WENSHAN DISTRICT, TAIPEI — For years now, one of my real passions has been food. It partly explains why I’m a bit north of 200 lbs at the moment (we’ll fix that by July, I promise). It partly explains why I drive Jaime (my partner) absolutely mad: she’s a bit more reserved in her meals, whereas a driving force behind my travel is to expand my palette a bit.
I arrived pretty late in the evening, so a quick visit to the convenience store made up my dinner. Some fish skins and a quick beer, and I don’t regret either one. They set me up nicely for a nap, and proved to be the perfect defense against jetlag.
For an early riser, 04:30 still seems a bit early, but I’ll take it. So quiet outside, almost serene. A nice breeze and calming streets were so very much what I needed, after nearly 24 hours in stuffy airports and sky-tubes.
Even so early in the morning, the smells and sounds of breakfast are intoxicating. Spices and noodles, and a mix of sizzles and boiling water. I wasn’t comfortable taking photos of people just yet, or perhaps I was too distracted by it all: my sense were overpowering my camera, and I really just wanted to “be there” for a bit. I let it draw me through the streets, in a nice circle from the river to my east to the university to my west.
I’m not sure why, but a small and nondescript collection of tables pulls me in. A trio of women nod politely, and are serving a long line of customers with a combination of eggs, ham, beef, and noodles. I’m not quite sure what to make of it, and most folks are taking theirs to go. But I’ve got time, so I walk nervously to the inside counter and point to the menu. There are only two pictures, so my options are a bit limited by my lack of understanding of Traditional Chinese (I’m on my second Duolingo lesson, but you can’t eat “hello” (你好!) or “thank you” (謝謝), so I point to the lower-right corner of the wall, and take a seat.
A wonderful dish of noodles and broth, with a split of eggs and beef. I’m completely refreshed now, and I’m ready to start the journey. I’ve made a few friends (and perhaps one enemy, in Gudetama), and I’m off to do the day.