people eating in the rain

dam overflow

crushed ice

bbq corn

skewer spread

family hot pot

i'm sitting here in some internet cafe in shingdien, taipei (computer 14), thick with cigarette smoke, my keyboard half melted by careless smokers, a sticker on my monitor reads "do not download pornography!", and the sounds of boys furiously playing network games all around me. i asked how much for just 15 minutes of time and the guy said they only charge hourly (NT$35/hr which is about a dollar).

i arrived on thursday afternoon, and since then i've been eating so much street food that i'm surprised i'm not sick yet! and i never appreciated how cheap the food is here too. every chance i can get i go out and get some smelly tofu (about a dollar a plate of tofu, compared to $6 back in boston), or i try a new beverage from the convenience store.

taiwan is different from japan in that i can actually speak the language. i can listen in on other people's conversation, and when i'm lost i can ask for directions. and even though i can't read chinese as well as i speak it, i just tell people that i'm not from around here and they're more than happy to translate for me. so in terms of fitting in, taiwan is great. it won't be like this once i arrive in southeast asia, where i will be completely in the dark language-wise (even in japan, with my 3 years of college japanese, even though i couldn't speak it, i could still read enough of it to find my way around). please let me path be paved in english for the rest of my trip! that'd be so awesome!

i've got photos (not tons, the weather's been bad since i arrived, rainy, and the taiwanese are more suspicious of people with cameras compared to japan where people don't care), some really cool ones of waterfalls from yangminshan national park, but i don't think i can download my photos (i'll give it a try another time). my cousin has internet access but his machine is slow and old and i have problems getting into my site (and even to check e-mail).

my time here is nearly up! i'll be back another day.