Japan with Chinese Characteristics

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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.

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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.

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