Live from S. Taiwan: Sashimi, et cetera
by disillusioned
(596 views) - 4/8/05
(recorded 4/8/05 @ 11:37:38 AM)
Now, we got through our first two days and had a great time touring Taipei. It was time for business. My dad is purchasing a piece of packaging machinery from a company through another company, both Taiwanese. This trip was to check on the machinery and confirm that it was completely up to spec.

For starters, we took a pretty quick jaunt down to Tai.. erm.. I forget the name of the city. Anyway, it's where the brokering company is located.

From there, John and Tina from the company took us down to a suburb of Taichung. Or... wait. No. To a different city. It started with a 'D'. I'll get this all sorted out soon. Anyway, we were in the country. Rural. Three hours south of Taipei, and we made it to the manufacturing facility.

The day started with a brief overview of the machine, when the people of the brokering company and also the manufacturing company took us out to lunch.


That's the restaurant, from the outside. On the right is Jerry, the logic programmer, and on his left is Master Chen—owner of the manufacturing company. (Whose name is Long Durable Machinery Co. Ltd. The name says it all.)

Now, this was a traditional Japanese restaurant. Our table was embedded into the ground, and after removing our shoes, we slid under it and sat on the floor.



Let's go around the table and introduce ourselves, starting upper left, moving clockwise. (Think about it for a second. It will come to you. Right. Down. Left. Up. Like a clock. Therrrre you go. I knew you could.)


  • Jerry and Master Chen
  • Tina and John
  • A cup of tea Sushi
  • Sushi A cup of tea
    (Ha, thanks Tony. You don't get your gift now.)

    Now, I've always been one to inundate my tea and coffee drinks with whatever form of sweetener I could. Splenda, Sweet 'n Lo, et al. I just don't like coffee black. Or tea straight up.

    In Taiwan & China, doctoring your tea is tantamount to spitting on a statue of Buddha AND Mao Zadong and poking out your closest Shinto monk's eyes with an incense stick. (You see what I did there? I demonstrated an effective lack of knowledge of Chinese/Taiwanese culture, religion and history ALL at once. Tell me if I got any of it right.)

    Meanwhile, the tea grew on me. Oolong was especially popular, served at the ends of both our previous tours. And it just mellows you out and... feels cleansing or something. Very good.

    The meal was very interesting. And I'm gonna be writing about my eating experiences quite a lot, not just because of my latent near-obsession with foodstuffs but also because it's a huge part of experiencing a new culture.

    The table spins in traditional fashion, and there were several courses. The meal ended with this little fella:



    Sad day for a sad fish.

    Anyway, when I said this place was in the country, I really wasn't exaggerating. We're talking rice paddy land. Literally.
    Looking down the street, you see a few building speckled and rice paddies covering all the remaining space. Even in the less sparse parts of the town, any and all spare space was used for rice.



    This was the view literally just outside of the machinery shop. Even more interesting, and certainly of note is the critical fact that Taiwan is NOT a third-world country. They are industrialized, have a decent per-capita income and a decent standard of living. Still, rice rice, everywhere, and not a drop to eat. (You won't get that, but it's funny to me. *shrug*)

    Now, after more machinery testing, (the details of which I won't excruciatingly bore you with. that was my price to pay. [reality, it wasn't that bad.]) we drove back to a hotel in the bigger town nearby. The hotel was $40USD a night and quite... quaint as well. This was hotel #2. Still, $40 gets you more than you'd expect. Breakfast. Cable. Two beds. Full shower & bath. And shower gels and stuff.

    They go a bit above and beyond with the hotel accoutrements—often, they include a toothbrush, razor, floss, and more. The hotel I'm in right now has a shoe polish and sewing kit. And a flashlight. Really. It's just behind me, right over... there. (This hotel is more expensive, though.)

    I digress.

    After a brief touchdown at the hotel, we headed back out for dinner, driving into town with the Long Durable mainstays and John and Tina, with our hotel's manager driving the hotel shuttle to the restaurant. (He joined us for dinner, which was cool.)

    Lunch had left me a bit... meh. It wasn't quite my taste, really. Dinner was a bit more exciting. Somewhat in the American Mongolion BBQ fashion, there was a buffet line:



    Except you get to do the cooking on your own table, using the inset spot to cook. (Like Melting Pot, only not nearly as expensive. And, um... not fondue.)



    Master Chen breaks bread, so to speak, dropping the first piece into the fire.


    Gah, another poor picture. Either way, this was about my sixth time being mocked for my lack of chopstickery skills, hence the deer-in-headlights look. Make no mistake, I'm loving it.

    You choose your meat and whatever else you want and toss it into the fire. Then you bring it back to your plate, and dip it in the dipping sauce you forumate beforehand. Dessert was ice cream. Chinese potato ice cream. A VERY unique flavor—mellow, simple, good. Not potato-y a tall. (Thank God.)

    We sat around and talked and just generally enjoyed ourselves. And thus ended the evening, minus a short bit outside afterwards which really yielded very little.

    I'm going to post the next day in a sub-post. You'll know where to find it.
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    Notes:
    Dude, you totally didn't go clockwise when you introduced the people at the table.... right after you implied that we were too stupid to do it. Hah.

    (I was gonna write that sentence in all caps using US but I thought people might have interpreted it to mean that the United States is stupid, and I didn't want to crush someone's dreams that our country is still so cool.)

    Also, you look mad skinny in that last picture. Sheesh. Did you catch something? Don't bring it home, I hate wearing those medical face masks.


       [enlite (J:: M) 4/9/05 12:44 AM]




    In Taiwan, they call their cups of teas "sushi".

    Jesus, do I have to explain everything to you?


       [disillusioned (J:: M) 4/9/05 1:08 AM]




    "In Taiwan & China, doctoring your tea is tantamount to spitting on a statue of Buddha AND Mao Zadong and poking out your closest Shinto monk's eyes with an incense stick. (You see what I did there? I demonstrated an effective lack of knowledge of Chinese/Taiwanese culture, religion and history ALL at once. Tell me if I got any of it right.)"


    LOL, entertaining.


       [TCcookie (J) 4/9/05 11:16 AM]




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