Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Around the World Pub Crawl 2pm to 10pm

It started out as a regular pub crawl but developed into something more. My friend John laid down the rules. Every new Taipei bar we went to had to have different international flavor. At each new bar we would have to drink a different country's drink.

So when the day came we all met up at JB's, a British pub/restaurant on ShiDa Road to the south of Roosevelt Road. At 2pm our crawlers came in, one after the other. John, Noel, Alicia, Paula, Graeme, Anita, Peter, Raquel and I. It had begun.

We started with lunch, a (terrible) hamburg because we hadn't eaten and we had a lot of drinking to do. We accompanied our lunch with some great Abbot ale. Very fresh tasting. JB, the owner of the pub, must have dipped into the good stuff for us. Some of us also enjoyed beans and fries and onion rings, standard pub fare. The end of the meal and this stage was signaled by the tasty but bizarre birthday custard bread pudding. Not the most flavorful but, like I said, we needed something in our stomachs for the journey we were about to take.

Next step was The Bastille in the ShiDa area for the Belgian stage at around 3:30pm. Peter, a non-drinker, sensing he was out of his league, bid us farewell. We eventually found our way to the Bastille by going through the various alleys of ShiDa which all look alike. Once at the Bastille we took over the VIP room, a nook in the back, and we stuffed the whole load of us in there. We then proceeded to drink Belgian beer which is usually on the strong side. I chose Chimay Blue, a 9% one with just the right taste. It came recommended by John who was already on his second beer by the time my first came!

And onwards we went, losing Graeme and Anita along the way. It was about 5pm by this point. We walked out to HoPing Road and caught taxis to Salt and Bread, a Russian resto on DunHua South Road. There we commandeered a table and got a round of Russian beers at happy hour prices that I'd like to tell you about if only I could read the Russian on the labels. I got a wheat beer, which had an odd taste; others got lagers. This was served with finger food... bread and sauce.

The decor is dark in Salt and Bread but it was sparkling clean. The walls were red and fringed with those Russian wooden dolls that open to reveal another and another.

And it was here that we entered the notorious "Ice Room". The Ice Room is a freezer room with windows that houses a vodka bar, an ice bar complete with packed ice around the edges. The less tolerant of our group (the girls) wore heavy North Face parkas, supplied by the restaurant. The more daring went in as is but this didn't last long.

Upon entering, we came face to face with the bartender behind a wall of vodka, 140 types to be precise. On the bar, was a thermometer. It read -15C. Once we came in, it heated up to a balmy -12C. John wasted no time and quickly ordered 80% vodka shots. Being the burly (and hairy) Canadian boys we were, we took off our t-shirts and downed the vodka bare chested for show! The shot burned the mucosa off my uvula. Immediately I had a scratchy throat and craved another beer. We took our pictures and I picked up the tab, a reward for my loyal crawlers!

Shit! Almost 6:30pm. Only 30 minutes to get the happy hour at the Australian Outback Steakhouse above the IKEA on Nanjing. It's an odd shaped place, not unlike a boomerang itself. Making our way to the very far side we sat down in our regular spots and ordered our buy-one-get-one-free Ozzie VB beers.

By this point we definitely had the munchies. John, de rigeur, ordered his favorite steak. We ordered fried calamari, which was delicious (or were we just very drunk?) and Noel got a plate of fries with salad dressing for a dip, not bad either.

Looking up on the walls we could see boomerangs everywhere nailed on. Even a bar stool table beside ours was shaped like a boomerang. Tacky but fun!

But this was to be topped in tackiness by Hooters which was our next stop, now nearing 8pm. We walked from IKEA to Hooters down NanJing Road and got in just as their famous and worthwhile hula hoop show was starting (I've blogged about this before). We got a round table and ordered our next international drink. And it was Miller Time baby! And what goes great with Miller? Well, chicken wings and shrimp, that's what! We ordered a platter and proceeded to demolish it.

The performance kicked off with the hostesses doing their regular hula hoop throwing and dancing act. Some girls with their tiny frames can really pack them on, twirling up tp 10 hoops at a time. I repeat, although the food is mediocre at Hooters, this show is good and should not be missed. The Hooter girls elsewhere are not nearly half as talented ("What? ME? Hula hoop?").

Later, they pulled some victims out of the audience to have a hula hoop showdown. We chose our usual whipping boy, Noel! Noel made his best effort, winning a valuable sticky notes pad for his effort and almost getting his shorts pulled off by John at the end of his performance to the cry of one of the hostesses saying "There are children here." I guess shortless Noel would have been way worse than those hot shorts and tops the hostesses had on!

Time for the last leg as it was nearing the 9:30pm mark. We hightailed it to the nearest 7eleven to have the taste of home, Taiwan Beer on the cheap. We snagged some Snickers ice cream bars for good measure to top off the evening and sat like Jay and Silent Bob in front of the store, basking in our accomplishment.

We had gone to 6 locations and had obeyed the rules of getting different international booze at each place. This was truly deserving of "Mission Accomplished".

As we later whizzed away towards home in our cab, we had some final reflections on the whole odyssey. If you are going to undertake such an endeavor, make sure you have the following:
a) a motivated, passionate leader (like John: we couldn't have done it without you man!)
b) a clear idea of where you want to be and at what time (Once again, John had an agenda and kept it!)
c) respect of the rules (Don't break them or face aLuBa by John!)

If you want to see all the pics in their glory, check them out here:
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