market, needless to say), which came with two yummy salads, lentil and radicchio.

British Museum

What I like best about the British Museum is the Greek area, especially this statue of Venus.

Later I asked Yiannis if Greeks feel the same way as some other countries about their artifacts being in another country’s museum. At first he said he didn’t think so since they still had so many, but then he discovered this was not the case and that Greece wanted what’s called the Parthenon marbles back. However, a little while later the country changed its mind.

Regardless, after our visit we realized the British Museum is a bit, um, problematic? Since the bulk of their items are from other countries and it’s doubtful, or at least unclear, if those countries gave up those artifacts willingly

Tate Modern

One of the nicest things about the Tate Modern is the walk. One way to get there is to cross the Millennium Bridge, at one end of which is St. Paul’s Cathedral and the other is the museum.

I was feeling pretty tired and coldy that day so I didn’t last very long. But I did enjoy these portraits, which were grouped together but by different artists:

Then there was this room full of what looked like giant potatoes:

And this one which I just thought was cool:

Tate Britain

The first time I visited the Tate Britain, I really loved it. I felt like it was organized so well and enjoyed following the timeline on the floor. This time for some reason I wasn’t as into it. Again, partially it was because I was sick and also some sections were closed off so I didn’t get the full picture. Oh, and I think I was too much of a cheapskate to get the full audio tour.

I was, however, fascinated by this painting:

I call it “The Weird Twins,” but it’s actually called “The Cholmondeley Ladies.” It was painted in the early 17th century and the artist is unknown. Basically, the description says, historians have no idea who these ladies are. It’s assumed they’re not identical twins because their eyes are different colors. One description says they were born and married (and apparently had kids) on the same day. They could be sisters or sisters-in-law. Regardless, pretty weird and fascinating.

Next up: entertainment!


23
Oct 18

London 2018: Eats and drinks

While I love trying new foods when I travel, I’m not one of those people for whom every meal has to be the end all, be all. That’s why I enjoying staying in places that have a kitchen, even more so during this trip since I was feeling under the weather.

Eating at home

One of the first things we did was hit the grocery store, and one of the first things I stocked up on was Marmite.

I know you can get it in the States (I spotted it at Whole Foods recently), but it’s cheaper in London. And why not enjoy it while I’m there? I particularly like it on cheese toast.

Because I had a bad cold, a few nights I craved spicy Korean instant noodles. Luckily there was an Asian market right nearby. I also picked up tofu, romaine lettuce, and KitKats.

The only bad thing I ate at home was a pizza from Tesco’s. Why get a pizza from Tesco’s, you may ask? Whenever I go to Paris or Spain, I stock up on supermarket pizza because it’s really good. Not so in London apparently. It was horrible — but I ate it anyway.

Ole & Steen

We popped in here for breakfast one morning (or second breakfast for me). That’s where I found I couldn’t use the five pound note I’ve been holding since 2013. Oh well. I still had enough for a delicious bacon sandwich.

Looks like Ole & Steen is also in New York. Not so exotic then, but I definitely plan on getting some Danish pastries from there.

TABxTAB

Another (second) breakfast place. I really liked my cappuccino and bacon sandwich —

— but the woman behind the counter was oddly snotty to me while she was nice to Yiannis. I feel like she gave me a weird look when I walked in, and after the bad experience with the cashier at Tesco my first day, I couldn’t help but think she saw me as a potentially rude tourist from China, despite the fact that a) I was with a white dude and not a big tour group, and b) I was speaking perfect English. However, the guy who actually rang me up at TABxTAB was perfectly nice.

When we returned another day so that Yiannis could pick something up, the same woman looked all uncomfortable. I made sure to give her a snotty look.

Sourced Market

This place had a wide variety of fresh and yummy foods. I imagine it’s good for people to grab and go during the work week.

Originally we stopped in because the cookies in the window looked tasty, but it turned out to be really good in general. My salad was a bit boring, but it still tasted fresh and hit the spot in terms of greens and fiber. I also had a cold press apple juice, which seemed cheaper than back in the States. It was delicious and just what I needed for my cold.

Mazi

This Greek place wasn’t too far from our apartment. While I enjoyed my dish — I think I got a gyro platter — I found it overpriced. Yiannis wasn’t impressed.

Maltby Street Market

This was my favorite food-related activity. The Maltby Street Market is much smaller and low key than Borough Market. I’m sure it gets hella crowded, but we went on a chilly and rainy day so there weren’t too many people.

There were lots of good choices to eat, but I ended up having this creamy pasta and ham dish at a sit-down place.

It was pretty good (and the guy who helped me was very nice), but afterward I kicked myself for not getting a Scotch egg. I thought I’d see plenty later but I didn’t.

At the end of the market was a gin distillery. We partook in their free tasting — the women who ran it were so nice and fun — then Yiannis bought two cocktails and a bottle of gin. I only bought a bottle.

Borough and Portobello Road Markets

I so loved Borough Market when I visited in 2009 (gah, almost 10 years ago), but it wasn’t as great as I remember. That might have been because I went on a weekday so not everything was open. Also, I didn’t feel like waiting on a long line (damn you cold!) and got a random sausage roll. Normally you can’t wrong with sausage rolls, but this one was not good, maybe because the grumpy lady didn’t heat it up for me. Regardless I took two bites and threw it out.

We went to Portobello Road Market at the recommendation of the women at the gin distillery, and also you can’t stay in Notting Hill and not go. They suggested going early to beat the crowds, and I’m glad we did. On our initial walk it wasn’t bad, but on our way back it was mobbed.

Since this is mainly an antiques market, you might be wondering what it’s doing in a post about food. That’s because that was the only thing I bought: a corn fritter, which was tasty but would have been better heated up (what’s with you people?) and a fantastic apple donut. The filling was very apple-y and not runny at all. Plus the woman who gave it to me said, “Here you go, love,” which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Boki

We popped in this cute place sort of randomly while we were walking around Chinatown and SoHo. (Again, shout out to the wait staff who treated me like a human being.)

I wasn’t hungry since I had had a homemade cheese, Marmite, and courgette sandwich on the road as well as two youtiao in Chinatown. So I just had a cocktail.

It was a basil gimlet with balsamic vinegar. Yum! As you might be able to see, Yiannis didn’t want his egg (too runny for him) so I had that too (guess I had room despite the sandwich and fried dough sticks).

Next up: museums!


22
Oct 18

London 2018: Getting there + where we stayed

So I decided to go to London earlier this month. And by “decided” I mean “tagged along with my friend Yiannis.” This was the third time I’ve been there. The first was for a two-week course for library school, and the second was also with Yiannis during our first Paris trip. I love London so I was pretty psyched.

Just two problems: 1) I had to work the night before until 10, then get up for an eight A.M. flight, and 2) I was coming down with a cold. Needless to say I felt like shit waking up. I crawled out of bed at four, and moments later got a text from Yiannis saying he was already on the subway platform. I had a moment of panic before reminding myself I was splurging on a Lyft.

We got through security around the same time and got breakfast at Shake Shack. I had their sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich. SO GOOD. The wait to get on the flight didn’t feel too long, nor did the flight itself (it was just six hours). I watched Tag, during which I fell asleep, and Life of the Party, which was unexpectedly good. I think I watched something else but I can’t remember.

Lunch was also surprisingly yummy. I got the chicken meatballs with pasta. Plus! Free wine! Yiannis turned his down after which I mentally kicked him. I totally would have taken it and saved it for later.

Getting through customs took FOREVER. They had very few people working until we got near the front of the line, and finally all these workers showed up. Afterward we just splurged on a cab. We asked a couple of people about Uber, but it seemed like a lot of trouble.

The AirBnB was pretty nice albeit spare. At least it seemed clean and new. After we dropped off our stuff, we hit the grocery store, where I immediately had an unpleasant experience with one of the cashiers. She was Indian with a heavy accent yet she kept talking to me like I didn’t know English. What the fuck

Except for that, I enjoyed the area. We were in Notting Hill and walking distance to a couple of subway stations, a street with lots of stores, restaurants, and markets (even an Asian one, we’d find out later), and Hyde Park. But the area right around our apartment was quiet (except for one night that someone had a party into the wee hours).

As I mentioned, the place was nice but not exactly cozy. However, it was a better deal than a hotel since we each had our own room, there was a washing machine, and the kitchen allowed us to cook at home if we wanted rather than spending money on restaurants every day. Plus our host left us some food, including oatmeal, tea, bread, milk, coffee, and eggs.

But that didn’t stop us from eating out quite a bit. Next up: eats and drinks!


02
Jul 18

Much-needed bestie time in Boston

I had a lovely time in Boston last weekend with my good friend Ellen. It was low-key and relaxing. We had a barbecue with her friends, which fun except the part where I got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

I also played Jenga for the first time. We were on our way somewhere when Ellen spotted the game through an open bar window. She expressed interest in playing and I was dismissive until I saw the bar had aperol spritzes. We ended up staying for three hours.

It was hella fun.

We also went shopping, did an escape room (the people we were teamed up with were kind of annoying), and just chilled on her porch and enjoyed the summer evenings.

It was exactly what the doctor ordered.


24
Jun 18

Los Angeles

Last week my mom and I flew out to Los Angeles to lay my dad to rest. His mother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece are all buried in one cemetery, and my brother and his wife arranged it so Dad was near there. While that was very hard, I think it provided a little, if not total, closure.

Having this goofy little guy around helped as always.

While I was there, I walked him by myself for the first time. I got kind of used to it although I didn’t enjoy picking up his poop, his freakout over two squirrels chasing each other, nor the sneaky German shepherd who came bounding out of nowhere and scared the shit out of both me and Bucky.

Bucky also took to curling up on the air mattress I was sleeping on whenever we left the house.

It was adorable until I found a big wet spot. It wasn’t pee, just his spit from licking. Still: gross. Luckily he’s so cute.


25
Apr 18

Taiwan: Odds and ends

Just some random final observances.

Not a pretty city

One of the first things I noticed is that Taipei seems rundown. I didn’t notice a particular style of architecture and all the buildings seemed old. I emailed my dad about this, and he confirmed that a lot of “foreigners” feel the same way.

That being said, the parks and gardens were very nice, and Beitou was cute. And of course I have yet to see other parts of Taiwan, which I’ve heard are gorgeous.

Very warm people

While I didn’t think the city was pretty to look at, I found the people extremely warm. Every person I spoke to was kind, from the half a dozen older people who clamored to give me directions to the flower market, to the National Taiwan University student who gave me an incomprehensible tour, to the lady I asked about the chou dofu. People were also polite, but not super formal, hence, the warmth.

The language

I had a harder time than I expected understanding people. I think this was sometimes because they were speaking Taiwanese or another language to me. However, I feel like I handled it okay.

An awesome subway system

How awesome? It’s:

Easy to use. I found the maps and token system easy to understand, and I never once got lost on the trains (on foot is another story).

Clean. Like, really clean. No urine smell or garbage. They are also pretty strict about not eating or drinking on the subway or even the stations (later my uncle told me about he got chastised for chewing gum while waiting for a train). During one ride, I saw a girl with a large soda cup get escorted off by a guard. In the beginning of my trip, I popped a hard candy in my mouth, and while no one stared, I now know that was a no-no.

Safe. Or at least it seemed that way. The trains were enclosed or surrounded by high walls, which, I’m guessing, prevent refuse or, God forbid, people from going onto the tracks.

On time. At least in my experience. The trains came when the signs said they would, and I was never on one that inexplicably sat umoving on the tracks.

Relaxing. In at least one station, gentle, soothing music would play when the train was about to arrive.

Something else I noticed was how people treated the seats reserved for the elderly, people who were pregnant, and those with disabilities. While New Yorkers ignore those signs and give up their seats only on a case by case basis, Taipei-ers followed that rule to a tee. In the beginning of my trip, I totally took one of those seats, but later noticed how no one would, not even when all the other seats were taken and those were still empty. I soon followed suit.

Dirt cheap

Everything, especially the food, was so freaking cheap. I think I mentioned I’d often get two tea eggs from convenience stores for maybe 20 cents American. The most expensive meals I had — which were from CoCo Curry — were right around $10, which is considered cheap in NYC.

The verdict?

I loved Taipei and would visit again. I would even stay in the same hotel and revisit the same sights. But here are some things I would do differently:

Actually go to Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology. Apparently it’s just a 30-minute bus ride from that hotel. D’oh!

Take a day trip to Jiufen. It was on my docket of things to do but I was too lazy.

Eat at Din Tai Fung. And make sure it’s open before I go.

Go to the Zhishan Garden at the National Palace Museum. Ditto re: open.

Actually make it to Yangmingshan National Park. Only take a cab or bus instead of try to walk.

Have beef noodle soup. Somehow I skipped this, maybe because it was kind of warm and humid while I was there, but maybe also because of the effort of finding a place that wasn’t a tourist trap.

Try chou dofu. Maybe.



24
Apr 18

Taiwan: Beitou

When I travel to new cities, I often like to visit the libraries. Seattle’s is really cool as is Madrid’s (at least from the outside). I had read online that the one in the Beitou section of Taipei was neat so I thought, Why not? and headed out there. It turned out to be kind of a bizarre little trip.

Getting there

It didn’t take long to get there from my hotel, only about 30 minutes. I ended up getting off a stop too early, but the walk wasn’t far and besides it was fun to see the little town.

While I was walking, I ran into this parade. It had these big — puppets? — that reminded me of the gigantes in Barcelona:

There was also music:

I have no idea what it was for. I asked a girl but didn’t understand her. I suspect it was for a “solar new year” that’s celebrated in South and Southeast Asian countries, but I’m not sure.

Beitou Library

The interesting thing about this library is its architecture. It’s designed to be “eco-friendly” and “energy-efficient.” Moreover:

  • The wood is from managed forests
  • The large windows allow for plenty of natural light and reduced artificial lighting
  • The ventilation decreases the need for fans and A/C
  • Part of the roof is covered with “photovoltaic cells” which convert sunlight into electricity and a thin layer of soil that provides thermal insulation
  • The library captures and stores rainwater to be used for their toilets

I used their toilets on my way in and on my back. The bathroom was very clean. They also had tons of outlets (no need for converters for American electronics) so I spent quite some time charging my phone and reading.

Hot springs

Beitou is most famous for its hot springs. I had no intention of trying them, but it was fun just to walk past the creeks and waterfalls steaming with heat. Even the air felt healthy. I felt like my skin and hair were getting a good dose of vitamins.

Wanting a destination, I headed toward the Beitou Museum. It was a schlep, or at least it felt that way because I kept thinking, Where the heck am I going? It wound up, up, up these hills, past all these hot spring resorts and hotels.

But I made it. The museum was underwhelming. It was in the style of a Japanese bathhouse so you had to take off your shoes, but that was the most interesting part. It seems what they’re more famous for is their traditional vegetarian kaiseki meals. I didn’t have one, but I did use the bathroom.

Liuhuanggu Sulfur Valley Geothermal Scenic Area

Now for the bizarre.

My original intention was to walk to the Yangmingshan National Park. According to Google Maps, it would take just 23 minutes. However, it was all on a highway and there were no signs. I was pretty nervous and ended up turning into this driveway and parking area, but that was a private residence. Oops! But the man was nice and said the park was just further up the road.

That’s when I ran into the Liuhuanggu Sulfur Valley Geothermal Scenic Area. It was so bizarre. Stinky, burbling sulfur pits and a bunch of older people sitting around with their feet and legs in a sulfur bath. I was like, What is happening right now?  

I was so weirded out (and paranoid about my phone running out) I neglected to take any pictures.

I wanted to go farther into the park but quickly realized this was not a good idea. There was no walking path, just more highway, and there were all these stray dogs around. There were two adorable puppies right near one of the sulfur pits, but then I noticed the parents. They kept barking. I took that as my cue to hightail it the fuck out of there.

Ketagalan Culture Center

My last stop before getting back on the subway was the Ketagalan Culture Center, which has four floors dedicated as a museum space on the indigenous people of Taiwan. What was nice was that a lot of the signage was in English (although I can’t remember anything that I read). Plus it was free.

Last entry! Odds and ends.


23
Apr 18

Taiwan: Gardens + parks

Taiwan is a subtropical island, which means lots of rain. That also means lots of lush gardens and parks.

Jian Guo Weekend Flower Market

I know, I know, not technically a garden or a park, but the Jian Guo Weekend Flower Market was kind of like an indoor garden (and it doesn’t fit anywhere else).

Of course I wasn’t there to buy anything but just to partake in the beautiful wares:

It was next to two other markets, jade and “artists.” Those were less interesting to me. I also used the bathroom at the market, and, since this was early on in my trip, was very surprised to find squat toilets. What is this mainland China?! At least they were free.

Da’An Forest Park

I enjoyed this park so much, I went twice. The highlights were seeing these kids practicing a cheerleading routine (seems to be a thing in Taipei) and hearing these crazy birds making weird ass noises.

There was also this large statue of what I’m guessing is the Goddess of Mercy.

Taipei Botanical Garden

I loved this garden too. It was so lush and peaceful. I encountered more weird animal noises. Frogs maybe?

And I got caught in a sudden rainstorm, which, like large groups of all-gender cheerleaders, seems to be a thing in Taipei. Luckily I had my umbrella so it was rather lovely standing under the shelter of a tree surrounded by the rain.

And the rest

I visited a few other parks, which I unfortunately can’t remember the names of. There was this small one:

I also visited Waishuangxi Park (but neglected to take any pictures) and the Treasure Hill Artist Village, which unfortunately was closed the day I went but still had a nice view.

Also randomly, I visited the Guandu Nature Park. This was on the day I tried to go to the Shihsanhang Museum of Archaeology. Emphasis on “tried.” It seemed to be only an hour away by subway from where I was. Only when I was almost there did I realize I would have to take another bus to get to the museum, which was almost an hour, and by then, it was about 90 minutes before closing.

I was so frustrated, I almost just turned around and went back to the hotel, but then decided I had to check out that area since I had schlepped out there. I found the little downtown area and, thankfully, a Starbucks. I got a yogurt drink, used the bathroom, and settled in to charge my phone and read.

When I was at 90%, I headed out to the park. It was cute and nice to be around nature and more weird animal noises.

Next: a semi-weird trip to Beitou.



22
Apr 18

Taiwan: Museums + culture

No trip of mine would be complete without plenty of museums and other cultural sites.

Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall

This was a bit of a disappointment. The hall itself was mostly empty, and the exhibit was snoresville and propaganda-ish. I just kept thinking about how corrupt the guy was, and the fact that he ruled with martial law and loved the Japanese so much despite the atrocities on the mainland.

The changing of the guard at least was interesting. They do it every hour on the hour, and I had just missed the two o’clock. However, I decided to wait and read. After all, when was the next time I’d be able to see it?

It was worth it although I did find myself thinking, God, hurry up. And the whole concept is bizarre if you think about it.

MOCA Taipei

I enjoyed my visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was just the right size and nice and low key.

The first exhibit was the work of photographer Steve McCurry, whose most famous photo is arguably “Afghan Girl.” At the front was the cool, sort of optical illusion.

This photo was another one of my favorites:

Tee hee.

The other exhibition was The Rebellion of the Moving Image, several short films. They were all very interesting. The one I stayed in the longest was Ten Thousand Waves, which played on multiple screens and had Maggie Cheung as Mazu, the goddess of fishermen. The images were so striking, I stayed for a long time trying to get good pictures.

National Palace Museum

I really loved this museum, although the sheer number of items was overwhelming.

Getting there from my hotel was very easy. I confirmed the bus number and fare with the hotel folks, who were also kind of enough to give me exact change. The bus stop was right outside the hotel, and happened to arrive minutes after I got there. The ride was supposed to take 45 minutes but it felt faster than that.

The museum wasn’t as crowded as I expected. There were some annoying tour groups, but there were also times when I was totally by myself.

At first I was determined to listen to all the audios, but there were just too many. The room I absorbed the most was about ceramics from Emperor Yongle’s time period. It was divided into sections depending on the type of glaze: sweet white (named so because of its resemblance to sugar), red, blue and white, and bamboo green.

Of course I saw the Jadeite Cabbage and Meat-Shaped Stone (so fitting that Taiwan’s most famous and beloved pieces of art are food). As with Din Tai Fung, I expected a long line or at least crowds. There was neither, and I was able to get close enough to take a couple of pictures.

Each was much smaller than I expected, but also far more intricate and detailed.

After I finished, I found out why the museum wasn’t crowded. The Zhishan Garden was closed that day. I was so bummed. I just assumed that if the museum was open, the adjacent garden would be open too (it’s closed on Mondays).

I made do by eating at one of the museum restaurants. I got a tiny bowl of rice noodle soup and a tofu “pudding” dessert with tapioca balls. I enjoyed both, and the whole thing cost only $5 American.

I made do by eating at one of the museum restaurants. I got a tiny bowl of rice noodle soup and a tofu “pudding” dessert with tapioca balls. I enjoyed both, and the whole thing cost only $5 American.

Longshan Temple

Taiwan is a very Buddhist country so there were tons of temples everywhere. One day I was close to one called Longshan so I decided to check it out.

It was PACKED with people singing and praying.

Turns out I was there on day that’s special for Buddhists: April 15, which is celebrated as the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment. Or at least I’m guessing that’s what was going on.

National Taiwan University

I went here at the request of my dad, since it’s his alma mater. While the campus wasn’t exactly pretty (it reminded me of ones in China, very plain and utilitarian) and probably very different from when my father went there, it was still interesting to visit a Taiwan college, check out student life, and spend some time in a place from my father’s youth.

They had a pretty extensive food hall with a large variety of Asian and, to a lesser extent, Western foods. There was a small museum about a Japanese anthropologist (maybe this guy?) who studied Taiwan aboriginal people and their culture. I mostly went to charge my phone, which the student who was minding the museum kindly let me. Then she offered to give me a little tour and explain the photos. She was so nice and cute, but I understood maybe five percent of what she was saying. I just smiled and nodded.

Next! Parks and gardens.