Here’s why I love Taipei

At lunchtime (we get 1.5 hours) I went to the Taiwan University of Education gym (a short walk away, new, clean, small) and worked out for 35 minutes (40NT), walked 2 blocks across Fuxing to a vegetarian buffet for lunch (80NT), then down Heping to Cama Coffee for a plum vinegar (40NT), and to I-Mei for a soft serve ice cream (20NT – I have to reward myself somehow for all that sweat), and back to the office on Dunhua with 10 minutes to spare (even with waiting for the elevator). Total cost: 180NT (6.16USD at today’s exchange rate)!

Birthday in Taipei

For my recent birthday (39 again –  hah!), I tried to keep it under wraps, hoping that if no one remembered it, I would not age. Word got out and my work mates feted me with a lovely tiramisu cake. Several friends took me out for dinner, one came over for dinner bearing gifts, another took me to my favorite pizza place (fifteen pizza!) and gave me a beautiful artisan tea set. My assorted friends, “adopted” children, and friends of friends threw me a party at a local vegetarian buffet (and wow, what a spread it was!). Thanks everyone for taking the time to wish me well….

Weekly review

I started out writing at least daily and now it seems I’m so busy enjoying all Taiwan has to offer, I write a lot less frequently. Every day I find something else to marvel at. One interesting factoid: the Taiwanese can be a superstitious lot. They don’t like living on the fourth floor because the words for this floor sound like a word with a bad meaning. HINT: if you want to pay less for an apartment in a nice building, check out the 4th floor!

On Wednesday it was Luoshi (low-sure) Day, a day to celebrate and thank teachers! Several of us share the same Chinese teacher so we got together to get her a gift (lucky bamboo) and a card. The card was red and the envelope pale pink so I thought it would look nice to write her name in red ink on the envelope. Oh no, big faux pas! Writing someone’s name in red ink means you’re predicting their death. Say what? Who knew? (When folks here use a “chop” to stamp their name on a document, they use….yup, RED ink!) So, crisis averted; I used a black pen instead. Whew. Luoshi said it “made her heart happy” to get our gift. Awwwwww.

Luoshi is super patient and I like that she’s open to “alternate” teaching methods. For instance, one of my lessons was supposed to be about negotiating the price of a new car, something not likely to happen during my stay. Instead, I asked teacher to help me decipher all the junk mail I get. It’s colorful and looks interesting; ads for restaurants, real estate, foot massage places, retail store circulars. If I peruse them long enough, I can detect patterns and figure out a little of what is being said. It’s amazing how much you can learn about a culture by reviewing their junk mail!

On Saturday I met some friends at the local “bookstore”, Eslite. This place must be seen (and experienced) to be believed. 5, or is it 6, floors (only one and a half of which contain books) of the latest clothing, gadgets, accessories, paper products, music and movies, food, jewelry, cosmetics – and everything in between. I had a delicious fresh vegetarian lunch at a buffet that came to 88NT (less than 3.00) and included 5-grain rice and green tea. You can almost do all your shopping in one place!

Eslite Bookstore - and so much more!

Sunday, I planned to ride a gondola up a mountain to where the oolong tea Taiwan is famous for, is grown. The weather has been dicey – windy and rainy – this weekend; I hope they don’t cancel the ride.

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