Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sleep deprivation, Taiwan style

It probably wasn't such a good idea to go to the cinema at 11:30 last night, but these late-night film trips seem to be a staple of our visits to Taipei, and since Taiwan is good enough to screen movies really, really late (audiences were still coming in as we left at 1:30) it seems rude not to.

We watched Red, which could be summed up in five words (as all high-concept films should be): The Expendables: but not rubbish. Well, to be fair, Stallone's effort wasn't awful, but it missed quite a bit of plot, characterisation, updates in moral outlook since the 1980s, whereas Red is much more deft, with more feeling of danger, fight scenes that have been choreographed so you actually understand what's going on, and Helen Mirren with an anti-aircraft gun.

(There's something to be said by somebody about the resurgence in action films this summer with traditional stars, and whether people enjoy them ironically, or if they're actually genuinely surprised that Hollywood can be good at making fun, entertaining films where lots of people get blown up. But not for the next few paragraphs.)

Today, then, having been roused awake by the sound of an incredibly loud Chinese conversation in the adjacent room to ours, we were rather befuddled by Taipei. We did see the changing of the guard at the Sun Yat-Sen memorial hall (which involves some very shiny helmets and an awful lot of spinning rifles round and round and stamping on the floor), bought some books in Taipei 101, and then tried unsuccessfully to procure afternoon tea.

The Grand Hyatt had no free tables, so we went to the Living Mall and had a sandwich at Subway instead. You might conclude from this turn of events that our commitment to having afternoon tea was not what it could have been, but in all fairness the Hyatt staff proceeded at glacial speed, and we were very, very hungry, and the Living Mall is shaped like a very large golf ball, which the Lonely Planet suggests makes it a notable and fun place to visit.

It's not. It's a shopping mall, shaped like a very large golf ball. So I suppose the guide was half right.

Thus, exhausted by Taroko Gorge yesterday, we wimped out of taking the bus to the airport and settled for a taxi. We're not tired of Taiwan: we're just very, very tired.


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