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Not on the list: Afternoon tea with friends

18 Jul

Waffles a la mode

This post is primarily an excuse to post more photos of food, as you can probably tell. My friend Christine, who is pictured below, and whose brother supplied my delicious peanut mochi, loves cooking for friends, and she invited me on this day to join her for afternoon tea. Besides waffles with bananas, ice cream, and whipped cream, here are some other things she put together for us:

Vegetarian sushi

I ate about half a watermelon by myself

More of the spread, including Christine's awesome homemade pizza

Christine is one of those people who really embodies the welcoming nature of people in Taiwan, and you can tell by the diverse company she keeps. Every time she hosts a dinner or barbecue (always featuring Christine’s home-cooked food, which is so good she really ought to have a restaurant), I meet people from so many countries and backgrounds that I can’t keep track of them by the end of the evening. I never cease to be amazed at how well she gets to know so many people, never forgetting a name, particularly since I myself constantly struggle to match names with faces. I really ought to take a few lessons from her!

Our lovely host!

Not on the list: People-watching in Yong Kang Park

31 May

Crazy kids

After our visit to the secondhand store, Kaifu and I picked up some drinks from a drink stand and took in some relaxing entertainment in Yong Kang Park in the form of people-watching. I guess there’s not much else to say about it, since most of the amusing parts are of the you-had-to-be-there variety, so here are some photos of all the fun.

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Side note: The Ice Monster Returneth

27 May

It's coming...

I had been told that Ice Monster will reopen in June, and that seems to be the case, if this apparent facelift is any indication. I can’t say I particularly care, since I didn’t actually go to Ice Monster very often, except that it will be nice to have a Taipei institution on the map again. There had been news reports this spring that business has gone down for other shops on Yong Kang Street since the closing of Ice Monster, so hopefully its return will bring back the tourists and the shoppers. I’m also interested to see what changes are being made behind those temporary walls. We’ll find out soon.

Not on the list: Drinks in Ximending

24 May

A margarita

I’ve decided I’ll also be posting some things that, while they aren’t on the list, are still Taipei experiences worth having. Anything can happen in the course of the day!

This particular experience came about because my good friend 阿水 called me shortly after midnight to let me know he was in the neighborhood, on a weekend break from his military service down south, and was hoping to see me. Although I’d been hoping to get to bed early in preparation for a long Sunday crossing tasks off my list, it was nice to catch up with my friend and to relax at one of the many outdoor bars behind the Red House Theater (紅樓) on a warm evening.

For those who’ve never spent much time in Ximending (西門町), or have only been to the better-known area at Exit 6, the area behind the theater may be a bit surprising. Away from the bright lights and crowds of teenagers in search of the latest trends, there is a completely different world made up of bars and underwear stores catering to gay men.

It’s probably nothing like what you’re imagining in terms of gay bars, and many people don’t even realize what they’ve stumbled upon until they’ve been seated at one of the hundreds of outdoor tables and had a good look at the clientele. That’s because, although the bars (and a few restaurants) are most definitely gay-oriented, you won’t find what is typically visualized as a gay bar scene: lots of men in tight pants dancing furiously to the latest Lady Gaga remix, with couples making out in corners. Instead, you’ll mostly see friends hanging out on a Saturday night in a hip place with good drinks, plenty of breathing room, and – ok – the latest Lady Gaga remix playing the background. There’s no escaping Lady Gaga.

In short, if you’re looking for a place to spend a chill evening with friends, but aren’t interested in clubs or smoky bars, Ximending probably has something for you. Just leave your bigotry at home and you’ll be just fine.