Thursday, October 11, 2007


Riding to work in yet another VW Vanagon yesterday, while talking to G on the phone, our drive nearly hit a bicyclyst at an intersection. It should be said that we were in the middle of the block, the bicyclyst and some pedestrians were crossing in traffic, and the vanagon was inching along through traffic.

The bicyclyst was angry and proceeded from glaring, to standing in front of the windshield yelling, to coming over to the driver's side window. The driver shut off the engine and proceeded to have a heated argument with the cyclist for ten minutes in the middle of the road with cars and pedestrians, including a few police officer proceeding by us.

Then suddenly we were on our way again. By the way, I ate duck stomach last night.

Labels: ,

Lady Liberty Guarding The Entrance To New York Mall in Taipei

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to drink a double venti, sugar-free hazelnut, non-fat latte.
Home to McDonald's, Mr. Donut, Cold Stone Creamery and, of course, Starbuck's.

Labels: ,

Little Mister Sunshine

I spent 3 hours yesterday riding in VW Vans, the slightly newer version than the microbus featured in Little Miss Sunshine. The time spent "en bus" was part of a 12 hour odyssey to travel from the Grand Hyatt in Taipei to the Sheraton in Shanghai.

After leaving the hotel at 7:30 AM our 10:10 Cathay Pacific flight was delayed by Taiwan's "Double Tenth" day celebration show of military might.

Because of certain...let's call them tensions, one can not travel from Taiwan to mainland China directly without first going "someplace else." In our case the someplace else was a connection in Honk Kong for a 2 hour layover.

After landing in Shanghai, the fun really began, a 2 hour 20 minute, 45 mile drive to the hotel in excruciating traffic in a hot and uncomfortable VW Van, just in time to throw our bags down and keep our 8:30 PM dinner reservation at The Grill on the 56th Floor of the Grand Hyatt Shanghai, where mercifully we missed the fire drill.

Labels: , ,

Is this hotel haunted?

This is The Grand Hyatt Taipei, located in Taipei adjacent to the World Trade Center, Taipei 101, and the Taipei City Hall. It has over 800 rooms of luxurious accomodations, including a 5th floor swimming pool with an underwater audio system.
This hotel was built on the site where they executed and buried military prisoners, and many locals consider it to be haunted. You can find some discussion of this is on TripAdvisor, where a guest from Tokyo claims to have checked out in a hurry after his wife had some mysterious encounters. I also found a couple of references here and here.
The strangest thing that happened to me? I watched the 1986 Kevin Bacon stockbroker/bike messenger flick QuickSilver on HBO after I went to bed at 10PM and woke up at midnight.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Happy Double Tenth Day

Happy double tenth day, national day of Taiwan, Republic of China. Double tenth day comemorates the Wuchang Uprising of October 10, 1911 which started the Xinhai Revolution which ended the Qing Dynasty and led to the founding of the Republic of China.

Taiwan's city hall is in the shape of this Double Tenth symbol, which is essentially two Chinese ten characters joined together.

Unfortunately, I won't be participating in any Double Tenth celbebrations as I'm off to Shanghai today.

Labels: ,

Taipei Food Court Lunch

Today in Taipei, I found myself on my own for lunch. So I did what office workers all over do, I walked over to the food court to grab some grub. At the foodcourt at the mall in Taipei 101, the world's tallest completed building, I was able to grab this lunch of pork steamed dumplings, vegetables and soup for $170 TWD (about $5.35 -- Taipei's not really much of a bargain). For fast food counter service, it was delicious. It was served up in the nice bamboo basket and bowls. The big empty bowl at the top is someone else's lunch leftovers -- the foodcourt was really busy and I had to take the seat I could get.
I could not read the menu, I could only point at the picture. This is extra value meal #4. I don't know what kind of soup it was, but I didn't like it very much. I don't know what the vegetables were either, but they tasted good -- cold and crunchy. The dumplings were devine. I didn't drop anything on myself or get dirty eating with the chopsticks, a small victory.
My other choices at the foodcourt included McDonald's, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. There were a couple of bakeries and ice cream shops for desert, but the bulk of the counters were for meals like this one.
The mall at Taipei 101 puts all of the malls in Pittsburgh to shame if you like high end goods. Prada, Coach, Dolce and Gabana, Cartier, Sony, Nike, Mont Blanc, F.C.U.K, Ralph Lauren, are just some of the high end retailers in the huge mall. Of course, if you are more casual, there's a Wrangler store too.

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Taipei Typing

After almost a year, I find myself back in Taipei this morning. While the top story in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette was the firing of Jim Tracy when I left Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, the top story here is Typhoon Krosha, which battered Taipei on Saturday -- here's a link to the AP account.

The typhoon triggered landslides and power outages here, and caused the cancellations of several flights, including that of my colleague who will now be forced to travel directly to Shanghai.

Seems like it could be a rainy trip...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Salt in the wound for Pirates fans...

Josh Fogg started a game which ended up putting his team, the Colorado Rockies into the playoffs last night. According to Thomas Harding of, Fogg "might have won had it not been for a tough third inning that saw him yield five runs, including an Adrian Gonzalez grand slam." That's kind of like saying someone would have lived through a car accident if they hadn't hit the other car head on.

Well, at least he didn't magically pitch better in black 'n purple, even if they do call him the dragon slayer.