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the night market

Posted by on Oct 11, 2006 in me + my crew, places | 4 comments

D_at_shilin_copy

There are many night markets in Taiwan, and for all the appearance of extensive set-up — the only thing I can (inadequately) compare them to is a gigantic fair, which only blows through my town at most a few times a year — they are there every night. By day, the streets are clear (ha! the streets are never clear here — but relatively), but at night all the doors raise and crowds choke the streets and the smells and heat and steam and noise hover heavily, smothering. We went to the Shilin Market, which is one of the largest, and it was a completely engrossing experience. Stalls, booths, shops, in spaces like deep narrow closets with narrow, overhead, garage-style doors, all crush together in a tangled mass of choas, where people pulse like a swarm of insects, around, behind, even over the wares of the sellers.

The food is awesome in the purest sense of the word. I wandered slack-jawed past cart after cart of meat and fruit I could not name: Steaming meat laying in rows, strung up in long strips, or piled high bin after bin, charred black, steamed red, spiced yellow; fruit carts festooned with bright, glistening color in textures both familiar and foreign.

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You can buy anything here. Shops, carts, even blankets spread in the walkway offer an incredibly disparate selection, from finely tailored dress shirts to touristy trinkets and stacks of candy or rows of pretty paper and newly marinated victuals; all manner of sellable (and questionable) items are ready for perusal. And, adding to the ambience as you browse, the aromas… (Oh, and nevermind that smell wafting up from the vents underfoot, but do pause for gratitude for enclosed sewers at home!)

The night market is vibrantly, squirmingly alive. People move, shop, and mingle without benefit of "personal space," and everything from buses to scooters (Scooters! So! Many! Scooters!) ease steadily through the swarming crowd without pause. (I chuckled to note that the little man on the walk/don’t walk signal runs when it is his turn!) Nothing and nobody pauses here. The misty rain is barely noticed, the crowds are a non-factor, one cart lacking your desires only means a hundred more to explore.  I wonder how they must scurry in a monsoon?

Scooters_at_shilin_copy

The Shilin Market completely fascinated me, a place I could get lost describing, so I’ll leave it at this.  A note on the photos: We have few and mediocre photos of this trip. (Why else would I be posting photos with that hair??) We were without our camera charger and got by with a disappointing cheapie with instructions and symbols we could not read. I am choosing not to spend time in regret over this and just journal A LOT. :)

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shea shea

Posted by on Oct 4, 2006 in me + my crew, places | 2 comments

Denice_grand_hotel_taiwan_copy

Two very long (and thankfully, very comfortable) flights, a small mountain of food I can not quite describe, a long list of new friends, a delightful and startling trip to market, and hours of grinning like a chesire cat later, I am back home with my babies at last. 

Taiwan is an utterly amazing and wonderful place.  I loved every single minute and was surprisingly at home and at ease.  I found myself very pensive throughout my visit, perhaps overthinking changes.  I enjoyed the newness of the experiences and yet felt a strange familiarity despite the complete disparity of Asia from my small-town, Rocky-Mountain white-bread Mormon corner of the world.  I am already looking forward to the next trip, and would be happy to become completely familiar with the island… but for now, rather than trying to rush every detail into a single post
(impossible), I will let them seep in, and we’ll see which cracks in my life they have filled on
their own, and as I have time.

The basics:
:: Gone ten days; my first time overseas!
:: Went for business. Partners launching a scrapbooking company in Taiwan. JB and I were the Special Guest and Keynote Speaker, respectively, at the launch convention.
:: As guests, we enjoyed personal tours and personal glimpses into lives. Although we spent most of the week hard at work, we felt like we actually got to see a lot deeper into Taiwan because of this than we might have as tourists.
:: School kids stayed at home "on their own" (oldest is university freshman). Small kids went to sister’s.
:: Stayed at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. Built by Chang Kai-shek as "palace for visiting dignitaries," it was a truly luxurious-feeling hotel with an expansive, gilded, palace-style lobby. 
:: Favorite amenity: The high-on-a-hill location coupled with a private balcony overlooking the city of Taipei.
:: Favorite new sight: The Shilin Night Market

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“Having a great time, wish you were here!”

Posted by on Feb 24, 2006 in places | 2 comments

West_elm_lamp

Thank you for wishing me a good time, which I am certainly having.  I have taken looooong showers TWO days in a row!  With no one needing anything mid-shampoo!  Such luxury!  Now JB, who was at press checks all through the night (the reason for the trip), is sleeping, giving me time at the computer – but alas!  I am obviously a junkie, as I sat down here to post but instead HAD to catch up with all of you, reading every blog listed at left as well as many more I was compelled to click on.   So many inspiring people!  So, one quick glimpse at one of yesterdays stops.  We spent the morning browsing an enormous and wonderful independent bookstore, and walking around the Pearl District.  One fun shop was west elm, which I had not seen before.  I fell in love with these.  I really, really wish I could have some fabric the print of that lampshade!  I must be into large graphic prints lately, because beki’s window curtain fabric from a few days ago had me drooling too (yet so little of this is in my house)
West_elm_pillow West_elm_candlesticks

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