Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventures in KTV Land

The people of Taiwan have several favorite pastimes: eating stinky, stinky, stinky tofu, driving like maniacs, and, perhaps most favored of all, KTV-ing (singing karaoke). The latter is something that we generally associate in America with perhaps one too many pitchers of domestic beer and an odd desire to embarrass ourselves publicly. In Taiwan, however, KTV is a little bit of a different matter. You can barely turn a street corner without seeing a Party World or a Holiday- giant buildings devoted solely to the art of singing along with a teleprompter. But it doesn't stop there. Oftentimes you'll be strolling around in Taipei and run into some serious, live KTV action right on the street- we've even witnessed a KTV battle. Oh yes, and talent, you ask? Irrelevant. Just grab a mike and sing your heart out- we've seen, and unfortunately heard, some pretty tone-deaf people draw a huge crowd of devoted listeners.

Well a few weeks ago we were finally convinced by our Taiwanese friend to give this whole phenomenon a try. So we got a group together and headed out to Taipei. First we stopped at a night market to load up on cheap and tasty goodies- dumplings, spicy crab legs (a whole box for under $4 U.S.), sweet potato fries, noodles, and chicken soup.

An awesome thing about these big venues like Party World is that you actually rent your own private room. We had a wrap-around leather couch, bathroom, bar, flat-screen, and of course, all the KTV equipment we could want- song lists, stage, mikes, etc. We had this room reserved for around four hours and it only cost $15 a person- unbelievable. So far so good- our next concern was that there wouldn't be a decent selection of songs in English. While it was true that a few classics were missing (no Queen?), for the most part we all found some fantastic tunes to belt out in our wonderfully sound-proof room- thus eliminating the humiliation factor. One thing the experience had in common with back home was the drinks. The mini-kegs of Taiwan beer kept us able to stand the sound of each other's voices :) I think we're starting to understand this trend a bit more... 


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