I didn't plan to go to Taiwan, but since the three of them were going and there was a promotional airfare, so I just bought the ticket. It cost only S$280.
My flight touched Taiwan soil at 5.40 p.m. and it was already very dark outside. I thought a heavy downpour was coming but it was not. Apparently, it is normal to be as dark as 8 p.m. over here when it is just 6 p.m. I find this quite unsettling as later that evening when I was out at the night market, it felt like 11 when it was only 9 p.m.
As we stepped out of the airport, the weather was just perfect at 23 degrees. It was just comfortable enough, not too cold. Just like Goldilock's.
We headed straight to the hotel to check in, which was located in the Ximending area. Our hotel is called Neijiang and I was told that it a popular choice for Singaporeans and gays. For what reason, I am not sure. The receptionist Selina is really hilarious though.
SM's friend, KT, was supposed to bring us to the famous night market called Shilin, which according to my friend who is working in Taipei, is too touristy and lack the local flavours and feel.
Taiwan is famous for their snack stalls. We tried the famous large fried chicken (which I didn't find that special, there was too much breaded crumbs than actual meat), hor jien / oyster in eggs (not recommended, as some starchy stuff is added to the eggs) and herbal pork ribs (similar to KL's, but less herbal taste, milder but still very nice).
After that, we went to a 24-hour book store. Ninety-nine percent of the books are in Chinese, so that didn't leave me many choices to browse. The only thing that caught my eye was that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows were sold at NT649, which is like S$30 / RM70. Of course I grabbed that along with a gay magazine, Genre. There were quite a few other gay magazines sold like Attitude and AXM and they were displayed just like any other magazines; they were not hidden at all.
Absolutely kawaii ATM machines and with little pigs in pink to boot! We saw this on the way to the 24 hr book store.
As we ventured out of the hotel to explore the surrounding area the next day, we realised that we were staying very near to a row of gay bars and pubs. And you ask how do I know that?
With names such as G-Paradise, G-Bar, Q's Place, Bears Beer, one did not need to be a genius to know. I was thinking, just say the word gay already!
Speaking of which, Taiwan has a 24-hour straight porn channel, which was one on of the channels in the hotel room's TV. It was pretty tame though, no explicit images of pussy, just breasts and more breasts, a lot of humping and moaning, that's all. Slightly above soft core, I would say.
But could you guess what's this channel called? Irony of ironies, it is called the Rainbow Channel. Yeah, go figure.
The nearby gay area, called the Red Theatre Plaza. The row of bars and pubs are just behind this building/
The plan for the day was to visit the tallest building on Earth, the Taipei 101. The cost of the ticket is a bit expensive, at NT350 (S$16) just to go to the observatory on the 88th floor. But riding on the world's fastest elevator was amazing; we reached the 88th floor in about 40 seconds! It was really fast and quiet.
In the evening, KT brought us to a hot spring. I am not sure where it was as he gave instructions to the taxi driver, but I think it was in the Beitou area. It was in a mountainous area and there were many restaurants cum hot springs establishments.
It was quite affordable though at NT200. It is cheap because the spa doesn't offer anything else, not even drinking water or towels. As such, we have to bring our own.
The hot spring is sex differentiated. There was a cold water pool, another with jacuzzi and there was a steam room. Of course the biggest pool was the hot spring. The temperature was 42 degrees. I couldn't stay in there for than 5 minutes straight, I had to get out and then go in again.
Also, at such a temperature which is higher than the body's, the water doesn't feel like it become less warmer, no matter how many times I went in or stay in the water. There were some tips for hot spring virgins, like not staying in there for more than 5 minutes the first time and getting out if one can't take the heat and drinking lots of water after that.
Something which I learnt is to bring a bigger towel (and no, it's not to cover one's modesty) but to dry up after that. There is no point in covering up because hey, all guys have the same tools!
KT told us earlier that a hot spring is just that; it's not a cruising area or a gay exclusive place.
Anyway, it was quite fun. My skin indeed felt smoother after that!
We headed back into town to club at this place called Funky. It might sound like a cool place but my first impression was that it looked a bit dingy from the outside. In addition, the club was at the basement, which gave a sense of the gay scene being "underground" and somewhat illegal.
On the inside, it was OK though. In fact it was quite huge and well-lit. I say well-lit because I can actually see the faces of the patrons quite clearly, unlike here in Singapore where I usually can't.
We were there less than 15 minutes when the all the lights were turned on. The police was paying us a visit, which was my first time. It was more like a charade as the whole police checking for IDs only lasted about 20 minutes.
I wasn't high enough to boogie, so I waited for the happy hour to start which was from half past midnight till half past one. One can buy one-for-one drink coupons which could be used for the rest of the night. And it was cheap, only NT150! SM bought 6 coupons, which meant 12 glasses!
I had two glasses and they were enough to get me high, as I drank them quite fast and my last meal was more than four hours ago. I managed to dance with a 19 year old Taiwanese, trying to make conversation with him with my terrible Mandarin. He left after he found out that 1) I was not a student and 2) I am from not from Taiwan.
Not long after, things took a downhill turn. SM and EU got really drunk. I hadn't realised it till I playfully slapped SM on the face softly and he actually fell backwards on the dance floor! When I pulled him back up, he asked me why had I pushed him, which obviously I did not and I told him so.
SM was drunk but did not admit it and insisted on staying instead of going back to the hotel. We had to placate him and waited for him to change his mind. He was being taken cared of by LP and KT but still, there were a couple more times he fell on the floor before they managed to get him to sit down quietly. I was given the task of keeping an eye on EU, who was slightly easier to handle though he has a habit of walking around on his own and not letting other people touch him.
Finally, SM agreed to leave and we reached the hotel at 4 a.m. and we went straight to bed.