A Cramp Abroad, Part III: Taiwan 101

**A Cramp Abroad**

*Dispatches From An American in The Far East Trying Desperately Not to Spread (The Bad Parts of) His Americanism*

**Part III: Taiwan 101**

Before we begin today’s lesson, I must impart some meaningful information:

1) The Taiwanese people almost all speak Chinese. Some of the (much) older generation still speaks Taiwanese, but I presume that that language is going the way of the dodo.

2) Taiwan is an island, so much like Alcatraz, there is no escape. I’m stuck… well, I suppose there’s an exception to every rule.

3) I’m claustrophobic and agoraphobic. I believe the latter fear is simply an extension of the former. I also fear spiders, insects that sting, and heights. Poor me.

Some people are afraid of starvation because they live in some awful place where food is a luxury. I’ve got it pretty good.

My second week in Taipei, I decided to don my relaxation shorts, Hawaiian shirt and unfathomably bemused visage. The only thing missing was a camera around my neck.

Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world, was first on my tourist list.

As I foreshadowed before, I get vertigo at any height greater than 15 feet from the ground (or, in non-US measurements, about 4.5 meters). Going to the very top of this very tall building was a difficult decision, but it was one I had to make; my fear of heights just made it that much more exciting.

Strangely, despite being claustrophobic, the people-packed elevator ride to the top of Taipei 101 did not induce much anxiety. This is probably because the building’s elevator is allegedly the fastest in the world. I timed it—89 floors in 32 seconds. It was like an amusement park ride.

Of course, the view from the top of Taipei 101 cannot be expressed through pictures. A panoramic view of the entire capital was readily visible, but more impressively, I was able to see mountains, rivers, and rural parts of the country. There’re lots of funny things about cancer, rape, incest and AIDS, but there is nothing funny about the beauty I beheld from the top of Taipei 101. Although they won’t help the reader (and I assume there’s only one) understand what I mean, here’s a few photos, to give you some idea:

Next on my list was the Taipei Zoo. I love zoos. When I was a kid, my parents, sister and I went on vacation to Orlando. They gave us a choice: Disney World or Sea World. My sister was a teenager, so the decision was easy for her.

Every kid wants to go to Disney World, right?

Not me. The decision was also easy for me, much to my sister’s relief.

Don’t get me wrong—I love cartoons and rides, but animals are real. That makes them so much more interesting than pedophiles in costume.

The Taipei Zoo is incredible, just like any other. I suppose descriptions aren’t necessary here. There were lots of exotic animals. Does that help? Photos might be the answer.

Flamingos and elephants and monkeys. Oh my.

I had a great time wandering around that vast zoo all by my lonesome. I feel like I’m one of those people—you know, the ones you see in restaurants, eating alone, and think to yourself, “Oh, how sad.â€


I like my me-time. I eat alone in restaurants all the time, even when I have friends to call. No sadness.

Well, I might be sad when you see me, but not from loneliness.

Just from livingness.

We all share that feeling, correct?

I’m sorry if that last comment brought you down, but it’s true; I believe it was Lord Byron (don’t quote me on this quotation) who said something along the lines of, “To write a good poem, you must either be miserable or in love.†I vacillate between those two mindsets pretty steadily, so hopefully, that fact is helping this blog be something higher than Nicholas Cage’s rant about Hollywood. I don’t know what that last comment means. Does Cage blog for The Huffington Post? I would assume so.

Anyhow, the MRT (Taipei’s awesome subway system) induces much claustrophobia, as it’s normally packed. However, the subs are so fast that I barely have time to get to freakin’ out.

There’s something to this; being a recently “developed†country, Taiwan has all new stuff. Their subways aren’t old and busted like New York’s—they’re clean and user-friendly, like MacBooks claim to be.

I’m really alone here. I have to move to another city in a couple of days. My coworkers are great, and we’ve had some good times together, but I still feel isolated. No matter– like I said, me-time is glee time.

This really is a wonderful place, but of course, like anywhere else, it has its flaws. I’ll complain next time, but after that, I’m going to teach y’all what you can learn from Taiwanese culture. And there is much to be learned.

Music? Entertainment? Isn’t that what I used to write about? I’ll get to that stuff later.

Good days, sirs and madams. It’s off to bed with me.