On my last day in Taipei, I took the subway to the northern outskirts of the city, where the 'burbs give way to mountains. At the subway station, most people were boarding buses, but there were a couple of different routes and I wasn't sure exactly where I wanted to go, so I decided to just walk uphill and see where I would end up. I got a rhythm going, spaced out, and didn't realize for hours that I'd been speed-hiking up sidewalkless, shadeless, pedestrianless roads without getting anywhere picturesque at all.
Oh yeah, and my sunscreen had been taken away at Hong Kong airport security (RAGE!), so it was an especially florid piece of sweaty hag-gristle that finally gave up and hailed a passing taxi.
Good thing I did. I was still so far away from any kind of summit. It would've taken all day to walk. We passed through a traffic-choked hamlet where a big calla lily sale was going down. There were flower stands lining the roads, and crowds of stamen enthusiasts carrying huge bouquets back to their cars.
At a higher altitude, the heat and oppressive sunshine gave way to cool green tufts of ferns and malodorous mists from the geothermal springs all over the mountain. The taxi driver let me out to trot around the trail for a while.
When I was ready to go back to Taipei, I got in the taxi and said, in my nuanced, precise and gorgeously-accented Mandarin, "OK, I don't want to go to Xinbeitou Station, I want to go to Beitou Station." The taxi driver said OK, and we started the descent. The taxi was unmetered: there had been no timer or odometer totting up how much I owed as we cruised around Yangmingshan, and as we drove, I steeled myself for the inevitable ripoff situation that occurs in unmetered taxis all over the world. I was silently rehearsing Chinese haggling phrases and assorted dismayed and incredulous bitchfaces, ready to go apeshit on that taxi driver the second he tried to overcharge me. O, did I ever feel like a cynical twat when we arrived at the station. I turned to the driver with my wallet out and my lips pursed into a tight little asshole, and he just waved me out with a smile and a Mandarin "'Bye!" Roadside taxi rescue and tour of Yangmingshan, NTD0=US$0.
They forgot the fifth best thing: Gettin' laid. Philatelists lick it and stick it, amirite?
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
I still have more to post about this trip (including stinky tofu, do not fret). Another day, another day! Check you later.