Existential Panic World Tour Part 1: Taipei

I’m at a bank of computers in the Taipei train station apparently intended for bored weary travelers to kill time cruising the net. Being in a place like this one certainly gets a feeling of future-shock. Soon such places will probably be common place but for the moment there’s still a bit of a William Gibsonsque thrill to the whole thing.

Taipei is, in a word, hot. I spent most of the day hiking from this notably temple to that and by the end of the day I felt as if my shirt were floating on a layer of sweat.

The city itself is dirty and chaotic. The traffic here is downright dangerous–in America there’s always an assumption that drivers won’t run over pedestrians if only to avoid damaging their cars, here, judging from the number of dents and dings in Taipei’s fleet of taxis, I make no such assumptions. Nonetheless, the longer I’m here, this is my second visit, the more I’m finding things like street vendors selling everything from chicken feet to pirated T-shirts more charming than annoying. (At one nightmarket I found a T-shirt that I think was supposed to read “Ice Cream” but instead read “IRL CFPAM”) Moreover, the neighbor in which Emily’s grandmother lives, which has retained much of the older architecture from the Japanese occupation is actually pretty.

Anyway, E is growing impatient so I best be on my sweaty way. I will write again soon, either from here or from Kathmandu.

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August 1998

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