I cocked up the outward booking slightly by forgetting that an Eastward flight would be an overnight one so I was due to arrive on the day of the “Free Tibet” Chthonic gig. After a typically horrible sleeper and a ninety minute transfer in Hong Kong which was only just enough, I arrived to a hot, steamy, soupy Taiwan summer afternoon. The taxi dropped me near the plaza where the concert was happening and Doris guided me to the artist tents and somewhere to drop my bags.
First mission was to get washed! Louise guided me to the department store that was unknowingly being used as the crew and artist restrooms. I improvised half a shower there and felt significantly refreshed after, getting rid of all the travel crap.
Next stop was FOOD. I’d been reliably informed that Taiwanese street food was the best thing in the world and this proved true with an oyster omlette and some fried dumplings with assorted sauces. Awesome.
My day rounded off zipping through the streets of Taipei on the back of Louise’s scooter. Let me explain about Taipei and scooters: they’re everywhere. They’ve passed a tipping point, where unlike London where cars don’t give a shit, in Taipei, they’ve reached a critical mass so drivers have to be aware of this fragile little things zipping in and out like mad flies. Power to the people! Oh, they swarm.
My final experience that night was to sleep on a thin mat on the floor like a real Asian. It wasn’t SO bad, I guess.
Our mission the following day was to hit Tainan and Taichung for listening parties for Chthonic’s new album. This was a mildly insane drive from one lenghth of the island to another, setting out at a sensible time in the morning and finishing in the wee small hours of the next day. I didn’t get to see much of the country except for highway and rest stops but even there, the cornucopia of weird foods and drinks in the shops were amazing.
For those who don’t know, the Taiwanese have a very inclusive attitude to food. Being very Chinese in culture, having been occupied by the Japanese for over 50 years and with American and European influences, the choice of munchies ranges wide. Familiar brands like Lays, with some very unfamiliar flavours in the exotic and spicy end of the spectrum just ache to be washed down with an ice cold Taiwan brand beer. And that’s just the snacks. More of the real food later.
Oh, in Tainan, lunch was a nice soup noodle with very good stock clearly made from real bones.
Back to the listening parties. The Tainan one was held in the upstairs room of a lovely bar with around fifty fans in attendance. They played the whole album through track by track with accompanying video presentation followed by a Q+A.
A drive up to Taichung, where we dined on dumplings and had another listening party.
Then a week of not doing very much outside as it was SO hot and I had a major distraction, I did manage to get in an interview with Freddy and lots more great food.
On my penultimate day, Chthonic played a home gig at The Wall, Taipei’s spiritual home of metal.
And then I had to come home. Pretty good flight considering. Sad to be back.