**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 todayâ€™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. Iâ€™m stuck… well, I suppose thereâ€™s an exception to every rule.
3) Iâ€™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 buildingâ€™s elevator is allegedly the fastest in the world. I timed itâ€”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. Thereâ€™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 wonâ€™t help the reader (and I assume thereâ€™s only one) understand what I mean, hereâ€™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 sisterâ€™s relief.
Donâ€™t get me wrongâ€”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 arenâ€™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 Iâ€™m one of those peopleâ€”you know, the ones you see in restaurants, eating alone, and think to yourself, â€œOh, 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?
Iâ€™m sorry if that last comment brought you down, but itâ€™s true; I believe it was Lord Byron (donâ€™t quote me on this quotation) who said something along the lines of, â€œTo write a good poem, you must either be miserable or in love.â€ I vacillate between those two mindsets pretty steadily, so hopefully, that fact is helping this blog be something higher than Nicholas Cageâ€™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 (Taipeiâ€™s awesome subway system) induces much claustrophobia, as itâ€™s normally packed. However, the subs are so fast that I barely have time to get to freakin’ out.
Thereâ€™s something to this; being a recently â€œdevelopedâ€ country, Taiwan has all new stuff. Their subways arenâ€™t old and busted like New Yorkâ€™sâ€”theyâ€™re clean and user-friendly, like MacBooks claim to be.
Iâ€™m really alone here. I have to move to another city in a couple of days. My coworkers are great, and weâ€™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. Iâ€™ll complain next time, but after that, Iâ€™m going to teach yâ€™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. Itâ€™s off to bed with me.
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