Eat, Work, Eat, Drink, Porn

Just got back from Taiwan. It was a short trip, just five days. Here’s a quick summay:

Day 1 – My first ever direct flight from Shanghai to Taipei. Thought it would be super fast, turns out that when you add in a 5 hour delay the novelty of ease quickly wears off. Finally arrive late at night, frantically dust off e-mails before a couple of meet and drinks, and then back to the hotel room for a few hours of Communist-free shut-eye.

Day 2– What’s this? A last minute project that’s due in a few days falls in my lap while I’m not in town? And I have to produce it from Taipei with a rookie production assistant? And the client is a relentless harpy that has no sense of reason or logic and human decency? Sure, we’ll do it! (watching my vacation disappear before my very eyes). All is well though, because my sweet sweet grandmother is kind enough to treat me to lunch…at a Shanghainese restaurant! Which is, well, pretty much my 31st favorite cuisine of all time. Still, nothing like a touch of localized Obamania to greet you at the door of the food place:

yeswecan

Day 3 – More work during the day. I realize how difficult it is to do things when I don’t have internet access on my phone. If I could, I would have sexual intercourse with my iPhone. But in Taipei, without a data plan and rare free wifi hotspots, it’s like making love to a tranny. It’s still satisfying to hold in my hand, but somehow I don’t want to stick anything into it. So I’m stuck in the hotel room so that I can communicate with the clients, my partner, and my staff that’s working OT. Merry Christmas! Night ends well though, as I get drinks with Elisha and we reminisce about all the people that we hate. Well, one person, really, and I don’t even hate her that much. But the cocktails are good, the company is nice, and somehow I end up eat fried pig feet at a cocktail bar at 2 AM in the morning. Merry Christmas again!

Day 4 – Finally, I tell my assistant I’m going to be away from the computer for a while so I can watch Avatar in 3D IMAX with civilized people that don’t eat and chortle and talk on their phones and scratch their feet in theatres (Shanghainese people, that one’s for you!). But first….yeah baby, Taiwanese beef noodles, this is what I’m talking about. Bowl of noodles, I would cheat on my Iphone with you any day. Too bad we’d only have a long-distance relationship. You know I’d end up at some crappy ramen place back here in Shanghai. It would just never work out. But…today, I’ll eat you right up.

beef_noodles

Finally, time for movie that I’ve been waiting to watch for hours now! What’s that you say? All sold out? 2nd row at a 5 o’clock showing of Sherlock Holmes instead of Avatar, as the clients are texting me and calling me with nonsensical requests such as “can you make this snake less jumpy?”

Oh well, the night begins with a jaunt at at one of Taipei’s famous night markets, where I prepare to gorge myself on the city’s famous street food. I start off smart enough, with the fried salted chicken pieces, but somehow make an idiotic detour into the heavy beef dumpling area. That thing makes me so damn full that I’m stuck watching Stephie and Lita chow down on delicious snacks while my stomach is trying to process a beef patty the size of my fist.

stephie_lita

tpe_noodles

Somehow, I end up going to Primo, a popular nightclub that ends up being just like Muse in Shanghai, except the music is better and the girls are even younger. The most mature one I met was thinking of graduate school…in two years, right after she finished her undergrad. I patted her on the head and told her it was way past her bedtime. Then drank some more and I remembered what it was feel like to be 25 again and at Guandii. Except I got tired and I had to sit down. And then I had to eat bagels and cheese covered french fries. What a roller coaster Saturday night! Merry day-after Christmas!

nyc_bagel

Day 5 – Last full day in Taipei. 3 hours of sleep and three cups of coffee later, it’s time for another meet with Elisha for some fucking unbelievable street food – 热炒. Basically, fresh seafood, shellfish, vegetables, meats: pan fried and served to us while sitting on a little table under an overhang, chugging cold beer while Taipei rain beat the street down. Not a better way to end a trip the ended up being all about working in the hotel room, eating whatever I could get, and getting a peek here and there at the sporadic porn channels that popped while I was trying relax after a long day of staring at the screen and stressing about stupid Chinese people.

Me to Stephie: I’m never leaving my room!
Stephie to me: Why, cuz you have so much work?
Me to Stephie: Free porn channels!
Stephie to me: Japanese or Western?
Me to Stephiel BOTH!

Day 5 – Uneventful trip home. Free wifi at the airport, just enough time to know I’ve got a shitstorm to deal with when I get back. And also…say goodbye to all the good food that exists on the other side of the Strait. Damn Beef Noodles, look what kind of shit they served me on the plane. Why did I ever leave you?

airplane_food

Yes, yes, it’s been a helluva long time

Every few months I have to do the obligatory “no blog long time” post, and that time has come again. Not that anyone cares, as more than a few new friends have actually approached me spewing “your blog sucks! your blog sucks!” Well, for the most part of 2009; yes it has.

I’m sorry! For the first time in my life, I’ve actually been busy!

September was a super hairy month. During what turned out to be a very dry and frightening August on the work front, I decided to attend my friend Harsha’s wedding in Northern Cali, and then take a trip down to LA on an informal marketing trip for Republic. As it turned out, right before I left we were blessed and distressed to suddenly have multiple projects land in our pretty little laps, all at the same time. Suddenly, my 10 day US trip became a marathon of 5 AM worknights as I tried to manage our team back in Shanghai across an annoyingly stubborn International Dateline.

In the meantime, I did squeeze out a few rare moments to enjoy great food, and to catch up with Joyce, Eric, and the cunning Lingster herself:
LA pals

I’ve come to enjoy LA a lot more than I remember back when I was growing up, probably because I had someone drive me around the whole time, and since I’ve become a gluttonous pig I’ve come to appreciate all the different types of food that are available. I definitely partook in all the variety that LA had to offer: carne asada burritos, shrimp burritos, lengua burritos. There’s nothing like going back home and spreading your wings.

Speaking of spreading wings, the only way I was able to manage staying up till 5 AM every morning was my newfound infatuation with the energy drink Monster. I don’t know how I could have done it without you, oh gigantic can of sugar and taurine, but I don’t know if I can continue living in Shanghai unless you move out here. Red Bull, you are so 1990’s.

Anyway, this is the last day before this epic Chinese National holiday, and tomorrow it’s back to work for everyone. It’s a good time for reflection. Sadly, this blog kinda sucks, so I’ll have to make it earn back its credibility.

Hope to see you all again sooner rather than later.