Sunday, June 06, 2010

Hungover in Taipei

Unwisely, instead of staying in bed all evening and reading trashy novels, I stayed in bed until 5:30, when I finished The Serialist, which was not only terrible but referenced its own terribleness, as if knowing that it was trash made up for it being trash. It didn't. A compost heap that can speak and tell you it's a compost heap is still a mound of decaying organic material, and despite the recommendations on the cover and the fairly snide pastiche of Stephanie Meyers' Twilight novels (which seem an easy target these days), it didn't fill me with any sense of joy, excitement or interest.

I suppose this was a good thing, because it ensured that I went out to enjoy Taipei's nightlife.

But as I just said, this was unwise. I headed over to the Brass Monkey on Fuxing Street, and drank about 6 glasses of Carlsberg, wolfed down a pizza and spent a couple of entertaining hours talking to the editor of Action Asia magazine. The promised after-race party never really materialised; occasionally a runner would appear, but the bar was mostly full of Canadian English teachers watching sport on a big screen. (Three different screens – schoolboy rugby from South Africa, Fiji vs Australia and ice hockey, which is hardly the full gamut of human experience. Oh well.) The Brass Monkey isn't exactly awful, but it seemed fairly characterless, and I feel if you're paying 176 NTD for a drink, you need a bit of character to go along with that. Or some cheesy nibbles. But not a revolting pizza.

On the positive side, I got to talk to the editor of Action Asia magazine, and almost pitch an article to him about downhill mountain biking in Asia. On the negative side, I drank six glasses of Carlsberg on an empty stomach (somewhere between a half and a full pint each, although I was drinking them fast enough not to notice the volume too accurately). It was soon ten pm, and the editor and I sloped off back to the hotel.

Except he was staying at a different Orange hotel to me, so I then walked drunkenly back to Taipei Main Station (luckily only a few blocks) while occasionally taking blurry photographs of night-time traffic. I don't remember that bit, but the evidence shows up on the memory card this afternoon.

Next thing I know it's three o'clock, I'm splayed across the bed with all the lights on and drool seeping out my mouth, and I feel like death. Woe is me. Luckily I'm compos mentis enough to drink the remaining water in the room, but I'm too sceptical of my phone's temperamental alarm clock to go back to sleep, so I watched nine episodes of The Inbetweeners and then passed out again at seven, before waking a little later, panicking, packing and leaving the hotel.

There was still a disgusting taste in my mouth. For a time I thought it was the pizza from the Brass Monkey, but on reflection I realised that the footlong from Subway was still haunting me. Why, twelve-inch sandwich, can't you leave me in peace?

Only to find it was still only 9:30 and I had another seven hours before the plane departed for Hong Kong. I staggered around Taipei, eating the world's driest muffin in Starbucks, got confused by the cinema in the main bus station (why would you build a six screen cinema on top of a bus station?), and then, as it was raining and I was lonely and didn't really fancy looking at anything on my own, took the bus to the airport.

If there's one thing I've learned from this trip, apart from not drinking beyond my level of competence and the need to train for running events by doing more than just fifteen minutes on a treadmill in an airconditioned gym, it's that I should stop taking taxis to and from the airport, because that's 1300 NTD a time, and the bus is only 125. Plus it takes exactly the same time to get into the centre of Taipei, and there's no way that a taxi from the main station to the hotel would ever approach 1175 NTD. I'll know for next time, I guess.

I'm glad I wasn't too hungover though, otherwise this sculpture in the underground mall beneath Taipei Rail Station would really have freaked me out.
Bird with a big head, Taipei


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