08/27/2018 - 09/01/2018
So, I tried to get out a bit, but we had a lot of work to do. One day, I was in the fab for 13 hours.
I did have a couple of days that started later, so I got a chance to go check out Hsinchu port. On a Monday morning, nobody is there. I saw a couple of shops set up to rent people these double-bicycles with shade, but only one pair of people using it my whole time at the port.
I saw a ton of boats in the harbor, but none moving. I didn't even see people working on the boats or getting ready to move.
I saw where they must have a really cool night market (at night), but it was completely abandoned in the morning. The character of the rides is certainly different when they're not lit up and moving. The food stands are much sadder without the smells and sounds.
I saw a nice-looking shady park area, but again, no people.
I did see some road construction happening, but that was the most exciting thing.
As it was hot and super-humid, I really didn't want to walk all the way back to town, but as there were no people, I realized that I didn't have much of a choice. Until I got lucky and stumbled upon a random cab. I have no idea why it was chilling in this empty area, but I took it.
I got downtown to see if I could see something new that I hadn't last time, but it started to drizzle. Keeping in mind what happened yesterday, I decided that I would go check out one of the places that the internet says is the "best place for a rainy day in Taiwan"- a famous book store. It was in the Big City mall. I usually don't like going to malls while traveling, but for a book store, I was willing.
Actually, the mall itself is pretty cool. The top floor has an ice skating rink, bowling alleys, an arcade, and a ton of other fun activities. Another floor is decorated like an outdoor pier area. (It's supposed to be San Francisco. I didn't see the resemblance, but I still thought it was nice.) And the food court is quite large and varied. I enjoyed walking around those areas. The stores were the same stores you'd find internationally, so I wasn't really interested in them. I didn't have time for a movie, but a different time, that might be interesting. I never quite made it to the book store, as I had to get back for a meeting before I found it. Maybe next time.
I also got out a bit Friday night. At around 9, I was able to go hunt for dinner. Unfortunately, most of the restaurants are not open at that time. Generally, what is open are convenience stores and what I'll call "fried protein."
The idea at these places is that you pick some raw protein from a display, they deep fry it for you or stick it in a hot pot, and then you eat it. you can pick from all sorts of recognizable and unrecognizable items- feet, tofu, fish, organs, thinly-cut beef, etc. Some places will give it to you with rice or noodles (especially the place where they put it in a broth), but a lot just give you meat on a stick. I didn't see a single vegetable at any of the places.
Which made me realize that I actually haven't seen mixed veg and protein almost anywhere. Even at other types of restaurants, you can get vegetable sides or dishes, and you can get protein dishes, but rarely together (except sometimes soup). I experienced this at the buffet at work, at the restaurants I've been to, at the hotel buffet- pretty much every where. This contrasts with my typical mental image of stir-fry as protein and veggies mixed together in a sauce (plus rice or noodles). That just doesn't seem to be a thing here.
I didn't get to ask the guys about this to see if I was missing something, but I did have an interesting conversation with the guys about the Hakka culture that everybody in the area is so proud of. Apparently, there are a bunch of different groups that came to Taiwan from China. They all use the same written system, but everybody speaks a different language. Not a dialect, like somebody from Australia trying to communicate with somebody from Boston, but different language, like how Spanish and Hebrew are different. I hadn't realized, but the whole time they were communicating with each other, they were switching languages based on who they were talking to. (It all sounds "Chinese" to me.) When they spoke to a local guy, they spoke Hakka, to somebody from a different part of the island, Mandarin. I find that fascinating that they all use the same written language, but to read it out loud would sound completely different.
In any case, that's about the most exciting thing I learned about Taiwan for the whole second half of the trip. It wasn't much of an opportunity to tour around, but that's ok, we're headed to Mt. Kilimanjaro in a few days.
I'll post pictures when I'm back.