"Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs." ~ Susan Sontag
1.7.13 - 1.7.13
Four months and eleven days. I made it four months and eleven days. My downfall? The Taipei freaking Zoo. FOUR MONTHS AND ELEVEN DAYS! I was so looking forward to the one year mark of my journey to proudly say I had made it one year. I had already started composing the exact words I would use to relate the glorious landmark of making it a full year and never having to succumb... alas all is lost. I only made it four months and eleven days. It's quite pathetic really... such a short span. I couldn't even make it half a year... a measly four months and eleven days.
Now you are probably wondering what in the world I am talking about and how the Taipei Zoo had anything to do with it so let me enlighten you. There are many things one has to become accustomed to when they are traveling: language, culture, food, laws, transportation, hygiene, beds, restroom facilities, and much more. I have little to no problems with most of these things- I'm adaptable, it's totally fine. But there are some things I did not ever want to become ok with like the lack of bathing on some people's parts or the weird way Korean woman basically become single mom/slaves for the husbands (if you don't know much about the Korean dating and after-marriage rituals now is not the time to explain so I'll have to get into that later), but mostly I really really REALLY did not ever want to have to use a squatting toilet. Sitting down to pee, however inconvenient it can be at times, is something that just is when you grow up in the US. That's how it is done. Not in Asia. They have the western style toilet in most places that are highly populated with foreigners and a lot of places are just starting to use them more but apparently the Taipei Zoo never got the memo.
I mean come on! You're a huge tourist attraction for people visiting your country! Update your restroom facilities for crying out loud! Grrr... I spent an entire day walking around the zoo so there was no way I was going to get around the stupid squatting toilets today. Which is why my time ended at four months and eleven days. I'm sure you're just riveted by my bathroom exploits but whatever! That is what I am going to rant about for the next few seconds. BLAST YOU TAIPEI ZOO!
Ok, I am ok now, rant over.
So yes, if you couldn't have guessed yet I spent my Monday at the Taipei Zoo. It was fantastic (apart from the restroom issues). I went with a fellow traveler from my hostel and we walked around the majority of the zoo. I have never been to a proper zoo before so it was quite exciting seeing all the different animals. There were far too many to name off here but the highlight animals were: the butterfly garden, the lion who kept roaring at the corner, the camel who kept bowing at us, the monkey who came to the glass and was talking/playing with us, the rhino who got mad at us for watching him eat, and the panda who walked over to us and started eating his lunch and posing for pictures (he/she was freaking adorable).
I am torn though between really enjoying the zoo and not really liking the idea of zoos. I mean I am not a huge animal rights activist or anything, I don't go around denouncing zoos and wanting to free all the animals, but thinking about how big of an open space most of these animals are used to and then thinking of how small their "environments" are at the zoo, it's a little sad.
I especially felt bad for the lion. Lions are a pack animal and he was all alone, pacing, and he was really skinny. Like skin-hanging-I-can-see-your-ribs skinny. Thinking on it the mountain lion kind of looked like that too. So whereas I will not start parading in front of zoos denouncing all who work there and all who visit I would like to see the animals a little fatter.
For the most part we could see all the animals but some of the bigger animals were in another part of the zoo, inaccessible, due to remodeling of their habitats. That kind of sucked but all in all it was a successful first official trip to the zoo. And by official I mean I have been to petting zoos or the little exhibit in Everland but never to an actual zoo so it was quite fun.
After a very long day of walking around and taking a million pictures (over 250) of all the different animals we headed back to the hostel. We decided to end our day by going out to get some dinner and decided to continue the ultimate touristy day and go to a themed restaurant. Do you want to know the theme? Well it fits well with the beginning of this entry because the restaurant was called (wait for it) MODERN TOILET. Yup, it was toilet themed. The tables were sinks covered in Plexiglas. You sit on toilet seats, lids closed for obvious reasons, the napkins are toilet paper attached to the walls, your drinks arrive in urinal shaped glasses, your food comes in either a western style toilet or a claw foot bathtub, and the decor has poop shapes all over. It was amazing. We laughed. A lot. And every persons' reaction who came into the restaurant after us was the same: "'squeal/laugh/OMG' ~ *take camera out* laugh-as-you-manically-snap-pictures-of-everything, sit down and order." The food wasn't that great but it was worth going just to experience the decor.
We then took another (very short) trip through the night market and I bought a pair of shoes. I am taking a leaf out of KB's travel book and I am going to have a pair of shoes that will always travel with me to every country I visit. I needed to buy them here so I could add Taiwan to the list and once I get back to Korea they will have been there too. I may or may not write the name of the country on the shoes to keep a written record... I am not sure though. I will do something though.
On a similar note I have been deciding what I will do once I am done with my travel plans of seeing the world before I go back home to the states and start my grown up life. I want something to remember my experiences and I was thinking of either a ankle or wrist bracelet tattoo with a single word written in all the languages of the countries I visit. Sounds pretty awesome to me but then I was thinking I always write a travel quote as the subtitle of my blog (except the one time that still bothers me but I can't go back and change it now because that would be cheating) so what if I still did the tattoo bracelet/anklet but instead of a single word write out a travel quote (I have many favorites) but each word being in the language of all the countries I will have visited. It's genius and totally what I plan to do. It will be tricky making sure I have a quote that has just the right amount of words in it to match the countries but I think it will be great. I know it is a ways off to be thinking of this now but when traveling alone your mind wanders to different subjects and when a good idea pops into your head you must write it down.
So if I ever forget what it is I want to do to commemorate my travels it will be here for me to remember. Perfect plan.
Until the next time!