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Taiwan, June 22, 2006

Japan with Chinese Characteristics

Its more a feeling, but still a strong one

watch the road
Watch the road, not TV
listen to me
Drinking alone
As I step into my last Taipei taxi, heading for the airport and home, I look out on this amazing city and think about how it compares to mainland China and other Asian nations in my travels. That's when it hits me: Taiwan isn't China. Taiwan is Japan with Chinese characteristics.

Just like in Japan, Taipei has a solid love-affair with technology. From the TV in the seatback of my taxi to the little TV's at one of the bars I wandered to, they do not mind massive electronic intrusion into their lives.

Then, if you actually leave Taipei, or just watch as the countryside zips beneath your plane, you'll note that everything is orderly once you leave the capitol. Rice grows in well appointed fields, apartment blocks are clean if a little utilitarian, and factories even somehow look tidy.

Back in Taipei, the people move with purpose, with pride, with style that would transplant to Tokyo or New York. Business is quick, fair, open. The taxi drivers didn't try and cheat me once.

And while I still found the culture to be way conservative for my tastes, it was not without its freedoms. Everyone felt free to talk politics, debate issues, care about their government at a volume and level never approached in mainland China.

So while this list, now that I write it, doesn't sound so convincing, I still say that in my heart, in my gut, Taiwan is Japan with Chinese characteristics.

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Taiwan, June 21, 2006

My Midnight Savior - OK

Its late, who knows what time, and I am famished. It's been an all-night (or with jet lag, all day) bender, a Carnegie's kinda night, and I haven't eaten since sometime yesterday or maybe tomorrow. Who knows, I only know I need to eat.

Trouble is, this is Taipei, and while it wants to be a 24 hour city, nothing is open. Not a restaurant, not a cafe, only bars, and they've stopped servicing food hours ago.

Continue reading "My Midnight Savior - OK"

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Taiwan, June 9, 2006

Typhoon Taipei

It's my last day in Taipei and I can't wait to leave. It's not that I dislike the Japan with Chinese characteristics culture or the constant rejections by the Computex Sales Girl Soft Porn, it's the constant, never-ending, tropical-storm strength torrential rains that are getting to me. I am tired of Typhoon Taipei

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Taiwan, June 8, 2006

Space is Tight in Taipei

Taiwan may be a big island, but in Taipei, as in most Asian capitols, space is tight. Tight because of a constantly growing population, increasing through emigration as well as births, and land policy restrictions that keep sprawl in check.

How tight is space in Taipei, you ask? Well check out this vertical church to the left.

Continue reading "Space is Tight in Taipei"

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Taiwan, June 7, 2006

Scooting by Taipei on a Moped

Who knows what the difference between a scooter and a moped, and who cares? They are not motorcycles and not bicycles, they are that fuzzy areas in the middle and they are everywhere in Taipei. And I mean everywhere.

In every street, on most sidewalks, and close to killing you at any time, they are the most ubiquitous transportation in Taipei. While not approaching the density of bicycles in Beijing, they are none the less overwhelming.

Continue reading "Scooting by Taipei on a Moped"

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Taiwan, June 6, 2006

Computex Sales Girl Soft Porn

While Taipei's Computex 2006 is a great gathering of nerdlings, an epicenter of geekiness, and a whole universe dorkdom, it sure does have one amazing upside.

I'm not talking about tips on CPU over-clocking or the newest in gadget porn, I'm talking about the great Asian tradition of "sales girls." Playing right to a man's prime motivation, every Asian sales event, and quite a few Western ones, have beautiful women showing off the latest products or services.

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Taiwan, June 5, 2006

The Modern Taipei Office

Are you still sitting behind a desk, clock watching because your boss values desk time over productivity? Do you long to free yourself from florescent lights and stale office air? Then may I introduce you to the modern Taipei office: Chin-Chen Park

Here you can complete all your modern office tasks, and yet be surrounded by green trees, clean air, and even elderly practicing tai chi. Don't believe me? Let me give you a task by task breakdown of how to perform while in a public park:

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Taiwan, June 4, 2006

Tonghua Night Market

You know you're close to the market by the neon signs that line the streets around it, calling to the late-night shoppers like I. Then, when you turn a little corner, you're in the night market.

There, squeezed down a long, narrow alley, is an Asian market - the kind you'll find from Beijing to Bangkok, where you can snack on tasty foods while you shop for all your daily needs.

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Taiwan, June 3, 2006

A Carnegies Kinda Night

Also, TB likes it here, at Carnegies Bar, and doesn't want to leave. I can understand. There are drunken women dancing on the bar top, he knows all the staff, and once I tell the bartender I'm drinking on TB's tab, the drinks get stronger, and service is quicker.

Still Carnegies Taipei is no Hungry Duck. The girls might be drunk, but they are still Asian and therefore relatively shy and demure. As the guy never thought to be either, I was bored with the crowd and waved to TB as I headed out.

Continue reading "A Carnegies Kinda Night"

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Taiwan, June 2, 2006

How I Survive 13 Hour Flights

As I look out the window of this EVA Airlines flight from LAX to TPE (that's Los Angles and Taipei for those not down with FlyerTalk) and I notice that we are racing across the Pacific faster than the sun - the sun is slowly setting in the east as we get farther ahead of it - I feel compelled to share how I survive my globetrotting flights.

First and foremost is acceptance of economy class travel. The flight is going to be long, it's going to be boring, the food will be bad, the smell worse, and you will be cramped in a tiny seat next to an armrest hog or incessant talker, and in front of a hyper seat-kicking kid.

Continue reading "How I Survive 13 Hour Flights"

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