Monday, January 31, 2011

Why are all the English people I meet complete dicks?

I don't really identify myself as 'English' - especially having spent three years living in Scotland, and now being satisfyingly displaced.

As Bill Hicks crudely put it, it's a round planet, and you didn't have much of a say in deciding where you were spewed forth into the world, so the whole idea of national pride is ridiculous. At its worst, it's the sort of thing people fight wars over - and as an atheist and a non-driver/oil consumer too, my pacifist CV is looking about as rosy as can be hoped for by a reluctantly privileged slave to the post-Imperial system.

I've never had any interest in tracing back my family history to find out where I came from. This is partly because my dad's a farmer, which brings up all sorts of worrying scenarios of tangled branches best left unexplored, but also because it wouldn't mean anything to me to find out that a long-dead ancestor was French or something. Would that help explain my excellent fashion sense, penchant for molluscs and success with the ladies (as I call them)? Of course not. Even if any of those things were true.

You only have to look at the differences between China and Taiwan, where the people come from the same stock, to see that cultural attitudes aren't genetically determined - so the idea of writing off a whole nation because of a few bad examples is unscientific and essentially racist.

Unless you're talking about the English, that is. Who are complete dicks abroad.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dulan, where's Ami car?

Continuing the tradition of meaningless pun titles, this is less about sub-Bill & Ted whimsy and more about my most triumphant return to Taiwan's more attractive east coast.

With fresh air, minimal English and only one 7-Eleven in sight, Dulan is probably the least touristic place I've visited - the largely unspoilt home of Taiwan's indigenous Ami tribe (as indigenous as any non-African homo sapiens can be, anyway). Party on, ancient dudes!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kaohsiung ka-kas

I choose to look at today as a bonus day in Kaohsiung - my favourite Taiwanese city so far - rather than the result of a combined screw-up between me and the guy who was supposed to give me a lift to Kenting, meaning I ended up not going there. This is why I hate lifts, I told you people are unreliable - especially when one of them is me.

So on the subject of screw-ups, let's see how Kaohsiung's local business owners have made a cock-up of the English language (great segue or what?) I wasn't going to do these for Kaohsiung, but when I passed this 'exotic' dance bar I had to share its delightful menu with the world.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't have a Kaohsiung, man

What's that? A twenty-years-out-of-date Bart Simpson reference that has practically no relevance to the subject matter (Kaohsiung architecture)? And you thought I'd lost it? Eat my shorts, naysayers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wet lovin' in Kaohsiung

Another misleading title that's bound to disappoint however you look at it. Unless your fetish is for giant, eco-friendly fish-men - in which case, get your ass to Love River.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A typical day (except with monkeys)

Fictional reader Norris Dudgeon wrote in to ask:

Dear Dave W,

You seem to have an atypical life.
What is a typical day in your life like?

Today was pretty typical of my life in Taiwan. Except with monkeys *

Monday, January 24, 2011

The American Adventure of Kaohsiung

Not my photo. You've seen my photos

Located in the historic district of Zuoying, Lotus Lake is the American Adventure of Kaohsiung.

A misleading comparison that's bound to be meaningless unless you were ever unfortunate enough to visit the now-defunct American Adventure theme park in Derbyshire, England that also consisted of tacky attractions dotted around the shores of an artificial lake.

That's not entirely fair though - some of these pagodas are pretty nice if you ignore the childish bits, AND THERE ARE TURTLES.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cijin places

Because it's pronounced 'chi-jin,' so it's like 'changing places,' as well as being literally... ah forget it, I'm so done with rubbish pun titles. If only that were true.

Anyway, check out this weird little island just off Kaiohsiung.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Great Museum-Off

Some experienced travellers claim you can't gain a true understanding of the world's myriad peoples by visiting museums, and that only by walking the streets and interacting with the locals will you really be able to appreciate foreign cultures.

But a lot of the time, the locals don't know anything and the streets are too strewn with innuendo to be of any cultural value. That's why sometimes, to truly appreciate a civilisation, you do need to visit a sterile museum and look at endless identical vases behind glass, viewed through the gaps in a Japanese crowd.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Alien City

I knew it! What have I been saying all along? And to think I spent all those years mocking David Icke for his crackpot theories that aliens were among us here on Earth, just because he lacked evidence or true facts.

Here's all the evidence you need that the Taiwanese people are from another planet (or at least the ones in Hualien City). Or I might be making too much of a slightly vandalised sign.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This was the best day I've had for ages, I should head outdoors more often. In fact, let's all move out of the dirty, congested cities into the beautiful countryside. We'll have to bring the factories, cars and 7-Elevens with us, obviously, but I can't see any problems in my flawless plan.

East Taiwan is fantastic by the way.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How to eat like an authentic tourist

Planning to visit foreign countries, but worried you won't stand out enough when ordering and eating food? Here are some great ways to eat out like a genuine tourist, wherever the heck you are.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Travel quiz answers

I know you've been losing sleep over where that elusive chimp was hiding and other pressing concerns, so here are the (in some cases nonsensical) answers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shilin slips

Another uninformed, insightless wander through another district of Taipei, on the lookout for 'hilarious' shop names and letting the real beauty of the world slip by.

This will be the last of these. At least, until I see the next Boloking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

People are unreliable

Contrary to the sort of lies I write for a living, most local people don't make good travel guides. Okay, maybe they can introduce you to some lesser-known experiences and good places to eat that you might otherwise have missed, but you'd probably get there on your own eventually - as long as you're paying attention. And isn't that more satisfying?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Master of the Universe

After my day trip to Mars, I ventured out further into the cosmos with a visit to the Taipei Astronomical Museum.

You have to admire my desperate efforts to impose a narrative structure on my life, as a way to remedy the uncertain and random nature of existence. Maybe 'admire' is the wrong word...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Travel quiz extravaganza

I don't really like games (fittingly for my Scrooge/Skeletor persona), but I do enjoy a good lo-fi puzzle, which are great ways to keep yourself entertained when travelling away from home, to kill time on those long train, plane, bus and ferry journeys.

...I just realised these ones require an internet connection to access, so are useless for that purpose. Never mind, they are still brilliant!

These good and rubbish quizzes range in difficulty from unbelievably simple to nigh on impossible, and were created by me between the ages of six and twenty-three.

You might therefore have seen them before, either in friendly comment banter on this website or on my old website of creative things that's no longer online for reasons of taste and embarrassment. (The good thing about deleting your own material is that you can just recycle it and no one will notice, especially if no one read it in the first place).

Hey, maybe one day I'll make some more! They couldn't possibly be worse.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Nangang nonos

I've moved to Nangang (East Taipei) to keep life artifically interesting. Here are some local strange shop names.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How many countries have you been to?

How many countries have you been to? I've been to 12 - and counting. But that counting may be in reverse, depending on your point of view...