Monday, June 23, 2008

retro cool

So I'm constantly on the hunt for a hint of retro in Taipei. It's not easy. The buildings here are not striking, and if fact they're usually kind of drab. The exterior is often just concrete, brick or tile (oh, they looove the tile here) and I'd say that 60% of the windows in this city have a cage on them. Most of them, like the exterior of the buildings are drab, but as I've traveled from one end of the city to the other, I've noticed some very groovy cages.

It all started with this one in northern Taipei:

Whoa! This one's craaazy.

A discarded one in our favorite neighborhood:
As far as retro buildings, I have my eye on one place in particular: It's an all girl's high school near our place. There are several buildings that are all super cool. They have a slight Saarinen feel but they're definitely knock offs. When I get brave enough to sneak onto the premises, I will certainly post the photos....

Thursday, June 5, 2008


So, from our balcony, we don't have the most spectacular views of our beautiful town. But if you do happen to take a look, you can see a pretty rad temple and and old-school neighborhood. I have grown attached to the old, pieced-together buildings, with their illegal rooftop structures. There is (was) one place in particular that I enjoyed peeping out at: a rooftop apartment where a man housed dozens of doves and other birds in cages. I've seen him outside, tending to his birds, showing them off to friends, etc. But tonight his apartment caught on fire and the whole neighborhood watched it burn. It took the fire department about a half hour to respond, but the streets were so narrow that they couldn't bring their trucks close by. So the response time was delayed even further, as they tried to figure out how to get to the place. The firemen did contain the fire, but only after it had spread to two other apartments. So now the guy (who we realized escaped from the fire in nothing but his boxers) lost his apartment and probably all of his beautiful birds.
On that note, before I fell asleep last night, I was flooded with memories of Frank Strong. For those of you who don't know, he's a friend who passed away earlier this year. I have had many vivid memories of him since he left us, but this time it was different. It was all so positive. Dozens of images of him flooded my consciousness all at once. Images of how I remember him. Happy, always smiling and radiant. It made me smile, as it's one of the first times that I haven't felt pain and sadness in his memory. It was almost like he was coming to say hi.
By the way, this town is apparently known for the ghosts who like to hang around. Coincidence?

Monday, June 2, 2008

night market fun

Last night we decided to hit up the Jingmei night market for dinner. These markets are a great place to get really cheap local food and cheap knock off goods. We had been there once before and had the best fried rice ever at one particular food cart, so we decided to have it again. It was a slow night, since it was Monday and rainy, and the lady running the place had more time to talk to us. By 'us' I mean Devin, as the ol' Mandarin is still new to me. The woman was the sweetest lady I've met here so far. She praised Devin for his Chinese proficiency and told him that she cared for us and felt that she had to take care of us because we had come from so far away. So she gave us some free soup alongside our rice, which we couldn't have turned down. It was obviously a small gesture, but it was one of the kindest things that anyone has done for us here. It also made up for the fact that a rat ran practically under my feet during the meal...