Beitou and back

I got up early this morning to travel to Beitou (pronounced bay-tow) to look at some office furniture advertised in tealit.com, hoping it would be a viable alternative to IKEA’s offerings. I walked 20 minutes to the bus stop and rode the 285 for 55 minutes, past the airport, the guy burning “money” in a kettle on the side of the road, the baseball park with its super-sized bat and ball sculptures, and an ENORMOUS Temple sitting on a hillside, to the northern edge of Taipei. Beitou is known for its hot springs smelling of sulpher much like Bumpus Hell in Lassen National Park in northern California and Glen Ivy hot springs in Corona. (That odiferous fun will have to wait for another weekend as will the Folk Art Museum.) NOTE: Look for a funny photo of something I saw on Shipai Road, to be posted shortly. Here it is; check out this guy back his backhoe out of a truck WITHOUT a ramp!

I was waiting for the truck to tip over!

I watched people waiting at the bus stops, getting on the bus and registering  that there was a non-asian sitting in a seat, sitting quietly (as the signs on the bus politely request), and then get off the bus to go on with their day  – they all seemed to be biding their time. An hour into my bumpy trip up north I got to thinking: the locals are so creative and resilient. I wonder what they could accomplish if so much of their time wasn’t spent on getting from one place to another, taking out the trash, and getting their clothes clean?! And then: perhaps there is something to be gained by focusing on the journey rather than the destination. Your thoughts?

Day 16 pm

I’m in sticker shock! I went looking for a desk for my new apartment. Nothing too fancy, but nothing IKEA either. I took one of my co-workers to see the new place and then shopping on the furniture street – nothing but furniture for blocks, and blocks, and blocks.  The first store had lovely Restoration Hardware furniture. I asked the price of a desk and chair….(are you sitting down?) over 200,000NT  (nearly 7K USD). Yeah right! So after I picked my jaw off the ground I said “So what’s your real price?”. The salesman did some more calculation and came up 175K (5800 USD). And he was completely serious. Come on, now. They had the RH catalog sitting out; you could buy the same thing Stateside and have it shipped over for less than that! So either that’s what they did, and passed the outrageous customs bill onto unsuspecting consumers OR (more likely) they have craftsman who create repros of the expensive US stuff and charge outlandish fees for it! Definitely an eye opener. One kind shop owner stayed open until 11pm just letting us look at photos and check out leather and veneer samples. Guess that 14000NT teak table from Tealit is looking better and better and that price includes delivery and two guys to cart the thing up 5 flights of stairs! (Tealit is sort of like Craigslist.)

Speaking of Tealit, I saw some paintings for sale and started talking to (emailing) the guy who was selling off some of his collection. Turns out there is a big festival in Taiching (south of Taipei) this weekend, LUVstock, and I got invited me to attend! My camera and I will be taking the HSR (high speed rail) tomorrow into truly uncharted territory! Stay tuned for the pics!

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…