Taiwan, Day Three

Sleeping from nine until 8 cured my jet lag, I believe. For some reason it took ages for everybody to get ready and get out. We kept making tentative trips outside–to get breakfast, to go to the bank around the corner–until finally getting out proper by 11. Mike and I were laden with the unanswerable question–where do you want to go? How should we know? I did mention the brand new Ferris Wheel they’ve built along the river here, but we were told that was such a good idea that wouldn’t we prefer to go shopping a bit instead?
It seemed that the sisters were thinking of only one thing today: the obligatory trip northeast to Keelung (Taiwan’s major port city) and a visit to Dwaiyi (Auntie), Mama’s older sister. When Dwaiyi tagged along with Mama when she visited the states last January, Dwaiyi spent most of the time sleeping. We have a good photo album of the numerous and scenic places she slept.
Being Chinese, this was all about obligations. And also being Chinese, this was all about grudging obligations, things you have to do, not even want or like to do. Nobody really wanted to go, and so Lynn and Jessica started strategizing. Could we get out of there in 90 minutes (after a 30 minute trainride from Taipei)? Somebody was under the belief that we could just get them to accept tea and gift giving. (We were going up with two big bags of gifts from the States, as the Chinese tradition goes.)
On the way up, I checked out the surrounding architecture and decided that a)post-war modernism hasn’t done any favors to Taiwan and b) bathroom tile isn’t exactly best used as an exterior.
Back to Keelung. Anyway, we arrived at the apartment and soon Lynn busted in with her idea–a drink of tea and a (through gritted teeth) friendly chat and we’d be off. But Auntie and her son and daughter-in-law weren’t having it. Dinner was in the works, or at least threatened. Lynn tried to put her foot down. No, we had to leave soon. Auntie played her trump card and called her sister, and Mama got on the phone to give Lynn some hassle. It was a saving-face face off! At one point, the duaghter-in-law tried to move my bag into the guest bedroom to force me to stay, but I clutched it to my chest.
Jessica now stepped in as good cop to Lynn’s bad. Why not go out to eat nearby–that way we can eat and get away early enough. And so it was. The hostage situation ended a little into hour 2 and we went out to eat. You’ll see these photos soon enough but the highlight was a hotpot of blood sausage and intestines in a spicy broth that smelled like marinara sauce. Actually, the sauce was pretty good, and I don’t bring it up to say that Chinese food is all freaky.
We took the train home, sitting across from two drunk old men in various stages of leprosy.
Next up was another night market, one of the biggest, at Shulin. Here we met up with Jessica’s younger brother (and youngest of the six siblings) Peter, or as he now insists we call him when he’s in Taipei, Ken. Last time I was here he was doing his required two years in the army. Now he’s out and selling jewelry wholesale and wearing nice suits. I was full, so I didn’t grab much to eat at the market, but we did end the evening in a coffee shop nearby.
I fell right asleep when we got home and apparently woke the entire house up with my snoring.

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