It’s a Little Japantown!

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CrossFit Ba Ke Si’s Olivia Park at this year’s Asia Championships in Hong Kong

Outside of work, I’m a lazy person. I don’t like to do more than is required. Thus, it’s a bit ironic that I enjoy doing CrossFit.  Of course, “enjoy” does not include the hour preceding each session when I run through all the reasons why I could go later in the day or week.

And yet, both the physical and the social benefits are clear. CrossFit combines high-intensity interval training with weightlifting. Sessions tend to push members to do routines that no normal person would elect to do. Reviewing the workouts, I often think, This is going to hurt or Why I am paying good money to do this?

Thus, showing up is my main challenge to doing CrossFit.  I’ll wake up at 6:00am, look at the clock, then think , if I change quickly, I can take the 307 bus and make it to the gym. Twenty minutes later, I’ll say, f*** it, I’ll drag myself and call a taxi. A taxi ride costs about $4.50. Since membership is over $100 per month, I tell myself, This doesn’t make sense! I’m spending $60 just to get to class every month.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an idea. If I can find a place near the gym, then I’d be able to go any time I want and use some of the money spent on taxi fare for the room. I found a room for 8,500 NT ($260) or just a tad more than I pay for my co-working space. More importantly, it’s maybe 500 meters to the gym. Seeing how close it was, I promptly paid three months in advance with the option to extend another three months. What a good deal!

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My roommate told me the area is like a little Japantown. There are a lot of places to eat and drink. In addition to signs in Chinese about laundry, convenience stores, and restaurants, there are also several bars with a mix of Chinese and Japanese characters.  Most of the facades resemble Japanese inns.

Last week, I was coming home late from the office and I noticed that my roommate left out some details. Turns out the apartment is smack in the middle of four lanes of Japanese-style hostess bars. Yes indeed, it’s a little “Japantown”!

By day, the area is the opposite of interesting. By night, the area has a splatter of neon, local tough guys, transvestites, and a handful of women dressed like ashawo. The area is not dangerous but it has this element that most other neighborhoods don’t have. I’d argue it could be safer because the local mafia probably runs the area.  Turns out I live behind the (infamous) 林森北路 (Linsen North Road).

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Okay, okay, “hostess bar” has some bad connotations. Last Friday, I wanted to know, am I living in a nest of strip clubs?  Thus, I visited eight bars along one lane in 30 minutes. Fortunately, the answer is “No.” Everyone was fully dressed.  As far as I could tell, it’s like the TV show “Cheers”, where everyone knows your name and where suddenly everything you say is funny. Nothing untoward seems to happen. The men sing karaoke poorly and play drinking games. There is no “champagne room”. Whew!

Cover is 1,200 NT ($37) and you must open, at least, one bottle of whisky that starts at around 5,000 NT ($153) and there also seems to be a seat fee of 1,000 NT ($30) for you and another 1,000 NT  for each hostess.   A guy at the office said it’s not unusual for a trio of guys to drop US$600 in one sitting.

On the bright side, I expect the Japanese sushi and izakaya restaurants to be pretty good. Also there are a handful of Korean and Chinese restaurants with late night eating.  Most nights, I make a straight line from the office to my room. After all, I have to wake up early for CrossFit!

 

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