More Notes from Formosa

Notes from my trip to Taipei, continued from Tuesday:

Motor scooters are very common in Taipei. With train coverage being as spotty as it is, this seems like a convenient and economical alternative to taking the bus or buying a car, but I have to admit that I'd be worried about riding a motor scooter in Taipei's traffic. I'm told that they cost about $25,000 ($750 USD).

Not that walking is all fun and games either---drivers are very aggressive about making right turns, and commonly pass within a couple of feet of oncoming pedestrians. This doesn't seem to bother the natives much, as they'll often step off a perfectly good sidewalk to walk in the street with their backs to the oncoming traffic. Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

There are also a surprising number of stray dogs lying around on the sidewalks. Either Taipei has no dog catcher, or he's a very lazy one. The dogs are also very lazy, so it doesn't seem to be much of a problem. I'm surprised that they manage to survive the traffic, though.

I didn't see many beggars, but those whom I did see were lying face-down on the ground (but the ones I saw had feet). American beggars sometimes do that, too, but these ones appeared to be sober.

The hotel I stayed in was quite cheap---about $60 USD per night, and it would have been closer to $50 if my stay hadn't coincided with some kind of convention---despite being in the middle of downtown, just across the street from one of the central train stations. In addition to the usual toiletries like soap and shampoo, the room came with a condom. I don't know whether this is common in Taipei or specific to my hotel, but I've never gotten a free condom with a US hotel room.

There was a sign in my room saying that I could call the front desk to order a 40-minute "blind massage" for $800 NTD ($24 USD). I originally thought that this meant that the masseuse would wear a blindfold, though I wasn't really sure why. Actually, it turns out that in Taiwan the blind have a (laxly enforced) legal monopoly on professional massage.

Lest this sound too critical, I should point out that I had a great time and was reluctant to leave so soon. I'll post the last entry Friday.

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