Saturday after the Swenson's Breakfast Club meet-up I went to Sanchung and Luchou with Jeff Martin, a recent PhD grad of the U. of Chicago's anthropology department.
Jeff did his PhD research in Taipei County and knows every inch of the area. You could hardly ask for a more knowledgeable, interesting, and insightful guide.
Jeff took me for a stroll around the neighborhood.
Tedious, repetitive fine motor work. Scanty clothing or not, the betel nut industry would inevitably employ hordes of females.
Jeff poses with one of the neighbors. Easygoing and a great listener, Jeff is a big hit with the locals.
Jeff and I drove over to Luchou to hang out there. On the way I snapped a few pictures of the scenery.
Like so many capital cities, Taipei is built in a basin that is essentially a swamp. Here massive concrete and soil dikes hold back the rivers that wind through the area, providing safety for the residents, and more importantly, construction projects for former ruling party cronies. The policy in recent years has been to give the river works funds to counties directly to spend as they please, with the result that less money is going to long-term river management projects. Consequently, flooding is on the rise in local areas across the island.
This large temple is the center of the local area. Jeff said that the local area was once combined with the township next door, but was divided administratively into two new townships centered on large old temples.
Jeff took us to a Taiwanese-style Japanese restaurant in the area, where we spent the afternoon eating and chatting.
Jeff looking devilish. Actually, you'd be hard-pressed to find a nicer guy than Jeff. He'd help little old ladies across the street and get kittens out of trees any day of the week -- if there were any trees about, and if the little old ladies didn't all drive scooters with a cigarette dangling out of one side of their mouth.
People often ask me why I stay in Taiwan. Truth: it's the cheap sashimi.
Neighborhood streets have always fascinated me, with their colorful energy and constant flow of traffic.
After leaving Jeff I hit the bus station in downtown Taipei. Arriving early, I wandered into the area north of the bus station.
One of the interesting cultural logics of Chinese culture is the habit of retailers of a given product or industry all gathering in one place. Just up the street is an area of shop after shop crammed with trinkets and baubles no young femme should be without.
And of course, the day ended at the bus station.