Chapter 45 – The Don Juan of Taiwan
Following the mindfuck in Hong Kong, I flew over to the capital of Taiwan to hang out for two days before ending my trip in Manila. Taipei is known for its world-famous skyscraper, the Taipei 101, which sticks out over the city’s otherwise diminutive skyline like a boner in sweatpants. Since I had absolutely nothing else to do with my time while there, I got up the first morning, hopped on the Taipei Metro and went over to go check it out.
As I write this – with all these developing countries around the globe trying to make a name for themselves, I’m sure it’s soon to change – the Taipei 101 is the world’s third tallest skyscraper. On an earthquake and tsunami prone island such as Taiwan that Mother Nature regularly punishes like a 17th century mental patient, Taipei 101 comes equipped with state of the art steel reinforcement and houses a five-story-tall pendulum on the 87th floor known as a “tuned mass damper” that was designed to counteract up to 40% of the building’s swaying and to withstand gusts of up to 134mph.
While there, I really enjoyed the structure’s design both inside and out as well as whatever beefy noodle shit I decided to eat in the skyscraper’s food court. Aside from that early lunch however, since I’m not a big fan of shopping and I’m not too good at hitting on random women who don’t speak the same language as me, there wasn’t anything for me to do at Taipei 101. So I hopped back on the Metro and decided to wing it.
As I sat on the train perusing the city map I’d been given back at the guesthouse, I read that due to its position along the Pacific Rim, Taiwan is teeming with natural hot springs where locals love to get undressed, immerse themselves and relax in the nude for hours on end. And of course, upon reading this, I daydreamed that life was like a porno movie and if I went to the hot springs, I was gonna meet some beautiful naked local girl who’d be willing to drop everything just to give yours truly a Pacific Rim Job right then and there. Believe it or not, this nonsense proved to be the deciding factor in my decision to go head over in that direction.
When I arrived to the Beitou district on the northern end of Taipei and walked over to a spa near the Geothermal Valley, my fantasy was shattered before I’d even entered the hot springs proper. A sign written in both Chinese and English had indicated that there were separate bathing areas for men and for women. Going into the men’s side at the time had been a group of old wrinkly fat dudes who looked to me like they might’ve starred in the Taiwanese version of Lemon Party. Not at all interested in seeing old dicks and saggy man tits, I turned around and headed back towards the Metro.
With no particular destination in mind, I caught a southbound train back to the heart of the city. Since it was the middle of the day during the workweek, it hadn’t been too crowded. Although there’d been a bunch of open seats, I decided to stand and hold onto a stainless steel pole in the middle of the train car. An Asian woman with soaking wet hair who I figured had just come from the hot springs did the very same thing.
After a few stops that I’d spent gazing out the window, wondering what I was going to do with myself for the rest of that day and the next one, I noticed the wet-haired woman had been staring at me. I gave her a half-smile and a slight nod of the head.
“Hellooooooo,” she said and then giggled.
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, She-cah-go – very far away, no? Very cold right now, yeah?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty far. And yeah, it’s pretty cold. Where you from?”
“I’m originally from Guangzhou in China, but I live in Australia.”
“Oh yeah? What’re you doing in Taiwan?”
“Well, I have problems getting a permanent visa in Australia so I have to leave the country every few months and then reenter on a separate tourist visa.”
“Oh, that sounds annoying.”
“No, it’s not bad. I quite like it actually. It gives me a break from my husband and my son.”
“Hmm. How many kids you got?”
“Just one. He’s seven.”
“Ah, okay,” I nodded. “Cool.”
“What do you do back home for a job?”
“I wash windows.”
“Oh! Wash windows! That sounds very dangerous.”
“Naw,” I laughed, “we don’t do high rise buildings. We only work on people’s houses.”
“Well, you’re still on ladders, right?”
“See. That’s dangerous. You must be very brave,” she petted my arm and laughed.
I smiled in return, trying to think of something to say.
“So, uh, judging by your wet hair, I take it you like the hot springs, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “I love the hot springs. It’s so nice to just take off all my clothes and relax in the water.”
I thought of her naked and liked what I saw.
“Did you go in the hot springs?” she asked.
“What!? Why not?”
“Eh, I dunno. There were too many naked old guys. I thought it was kinda weird and gay.”
“What?” she laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. You have to try the hot springs. Taiwan is famous for them and they feel so good.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
She sighed and shook her head.
“Later me and you will go to the hot springs. I will show you that it’s not gay. Okay?”
I felt like I was getting a serious vibe from this woman. Maybe life was like a porno movie after all.
“Alright,” I agreed.
“Hey, this next one is my stop. I was going to visit a market here and do some shopping. Would you like to join me?”
With X-rated fantasies back in full-swing, I imagined myself sitting outside a changing room while this thirty-year-old MILF tried on sexy pair of underwear after sexy pair of underwear for my benefit.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll come along.”
“Great,” she grinned. “What’s your name, by the way?”
“T-I-M,” she wrote it out in the air with her index finger, “Tim?”
“I’m Wendy,” she said as the train doors opened. “Nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, nice to meet you too.”
As it turns out, there would be no sexy underwear shopping done on that day. We instead walked through a market where they sold ceramic handicrafts and things of the like.
“So, what I need from you is to help me pick out a new set of dinner plates,” Wendy informed me while walking two steps ahead, scavenging for an aesthetically pleasing set of china. “I’m tired of looking at my old ones.”
“Uh, okay,” I said, looking around at all the stuff for sale while occasionally glancing down to check out what type of ass she was workin’ with.
Somewhere along the line, something had caught her eye and we stepped into some shop that she’d found interesting. After a couple minutes of perusing, she zoned in on a set that’d been on the bottom shelf and crouched down to take a closer look. She picked one of the plates from the stack, held it to her face and inspected the handiwork.
“This one is really nice,” she looked up to me and extended the plate my way. “Have a look and tell me what you think.”
“Oh yeah,” I don’t know shit about dinner plates or ceramics or any of that shit, “I like what the maker guy – or maker girl – did with the texture here. It’s very smooth and looks good too.”
“Yeah. The ‘maker guy’ did a real good job,” she laughed and took it out of my hand. “I think I’m going to buy these ones.”
After Wendy had spoken in Mandarin to the shop owner who proceeded to wrap the set of plates up and put them in a shopping bag before handing them back to her, we emerged from the store, out into the street.
“Here,” Wendy reached out to me, “you’re a big strong guy. You be a gentleman and carry this bag for me.”
“Sure,” I said, taking it from her grasp then flexing like The Incredible Hulk. “Grr! I’m such a big strong guy! I feel like my muscles are gonna rip outta my shirt! Grrrrrrrr!”
“Oh wow!” she reached out and felt my bicep. “Your muscles are going to rip out of your shirt,” she then added before snickering.
We walked for a few more minutes before Wendy stopped and veered into another shop.
“Hey, come here,” she waved. “This place is selling Taiwanese desserts. Let’s try a few free samples.”
“Okay,” I shrugged and followed along like a puppy dog on a leash.
Inside the shop and up for grabs, there’d been a pretty big table with about thirty bowls of different kinds of sweets scattered atop it that Wendy immediately attacked.
“Oh, this one’s so good,” she said with a mouthful of some brown stuff.
She picked another one from the same bowl and lifted it to my face.
“Here, open up. You need to try!”
I opened my mouth, she put her thumb and middle finger on my lower lip and then used her index finger to slowly slide the treat onto my tongue. I shut my yap and began chewing as she looked up at me, awaiting my approval.
“Mmm, yeah,” I gave the thumbs-up. “Delicious.”
“Yeah. Told you,” she said. “Let’s try some more.”
After Wendy’d slid a few more treats into my mouth, we left the shop and went on a long walk during which we further got to know one another. Sometime later, we ended up at a place along the water called Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf where we sat down on a bench and chilled.
“You know,” Wendy said while watching a young group of guys walk past, “one thing I noticed in Taiwan is that none of the men here are really attractive.”
“Aw no? You haven’t seen any hot dudes around?”
“No, not really. I haven’t seen any Taiwanese men that I think are really handsome.”
“No! Not even for a one night stand, I haven’t seen any local guys attractive enough to have sex with!”
“Hmm,” I began, a bit taken aback considering her status as a married woman with a child, “well then, it must be a good thing you met a handsome foreigner like me, wouldn’t you hafta say?”
“Well,” she giggled and leaned into me, “you know, you are kind of cute.”
“Thank you. You’re pretty cute yourself.”
Since I could tell that Wendy was diggin’ my dougie, I put my arm around her and pulled her body against mine. She leaned her head on my side as we sat back and continued kickin’ it on the park bench.
“You see that bridge right out there?” she pointed to the suspended thoroughfare spanning the harbor that’d been held by what I perceived to be an unusual, vulva-shaped support structure equidistant from both shores.
“Yeah, what about it?”
“They call that bridge ‘Lover’s Bridge.’ Do you know why they call it that?”
“Hmm,” here’s where I decided to feel out whether or not this woman truly had been DTF, “is it because the road looks like a giant penis and that gate thing it’s running through looks like a giant vagina?”
“What!?” she sat halfway up and turned to look at me. “Really?”
“Yeah, I mean, that’s what lovers do, right? They have sex. To me, that bridge looks like a penis going into a vagina. That’s why I think it’s called ‘Lover’s Bridge.’”
She playfully slapped my chest and again giggled.
“What,” I asked, “that’s not it?”
“Then why? Why’s it called Lover’s Bridge?”
“They call it that because they started building it on Valentine’s Day.”
“Pfff…” I sighed. “You’re lying.”
“No, really! That’s the story behind it!”
“Yeah, sure it is,” I used my arm to once again pull her close as she playfully shook her head and put it back where it’d been on my side. Like this, Wendy and I relaxed together until the sun had set.
“Hey,” she asked as darkness set in, “are you hungry?”
“Yeah, I could eat.”
“Do you want to get some dinner around here?”
“It’s all seafood though. Do you like seafood?”
“I don’t really eat too much seafood in Chicago, so I don’t really know.”
“It’s really fresh around here, so it’s really yummy. Want to give it a try?”
“Yeah, why not?” I said and we started walking along the harbor.
A little bit along the way, a group of seamen in a tiny wooden boat had been unloading the day’s catch onto a dock.
“See,” Wendy said, pointing, “look how fresh it is. Doesn’t it look yummy? Don’t you just want to eat it all up?”
“Yeah,” I’d been imagining myself with a different fish-tasting type of yumminess all in my face as well as a different type of “seaman” being unloaded onto the day’s catch, “I can’t wait to try it.”
We eventually came to a halt when Wendy had saw fit a restaurant at which we could do our wining and dining before getting down to what I figured had been the inevitable sixty-nining.
In front of this establishment was a three-foot-tall, three-tiered fountain full of living sea creatures with a filter system that had constantly been running, recycling the water from the bottom to the top over and over again. Submerged on the first level of this fountain had been multi-colored plastic bins containing clams, mussels and other shellfish. On the second level had been crabs, lobsters, eels and what I consider normal-looking fish. I have no idea what was on the third level. It was a bunch of weird shit I’d never seen before – most notable among the bunch had been what looked to me like the severed head of the alien from Predator.
“What you want?” Wendy asked.
“Uh, I guess I’ll take the crab.”
“Yeah, you know, that sounds good. I think I will have crab too. Let me see how much.”
Wendy turned and started speaking in Chinese to a short middle-aged woman who’d been wearing rubber galoshes up to her knees.
“Only a few dollars,” she told me. “Seems like a good price. You want to get?”
Wendy gave the go-ahead to the woman who stepped into the fountain with a small fishing net.
During this time, I looked around the restaurant. It was a small place and among the four or five tables in there, only one had been occupied. At it, a small group of old guys had sat playing cards, smoking cigarettes and chugging massive bottles of Taiwan Beer.
After the little woman had fished our two crabs out of the fountain, she casually said something to Wendy who in turn got all pissed off and started shouting. The little woman started shouting back.
“Whoa, whoa,” I said, “what’s wrong?”
“This lady is trying to rip us off. First she tell me a price before taking it out, but now she tell me that price was only for the living crab. Now there is separate price for them to cook it.”
Upon hearing the argument, one of the old guys who to me had looked like Kim Jong-il came over from the poker table and stepped in as a peace negotiator between the two women. He was talking very fast but whatever he’d been saying seemed to be working. The women cooled off and spoke to each other at an indoor level.
“Okay, so,” Wendy began, “she say they’ll cook them for about two extra dollars from the original price I told you. Is that okay with you?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
She relayed the message to the woman who disappeared into the back with the two crabs. Wendy thanked the man who returned to his table as she and I sat down at our own and cracked open some Taiwan Beers. We resumed our conversation where we’d left off.
Long before the food came and even before we could finish that first round of beers, Kim Jong-il came over to our table and said something to Wendy. She said something back that had contained the word “Chicago.”
“He ask where you from, so I tell him,” Wendy informed me.
The guy said something else.
“He said he wants to buy us a round of beers for the trouble we went through with the woman at the front of the store.”
“Uh, I guess I’ll take a free beer. But what, does he own the restaurant or something?”
She relayed my question.
“No. He’s just a regular, but he feels bad.”
The guy left our table, walked to the back of the restaurant to the glass-door cooler and grabbed three fresh bottles of Taiwan Beer.
Upon his return, he again said something to Wendy.
“Is it alright if he joins us for this beer?”
“Uh yeah, sure,” I said as he pulled up a chair, “I guess he can join us.”
For a couple minutes, Kim talked his ass off and Wendy giggled at everything he said. At some point, he said something and nodded at me.
“He wants to know if you like to sing karaoke.”
“Uh yeah, I like singing karaoke.”
He asked a follow-up question.
“Now he ask if you want to sing karaoke tonight after dinner.”
“Yeah, sure. If you go, I’ll go. Whatever you wanna do, I’ll do.”
She told him and he held up his glass. We all clinked, they both said “ganbei” and downed their glasses. I, unaware of a tradition they’d been upholding, had only taken a swig.
Kim stuck his hand out with his open palm facing upward and pointed at my drink while sternly saying something to Wendy.
“He say, ‘Why don’t you finish your drink?’”
“Oh, was I supposed to?”
“Yes,” she said. “When you do ‘cheers’ here, you always finish your glass of beer.”
I slammed the rest of it.
The guy picked up the bottle and immediately refilled all three glasses.
“Now we do it again,” Wendy said. “Ganbei!”
Again, we downed the glasses of booze.
It turns out that Wendy was an extreme lightweight and had suddenly become shitfaced shortly after chugging those beers. Kim Jong-il – who was pretty drunk himself – continued to talk her ear off as she found everything he said to be more and more hilarious. Every couple minutes, he’d scoot his chair closer to hers. The only time I was included in anything was when it was time to chug another drink. Other than that, it was like I wasn’t even there at all. All I could do was sit back and watch as this enchanter used his verbal wizardry to make Wendy’s inhibitions disappear.
By the time we were done eating, the guy had been sitting right next to the coveted adulteress and caressing her thigh. I excused myself to go take a piss and when I came back they were standing up and getting ready to go.
“Hey,” I said, “who do we hafta pay?”
“Oh, don’t worry. He already paid for us,” Wendy nodded and smiled at Kim. “He’s a really nice guy.” She picked up her bag containing the newly purchased set of plates and handed them over to her new big strong guy to carry. “We’re going now.”
“Okay,” I said. “Where are we going? Are we gonna go do karaoke now?”
“Well, actually, I am quite tired. I think I might just go sit in the hot springs before going to bed.”
“Oh, sweet. Can I come? Because earlier you said we could go to the hot springs together. Remember?”
“Oh yeah. I did say that, but I’m actually very tired and might not even go to the hot springs so I can just get some sleep.”
“Well,” I should’ve just accepted the cruel twist of fate and bowed out gracefully, “I don’t remember how to get back to the train station. Now it’s nighttime and I’m worried about getting lost in a city where no one speaks English, ya know?”
“Oh, I see. Are you sure you don’t remember? It’s right back that way,” she pointed perpendicular to the harbor. “All you have to do is follow the main road back to the station.”
“Nah, I don’t remember. I was kinda following you the whole time.”
“Hmm. Okay,” she sighed. “Well, I guess we could give you a ride back to the station.”
“Yeah,” I said with resentment, “that’d be great.”
While leaving that restaurant near Fisherman’s Wharf, Wendy sat in front and I hopped into the back of Kim Jong-il’s Toyota SUV. He started the car, threw it in reverse and without even looking, punched the gas pedal.
“BOOM!” he smacked into the big green metallic dumpster behind the restaurant and sent the thing flying across the parking lot.
“Holy shit,” I said while buckling my seatbelt.
Neither of them had seemed to notice the collision and we pulled away from the place like it wasn’t a big deal.
As Kim had been mumbling sweet nothings into Wendy’s ear, he used one hand to steer the car and the other to rub her womanhood through her pants. She moaned while Kim swerved lane to lane, occasionally drifting into oncoming traffic as I gripped onto whatever I could for a faux sense of security. After about five minutes of this, we made it to the Metro stop unscathed. The guy pulled halfway onto the curb and I climbed out. Wendy hadn’t even noticed that I was leaving. She’d seemingly been too preoccupied by her upcoming appointment to receive a hot beef injection from dear old Doctor Kim, the Don Juan of Taiwan.