However, it hasn't taken long for things to start deteriorating -- 11 months to be precise. Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) has already begun to make his mark, if the English moniker of the metropolis' most recent culinary fiesta is anything to go by.
I am talking about Taipei's "Newrow Mian" Festival, which, for those ignorant of Mayor Hau's personal Romanization system, means beef noodles. "Newrow"? It sounds more like the sort of French-accented Mandarin you would expect from a badly congested Inspector Clouseau if they ever made The Pink Panther in Beijing. But then what can you expect from a mayor with a master's degree in food science?
Any laowai getting into a cab and asking for a lift to the nearest "newrow" store will no doubt be greeted with a look more vacant than that of Hau at a council meeting.
My guess is that the city government brokered some sort of deal on purchasing livestock for the festival with "La New" of shoes fame. The city got the right to use La New's dodgy transliteration of the Mandarin word for cow, and so the carcasses were split, with the shoe company getting the leather and the noodle festival getting the beef, so to speak.
But the title of the noodle extravaganza was not the only questionable translation circulating last week. One of the festival's contests was named the "International Teamwork Intercourse Competition." What that has to do with beef noodles is anyone's guess, but I bet the tickets sold pretty fast.
Intercourse with an international flavor also reminds me of a story about a strange cross-strait infatuation that came to light this week.
Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported last Sunday on how legions of People's Liberation Army soldiers have a new sweetheart. But the lady winning the hearts of these commie killers does not reside in liberated territory; she hails from the "unsinkable aircraft carrier" that is Taiwan.
It seems that battalions of Beijing's best have got the hots for one Chang Ya-chieh (
Chang, a pretty 24-year-old with seven years of service, made her debut last month and ever since has had troops here and overseas drooling over their weapons. Hits for the Web site have jumped 700 percent, according to one official.
I managed to track down a picture of Chang, and while she has all the cuteness of the archetypal Taiwanese xiaojie, she's no Lin Chi-ling (
Sex-starved squaddies aside, the question must be asked: What were these Red Army delinquents doing surfing the Taiwanese military's Web site in the first place?
Searching for military intelligence no doubt, because if recent reports about the military's lax standards for protecting important data are to be believed, you could download all you need to know about our military's plans to repel a Chinese invasion from its Web site. Just click the "Top Secret" bar on the home page and viola!