Thursday, October 02, 2008

More Taipei

OK .
We'll start with "snake alley".
Actually its been homogenised for the tourists as a result of an outcry 5 years or so ago, but they still strip a live snake of its skin and serve you up a shot glass of reptile plasma.
Snake soup is also what the pale guys below have to fear.
I had neither .The snakes are for the most part in cages.
The smell was the surprising part.
Snakes in cages smell BAD!
Mice to feed the snakes are also on display (why I wonder.... are the Chinese that cruel a race?) or maybe they're destined for soup too.
They also specialise in turtles.
Those of you who are squeamish look away now....
I went to a busy temple around the corner from the snake pit. I had the literature to fill you in, but it's lost.....
Sorry about that.
It's 400 years old that much I remember.
The place was bathed in candle light.
Tons of Incense.
I'm just not good enough with a camera (or is that a lack of patience?- No not good enough) to give it justice, especially in low light -hence the black and white pics .
It was really, really nice to be there.
From the temple I went to a VAST monument to Sun Yat Sen, the guy venerated from Beijing to Taipei for breaking the back of the warlords and unifying China.The two women below were meditating in front of the vast square and the main shrine. It may seem a bit contrived from the pic, but there were people doing all manner of such stuff ....Tai Chi, meditation, lovers entwined etc, etc.
Maybe it was the cool breeze or lack of HK humidity, but it felt kind of nice and somehow appropriate that all these folks were doing their best to fulfill the fantasies of tourists with a camera.
Except the only tourist I could see........was me.
You saw these girls on the last post. This is what they were contemplating. OK Taipei 101.
The current holder of the world's tallest building title.
Burj Dubai is already 60 stories taller and still not finished......
I had dinner on the 85th floor a couple of nights back and the impressions that stick with me are the popping of my ears in the elevator and the resignation I had when confronted with "scallop organs" rather than Scallop ( which is quite tasty). I wonder why they throw out the scallop and give you the guts (on the shell no less)? It's modelled on a giant bamboo shoot.
Some say its ugly but I think its a cool building.The Taiwanese are amazingly friendly given their "non recognised" status in the world.
It's a a real country, but because we all salivate at the China money trough, none of us recognise it or have an embassy there.
The largest standing army in the world is poised to invade if after scrutiny, Beijing decides politicians in Taipei have gone too far in their pronouncements of Independence.
Taiwan is the biggest investor in mainland China.
There are no direct flights between the mainland and Taiwan.
It's kind of a Cuba-US stand off except Taipei is much less apt to make 4 hour speeches against the 10,000 pound gorilla an hour's flight away ( or 3 hours by boat).
Yet the Taiwanese have an obvious sense of humor regarding this surreal situation.
You don't see that on a college campus in Beijing.
Take it from me.
I've spent far too much time in China.
Taiwan is very different.
For starters the people are nice .
I mean "go out of your way to be nice"
There's a genuine curiosity and relaxed vibe at odds with a tiny place constantly threatened with "oblivion and instant annihilation" should they come right out and say that they're independent.
No one who has been to China and Taiwan would mistake the latter for a province of the former.
Hasn't been since Chen Kai Shek decamped here after Mao kicked his butt.
Where there are Bikes and Ferrari's there are scooters and Ferrari's.
The scooters feel like a swarm of locusts as they weave in and out of the taxis and traffic.
That's it for tonight.
I've finally got a flat in HK ( I'm "reclined" in luxurious air-con there as I type).
I fly to the UK tomorrow and arrive around midnight Saturday.
I see Jess Sunday morning!
Big kiss to all

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