Updated: Jan 3
I was getting comfy in my China Airlines seat perusing through the movie selection when the screen turns to the image of that map… the one with the insanely disproportionate plane which is larger than Russia. I studied it briefly. Hmmm apparently I was making a stopover in Taiwan… for 13 hours. Where is Taiwan again, the plane covered half the globe... Glad I bought a guide book and have their currency on hand…. OH WAIT. It seems I was mildly ill-prepared. This should be fun.
Stepping off the plane I was looking more haggard than usual. My greasy face along with my increasingly red, irritated eyes; my two- day old outfit. FINE. Three-day. I think a hobo would have shaken his head in disgust. I first exchanged my dollars for usable money. The man handed me an amount of what could very well have been monkey droppings. I had no idea of what their money looked like, let alone its worth. Apparently, it is worth a fair amount, which my cheap ass did not know. Next, I went to the information desk. I am so glad the woman barely spoke English. It is always such a treat. I received a bus ticket and some scribbled directions to a mall. I am not entirely sure how that happened since I am neither wealthy nor enjoy buying things. My aforementioned haggard appearance may have played a part. She must have thought “woman, you NEED clothes”. After the hour or so bus ride to the city and some classic directions- how to pronounce an alphabetic character that resembles a robot stuck in a box is still beyond me. I ended up at the designer Sogo mall. More like HELL Nogo- unless you have jeweled teeth. I assumed it would be like a Dollar Store but it was more like a Million Dollar Store. Needless to say, the only thing I spent- was time in the toilet on level 8F- near the electronics section to answer your question.
After scrounging the streets for free WiFi, which was nearly impossible since the list of available networks was longer than Frodo’s journey to Mordor but also more protected than Gollum is of the ring. Finally, salvation at a McDonalds. Hanging out close enough to get a signal but not close enough where someone would get suspicious and chase after me with a broom, it was odd to see passers-by hardly noticing me and my unladylike appearance. I thought maybe they don’t realize I’m real. They were so in tune with their technology they forgot to change the station to the real world. Channel 1 if you were wondering. I ended up booking a tour with some company that took me to some pretty awesome spots. My tour guide was particularly thrilled to show me the Taipei National Museum. Although his English wasn’t perfect, throughout the day he kept getting excited over a single exhibit housed in the museum. His jubilation always contained the word “bok choi” which I thought was out of place. When I finally arrived at the exhibit I knew it must be grand. The line up was out the door. I eagerly waited then reached close enough to see the protective glass, illuminated by a spotlight. After 25 minutes I was able to see what the hype was about. There, before my very eyes was the coveted jade stone that looks like cabbage, and beside it was the stone that looks like meat. I shit you not.
That is how I ended up spending my day in Taipei.