Saturday, November 1st, 2008...1:37 am

The journey begins. First stop: 台湾台北 (Taipei, Taiwan)

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A few posts back I mentioned that I had scheduled my next trip to first Taipei, Taiwan then to Tokyo, Japan.  Today I completed the first leg of the journey.  I am staying with a friend that Alex introduced me to.  We have been chatting time and again since I knew I was coming to China. In addition to being an intelligent and generous person, she is killer at not letting me get away with grammar mistakes or saying things in English that I know how to say in Chinese!  We have become good friends and  she has been gracious enough to let me stay at her home for a few days.

My first impression of Taipei is clean and organized! A very stark contrast to Shanghai.  People actually form lines for things like food and transportation.  But more importantly, it’s known that when Taipei comes up in conversation it must be mentioned that Taipei has the best 小吃 (xiao chi) in the world. Literally meaning “little eats”, 小吃 refers to the food sold at markets and open air stalls in various locations throughout the city.  Appropriately enough our first stop off of the light rail was into a night market for a bit of grazing.  Bubble tea in hand, we found a couple spots and ate a little here and a little there.  We sat in a park near an open air concert and chatted.  Even though I know I still have a long way to go, I’m excited at my increasing ability to express myself in Mandarin.  In China learning Mandarin is wonderful as everyone is excited to be your teacher.

We have a few things planned for these few days I’ll be here.  One is to see the Taipei Biennial, which should be a good point of contrast to the Shanghai Biennial.  Next is to see a little bit of scenery.  Other than that we will decide on the fly.

After Taipei I will spend a short while in Tokyo where, among other things, I plan to look into the Tokyo University of the Arts New Media and Film program.  I have been considering graduate schools and want to decide if for one Asia is a place to go and secondly if I want to take a Fine Arts degree.  The professor and practicing artist Masaki Fujihata has agreed to meet with me and I’m quite excited about the opportunity.

After Tokyo I have added another leg to my journey.  It’s back to Hong Kong to see the opening of the Microwave Festival.  During the eARTS shows in Shanghai, I met up with a few of my acquaintances from the Videotage show in Hong Kong last month.  They are organizing a portion of the festival and I decided it would be worth it to go check it out.  It should still be an interesting point of contrast to the eARTS Shanghai festival.

And now of course the obligatory en route travel pictures:

more later…

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