No, it's not a basic lesson in living in Taipei. Taipei 101 is the tallest building in the world. I was doubtful when I heard the locals make this claim, after all, I remembered it being, very recently, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. And no one talked about Taipei 101 when I was here in August of 2003. Why all of a sudden is everyone talking about it? Well, it's because it just got finished being built in 2004! Shanghai is getting ready to outshine it in 2007, so you'll all have to hurry here to see it while it's still the tallest. . .
The other day, I went running after a big pouring rain (the first since I've come here), and I could see Taipei 101 disappear into the clouds. It made it look very tall, indeed, especially because there are no other tall buildings around it.
The food here is just fantastic! The variety for vegetarians is immense. And, Vara, it's REAL vegetarian food, not just the vegetarian food pretending to look like beef, pork, chicken, duck, shrimp, etc. In addition, I can expect to be able to get something vegetarian at any restaurant, here. People do know that if something is fried in pork lard, it's not vegetarian, and that is nice. Now, if I could just find the Lao Gan Ma brand of hot sauce (obtainable all over China), I'd be all set. . . I haven't conducted an extensive search for it, yet, though. . .
Tonight, I attended a church service of my friend's mother, and was pretty amused because they had a translator. The primary speaker was speaking Taiwanese, and the translator, Mandarin. I could actually tell that one was Mandarin, the other some other Chinese language, but I can just imagine what it would sound like to someone who knows no Chinese at all. . . It sounds as if these guys are having a conversation!