This summer I went to Taiwan and Thailand. It was fun. I liked it a lot.
Day 1 - My sister and I arrived at the Chiang Kai-Shek airport in Taiwan late on July 23. The ride to the hotel I was staying at was kinda scary because the driver of the airport limo decided to cut someone off, and that person then decided to cut in front of us and then brake suddenly. Of course, my driver acted all surprised and said to us, "Wow, he must be drunk," as if we didn't all know that he was the one who cut first.
Day 2 - On the second day I visited my grandmother's apartment, where she was entertaining visitors. One of them brought the largest mango I have ever seen, and we tried some. It was yummy! Then a relative of mine took my sister and me out to a Thai restaurant, where the food was really good. After lunch, it was off to do the only other thing people do besides eat: shop. We went to Warner Village, a theater/shopping complex, and Hsimen, a big place for young people to hang out and eat and shop. My relative took us to her house, which was KICK-ASS because her family is loaded. She gave us the latest craze in snacks, which was mango ice from a place called Igloo. The mango ice is basically diced mango, shaved ice, condensed milk, and a scoop of mango sorbet. It was sooooooo good. There is a line at all hours outside of the Igloo place. It's so long that it goes around the block! Dinner was at Shin Yeh. So much food.
Day 3 - My aunt took us to Yangming Mountain, where we checked out flowers and stuff. Lunch was at a place called Cafe Onion, which is located on the way down from the mountain. It was a five-course affair, and I was full by the time the salad came. We had escargot in spicy sauce with garlic bread, seafood and tomato julienne soup, salad, lamb chops, tiramisu, and tea. So full. Yes, I am fat. After eating, we then (of course) went to the Dayeh department store in Tienmu. Guess how much fun it was trying on clothes after eating a meal that probaby put 10 extra pounds on my already large body. Dinner was a home-cooked meal and then it was off to a nearby street corner for Taiwanese shaved ice.
Wanna see photos corresponding to this trip? Click here!
Day 4 - I learned how to take the bus and subway in Taipei. I like the Taipei subway a lot. Very nice and clean, compared to the horrors in NYC. My aunt took us to Hsimen for lunch, where I had the best beef noodle soup that I've had in a long time. Dinner was at a fancyish restaurant. I kept eating even though I wasn't hungry because (1) I felt that I was being rude by refusing the food that people had been nice enough to provide and (2) I was irritated by the fact that people would assume that if I didn't want to eat a particular dish it was because I was an American who was too "scared" to eat it. So yes, I gorged myself once again. It seems very unjust that I should be sweating all day and night and walking for hours at a time and yet not lose any weight. Rather, I think I'm getting fatter.
Day 5 - We set off for Thailand with our big Taiwanese tour. The tour leader is a tubby guy named Chen. This couple in our tour group tried to cheat me out of some money by asking me to exchange USD for the TB (Thai bahts) they had gotten in exchange for NT. Luckily for me, they thought I couldn't speak any Mandarin, so I just acted like I didn't understand what they were saying til they left me alone. After landing in Thailand, we had dinner on a boat, where I was attacked by bugs. We then headed to a fruit market after dinner where I didn't recognize most of the fruit. I recognized apples, grapes, durians, and coconuts; the other fruits were things I'd never seen before. I decided to avoid a family of four in our group for the duration of our tour: they're really stinky.
Day 6 - We visited a fruit and orchid farm, an elephant farm near a river (where we went canoeing), the Attathuya Historical Study Center, the Bang Pa-In Palace, and a Thai massage place. My impressions of Thailand at this point: green, spacious (especially after being in cramped Taipei), nice palaces, and needs more Western toilets. We had dinner at the Sun Inter Buffet, where I was very entertained by the sign they have posted on the door that displays prices for "lunch, dinner, and baby." I took a picture of the sign and am going to try sending it in to Jay Leno or Conan O'Brien. I felt really good after the Thai massage, but I was in MASSIVE pain during the massage. Two thoughts were in my mind constantly during the painfest: "The masseuse must think I'm the biggest fatass ever," and "Why am I paying to have holes bored into my flesh?" When we got to our hotel for the night, we discovered that ants had crawled into our suitcase! We spent half an hour exterminating ants and watching MTV Asia.
Day 7 - Busy, busy day. Today we were in Pattaya, so we went to the beach and took a small boat to reach another boat with a floating "dock" thing where we went parasailing, which was very scary for someone who is scared of heights, such as me. I will be truthful and admit that I screamed "Take me back down!" a couple of times in flight. We then took another boat to an island where we rode on jetski thingies and on banana boats. After that we were herded to a mall where we had to walk around the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum and ride their "motion madness" ride, which made me feel like puking. It was a good thing that we ate after the ride. Lunch was Thai hot pot. We headed out to the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden where we saw lots of orchids, took pictures with animals (e.g., tigers, orangutans, chimpanzees, elephants, cheetahs, snakes), watched a monkey gather coconuts, saw a cultural show and an elephant show (the little elephants are so cute), and marveled at the ugliness of bare ostrich butts (the ostriches had been plucking out their tail feathers, probably because of the hot weather). After dinner, we went to the pier and hung out for a while. I started playing a game I call "Guess who's the prostitute?" because we saw many, many women of the night while we waited. We then headed to this boat where my sister and I were expecting a female impersonator to perform, based on the description that was given to us by our uncle who had been on the same tour earlier. He had recommended the show to us, so we thought we were in for a treat. To our horror, we learned that we had entered into a glorified titty bar, where the waitresses/dancers were all men with boobs. Apparently, Mainland Chinese people dig this sort of thing a lot, and all of the men were feeling up the, er, men. My sister and I were horrified and spent the night averting our eyes and watching the cartoon that was playing on a flat screen near our table. I will say that the men/women were very pretty.
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Day 8 - Shopping was the order of the day. We stopped by a large jewelry store where I bought myself a ring, and a large leather handicrafts store where people could buy leather goods. They didn't have any ordinary cow leather, though. All the purses, belts, etc. were made out of ostrich skin, alligator skin, and (the latest thing) waterproof fadeproof ray skin. That's right. The skin of a ray. The kind that swim in the ocean. The tourist trap of the day was the Grand Palace in Bangkok, where my sister and I marveled at the glass buildings which sparkled like giant jewels in the sun. My sister and I were forced once again to endure a drag queen cabaret, which made us feel very uncomfortable (not because of the drag queens, but because of the horrid people in the audience). The best part of the day was when we got to our hotel and got massages and were given free reign to run around the hotel spa. I did have one frightening moment in the spa. I had just gotten my massage and was trying to find the door to the sauna. Since I had never been in one, I wasn't sure what I was looking for. I saw a door with a glass window, so I peered in the darkness to see what was inside and got an eyeful of old lady boobs. Quite unpleasant.
Day 9 - We went to an amusement park called Dream World which was kinda lame compared to Magic Mountain, but it did have a ride called Super Splash, which I enjoyed. It is a water ride a là Splash Mountain. Although the ride itself was very short (consisting of an ascent and descent), they had an ingenious idea for the end of the ride. As you know, when you descend down the water slide, you generate a wave. However, much of the wave travels away from you, and thus you don't get that wet. What the designers did was create a plexiglass wall that stands near the bottom of the slide so that the wave that is generated hits the wall and ricochets off back at you. I was completely soaked. Two thumbs up. Then it was off to the airport to catch our flight to Taipei.
Day 10 - Today I accompanied my sister to the Chinese language class she's taking this month and was bored out of my mind as I waited for her to get out. There were no places where someone could sit down and read a book or drink some soda or anything like that. I was forced to wander for TWO hours. After lunch, we went CD shopping where I bought a CD of my new favorite boy band, Tension. They are Asians, and they are comedy. They embody all the cheesiness that is Asian pop. And their choreographer is SUPERB. I love them. Just thinking of their video makes me laugh until I cry. One of them looks like an Asian version of Howie D. from the Backstreet Boys...the resemblance is uncanny. At night we went to the Shilin night market, where I saw a Totoro car ornament that I absolutely have to have. We didn't have time to get it so I told my sister not to return to the U.S. without it.
Day 11 - I went with my sister to class again. I met my aunt for lunch and then spent the afternoon at the department stores by her office, where I lamented the high prices. While I was in the lingerie section, I decided to buy some bras. Being from the States, I didn't know what size I should be getting, so I had a saleslady help me. What I got was a very unexpected lesson in how to wear a bra. She gave me some to try on in the dressing room. She said to notify her when I had put one one so she could verify that the size was right for me. After putting one on, she came in and said, "Hmm. You're not wearing it right." She then proceeded to reach in the bra cup with her hand and grab my boob and adjust its position in the bra cup. I just stood there traumatized by the violation of my personal bubble, but I think it's customary to do stuff like that in Taiwan. Every time I tried an another bra, she would check to see if I was wearing it right, and if I wasn't, she would once again encroach upon my body. So now I can tell everyone that I was felt up by a girl in Taiwan. We went to Tamshui that night to see the lights on the river. We ate lots of food off of the street and went to this nice coffee/tea place where you had to walk 106 steps to the top...but were rewarded with a nice view. I must have eaten something or been bitten by a disease-carrying insect while I was there because after coming home, I went to bed with a fever and had alternating chills and hot flashes.
Day 12 - Officially sick, I visited my aunt's doctor. I was very suspicious of his credibility, so I was happy to learn that I'd be meeting my cousin, who is a well-respected physician at Taiwan National University Hospital, that same afternoon while visiting his parents. My aunt, who believes that kids from the U.S. only like U.S. food took me to Subway (which I abhor) for lunch, and then took me to get checked out by my cousin. He disposed all the pills the other doctor prescribed and just gave me Tylenol and told me to get a blood test. The girl who took my blood was inept at drawing blood (in my opinion) and now I have a giant bruise on my arm and must tell people that no, I do not have a Korean boyfriend. After seeing my cousin, I hung out at the National Theater, where my sister and I saw all these kids practicing dancing on the terrace. It was pretty funny. I cannot get over Taiwanese people, especially boys, when they're trying to dance.
Day 13 - Although my fever went down, I started to experience tummy pain, so my aunt decided to postpone my flight from today to Monday (two days from now). I spent the day listening to Tension and watching MTV and HBO. I must sadly concur with Wangbang and state that Taiwanese males are generally not attractive.
Day 14 - I spent all day sleeping. Since I was feeling better at night, I went shopping on Hsinyi Road. Right now is a good time to shop because there are major sales everywhere.
Day 15 - Off to the US!
My major impressions of Taiwan: The subway is really nice, the people are really friendly and nice, but there needs to be more Western toilets and the use of antiperspirant/deodorant must be more strenuously marketed there.
Now do ya wanna see some photos? Click here!