Although I knew it is colder in the north, I was quite excited to head there this past weekend. I’d be staying in a hotel and that would mean soft western mattress and a room with a thermostat!! Rose decided to head up with me, so we hopped on the High Speed Rail and arrived in Taipei almost at jet speed! Thinking I was going up alone, I splurged a bit to stay in a convenient hotel so that I wouldn’t have to explore parts unknown by myself. O! It was well worth the splurge! While too many give the hotel poor reviews for being ‘too western’ and being located in an area void of any activities, we found The Grand Hyatt laden with comfort and located in the heart of the happenings! Outside our window? A full view of Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world!

Saturday morning began by meeting new friends. We met a young Canadian living in Japan, his wife and children and had very interesting conversations about a variety of topics. The most interesting to you will probably be the mention of the first all-Black prime time TV show in Canada which his sister co-created and co-stars in. I was able to view episodes online and yeah, I’m a sucker these days for anything I can see online, but “Da Kink in My Hair” really is a good show!

Any day that begins with new friends has to be a good day, right?!

We walked over to “NY Bagels Cafe” where I had PANCAKES!!!!!!! and steak and eggs and a close your eyes and savor the moment cup of coffee!

Our first stop for the Taipei International Book Exhibit was Hall #3, comics and manga.

And we were immediately separated in the crowded. We each lasted as long as we could stand being in the throbs of young people who were on a mission to get the latest books, see the characters and collect paraphenalia for their favorite manga and comics. I also made it to the other two halls where I was able to meet a few authors, learn about the features of Google Book, and see what books are popular in this corner of the world. This year’s exhibit featured Australian literature and I was really disappointed that I missed the opportunity to meet Mark Zusak, author of one of my favorite books, “I am the messenger“. Just a few observations I can make about books and literature here:

  • The fastest growing format is that of the comic (DUH). The comic format is moving into other genres.
  • Manga is growing in popularity with girls.
  • Reading for information is more popular here that reading for enjoyment. Exception: young people and manga.
  • Publication of western books in this region lags US publication by several months, if not longer.

Even after our long day surrounded by books, we still had the energy for a night on the town! Just down the street, was “Brown Sugar“, The Jazz Club in Taipei. There, we had a deliciouss supper, heard great stylings by their house band and had an enjoyable close to a very good day.

Yeah, this posting is full of superlatives, it was just that kind of weekend and it was just that much harder leaving the city thinking that I may never be back again. Never.  What a sad and final sound!  (There are not many months left in this gig!)! I’ve had so many wonderful memories in Taipei from Kris, Sean, Suzanne and I first venturing up there with Amanda while we were in training, to our field trip to Snake Alley, our Christmas get together and then, this incredible experience!

Yep, Taipei is world class!