Japanese beer is awesome. But if you’ve heard an ex-pat rave about it and then tried and Asahi or Kirin at your local sushi place, you’ve likely wondered what kind of government mind control in Asia makes people think they are drinking great beer. The reason is that the big Japanese breweries don’t export, they contract with local breweries to produce the brands under license. The big brands in North America contract their beer: Kirin to Anheuser Busch and Asahi to Molson, so the Japanese beer here tastes pretty much like Busch or Molson. AB is a tool of Satan, and Canadian beer is OK beer, but it’s not great beer. If I want a Molson or a LaBatts, I’ll give the maple tree huggers my money directly.
On a related note, Taiwan Beer is watered down piss from diabetic horses. I drank two liters and couldn’t catch even the beginning of a buzz. Might as well have been drinking Coors Light. So I gave up and switched to Kirin, hoping that it was exported from Japan. Nope. Brewed under license by … Taiwan Beer.
I hadn’t realized how much of an improvement the new 757s, 767s, and 777s are until I flew to Asia on a 747 recently.
Your first trip to Asia will be primarily an olfactory experience.
My wife and I have similar charitable instincts. We want to give money to people who work hard for a living. Overfed monks with begging bowls? Not so much. We bought scallion pancakes from one elderly man every day, even when we really didn't want scallion pancakes.
Chinese people eat bao tz and fried dumplings for breakfast. Perfect for the jet-lagged traveler whose stomach thinks it’s dinner time at 6:00 AM.
Black Pine Sarsaparilla is the best carbonated soft drink on the planet.
If you are ever in Taipei and want a little idea of what Taiwan was like 30 years ago, take a tip up to Keelung (pronounced Jee – LUNG, with the “U” being somewhat between the English “u” and “o” – don’t get me started on transliteration systems from Chinese to English – they all suck). I recommend staying at the Harbor View Hotel , which is very reasonable* and taking in the Miaokou Night Market (open pretty much 24 /7) at the Denji Temple for a great taste of the second world.
* ~$75 US per night for a small room that - unlike many Asian hotels in this price range - does not smell like an ashtray, has 2 beds and a fridge and a view of the harbor, with a real breakfast included