Wednesday, June 29, 2011

After exploring locally my first day in Taipei

Oh mah lawd my feets is hurtin.

There’s a building here, really near the hostel, that was the tallest building in the world for a while (but must now settle for being second-tallest) called the 101 Building. I don’t know much about anything around here, so I figured that would be as good a first-day trip as any: walk around near the hostel, explore but not lose my sense of direction, maybe eat something local, try making purchases, then get back to the hostel to rest a while before going out to explore the night market.

The streets are laid out interestingly here. Some have numbers, I think? Some have names but then you’re in an alley off the lane off that street… I’m still figuring out how it works. Anyway I went up my alley to the lane to the street and headed toward the giant tower. I hear it was designed to look like bamboo, but I ain’t seein’ it. I explored some convention center next to it first. I was getting hungry, so I ate, and I tried to ask whether the food was vegetarian in the way that my phrase book suggested, but I guess I failed. It was interesting… When I got to the tower, apparently the bottom five floors are taken up by the swankest mall I ever seen in my whole life, and the basement is solid food, most of which looked better than what I ate. Also most had plastic examples of their food out, and naturally I took pictures. In fact, I took pictures of everything. My lunch, the convention center, my walk to the tower (which passed several 7-Elevens)… I intend to load them up to Picasa the way I did my Mexico photos, but can’t seem to get Picasa to work for me just yet. If it doesn’t work by the time I get to the university, I’ll figure something else out. In the meantime, they’re on my Facebook, but I’m kindof a snob about who I’ll add, so if we aren’t already friends you’ll have to wait.

Apparently 101 can still boast the world’s fastest elevator! That was interesting. When I made my way back down it was raining (note to self: don’t wear a white shirt anymore ever) so I decided to hang out inside and explore for a while. While poking around the convention center, this information/guard/porter-type person kinda waved me back to give me fruit. One was a banana, which he was trying to explain to me that it was a banana, and I was like, yes I love banana okay, then he gave me this other thing that looked like a pear that took too many steroids and got big and warty. It was crunchy and kinda potato-textured with something of a piney scent to it and weird seeds inside. I ate it while I sat in the food court and people-watched for a while. There was also this market, I think it was called “Jason’s”? They had free samples EVERYWHERE. I hope there’s one of those in Pingtung. I ate some weird stuff, and drank some too, and I’m not sure what it all was, but I’m still alive so far.

Eventually it had slacked off to a patter enough that I could get back and maintain my dignity in my white shirt. I’ve noticed this weird thing that I might be able to say more about later. For now it goes, I don’t get stared at like I did in Mexico. The stares there were pretty much 100% from men (with women for the most part ignoring me altogether, in a somehow noticeable way?) and they were lecherous. I just felt dirty, even when I was dressed completely modestly. Today I had on a skirt and a tank (yo, it’s hot and humid here, even moreso than Arkansas) and there was none of that. I did get some stares, but they felt more like curiosity stares. Like, damn, look at this tall female with freckles and round blue eyeballs kind of stares. One girl in the tower, I looked up and I couldn’t figure out what she was taking a picture of, because I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything on the wall I was leaning up against, so I turned to look and sure enough, wadn’t nuthin there… except me… oh my goodness this tween is taking a photograph of me leaning up against a wall? There’s another phenomenon that I have yet to figure out, which is, what to do when you run into another cracker. There’s this weirdness like, do we look at each other? Do we ignore each other noticeably? There’s this moment in passing where it’s like, we both know we’re passing each other, and we both know we’re having this shared experience of being this extreme minority, but other than that we share literally nothing, so how do you acknowledge that or do you or ? This one guy today I passed, he handled it perfect. He had this smile on his face that somehow acknowledged all that and more, just this chill Mona Lisa smile as he passed me with his umbrella, so I gave him a halfsmile back, and then bam, we’re gone, the end.

Y’all, I realized on the walk back that while I knew what direction I was going, I had not paid attention to landmarks nor street names nor nuthin. I figured I’d just hope for the best and keep walking… and made it back with literally no problems! No wrong turns, no doubling back to make a turn I missed, my little feet led me right back to the door of the hostel. Rest, wash face, upload photos, write, go to night market, wash body, sleep, explore tomorrow…

1 comment:

Nance said...

Yeah, us folks with albinism get and give a half smile at the very least when passing by a stranger who also appears too-pale-to-not-have-the-same-condition. Way to go on reversing the route, yo!