Taipei

Click Pic for Taipei Gallery

September | Taipei, the capital of Taiwan and our first port of call appears to be even cleaner now than we remember it from two and a half years ago. This is the city where money is generated, a very progressive city, Taiwan’s political, economic, educational, and cultural center.
Remains of the once Japanese ruled country can be seen everywhere, which gives the city a unique flair. As we had already visited Taipei, we didn’t stay very long and I wasted some days looking for camera equipment in famous Camera Street“.

Great, Taipei is yet another Asian food capital

We, or at least I felt more comfortable with the food on offer in Taipei as opposed to the last time we came. But after 3 months of India, 2 months of Thai Street food, interrupted only briefly by the occasional McDonald’s, I became a lot more experimental.

Taiwan is supposedly the food capital of Asia, a title that is somehow claimed by all Asian countries we have visited so far. But yes, the food is good and makes a nice change from the Thai food we got used to. The Japanese influence is also reflected in the numerous Japanese restaurants available in any district. And while the prices are clearly more expensive than in Thailand and India, we still appreciate what we got for our cash and the variety on offer.

Good Food Stuff

Shit Hot Tofu

The Capsule

In Taipei, we stayed in a “Capsule Hostel”. A thing I have been wanting to do for a long time and it was even better than I had expected. Every capsule was fitted with a television screen and an operating console, from which various light sources, airflow, USB ports etc can be operated. All felt very futuristic as the capsule itself was flushed in blue light. Great experience for €10/night.

As other people and natural light is completely shut out, a capsule is a perfect option for introverts and people who like to wake up at 2pm.

The capsule 1
Taken from heybear-hotel.com
The capsule 2
Taken from heybear-hotel.com

Aniki Wow

Taipei, is also host to the biggest, most modern gay sauna in all of Asia. It’s called “Aniki WOW” and the entrance fee is really expensive. It’s a thousand Taiwanese dollars or around €30, but you can stay there for 16hrs straight, even leave, have some food at the big nightmarket outside or go to the cinema and come back later. The sauna features a gym (god, I miss a good gym) a dry sauna, steam room, a pool, dark rooms, dark labyrinths, private cabins and some themed events. The audience itself is a good mix, from guys in their mid 20s to bears in their 60s. I would say 99% of the guys are in good shape, even at an older age. It seems if you are overweight or generally out of shape, you don’t really need to apply.

There was a mask event the day I went. Everyone assembled in a room with a mask, similar to what bank robbers or terrorists use in cheap movies, but are otherwise naked. It was a very, very funny sight and later that night was a wig themed party, which was even funnier.

Aniki is a sauna so modern, so big, so clean, so advanced I have never seen anything like it before. Anywhere. I remember the one in Newcastle. It’s a joke at best in comparison. Here is a small compilation of what Aniki looks like on the inside with pics I’ve borrowed from their website.

Aniki Wow gay sauna
Taken from Aniki wow website

It really is much more of a luxury spa and gym than a gay sauna, but obviously gay action is happening as well and extensively so. Condoms are supplied for free and are readily available, lube comes from automated lube dispensers, so you don’t have to touch anything and there is constantly staff cleaning the facility while keeping a low profile at the same time.
Even if you are not gay, visiting this place is highly recommendend should you ever find yourself in Taipei, if only for the experience outside your usual routine and to have a couple of hours of Spa time for yourself.
But beware of the pitch black labyrinth. It’s not for the faint hearted, as something hard and sticky seems always just a corner away, waiting for you, lurking and pulsating in the dark… The Labyrinth is an adrenaline rush for people who think bungee jumping is so very 90s.

More Food

After the sauna I met up with Eva again and we went to an awesome, awesome food place, just round the corner from Aniki WOW. Eva had Ginger pork and something else and I had beef steak filet pieces with Wasabi sauce and shrimps and lots of green stuff. We did already go to this place the last time we came here and it was one of the Must Visit Again – places for this visit. I don’t know the name of the restaurant as it’s all Asian characters, but I would find it even if I was still handcuffed and blindfolded from the gay sauna.
Here are some pics (courtesy of Eva):

Taipei Restaurant - Green stuff and soy beans

Taipei Restaurant - Mackerel

Taipei Restaurant - Beef filet raw

Taipei Restaurant - Beef Filet

Taipei Restaurant - Shrimps

This is just one of a trillion restaurants and food stalls in the city, it’s a total dream. More upmarket food places are near Ximen, where the trendy Asian student youth lingers and superior brands and fashion stores are located.

Supposedly one of the worlds best Dumpling restaurants is “Din Tai Fung”, located near Dongmen metro station, and there is a pile of people waiting to get in at any time of the day. I had dumplings there the last time I came and they tasted like well…  dumplings and nothing else. You probably have to be a dumpling specialist to notice the quality difference. This time we only had beef soup in there, which was also great.

 

Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat

As exciting and varied as Taipei and Taiwan in general is, the best thing for me so far is that in Taiwan always the best in another person is assumed rather than the worst. This is reflected in little things. I got so used to women clutching their purses or handbags when I’m in an elevator with them, I barely notice it anymore. Or that I’m being looked at suspiciously and sometimes followed around when in a shop or supermarket. This is simply not happening here and that is so cool.
I was in a Japanese restaurant for dinner, sitting at my table outside. Two Taiwanese women next to my table got up at one point, went into the restaurant and chatted to what I think was the owner for 20 minutes. They were leaving their handbags, keys and mobile phones on their table and me, a foreigner even, sitting 3 meters away. Where in Europe would this be happening?
Nowhere is the answer you are looking for.

And this happens so naturally and I’m saying naturally because I was watching the two women when they came back out again. Naturally because the first glance wasn’t at their table to see if their stuff was still there, but they were looking at each other laughing and talking, taking it for granted that no one touched their stuff. Naturally.
And this has little to do with race but more that we in the western hemisphere grew so suspicious of each other in general and the fact that we are embracing a fear mongering media sure doesn’t help.
The best in another person is assumed here, not the worst.

We didn’t stay long this time in Taipei and soon made our way to Tainan where we currently are. That is also the reason why my Taipei gallery is so weak.
I’m preparing a page for Tainan, but for now,

let me take you back.