After our hot spring visit, my cousin and her eighteen-year-old daughter brought us to the Ximen District, the old center of commerce in Taipei. In the 70's, the major commerce center was moved to the area around where the Taipei 101 building is now located. The Ximen District is very popular among teens in middle and high school, and even elementary students go there to try to be cool. The district offers shopping, arcades, and entertainment catered to this young crowd.
We walked around and shopped for a while, and I found myself people watching more than anything. The youth culture is heavily influenced by Japanese style, as well as American and European trends.
One artifact of the Japanese influence are these photo booths. You can find them in an arcade-style store that is filled with booths. They are kinda like the photo booths that you know and love, but on steroids. The camera adds a sort of "glamour shots" effect that makes you look kinda like a cartoon. After you pose for several pictures, you go to another booth where you use a touchscreen pen to add clipart, frames, and writing to your photos. Once I figured out what each of the buttons was, I went nuts. I even made one picture with tons of cash and bling (upper right). I'm sure whoever brings this to the States is going to make a boatload of money. Anyone interested in going into business?
The girl in the pictures is my cousin's daughter, Annie. She told Dad that she didn't like her English name and wanted a new one. She asked me if I would give her a new English name. I spent some time thinking and decided on Heidi. She is currently debating the change, so if you have another idea for a name, be sure to post it in a comment. You could name a Taiwanese girl!
We did a little more shopping (I found a tight pair of seersucker Air Force Ones) and ended our trip to the Ximen District. Heidi had mentioned that she liked my sunglasses when we were on the subway, so I gave them to her before we parted ways. Sunglasses AND an English name . . . It feels good to give back a little to the city that is giving me so much!