adrian is rad


one year on…

Filed under: — adrian @ 6:40 pm

One year ago last Friday I moved for Taiwan. Right after I returned in December, I gave you a debrief/ by the numbers sort of post so if you want to see a lot of specifics of the trip.

When Dave, my friend and coworker who was there for the first week I was, and I arrived in Taipei, it was hot and humid. Sweltering, muggy, suffocating–whatever you want to call it. We were tired and it was hot and we didn’t understand the language. We attempted a day of work and made it most of the way through, though, to be honest, I don’t think either of us were productive in the least. Dave’s luggage didn’t arrive (except, of course, his tux for a wedding he was going straight to after Taiwan) so that 6’6″ guy and I went to the store to get some clothes to tide him over. He found a shirt that fit and some socks but the largest underwear in the store, as Dave hilariously recounts, wouldn’t make it past his knees when he tried them on later.

We went to get some shabu shabu for dinner that night. The menu was entirely in Chinese and the people working there didn’t speak English at all so we ordered by pointing randomly to a line on the menu. The beef, which–as it turns out–we had ordered was pretty good. A thus I started my almost four months in the country.

It’s so hard to sum up four months in a place with so many varied experiences. Theer was the time in Jianmen, the Taiwan (Republic of China) island 2km off of mainland (People’s Republic of) China that I went to because it had a very interesting history of isolation followed by English colonial-by-way-of-Singapore influence followed by heavy military presence and bombing. It was a fascinating place. The people there also spoke very little English and even though I was near the end of my time in Taiwan and I’d had a one-on-one Chinese tutor, my language skills were not enough to get me by. I was in way over my head. At a noodle restaurant that was drying its fresh noodle on racks outside, I pointed and gestured that I wanted a bowl of whatever everyone else was having and that I was just one person to be seated.

After 15 minutes of mulling around near the entrance, I took the proprietress’ pointing at a bowl to mean that it was mine and I should follow. It was not my food and when I sat at the tableful of strangers, it was obvious I had sat in someone else’s seat. One guy, who was at the table with his friend–the other person at the table, an old woman, seemed unrelated–got me a chair. Later he offered me some of the chicken he and his friend were sharing. Pointing at the chicken and then the three of us: “together.” He also gave me tips about the hot sauce: “good”, pushing over one bottle. Later when the proprietress gave me a funny look while he was paying I didn’t make much of it–after all, as far as I could tell, I was the only white guy on that island, so I got plenty of funny looks. He came back over to the table “you no pay.” I felt ridiculous for nearly crying in the middle of the restaurant but I couldn’t help it.

There were the hoards of guys in Bangkok that tried to sell me fake tours or “massages”. There was the cab driver in Taipei that short-changed me.

I obviously stuck out, perhaps not as much as my 6’6″ tall friend when he was there, but I did. Sometimes it was fine, or even good. I’d make a faux pas or get myself in a jam and people would give me some leeway or help me out. Other times it just felt more like I was a complete outsider. In four months of taking the bus every single day, both ways, and often again in the evenings, I saw another westerner on the bus exactly once. I’m sure the women on the bus thought I was a bit odd.

It’s hard to explain what living there was like because there were so many different experiences. On an average day, my activities were mostly the same: wake up, shower, eat, work, eat, work, maybe run errands, make dinner, and go out or watch TV or write or read or play guitar or whatever. It was just what I was eating was different and the surroundings and people were completely different; the language and writing were (for the most part) not understandable.

I’ll try to give you a better taste through some photos. I’ve picked out some of my favorites because they give a feel for the place, because I like them artistically or because I think they’re quirky or funny. Feel free to ask more about any of the photos if the caption isn’t sufficient and I’ll give you more info if I remember.

You can also read some of my posts from when I was in Taiwan or otherwise traveling.

Taipei, early September

Shabu Shabu restaurant on XingAn Rd.

taxi at an intersection

Danshui Night Market, at dusk

Longdong Park along the northern coast

Scooters near Keelung

seafood market along Fuji harbor

sales/ net girl at seafood market along Fuji harbor

a mock-up (machine) shop

(many more below the break)


school boys in a music ensemble marching in a death parade in Ubud

rice paddies near Ubud

in the (sacred) monkey forrest near Ubud

dancer performing along with a gamelan in Ubud


a discount department store

Taipei, mid-to-late September

one of many “UN for Taiwan. Peace forever” banners. The potential push for a UN seat for Taiwan was a fairly constant issue while I was there.

costumed man in a parade held on no apparent occasion

dragon dancers in a parade

the tall men costumes in a parade

orchid at Taipei Flower Market

commercial being shot at a bank in the Estlite building on DunHua

girls rehearsing formations at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial

in the grocery store: super seasoning

typical fake food display for demonstration outside restaurant, Miramar mall

sign at parking garage

traffic at the Nanjing-FuXing intersection

sales girl at a cosmetics stall, Shilin Night Market

Taiwanese version, Kanye West Graduation


boy mugging for the camera in Chinatown, Bangkok

Machining, Bangkok

classy car in Banglamphu, Bangkok

monk at ATM near the palace, Bangkok

fort at dusk in Banglamphu, Bangkok

fried silkworms and crickets both of which I then tried

boys leaning out of the train en route to Ayuthaya

large Buddha in Ayuthaya

Elephant rides in Ayuthaya

temple ruins in Ayuthaya

adorned Buddha among temple ruins in Ayuthaya

KFC sign, Bangkok train station

statue at a temple, Bangkok

bus and street seller, Bangkok

corner detail on a temple, Bangkok

kids playing roshambo, Bangkok

Muay Thai boxing, Bangkok

communicating bets at Muay Thai boxing, Bangkok

paying off bets at Muay Thai boxing, Bangkok

communicating bets at Muay Thai boxing, Bangkok

signs on Khaosan, Bangkok

Skytrain, highway and street scene in Bangkok

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok


baccarat players at the Venetian

Supermercado signs

public square

a Catholic chuch

pharmacy in shopping district

Hong Kong

Signs stretching across the street, Kowloon

boy on a bicycle, Cheung Chau island

deserted beach, Cheung Chau island

fishing harbor, Cheung Chau island

walkway by the harbor at sunset, Cheung Chau island

Taipei: October, November

the Apples in stereo performing at the Wall night club

sunset in the XinYi shopping district

over-road walkway in the XinYi shopping district

girl in a home made costume for a seemingly random parade

the elevated brown line of the MRT, pinhole photo

Friends hanging out at the Taipei Zoo, pinhole photo

shadows and construction outside my office window in the Neihu district

coat hangers in an alley

“the currentis swift water is deep danger”

no joke: a building that houses about a dozen wedding banquet halls on two floors

waterfall in Wulai, south of Taipei

refrigerator in my kitchen

street scene in a shopping district


notice board

rickshaws on Cijin island

flowers at a temple on Cijin island

reliquaries(?) at a temple on Cijin island

gas-pump style water dispensing machine on Cijin island

mail box and gate on Cijin island

basketball hoop at the naval base on Cijin island

Holy Rosary Cathedral

Betel nut signs

fungi at Liouho night market

smoothies at a stand at Liouho night market

grilled prawns at Liouho night market

oddly shaped, made-on-location corn dogs–corn sausages might be more accurate–at the Liouho market

basketball games at Liouho night market. the player in red got >120 shots in in a one minute game

bags for sale: “What is most important to u? Love? Money? Or? Superlover?!”

watches for sale at Liouho night market

the famous Kaohsiung Milk King, which serve a delicious papaya milk drink

“King’s Spring Bed Monopoly”

boys fishing in Lotus Lake, Zuoying

entrance to an elaborate and gaudy temple on Lotus Lake, Zuoying

late afternoon and lanterns on Lotus Lake, Zuoying


the Eva Air Hello Kitty plane I flew to Japan

The headrest covers had Hello Kitty on them, as did the air sickness bags

Why, thank you. Pleasure to be here.

window in an old farm house in Kamogawa

leaving Tokyo on the Shinkansen

Kyoto Station

shadows in a temple, Kyoto

No idea what they mean: “A position is the underground at first floor present”

the gardens at, I believe, the Silver Pavilion, Kyoto

school kids running laps around a building in the palace grounds, Kyoto

priority seat sign, Kyoto subway

tired businessmen on the subway, Kyoto

Toto washlet toilet with built-in faucet (uses hand-washing water to then flush the toilet)

Mr. Young Men restaurant sign

stand of flowers at a temple, Kyoto

fall leaves, Kyoto

beer at a convenience store, Kyoto

street scene, Kyoto

complicated intersection from above, Kyoto

service doorway, Kyoto

written panels at a temple, Kyoto

“Hanaki finger sacks” at a drug store, Kyoto

lit lanterns, possibly at a restaurant or temple, Kyoto

Aluminum bottle of Pocari Sweat and Jesse outside the Gold Pavilion, Kyoto

the Gold Pavilion, Kyoto

Gold Pavilion, Kyoto

pond and gardens in the Gold Pavilion grounds, Kyoto

various types of moss, “Moss the Interrupter” on Gold Pavilion grounds, Kyoto

moss in the Gold Pavilion gardens, Kyoto

Doorway on the palace grounds, Kyoto

vending machine made of recycled tea leaves

fall colors on temple grouns, Kyoto

peeling stickers, Kyoto

fall colors and a pavilion on temple grounds, Kyoto

cloth and rope adornments at a temple, Kyoto

Shinkansen high speed train, Kyoto station

right, train, probably on the way between Kyoto and Tokyo

Lights in Tokyo

Sushi restaurant, probably in Shinjuku, Tokyo. Guests must eat 7 dishes in 20 minutes and leave

Tokyo lights

confusing Tokyo subway map

“Miracle of Grapefruit”

girl and white-faced gibbon, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo

booklet regarding sloth feces in a place where the rope from the sloth pen extends to a tree over a pedestrian walkway, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo

the next page of the booklet regarding sloth feces, Ueno Zoo, Tokyo

folding cane at Tokyu Hands (odd) department store, Shinjuku, Tokyo

lights in probably Akihabara, Tokyo

price list in red light district, Tokyo

colorfully lit building, Tokyo

reflections of city lights, Tokyo

men unloading frozen tune at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo

tuna displays in middle man’s area at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo

cutting a tuna in the middle man’s area at the Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo

prayer ribbons on a tree on temple grounds, Tokyo

Taiyaki, baked fish-shaped, red bean pastries and Andy near Nippori, Tokyo

basement-level arcade room, Shibuya, Tokyo

boy playing, according to my source, the single hardest song on Dance Dance Revolution, on the hardest level. a blur of limbs. Shibuya, Tokyo

drumming game at arcade, Shibuya, Tokyo

drawers at a temple, Asakusa, Tokyo

fake sushi samples, Asakusa, Tokyo

USB hamburger, Asakusa, Tokyo

monk walking very slowly with donation bowl, Tokyo

Christmas decorations (in early November) in high class shopping district, Tokyo

local Keisel line train, Nippori station, Tokyo

view from above, Tokyo

“Rhode Island the Champion City Hole” Harajuka, Tokyo

train station platform, Tokyo

painted sign at train station, Tokyo

Akihabara (electric town) on a Sunday morning, Tokyo

Taroko Gorge and Eastern Taiwan

Taroko Gorge, on the eastern side of the island is a number of sharp valleys cut into mostly marble mountains by a series of rivers

an Indiana Jones footbridge I crossed

some stratified rock

“beware of rock fall: please do not linger”

late afternoon in a valley

I almost fell into the river here

a marble boulder in a river–note: these are the actual colors of the scene

“beware of killer bees and poisonous snakes.”

a colorful plant

one of the many rivers in the gorge

“caves (bling)”

an ornamental post on a bridge

the Pacific Ocean

the Chingshui Cliffs: a road cut into the marble mountains where they mean the ocean at black sand beaches

at a beach along Chingshui Cliffs

at a beach along Chingshui Cliffs

“Hualien Charming City Hotel”–not sure if the city or the hotel is charming


the entrance of the Taipei Songshan Airport, the domestic airport in the city

mom and son on a scooter going through an old gate

two teenagers on a scooter

an old house

the narrow main street of the old town of Jincheng

statue in a roundabout in Jincheng

street stall in Jincheng

doorway near a dragon statue

end of the old town of Jincheng, with old main gate on left

scooters and bicycles

Taipei, November and December

sausages and other treats at the Shilin night market

a restaurant at the covered section of the Shilin night market

“chairs” and a “table” at the toilet-themed Modern Toilet restaurant near Shilin

smelly tofu is a well-known Taiwanese dish. it smells like diaper, but doesn’t taste that bad

“in beauty blog”

“hard work for a nice tea”

performer in Chinese opera, National Taiwan Junior College of Performing Arts, Neihu, Taipei

looks a lot like KFC

“Around the Mexico”–a Mexican restaurant near my apartment

“Well See”–a neon sign for an optometrist

“hou you”–I’m fine, thanks.

a English proficiency test card offered for intersession at the Baoan temple

ornate post the Baoan temple

a line of police scooters; there were also ambulance/ EMT scooters

an Australian restaurant along Snake Alley

a monk outside of Snake Alley

taxi in front of Longshan temple

snakes bleeding out in Snake Alley

scooters parked on the sidewalk in front of my building; they’re parked in every available space

scallion pancakes at a night market near Snake Alley

24 hour locksmith sign at dusk

the Delight Hotel across the street from where I lived

vendors with reflective bambo or frons at a night market near Snake Alley

overloaded motor tricycle in an alley

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