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Taiwanderings With REBEL8

Taiwanderings with REBEL8 from Lula Apparel on Vimeo.

Always up for a new adventure, when REBEL8 founder Joshy D. was greeted at Taiwan’s Taiyuan Airport, he was grinning like a kid in a candy store. Greeted by Lula 101 founder and president, Sherry Lu, and chief marketing officer, Bill Ross, they collectively served as his translator, tour guide and fellow party animals.

The first order of business after settling in at a hotel in Taiwan’s Ximending shopping district was to grab lunch at a local café. Not knowing exactly what type of Taiwanese food Joshy might like, we ordered everything on the menu. And Joshy didn’t disappoint, because he tried it all, including a nice, tall Taiwan Beer to wash it all down.

Stuffed with food, we needed to walk it off, which was an ideal opportunity to show Joshy the sights and sounds that make Taipei so cool, unique and sometimes a little weird.

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Armed with his trusty camera, Joshy took pictures of anything and everything, from signs with English wording that had funny translations to the Modern Toilet Restaurant: “Please kindly invite your friends to eat shit.” Modern Toilet offers enticing fare like “baby’s explosive diarrhea” (actually just green curry) served in mini toilet bowls.

Taipei also has of the highest per capita concentrations of convenience stores on earth. Where else can you pay your college tuition, eat dinner, print concert tickets, send express mail and buy a bottle of Johnny Walker Scotch at 4:30 a.m.?

Oh, and let’s not forget the Taiwan garbage trucks. Where else in the world will you find garbage trucks that sing to you?

When not walking, we took taxis rather using rented cars. A note to foreigners: Never – ever – rent a car in Taiwan … stick with public transportation! Although Taiwanese are the nicest people in the world, they morph into street-mob sadists once they hop on a scooter or get behind the wheel. Most of the Taiwanese taxi drivers are at the top of the motorized food chain, and most are very friendly, although we did meet one who must have had a wife who denied him wifely pleasures, because he was grumpy as hell … and nearly killed us.

Joshy continued to embrace opportunities to try something different. From the hotel’s huge Taiwanese buffet, to alley cafes, he couldn’t get enough. But nothing matched the intrigue of the night markets. They come alive after five, and the sights and smells draw you further and further into an endless abyss of food stands and goods for sale. So we hit all the night markets in Taipei as well as one in Kaohsiung. And while he did enjoy Taiwanese sausages on a stick, and even drank snake blood, he drew the line at trying the Stinky Tofu … the name says it all.

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Ever the intrepid explorer, Joshy even tried Bin Lang, which is what Taiwanese call betel nuts; which are chewed like tobacco and have a stimulant effect, not to mention turning one’ teeth brown in short order. Oftentimes, sexy Bin Lang girls are the ones selling them in side-of-the-road stands that have flashy neon lights to draw attention to them (as if being dressed in lingerie and all made up isn’t attention-grabbing enough as it is), but we had no such luck when buying Bin Lang for Joshy. Maybe it’s just as well … he probably didn’t need that kind of distraction.

But Joshy wasn’t just in Taiwan to eat new foods or see new sights, such as what was once the world’s tallest building, Taipei 101. No, he was there to visit with his fans at the streetwear shops, tattoo parlors and even at the annual tattoo convention in Kaohsiung, where he served as a special guest judge at its tattoo contest. While there, he was signing his autograph on people’s posters, REBEL8 shirts and hats, and even one girl’s left boob (her request, not his).

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Back in Taipei, Joshy was particularly intrigued by the Buddhist temples, where he burned incense and prayed to the various Buddhas – particularly the god of financial matters in order to make REBEL8 even more successful than it already is, and the god of fertility. (After all, even Joshy wants to make little Joshy ’s one of these days.)

It seemed like everywhere we visited, magazine and newspaper reporters wanted interview to find out more about how REBEL8 was started and how Joshy and Mike Giant began working together with almost no money at the beginning. Joshy did not disappoint, and he was happy to talk to everyone who had questions for him. However, that made for tiring days; so much more Taiwan beer was needed at the end of each day to power him through the evening.

The clubbing scene’s no slouch either, and we were invited to attend a VIP gathering at the Luxy Club, complete with live bands, sexy go-go dancers and, of course, lots of Taiwan beers.

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No visit to Taiwan would be complete without a good foot and body massage, and even though our masseuses seemed hell-bent on making us all cry out in pain as they worked the knots out of our sore muscles; miraculously we all felt refreshed and relaxed after the deed was done.

Joshy wound up his visiting local museums, taking lots more photos of the sights, including Taiwanese graffiti and saying good-bye to countless REBEL8 fans, one of whom had asked him to write his signature and REBEL8 on his forearm – and then had it promptly tattooed there to make it permanent. Now THAT’s fan devotion for you. Or maybe it was just the Taiwan Beer.

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More photos here

REBEL8 TAIWAN fan page: https://www.facebook.com/REBEL8Taiwan