After the stop over in Hong Kong, we arrived in Taipei with way too much excess baggage. Taipei is an odd city with no high rise buildings with the exception of one lone tower that juts out above the rest. Just happens that Taipei 101 Tower is the tallest in the world.
Taipei doesn’t have the sophistication and East meets West culture clash of Hong Kong, but it's just as vibrant. The streets are alive with people, cars, a horde of mopeds and plenty of "meat on the street" style gourmets.
There was no pre-conference buzz at the Westin, but a couple of daiquiris later in the Hotel bar and we'd formed a motley crew of Macromedians and speakers all eager to get a taste of Taipei.
Colin and Wendy Moock took us on a "shub shub" culinary adventure – the sort of roadside place where you take strips of raw meat and swish them around in a boiling pot full of assorted limbs and giblets – hark ye back to the boiling cauldron in Conan, you'll get the picture. With much trepidation Gary Grossman, Chafic Kazoun, Jared and Lorri Tarbell, Mike Downey, Julie and I tucked in.
Taiwanese beer is a young brew served in glasses not much larger than a thimble. Whilst Mike Downey was wracking up the beer "shots" in a desperate bid to ward off hunger, Julie (the Duchess of Fife) was delivering a series of swift kicks under the table in a vain effort to warn me of the dangers of too much "shub shub".
Moock is one of those impressive Lonely Planet types who’s happy to go native and is perfectly at home with the locals. In stark contrast, I fell apart at the encore of pigs intestines and started dreaming of room service. Having mistaken tripe for spicy noodles, Downey was a gibbering mess till we could get him back to the safety of the hotel and a cheese burger.
Back at the Westin (and room service), I got cracking on my presentation; your typical last minute dash to get the round pegs into the square holes. What with the real time translation to Chinese I figured I better put together a few diagrams to make life easier for all concerned.
So I'm there half naked by the light of the laptop, tongue sticking out in concentration, struggling with Visio and Fireworks and in starts this creaking and banging. For a moment I sit there grinning like an idiot at the wall, thinking of the neighbors going at it hammer and tong but of course the proverbial earth really was moving - to the tune of 6.3 on the Richter Scale.
I've been in a few tremors before but this was really quite impressive. The quake seem to go on for an age; long enough for me to wake up Julie and get our sneakers on ready for action. For a while we just stood there swaying with the whole building, dressed in a "nudists going jogging" kind of way.
Being on the 7th floor we weren't so keen to make a dash for the stairs, we figured if its time to go… our chances were pretty much the same either way and then, the building came to rest. Julie always amazes me in times of crisis, nothing seems to phase her. She certainly wasn't going anywhere dressed like a streaker and so I was duly sent to investigate in a dressing gown.
Funnily enough no one in the hotel seemed to be in the least bit concerned about swaying buildings. So with renewed bravado I swaggered back upstairs and got on with wrestling with Fireworks; Julie was already asleep.
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