The snake soup comes out and we are floored. It comes with a handful of murky shots that all look slightly daunting.
Oh booooooy, here we go! I think Jamie’s face says it all:
Our server does a fairly good job describing the process to us. First you take half of the larger snake blood shot. Then you dump the next shot in to fill the snake blood glass back up. That shot is.. snake bile? You drink half of the snake blood/bile shot and repeat the process with the rest of the shots. Fill the shot glass back up, drink half, fill with the next shot, drink half, and finish by taking the two snake oil pills while downing the entire 3 ounce shot of everything mixed up in the glass at the end. Then you eat the snake soup. Wow.
The ordering of the 6 shots mix is this: Snake blood, snake bile, ginseng wine, snake wine, snake venom, and snake oil with the snake oil pills… wait back it up snake venom? “Yes, poison. Is ok” she rubs her tummy, “Is good for men”. Apparently getting a snake bite and having the poison in your bloodstream can be fatal, but drinking it and having your stomach break it down is… good for men? (Also the ginseng wine and snake wine is “good for men”, but in a different and more sexy kind of way.) Drisdelle looks back and forth from me to her while she’s describing this whole thing. He’s worried as hell. He’s grossed out. He actually looks like he’s going to faint. I’m loving it. Alright let’s do it.
The snake blood is actually not as thick as I thought it would be. Not too bad, kind of bland really. “Ahhhhgg” goes the Drisdelle. Yes! Alright in goes the bile and glub glub half of that down. “Ohhh c’mon!” haha, it’s not that bad man, suck it up. Ginseng wine? No problem. Glub glub glub. Snake wine? Sure! glub glub. “How are you doing that?”, at this point I’m a couple shots ahead of Drisdelle. He’s all up in his head, thinking about it way too much, grossing himself out. “Come on, this isn’t fear factor or anything. It’s honestly not that bad.” Snake venom? Oh yeah, here we go! “Wait is that snake venom or semen? Looks like semen”, “I dunno man, she said venom. Who cares, ‘is good for men!'”, glub glub glub. “Oh gaaaawd” haha, we’re almost there! Two snake oil pills in the gullet, snake oil in the glass to finish the snake mix, glub glub glub ahhhhhhh! Delicious! Well, not really. But done.
Drisdelle’s grimace can be seen from the moon. Just do it, don’t think about it! Tilts his head back and drains the glass slowly, swallows the pills with it, there’s a shudder in his shoulders, oh no… will he hold. He’s holding. He holds it. Ok we’re good. “Oh man, what the hell?” he wipes his mouth with his sleeve, “Yeah, pretty fun right?”. On to the soup.
The snake soup is kind of a bitch to eat. Or maybe we just don’t know how to do it right. The snake kind of flakes off of the main spinal column and is similar to eating fish. Little bones run up the spine and shoot out perpendicular into the meat. You’re constantly pulling them out of your mouth. This reminded me of eating chicken feet at dim sum, where you’re working hard to get each little morsel of meat while pulling bones out of your mouth and questioning whether the end results are worth the struggle. Keeping to what’s been widely reported, the snake tastes like chicken. A little on the softer side. The soup broth was great and, aside from the bone fiasco, I’d say the whole thing was descent. The experience was definitely worth it.
When we were done we weren’t that full though. Full of snake juices for sure, but not physically full in the belly, so we brought the server back to inquire about other exotic goodies. I pointed around the menu and found some interesting things: mouse, dog, turtle? Teriyaki turtle. Yep, one of those. And what’s this? Crocodile. Oh yeah, one of those for sure. We chowed down while another parade passed behind us through the alley.
The turtle and crocodile were both fantastic, and a good amount of food. Our meal was complete. We paid up and waddled out the back of snake alley and into the exploding streets beyond.
The day of worship shenanigans had somehow escalated a bit. There seemed to be more people out now and more elaborate parades and fireworks. I suppose it was still early in the evening. We stroll around taking it in a little more.
We walk passed a small group of people watching what looked like a play. There was a girl all dolled up in costume and a band behind a screen behind her was accenting every sentence she said with a pwan pwahn pwang! I wish I knew what she was saying, pwan pwahn pwang! It seemed pretty hilarious, pwan pwahn pwanhg!
More floats, more fireworks, and more music meant more The Beer. Everywhere we went there was a parade.
We somehow stumbled upon a float with two dudes working one of those tandem Chinese dragon type costumes. One guy works the head and front legs, the other the rump and hind legs. There were a series of pole/platforms on the back of a flatbed that they jumped between and danced on top of. These guys were amazing! The two of them in unison making huge leaps from one set of poles to the next, all while making the dragon come alive with their hands and feet, as if it were a real beast dancing on the top of the trees. The dragon’s head weaved to and fro as if it was real. These guys were really good at this, what an interesting and fantastic talent!
We walk around some more and get caught right in the middle of some exploding street fireworks. Bits of flaming paper are shooting out everywhere. Drisdelle is taking cover behind a car while I get a little too close trying to take a video. I’m getting nailed in the chest as they plahp plahp plahp their way in a surging wave of smoke and fire towards me. Ok, it’s a bit much, I’m backing up. It seems they do this before every parade procession that comes down the street. Smoke everywhere. People looking down from their apartment windows, holding their bewildered children.
Alright, as fun as this whole day of worship madness is, it was getting to drinks o’clock. We decide to head back towards snake alley and the Longshan Temple to make our exit on the metro back towards EEDD and some local watering hole. On our way back we get blocked outside of a temple. There’s a huge throng of people by the entrance and somehow we’ve come back across those dragon dancer dudes again. Was this the main event?
Yep, they go into a similar routine but this time even more animated, the dragon is even more alive, the jumps even more ambitious. It’s great. I’m snapping pics and taking video. During one vid some guy comes up to the dragon with a box and the dragon goes over and digs into it. Then it starts biffing buns out into the crowd. “Lucky rolls”, Getz explains. Apparently catching one is lucky and there’s a fortune or the name of the temple or something printed on them. The dragon is launching them from his mouth out into the crowd, everyone has arms up hoping to catch one. While I’m videoing the whole scene one just nails me in the chest and I reactively create a small gravity manipulation and somehow catch it in my hand. Haha Lucky!
After bun time, the dancing dragon is joined by two other dragons down in front of the temple and there is some sort of ritual dance while a priest of some sort comes from the temple to great the humble dragons. After the ritual dance the dragons all proceed in to the temple and the crowd cheers, holding up their lucky rolls, and some song breaks out among everyone. Another group of people come before the temple carrying some sort of shrine. They get blessed and the whole procession moves on down the street, pwan pwahn pwanhg!
Damn. I’m glad we stumbled upon that. Ok seriously though. Drink o’clock. We bust through the parading worshipers and find our way back to the Longshan temple metro. Hmmmmmm, that temple looks pretty rad, would be a shame not to take a look. We walk over and wow, is this temple ever cool.
So you walk through this…
And get here. Then you walk through this…
…and get here. Then walk passed that…
…and get here…
… and back outside there’s a cool fountain…
Ok that was definitely worth a look. NOW it’s drink o’clock! We hop the metro back towards EEDD and decide it’s time to hit one of the spots we’d looked up the other day. I mean, it had such an alluring name, we just had to see what it was all about.
Zssssht, gap, steps, alright where’s Fucking Place? We get our bearings. Hmmmm seems out of walking distance. We hop a cab. “Yeah, we’re looking for Fucking Place”, “Fahking Place?”, “Yep”, I show him the screen shot from the other night, “Ahhhh, ok, Fahking Place.”
We zip off to Fucking Place, the cabbie describes that its on the second floor. We take his word for it. There’s absolutely no sign or any way to discern that there may be a bar in this building. Not even the din of music or laughter that usually denotes that there is a bar nearby. We find some steps and head up. On the case!
We come to a glass door and see a bar through it. Must be the place. We stroll in and grab a seat at the bar. Quaint little place. The bar seats about ten and then there are just 2-3 booths, a sofa/2 chairs/coffee table ensemble, and a pool table. Bathrooms must be upstairs. There’s an Iron Maiden flag hanging alongside the bottles behind the bar. In stark juxtaposition to this, a guy is DJing up a youtube playlist of pretty bad ass gangster rap.
Beside us is a white guy about our age and an older Taiwanese guy playing what looks like liar’s dice with a cup. They each shake their cup of several dice and slam it, glance under the cup, and make bets. Lots of oohs, ahhs, and high fives between rounds. Both bartenders have piercings and ear plugs, one seems involved in the game somehow. Seems like a cool, local joint. Still a little early I guess. The only other person here is a cute girl in a Guinness jacket milling about aimlessly.
I ask the bartender for a drink recommendation and he puts together 2 potent but well balanced… somethings. They were good. The bartenders know their craft, that’s always nice to see.
Liar’s Dice dude next to us strikes up some conversation. Turns out he’s from the south of Spain. Went to university here and liked it so much he’s still here. Never caught what he does. He was a super nice guy and helped translate our drink orders to the bartenders for a few rounds while chatting about Taipei and the intricacies of our own lives. A few more people are showing up and the spot starts to get a little bit of a vibe going.
The Guinness girl comes over to chat us up too. Her name is Sasha. Like all Taiwanese girls we’ve met so far she’s sweet and adorable. Turns out she’s actually a Guinness rep and is offering some sort of Guinness special. It sounds like a good deal, but after street drinking The Beer all night the Adventure Detectives had definitely turned the corner into cocktail alley. She talks to us for while even though we don’t take her up on the deal.
I notice behind the bar there was a good collection of empty bottles that I’d never actually seen before. “You know what that is?”, I ask Agent Getz. “Nope, never seen it.” Hmmmmm, I look it up. The stuff is called Spirytus Rektyfikowany. It’s a Polish rectified spirit that is an insanely high 95% ABV (190 proof!). The site I find and a few others warn to never drink it neat, always mix it with something. Ok, I’m intrigued. Getz? Sure, we’ve already done 6 shots of snake shit. Alright let’s look into this.
I get Spanish Liar’s Dice guy on the case and we bring over one of the bartenders. “We want to try the Spirytus, what do you usually mix it with?” The bartender just makes the shot motion. Getz slaps his hand on the table. Haha, research said specifically not to do that. But the Spanish guy has some inside info, “They also make a drink with it called a 3 in 1”, “Ok, what’s that?”, “It’s those three bottles there in one large shot” He points to the bottle wall, “It will totally work for you guys”. I look at the bottles. Ahhhh yeah, Liar’s Dice, that will totally work for anyone. That could kill a yeti. Bicardi 151, Absinthe, and Spirytus. Three of the strongest alcohols there is, in a single, large shot. I look at Getz. Fuck it, we’ll take two 3-in-1s.
They serve it up pre-mixed from an absinthe bottle into a 3 ounce shot glass. A true Fucking Place special. I feel like we’re completing some right of manhood. Will this erase or add to the snake bloods ‘Good for men’ effect?? They also give us 2 large glasses of water. Great. I think that’s saying something. Whatever. Getz? Clink, bar pound, upsie daisy. Whhaaaaaaaaooooow! Ok, that’s some serious shit. Shhhhhheeeeeeesh. Yeaaaaaah. The bartender doles out a high five. Liar’s Dice is right there with one too. “Welcome to the rest of your night” he says. Wow. Yeah Ok. Egads
On queue, 2 more groups of locals come through the front door laughing, in the middle of some funny story. Sitcom timing. Sasha is on them with the Guinness specials. The gangster rap is pumping, the place is coming alive. Some dude at the end of the bar is working on a light-up coaster sculpture, including an empty bottle of spirytus and three LED blinking coasters. He’s a balance architect trying to defy physics and like a wizard he’s almost got them arranged. “We’re gonna barf tonight, there’s so much shit swirling around in there”, “Nah man. We’ll be fine…. well maybe.”
We stick around for a couple of solid rounds. The bartenders here really know how to mix a drink. They’re excellent. The music is excellent. The locals are cool and friendly. Sasha can’t take her eyes off us. There’s something about this Fucking Place, we really dig it here.
As the night spins into a spirytus/escher infinity, we decide to try and hit another spot before every place is lights out. There seems to be a couple of decent places nearby, one is called the Prozac Balcony Bar. We drift off in it’s general direction. Seems not to be that open. Some people see us looking through the windows and come out. “Closed up. But DV8 might be open”. Cool thanks. We deviate. Nope also closed. Hmmmmmm. Could try places back by EEDD.
We white guy summon a taxi and get out near the place we’d been the day before, 45. It’s open. But we’d spotted another spot called Box that seemed kind of clubby last night. We saddle over. It’s closed. Well poop. Back to 45.
When we mosey up their insanely steep steps we notice the get the fuck out music is already on. Whatever, we grab a couple of Godfathers. Sit back and take in our amazing day. Chiang Kei-Shek memorial, Taipei 101, some tech conference, Lighthouse Beer Bistro, Longshan Temple, Snake Alley, a day of worship parade with Dragon Dancers, Fucking Place and now back to 45. Man, Taipei is a blast!!
Some good ol’ Willy Nelson comes on followed by some unexpected but very welcomed Leonard Cohen. Ahhhhh yeah. Here’s the wind down, this is nice. They’re cleaning up in here. It’s over. Happy Thursday.
We stroll back to Eight Elephants Dreaming Dragon. Hit up the 7/11 for some super late night snacks. Sausages, dumplings, and chicken wings. head passed the 7/11, under the piano sign, through the lane, and back to the hostel. I check in on my laundry. Ahhhh yeah, clean shit.
We grab some honor beers from the fridge and hit the front stoop. Nice night. Betel Nut? Sure. We mow down our 7/11 snacks and then launch into an after hours beer and betel binge. Wow that warmth, all the way to my earlobes. Autobahn highway! We rampage until Michael Keaton appears out of nowhere and bitch slaps each of us in the face. AHhhhhhh, just in time for bed.