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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taiwan Day 24 - To the Zoo

Full picture set of the day here: Flickr set or slideshow.

Today was our planned day trip to Taipei, so of course this morning is totally clear, and I can see stars in the sky when I go to get coffee. Before I go, however, I eat the bun we got yesterday which is chocolate filled with chocolate chips on the outside. It's good, but not really what we came here for. And let's be real, it's not exactly the most healthy breakfast in the world. We actually thought it was plain inside when we got it. I assumed the chips were actually red beans, which are often used in buns here. They have the same color when baked. I probably need to eat more fruit.

My bike time was limited so I just went up to Hero Hill again and signed the book. Nothing of note happened, but I did see a guy coming down as I was going up, and another signing the book as I got to the top. I rode to the very very top of the hill, and when I turned around he was gone. It was clear out, but really hazy. Visibility was pretty poor all in all. This is the view from the top of the climb, 1800 feet up:

When I came home it was sort of agreed that we were only going to Taipei for the day to meet Nat's 2 cousins, YuFang and LiJin (not sure about the second one's spelling) and not go to Calvin's for an overnight. Calvin wanted us to bring our luggage plus computers up on the bus then check them into the storage of the bus station then go to his apartment after our day. While it may be perfectly safe, if I lose my work computer my trip takes a major punch in the gut. Plus of course there's the mass of fans (all 4 of you who have made it this far) who need to know about the trip. Plus, who wants to lug that stuff back and forth?

On the way to the bus station we grabbed a second breakfast of this doughy thing with egg, which was stupid good. I haven't had that in a while and forgot how much I like it.

We hopped on a bus around 10:30 and had a generally uneventful trip to the station in Taipei. We did pass right by Taipei 101 which I always feel the need to gawk at and take pictures of. Nothing good on the way in, so nothing to post here. We got to the bus station and met YuFang right away. We grabbed a Mister Donut offering for Julia, then found a seat and we were joined shortly after by LiJin. YuFang had brought some goodies for Julia:

Lunch was some Shanghai style food, which is usually dumplings of some sort, very often something called "soup buns" which are buns that have a meat and liquid in them, which is the "soup" part. It was good:

After lunch we grabbed a coffee at Starbucks just a few blocks from the 101 and the massive haze only got worse:

There were 3 whiteys sitting in this sort of open area where we were, and as we walked past none of them said anything, or gave any indication of acknowledgment. There were plenty of white people in Taipei, and this is the general greeting you always get from them. While there are more up here, we still stick out. I find it odd that in general the white people here actually go out of their way to ignore you. One guy at the zoo gave me a good solid nod. But everyone else pretends you're invisible.

This sort of goes along with my theory of the white people here, specifically that most of them have run away from their own country because they simply can't hack it being just another person in a big country. In a place like this, they stand out, feel special, and are always some form of entertainment. So when they see someone who looks like them, they go out of their way to not be friendly. I just find it odd.

We weren't sure what to do because the weather was iffy. We had talked about the zoo, but the rain was kinda rolling in. So we figured we would go, then not, then would. Finally I said that if we kept bouncing around back and forth we'd never do anything. So we decided to just go and the weather ended up being fine.

When I got into the taxi I said in the front seat and the driver made a motion to put on my seat belt. I said, "an chuan dai?" which of course is Mandarin for seat belt. This is just another example of how f'ing useless these Chinese lessons have been. I still don't know how to say my eyes are bleeding and I need a doctor.

At the zoo there were lots of animals, including an Panda Bear that was absolutely filthy:

And there were other things, like this indoor turtle exhibit which made for a neat pic:

And we stopped for an exquisite treat right after the penguin exhibit:

And a rhino, which you could get pretty close to:

And lions, which were on the other side of the glass, just 2-3 feet away:

Have to say, they get you right on top of the animals here. I guess this is why you hear of people getting eaten randomly in various Asian countries.

The hippos were cool:

And then we found some props to take a pic of Julia on and there was a spectator section watching. Not a day goes by without someone saying how cute they think Julia is. This yellow army just stood and watched us:

And a bright fish:

Then we went back to the city center and got ice cream for Julia and saw the 101 all lit up:

The pic sucks but it was hard to get anything worthwhile. We then hopped a bus and headed home, which saw all 3 of us going stir-crazy from the long day. This is basically why you're getting a recap as I just don't have it in me to write the day up. It was a good day, and Nat's cousins are very nice and easy to hang with, and they can speak English which is always a bonus for me.

Dinner was noodles, wantons, and veggies. Then I finished my bottle of red wine from last night.



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