Tile-Pei

I expected the rain on this trip to Taiwan. I wasn’t expecting to slide all the way across the sidewalk …

Sidewalks may be wet when raining. People may fly when sidewalks are wet.

Sidewalks may be wet when raining. People may fly when sidewalks are wet.

I love Asian warning signs. They’re totally honest and mildly amusing, assuming you think it’s funny to see the guy from the rest room sign falling down more than a clumsy French waiter trying out for the cast of Jackass. However, the wet sidewalk warning in Taipei cannot be treated as a joke.

My well-worn pair of Merrell moc slip on shoes apparently have zero tread. Combining this with Taipei’s sidewalks is a bad thing. The sidewalks here are mostly tile. Yes … tile. Concrete is used for ramps at intersections, but the rest of the walking surfaces are a combination of cobblestone and ceramic tile. It looks like a bathroom floor with buildings instead of toilets.

This is city hall. This isn't a giant restroom. Don't pee here.

This is city hall. This isn't a giant restroom. Don't pee here.

The effect is lovely. The streets don’t look ordinary. You get neat patterns in front of different buildings, giving the city a bit of personality. However, you can also fall and bust your ass moving between the crosswalk and the corner. The transition between the hotel and sidewalk is jarring, and I’ve done my share of awkward sliding as I make my way from the Grand Hyatt Taipei to the W each damp morning.

The Vibram Five Fingers I packed are perfect for this environment … they also draw a lot of attention (note to Vibram – open a store here, you’ll do very well). But they’re not made for business, so I only wear them when I’m out on the town at night. I don’t see people falling all over the streets here, so I must be out of touch with the daily life of this slick city.

When I get back home I’ll consider getting new soles put on my shoes. This pair has been around the world with me for almost a decade. It would be a shame to retire them just because Taipei shops for sidewalks at The Home Depot.

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