My first impression of Taipei: China, but less annoying. Please allow me to explain before I sound too condescending.
In China, queuing for the metro is actually a gaggle that stands right in front of the subway door and rushes onboard as soon as the door opens, regardless of how many people are trying to get off. In Taipei, there are rows where people line up, and they wait until everyone leaves the subway car before getting in. Amazing.
Scooter riders wear helmets.
People cross the road only when the green walking man tells them it’s OK.
People don’t smoke or spit or hack up a lung.
In short, Taipei has its shit together.
But I did have one experience today that brought me back to reality and made me admit that Taipei isn’t some wonder city without fault.
So there I was, leaving Longshan Temple. I decided to check out the local neighborhood and try to find a market I had read about that supposedly sold snake meat.
I noticed things were pretty sketch around this part of town, but there were still plenty of people around, so I felt safe enough. I found the market, which was mostly closed for the daylight hours, then proceeded into a busy alleyway full of little shops and stands.
I avoided eye contact with the shopkeepers, but it wasn’t enough. One of them invited me to her teahouse. Of course I said no–come on, lady, the teahouse scam is the oldest one in the book!
Another woman tried to get me to stop at her stand, but I just kept walking despite her tug on my arm. I was beginning to regret coming into this alley. I figured no tourists came to this part of town, so they should have left me alone, right?
The third woman who came up to me was wearing heavy makeup. There was another lady with the same look in an adjoining alley, sweet-talking a guy. I have no idea what this girl said to me, but her face and demeanor and the location and my gut told me that she wanted to take my clothes off and have her way with me in exchange for a few bucks.
At this point I was flying out of that alley. There were so many people! I was in a non-touristy part of town! I should have been safe from this shenanigans. But that little alley in Taipei broke all the rules.
So that’s how you can maybe get solicited by a prostitute in Asia by another woman. Part of me wanted to see her reaction when she saw I wasn’t a man, but some things are better left to the imagination.