Taipei, Taiwan “She’s so Heavy-Handed!”

Direct flight from Seattle to Taipei. Thirteen and a half hours. Some Asian airlines are among my favorites — clean, roomy, with good food and good service. China Airlines is not one of them.

The guy next to me was a major noodle slurper. He sort of held the plate in front of his mouth and vacuumed it up, the fork used only as a peripheral aid. This method is perfectly polite in China, but then again so is genital electrocution. He also had terrible body odor, a penchant for protracted ball-itching, and a bad case of the jimmy-legs.

I mimicked his slurping sounds in open mockery. He didn’t seem to notice. I mounted a rock hard thigh wall to limit the range of his leg wiggling. It had little effect. Finally I resorted to the pettiest of retaliations: farting.

The plane did have private screens with loads of movies. I watched Across the Universe, which is an atrocity. It’s like half-baked Hair, only with inexplicable access to the greatest song library of all time and free reign to butcher it in service of a trite, ham-fisted narrative. I like Julie Taymor, but in the "I Want You" number, when she had a group of G.I.s in Vietnam carrying the Statue of Liberty on their backs and singing "She’s so heavy!" I wanted to grab a parachute and crack open the emergency exit. Lady, your visual metaphor license is suspended indefinitely.

Boy, am I cranky!

Darjeeling Limited made me miss trains in India. And they made the country look exactly as orangey-brown as I remember it.

I landed at 6am and I can’t check in until noon. I’m downtown, so I’m going to go wander.

34 Responses to Taipei, Taiwan “She’s so Heavy-Handed!”

  1. Robb

    If you have time, try to go to the fabric district to get some orange juice. (It was like a big Asian mall full of fabric vendors.) This was a few years back, but there were street vendors with carts that would make fresh squeezed orange juice that was the best oj I have ever tasted. I dunno why, but I never saw them anywhere else in the city. Seriously, this was like drinking happiness. I have dreams about it.

  2. LoudMusic

    Sandyyyyyy has much reading to do 😉

    My recent two flights weren’t bad, though the iPod did help to distract me.

  3. Shawn

    Across the Universe, while heavy handed was one the most underrated movies of last year. It was brilliant. sorry you disagree.

  4. Sounds brutal… I’m glad you fought back; without people like you the asian hordes would overtake the entire world :O

    Glad to see you back up and travelling! Is Strive still paying for all your trips? I never did understand how that works… if you don’t advertise for them, how does it benefit them at all? Sounds great for you though ^_^

  5. Well, you could have taken a local bus for 28 hours where your fellow passangers cleared their noses and spat the contents on the floor of the bus. I think, I would take noodle slurping, even complied with a distinctive BO, any day…

  6. Shaun

    “Posted by: de | January 25, 2008 at 02:22 AM
    Sounds brutal… I’m glad you fought back; without people like you the asian hordes would overtake the entire world :O”


  7. Well, I have to tell you China Airline is one of the worse airline in Taiwan in my point of view. You could try Cathay Pacific Airline, which is much better. About the juice vendors that jdhoskinson has mentioned, you can still find them in all the night market in Taipei. Not only juice, but you can find a lot of creative beverages there.

  8. I am glad to see the wonderful movie taken from all all the world included the Taipei. But it is a pity in the movie you just dance alone. Taiwan is famous for the friendly to the international tourist. When I see your blog mentioned about the bad experience in China Airline, I can understand you first not good empression make you had some distance with Taiwan people.

  9. I am glad to see the wonderful movie taken from all all the world included the Taipei. But it is a pity in the movie you just dance alone. Taiwan is famous for the friendly to the international tourist. I am very surprised your feeling. But after I had read your blog mentioned about the bad experience in China Airline, I can understand why you had bad empression of Taiwan and make you had some distance with Taiwan people. I hope you will come to Taiwan next time and enjoy the beautiful Taiwan people and culture.

  10. Well, traveling in a tiny cabin is never fun unless you get to travel in business or first class. I just want to say that I can relate to your feelings..Were you in Taiwan for a transit or on route to India? Taiwan may be more enjoyable if our education system and culture here encourage opinion sharing and real internationalization. Have fun, Matt.

  11. Katherine

    Hi, Matt,

    A Chinese news regarding your dance for VISA led me here. I am from Taiwan and sorry for your bad experience there. I might have similar experiences as yours there but these do not happen often. If you visit Din-tai-feng, maybe your experiences will be quite different. And normally I do not fly China Airlines. Maybe you can try UA and Singapore next time.:)Taiwan is famous for night markets and friendly people – maybe try again next time – and you need a proper tour guide to show you the places to go.:)

  12. Alex Chen

    Hello Matt,
    You are very welcome to Taiwan again in the future. I like your videos a lot. If you will come to Taiwan next time, I can show you some good places and guarantee you have different experiences in Taiwan.
    Good luck to your travel.

  13. Ray

    Hello Matt,
    Thanks for your video.Let’s more people watch Taiwan.I very hope dance with you.I know ypu get a plane about Rwanda child.
    Come to make an extra effort.:)

  14. Violet

    hi Matt

    I’m a Taiwanese.
    I know your stuffs from a speech recently. I’m really glad that you came here last year. Too bad the weather wasn’t nice, you should come back here again in summer, that would make the tour more interesting, maybe find a guide too. I believe lots of people wiuld like to help.

    By the way, about culture differences, Chinese people don’t think slurping noodles is polite, it was just that man’s problem.

  15. cold green

    hi Matt:
    I am a taiwanese. i get to know your video through a very famouse blog in taiwan. i am really really motivated by your dancing. but, it seems that you a little bit misubderstood taiwan and taiwanese. it also kinda of pity that you dance alone in the vedio in taiwan. i belive there are hundreds of taiwanese willing to dance with u. moreover, if you don’t like the humid weather, may be next time, u can try to visit central taiwan or southen taiwan.
    a lot of marvelous things and funny guys you will meet there. i deeply yearn for your comeing to taiwan again. all in all, enjoy your trip!

  16. Cat

    FYI, excessive slurping isn’t considered polite in Chinese culture; and genital electrocution certainly isn’t considered polite or even legal… I don’t know why the Taiwanese are apologizing; we all run into bad experiences, I had a bad one in London, I am sure the British would never apologize to me.

    and to the dude who commented “asian hordes would overtake the entire world”, well obviously the european hordes have already overtaken the world…like the sound of that? can’t believe ppl would make comments like that this day and age. Grow up.

  17. Visitor

    Dear Matt,

    For someone traveling around the world, seeing different cultures, I would hope you can break a little beyond the comfort of Seattle and not be too critical of minute matters. Slurping noodles is considered complimentary to the chefs in some Asian cultures, not just Chinese. Not every Asian slurps and by no means do all Taiwanese slurp either. Like some of the other people who commented on your visit, I see no reason why Taiwanese people need to apologize for this man’s individual behavior (which is likely just him more than rest of Taiwan). Moreover, you are not getting it right. You think it was rude, but maybe he thought it was a sign of showing how delicious it was. You made him sound like an uncouthed man.

    One thing you should note: Many do not consider Taiwan as China — given two different governments for nearly 100 years since Japanese colonial era (except for a brief interlude of common Republican government). Your short write-up revealed how lacking you are in knowledge about the land, when you simply say this is what they do in “China”. FYI: There is no such thing as genital electrocution in Taiwan.

    Try reading up on the places you are visiting & learn more about their people, societies, cultures, history, politics, etc. and stop criticizing people’s BO or slurping. I can’t imagine what kind of comments you have written about other even more culturally-diverse/different countries from that of US. Being a Taiwanese/American, I am embarrassed to read what you wrote. This is why other citizens of the world find this type of attitude, imperialistic — as if your culture is superior to that of others.

    I have ridden on many nasty smelling American domestic flights where, who knows with this rotten economy, someday you might eventually be forced to pay 5 bucks just for a cup of water. Damn, in comparison, I think China Airline’s pretty good. Stop complaining! Start seeing positives in people.

  18. A.C

    well, I am a taiwanese.I think you are a little bit misubderstood.Other people think Taiwan is a great country.(Which it is)Cuz’ people in Taiwan are friendly,especially in suuthern Taiwan. Maybe one day when you visit here again.You could much know about this country ,and people in here. :)

  19. Feng

    alas, why always our asian too sensitive. I think u people in taiwan are better than us China mainland and u have a better enviroument not only the education. want to go there but for some reason i can’t go there by myself. like the food there so much…..
    Hopefully politics will not be an obstacle, we just live in the world. no conflicts.
    Thanks Matt!

  20. Joe Beers

    Matt, I go to Taiwan a lot, that lady in the window was apparently “losing weight” – with the 50’s style butt and hip shaker. I saw this also in a mall and was with folks that explained it to me. Very Jack LaLaine

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