Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dating in Hong Kong 2

Being a foreigner in a strange country only makes the concept of dating all the more interesting. Expat dating has to be one of the strangest forms of courtship invented by man. People move to other parts of the world but bring their old perceptions and stereotypes with them.

Men from my country seem to assume that women in China are going to be docile and obey their every deviant sexual request. Real Chinese women couldn't be further from the American fantasy. Every Chinese woman I know has an opinion and is not the least bit afraid to let it out. If you're paying a prostitute to pretend to be your sex slave, that's one thing, but if you want a real sex slave, you might want to look outside of China.

American women dating Chinese men is just as difficult, mostly for the opposite reasons. American women, in the broadest general terms, want independent men. Chinese men, in my very limited experience, are not the most independent people in the world. There's probably a reason China has always been ruled by dictators. Conforming and fitting in are very popular concepts in China. When people around here buy the latest cell phone, winter coat or suitcase, it's the exact same model that everyone else is buying this week.

Then there's marriage. I'm not anywhere close to even thinking about getting married some day, but I don't like the idea of dating someone who can't marry me eventually if that's the hole we both happen to fall down. It's like eating a great meal when you have the stomach flu and you know it's going to come back up pretty soon.

In Chinese society, if a Chinese woman marries a white man, her parents might be heartbroken, but her friends think she hit the jackpot. If a Chinese man marries a white woman, his family will disown him. I'm not designed to be something someone brags to his friends about but can't take home to his mother.

Fortunately, Hong Kong is an international city. There are people here from pretty much all over the world. We have men in all shapes, sizes, colors, makes and models. This city is a diversity smorgasbord. But I never liked all you can eat buffets.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Adventures in Publishing part 4

Shooting For Paris part II is now available for pre-orders at Amazon. Once again, the e-book is at a low price during the pre-orders, but will go up after the full release. The paperback will always be expensive.

I think the release date is December 2nd, but I could be wrong about that. It's sometime in early December. Just in time for Christmas. Nothing says Christmas like April in Paris.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Taipei Pictures Again

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Xinyi from Taipei 101

This is the shopping neighborhood near the Home Hotel.

Confucius Temple

228 Peace Memorial Park

228 Peace Memorial Park

228 Peace Memorial Park

National Concert Hall

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai Shek might have been a brutal dictator,
but this is a pretty impressive building.

Memorial Hall Square

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Taipei Again

The first time I went to Taipei, I stayed in the Xinyi District. There was never enough time to go anywhere else, so I stayed put. That's actually a good way to see a new city, especially if you plan on going back a few times. Big cities are hard to see all at once. When people go to Tokyo for the first time, they try to hit the Imperial Palace, Roppongi, Ginza, Meiji Jingu, SkyTree and a million other sights, but they are all in different wards. The SkyTree and Meiji Shrine are nowhere near each other.

By concentrating on Xinyi, I got to know that area relatively well. I learned nothing about the rest of the city, but I would have learned nothing about any of it if I tried to see all of it in a single weekend.

For this trip, we stayed in Zhongzheng, which has more than enough to see and do for the weekend. But we did stray out of the area a little bit. Taipei, like most large East Asian cities, has an efficient mass transportation system. I never got to use it last time. I went in a group and we got a ride to and from the airport. This time, I went with Lily. We were on our own, so we had little choice but to use the MRT.

There are several options to get into Taipei from the airport. Like Tokyo, Bangkok and Fuzhou, the airport is far away from the city. Unlike Hong Kong and Tokyo, there is nothing like the MTR Airport Express. Buses seem to be the most popular option, but we took the $1 shuttle from the airport to the nearest high speed train station since it was close to the main station, which was across the street from our hotel.

We stayed at the Caesar Park Hotel, which is a typical business hotel. I liked the Home Hotel in Xinyi better because it was a smaller boutique hotel. You tend to get better service at those places. There was nothing wrong with the Caesar Park, other than the bathroom. The location could not have been better.

The hotel is three blocks north of the 228 Peace Park and National Taiwan Museum, which is a block west of the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, National Concert Hall and National Theater, which are northeast of the National Museum of History and Botanical Garden. Immediately south of the hotel is a shopping neighborhood with more than enough food. Unlike Xinyi, it is not flooded with western food, but we did see a McDonald's and Starbucks. Just like Xinyi, there is a 7-11 on practically every corner.

Since the main MRT station was across the street from our hotel, we took the train a few stops north to the main Confucius temple, creatively called Taipei Confucius Temple. That was not simply the English name. It's actually called that in Chinese. 臺北孔子廟. We also headed east to Taipei 101. I had already been there, but Lily had not.

Taipei's MRT is pretty much like Hong Kong's MTR. Except we had to pay with cash. They have a card similar to the Octopus, but I didn't buy one since I don't know when I'll ever go back. I've heard that it can be used at 7-11 and other places, just like the Octopus card, so I'll probably get one next time. The MRT has a number of different lines that seem to go everywhere in the city. The trains are not as clean as Hong Kong, but they were a lot less crowded.

On the way back home, we took a taxi from the hotel to the airport. That's probably the most expensive way to go, but we were in a hurry. Taking the high speed train to the shuttle to the airport is a good hour plus however long you have to wait around for the train and shuttle. The taxi ride was also an hour, but there was no waiting time. Overall, we saved almost 10 minutes for three times the price.

Taipei taxis are also pretty much like Hong Kong taxis. They are dirt cheap and dirty compared to Tokyo. Unlike Mainland China, catching a taxi was very easy. It probably helped that we were at a large hotel across the street from the main train station. Unlike Hong Kong, our Taipei driver understood my Chinese perfectly. Nobody was expecting that. He could understand me without the usual “eh” and I caught about half of what he said. That's pretty good when it comes to taxis. He spoke with a heavy accent, but I'm sure my accent sounded crazy to him.

It's nice to know I can communicate with taxi drivers in Taipei, but next time I'm sticking with the trains.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

No Rain

Before I went to Taipei last weekend, there was talk of a typhoon hitting the Philippines. That's nothing unusual. The Philippines gets hit by typhoons more often than politicians take a vacation. If not for the Philippines, most of those typhoons would hit Hong Kong. So those of us who live here should be grateful it's there.

When I landed in Taipei, the typhoon went from a category 1 – which is the smallest – to a category 4 – which is pretty high. It turned out to be bigger than the experts expected, but it kept its course and hit the Philippines. There was no evidence that a typhoon was anywhere nearby when I was in Taipei, other than a little wind.

After I went back home, the typhoon swerved north and headed for Taiwan. It should be rainy for the next few days, but most of the storm has died down.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taipei 2.0

I'm going back to Taipei this weekend. This time, it has nothing to do with work. Lily & I are just going for fun. I saw so little of the city last time, I want to see what else is out there. It's so easy to get to, why not.

After I booked the hotel and plane tickets, a typhoon started heading toward the Philippines. It's not expected to hit Hong Kong or Taiwan, but you never know. These storms have a way of changing course. Even if it goes where it's supposed to go, they're still expecting heavy rain in Taiwan. Since the storm is south of Taiwan, maybe Taipei will be ok. I doubt it will be strong enough to cancel our flight, but I'm expecting it to rain the entire time we're there.

We could just skip it and stay home, but then all that money is down the drain. It's too late to get a refund.

Last time, I stayed in Xinyi, which is a city government/shopping district. This time, we're staying Zhongzheng, which is a national government/shopping district. None of the government buildings mean anything to me. We picked this hotel because it's near some of the sights we want to see and very close to the main MTR station. I pretty much stayed near the hotel last time. This time, we're planning on going around town. Being close to the metro should be convenient. Hopefully.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dating in Hong Kong

I broke up with my last boyfriend in May. That sounds pretty straightforward. In a way, I suppose it is. We were together in April and apart in May. But it's worth something that we were together for a very long time. It means something to me, at least.

As soon as you're single, people start asking when you're going to get back on the horse. In May, I didn't want to be anywhere near any horses. I didn't even want to walk past the stable. I could picture myself adopting a few cats and trying on wool sweaters. I still don't see anything wrong with that.

But sooner or later, you're bound to jump back in that ocean. The waves might be too high and you have a pretty good idea of just how polluted the water is, but just like after eating a bad batch of Thai food, you're going to go back for more sooner or later. No matter how sick it made you the last time.

My problem is that I don't know how to date. I met my last boyfriend in high school. It's a lot easier in high school. We tell ourselves it's the hardest thing in the world and that life is so difficult, but all of that drama is self-imposed. High school is easy. You see your friends every day. You're surrounded by a relatively small group of people, usually people you've known for years. Finding someone to date is as easy as showing up.

The adult world works a little differently. The only group of people I see on a regular basis are at work, and I'm not about to date a coworker. A lower than average percentage of the men where I work are heterosexual. I wouldn't want to date at work even if they were all interested and available. I like keeping my private life out of the workplace. Everyone already knows everyone else's business in high school, but there's no reason that has to be true at work.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Adventures in Publishing part 3

Time is running out to pre-order Shooting For Paris at Amazon. Once it officially comes out on October 10, the price will increase at least 300%.

At least until sales drop to nothing. Then it will probably go back down again. So if you want a bargain, it's either best to get it right away or wait a while.

And happy birthday, John.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More Taipei Pictures

An enormous decorative chess set
between City Hall and Taipei 101.

There were signs and directories all over the place.
It was pretty convenient, but getting lost in
this neighborhood would have been difficult.
Wherever you go, you can see Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 mall

One of the empty shopping malls. This guy was playing
“Moon River” on a pan flute to absolutely no one.

Manhattan Sandwiches

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall

The theater where we brought art and joy
to the dozen people who showed up.

The entrance to the theater,
a convention center and an expensive hotel.
It might have been a Hilton or Hyatt.