today i got ash to go walking with me toward a river that runs somewhat near his place. he'd never walked quite in that direction. we walked over there and ended up by a big park. the street signs to the main entrance said "youth disaster prevention park". although the rest of the signs all just said "youth park". we went through a footpath under a highway and were at the river. there was a big open concrete area with lots of firework remains. we looked around, then left that area and went back to the park. we walked by a place where there was a guy standing guard in full military clothes and helmet with an automatic rifle. i don't know what that place was. (there are always two or three cops at the entrances to ash's building -- evidently a politician or someone famous moved in awhile back and now there are cops stationed 24/7.) while we were at the park we saw some squirrels. the squirrels here look like squirrels, but their coat has more sheen and they are a black and dark brown (instead of the lighter brown/tan of u.s. squirrels). they don't have big ear hair like russian squirrels though. the park was really nice. it had a skating area (wheels, not ice), tennis courts, golf driving range, baseball field, basketball courts, swimming pool, water park, plus lots of paths and trees and some ponds and such. ash said he'd never been to the park so i said "well, i'm glad i could show it to you."
while we were walking back to house, i got ash to stop with me while i got some beetle nut. evidently this is some kind of plant/nut that some people eat here. i guess it's sort of like chewing tobacco. i think it's considered more rural or lower class, but you can tell where places are that sell it because they have neon fan shapes outside the building. and i've heard there are "beetle nut girls" that walk around and promote or sell the stuff or something, and i guess they are hot young taiwanese chicks in skimpy clothes (sort of like the girls promoting/selling beer or alcohol or whatever in bars/clubs in the u.s.). when we got back to ash's place, i asked him if he could ask the police how you eat it or whatever. he said they would probably love that a foreigner wanted to do that. they did seem pretty happy/excited about the idea, although one of them didn't seem as happy and told ash i shouldn't eat it much or i'll get cancer or basically it's bad for you. i'm supposed to try beetle nut with one of the police later.
from ash's place we went over to the first starbucks i went to here. i used the restroom again, but this time i was a seasoned veteran and knew what to do. we hung out there until the police at ash's place called to say tim had shown up. we walked back to ash's place and took tim up to ash's apartment.
we decided to get some food, so we walked over to the night market by ash's school (ntnu). it was still very dead. we ended up going to a burger king for a snack. from there we went over to ash's department area. we ended up going on top of the building, but it was misting and started raining so we didn't stay up there long. we left there and walked around the night market again until we found a thai place that was open.
we left there and walked to 45. i had a white russian, a b-52 shot, maybe another white russian. then ash and i got absinthe shots. one regular and one cinnamon. absinthe was mostly illegal in the u.s. until not too long ago, so i figured i should try some. i can't say as i'm planning on getting an absinthe habit. (although i've always been told about using the spoon and some sugar, and we just had shot glasses.) after drinking there for awhile we headed back to the house.
it seems like every day i've been here it's gotten a little colder and a little wetter. i took an umbrella out with me today and used it some. (i try to have a more british view of an umbrella, and only use it when it's raining pretty good, not just if it's misting or sprinkling or whatever.) i didn't really pack for it being cold and wet. (although ash has said this is far wetter and colder than taiwan usually is, even during this season.)