Thursday, November 6, 2008

Oh say can you see... the dawn's early light...

...hundreds of expats, hungover from last night.

So I work in Taipei 101 twice a week. In between classes I tend to hang out at the Starbucks in the lobby if I'm not hungry enough to go to the mall and eat. This gives me a killer vantage point from which to observe the comings-and-goings of Taiwan expats who work in business.

What did I see late this morning?

1.) A line at Starbucks, and for once the majority of customers weren't Taiwanese office folks gearing up for yet another 12 hour workday. Peppered between them were slack-faced yet smiling foreigners with stars in their eyes and dark circles under them.

2.) Other expats - the older ones - looking somewhat downtrodden, probably because their man had been cast aside like an old lion (thanks, Christopher Hitchens) about to be retired from slashing gladiators.

3.) Taiwanese office workers sitting in said Starbucks talking about foreigners ("How strange," one young girl in a purple suit and eye glitter with the telltale ID tag dangling from her neck, "they elect a black man and then they all go get drunk. Nobody's doing any work today! Foreigners! I just don't get it.")

4.) More expats, the happy ones, wandering around like sleep-deprived zombies, occasionally shuffling down to Watson's for more Panadol, silently commiserating about their massive collective hangover.

I was one of the hungover ones. Still am, at 10pm the next night. At least it's a good hangover; the Belgian beer kind, not the nasty Chinese chemical beer kind. We stayed at Red House pub in Shida until it closed, talking, laughing, hoping, drinking and singing the national anthem. Red House was otherwise quiet - we wanted a gathering of friends, not a liberal, libertine throng. The party was going on much louder at Jr. Cafe, Carnegie's and The Brass Monkey, but the only one of those places I actually like is Jr. Cafe and still didn't really feel like dealing with it.

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