08/20/2018 - 08/25/2018
In a startling decision, my company sent me back to Taiwan for a couple of weeks. In theory, I'm working in the fab during the days and having meetings at night, but as we're off to a slow start, I have been able to get out a bit.
After a very short first day of work, I thought that it would be a great idea to start with the one thing in Hsinchu that I really haven't seen yet- the Glass Museum. I went to the cab stand downstairs and told the guy there that's what I wanted to do. "Are you sure it's open?" he asked me. I told him that their website says their hours are 9-5, so I think they should be open. (It was about 3pm.) He quickly checked on his phone and came up with some important information- they were closed for renovations and wouldn't open again until September. Well then. I'm glad the Sheraton has such good service, but now I was without a plan.
I walked right.
I figured I'd just walk a while and see what there was to see.
It was super hot and muggy, so nobody in their right mind was out. That left the streets pretty quiet. I passed a bunch of shops with no customers. I passed an empty park. I passed an empty stadium. I passed some municipal buildings. Some sale of some sort was going on out front of the tax authority's building, but nobody was buying, and even the seller seemed to be behind the doors enjoying the air conditioning.
I was sweating and gross. It is so humid that the walk almost felt like it turned into a swim.
Eventually, I entered another area with shops, some of which had the air conditioning blasting so hard that I could feel it as I walked past. I walked past those shops much more slowly than the others.
I eventually grabbed a pizza for lunch. It was actually not bad. the crust was buttery and thick. The cheese was gooey, just like it's supposed to be. I also stopped in at Carrefour in order to do some grocery shopping.
For the most part, they had foods that you can get anywhere, although the ratio was different than what I'm used to. There were several aisles of noodles- one just for ramen, another just for rice noodles, another for other types, but there was only a tiny section for canned fruits and vegetables. Of course, they did have products that you only see in Asian markets, and not even in all of them. Pork floss, tofu jerky, and matcha candy are not easily found in many places. And of course, they had interesting flavors of "normal" items, like seaweed Pringles.
For me, the fresh section was just as exciting. They had a whole collection of durians, and there were several other items that I can't get at my local grocery store.
The second day, I had some meetings, but I got out again for another afternoon walk. This time, I went left.
To the left, there are fewer shops, but the street is lined with many more trees. The residences are all skyscrapers, but quite a few of them appear to be overgrown forests- intentionally. I actually think it's quite neat to have so many plants keeping the buildings cool and keeping the air nice. But it must be hard to maintain all of these balcony plants.
This whole section of town seems much newer, and there is also a lot of new construction still happening.
I stopped for lunch at a cafe-style restaurant and asked the person taking my order what was his favorite dish. He started his sentence with, "foreigners usually like..." and I cut him off. I don't want to know what foreigners like. I want to know that YOU like. He really struggled to tell me. Finally, he settled on "the pastas." So, I ordered pasta with some sort of spicy nut sauce.
It wasn't actually that spicy, and there were a lot of whole "nuts" (cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, dried peas) that were a bit hard to pick up with the pasta and a fork (nobody had chopsticks there, only forks). But, it was quite tasty and I enjoyed it.
I passed a small local temple that had a playground in it. Nobody was at the temple at the moment. It was just open to all.
On my way back, I saw another supermarket and had nothing better to do, so I stopped in.
I entered to some guy with a microphone saying something in Chinese and a class full of maybe 3rd graders wearing aprons bowing to me. The kids' moms were taking pictures. I was a bit confused. Maybe I won some prize? Maybe I was their 100th customer of the day? I tried to express with facial expressions that I had no clue what was going on. They got it. I entered the store and started shopping. The next person who entered got he same treatment, although she seemed to understand what they were saying. The next person got the same treatment. And the next. Maybe it was just some sort of lesson in customer service.
This store was much smaller than the Carrefour. It had a lot of similar items, although not 3 aisles of noodles. It did, however, have an entire section for mushrooms. I didn't even know there were that many kinds of mushrooms. I also saw interesting fruit vinegars- pinapple vinegar, anybody?- but for the most part, didn't see anything too crazy.
And then, the next couple of days were non-stop. I got up, maybe went to the hotel gym or pool, breakfast at the hotel, the fab, the hotel for dinner and meetings and bed.
So, I can tell you about the huge breakfast buffet or the lounge cocktail hour food, but not much else.
Tomorrow though, is the weekend. And I'm getting out to somewhere.