Extraordinary Disorderlies – Taipei, Taiwan

I got up early so I could fit in a short stint at the gym before going into Taiwan. I was the last to meet up with the other 8 which made up our group which would be heading into Taipei for the day. The day was quite stormy and a few bought raincoats. I felt lucky to have brought mine from home.

As I sprinted through the heavy drizzle, I realized that no plastic sheath would protect me. I gave in to my inner child and splashed through the puddles. We all navigated the train system and settled in for the 45 minute ride into the downtown area.

Even though it was raining steadily, the temperature was warm so it was easy to stay lighthearted. We all found our way through the wet city streets and naturally split into smaller groups. I gravitated towards Martin, the superstar piano player who wows us every night on the ivories. When we noticed that there were lines on the ground to guide people onto the subway in an orderly fashion, I shot a look of mischief at my furry friend and he knew I had his number. It suspected that Martin and I are very much on the same wavelength and possibly from the same galaxy. I let him have possession of my camera and put him in charge of documenting our day.

The things that he chose to capture were very much the same things that held my attention. I knew I had made a good decision by letting him show off his creative expertise with my camera. Both of us artists, we were a little wacky and lagged behind the group trying to get that “perfect” photo. There were tons of sculptures and statues to pose with, in or on. Martin was excellent at engaging my fun silly side and I spent much of the day laughing.

We finally reached our target which was Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world. After buying our 400 Taiwan dollar ticket to use the lightening speed elevator to the 88th floor. I think at one point we were going 600 meters a minute for 33 seconds to go 377 meters. My ears popped!

At the top we were blessed with stunning views which were made even more spectacular by the puffy clouds rolling past. We were in the clouds which were moving very quickly every now and then revealing an open view of the city way down below. It was a cool feeling and it reminded me of that movie “Up”.

I tasted some sesame gelato and also some passion fruit flavor inside my mango smoothie. It was yummy and I slurped it up while exploring the artsy displays on offer. There was giant coral, technical information, crystals and jade as well as paintings which were quite unique. Martin and I got lost in the pineapple cake tasting so we didn’t realize the others had left us behind.

We panicked a second but luckily Marshan and JT were waiting loyally at the bottom for us. The rest of the group had gone on but these two proved faithful with the let’s not split up pact we had all made in the beginning. After colorfully discussing the merits of “keeping up” and smelling the flowers, we all agreed that it was lucky we had each other to balance one another.

Realizing that one of the others had run off with our map, we decided we should find a way to get online to get our bearings. Martin was excited to find a restaurant called Modern Toilet which has a bathroom theme. We decided as a team that we didn’t have enough time to navigate to that eatery so we opted for something closer by.

The cuisine was called Japanese casual and we all picked a couple of items to try. There was sushi, tempura, deep fried mystery meats, and my favorite, sashimi. To top off the meal, we had sweet sundae parfait-like creations and mine had beans, green tea cake and strange jello cubes layered with ice cream. It was a unique taste for sure and after getting past the initial adjustment bites, I actually enjoyed it. I was a little sad at not having experienced bubble tea in the place where it was invented but this dessert was just about as good. JT gobbled up his banana split in a glass at record speed all the while communicating with his friends back home via his laptop and blackberry. I’ll admit, it was a nice change from ship food and though I didn’t think I would notice a difference, my taste buds sure did.

Martin and I indulged our mischievous side by taking some souvenirs from the table. Mom Marshan and Pop JT were appalled by our naughtyness but we didn’t care. I got a pair of chopsticks and spoon out of the deal, but Martin made off with a little more including the soy sauce pot and sake jar.

We were running late to make the last train back to Keelung where our ship was stationed. I realized as we were sprinting between the raindrops that I had lost my train ticket. Martin encouraged me to keep looking through my junk filled pockets reassuring me that it HAD to be in there. Alas, it wasn’t. But since we were on a role with breaking the law, we just slipped me through the automatic gates under his ticket. I already bought the ticket so it wasn’t all that bad, I tried to justify to myself.

Martin, like I, gets off on these type of risky adrenaline sports so we were pretty high (albeit sweaty from all the running) finally tumbling onto the train with seconds to spare. On the flipside, Marshan and JT were clearly shaken and frazzled so we apologized for having inconvenienced them. I gently reminded them that it always works out and that there is real power in expecting the best. Martin and I share the “trust the universe and she shall provide” philosophy. Still, I felt guilty for putting undue stress on my gang just so we could have a thrill. I decided to make a conscious effort to be more responsible in the future, at least when there were worrying personality types involved.

On the train, Martin was hamming it up as usual and there were some young Asian girls giggling. He really laid it on thick when he realized they were videotaping him on their camera phones. Needless to say, the ride went by very quickly and we were back before we knew it.

The rain really started to come down hard as we approached the dock where the ship was berthed. We heard some heavy drumming and realized that there was another bunch of musicians there to see us off. I was impressed with their fortitude and admired their resilience banging away on their plastic covered drums happily.

I decided to get to the gym after all that fried and sweet food. It was quieter than I expected as I watched the rain pour down outside while we slowly made our way from the port. After eating dinner, I made my usual rounds but found that my partner in crime was absent from his piano playing post. Apparently, he was taking the night off. Perhaps we wore him out with all the excitement.

I went to bed with a very happy feeling in my heart. Its always quite special to find people with whom you can be yourself around. It is a rare gift to have someone really see you and accept just the way you are. And there is nothing better than finding a playmate to be silly with. Like Dr. Suess says, “If you never have, YOU SHOULD! These things are fun and fun is good!”

Grateful for monkey business.

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