Lost in Taipei: Chapter 10

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lost in taiwan taipei story

Lunch Uninvited Part 1

Before long, Peng arrived at the coffee shop, wearing his signature charming smile. Charlie’s pulse quickened as he noticed the effortless charisma that surrounded Peng. 

“Hey Charlie, it’s great to see you this morning. Do you want another cup of coffee?” Peng sounded attentiveness as he wanted to ensure their day started on the right note.

Charlie couldn’t help but smile nervously in response to Peng’s friendly gesture. “Yes, please, I would like an Americano. Thank you,” he replied, trying to sound casual while his heart raced rapidly. 

Peng dived into the conversation with genuine interest, “So, Charlie, how’s your time in Taipei been so far? Any favorite spots or interesting experiences?”

“It’s been quite an experience. Taipei has changed a lot since I left the country, and it’s a fascinating city with so much to explore. Apart from work, I’ve enjoyed walking around the Da’an district and trying out local cafes and eateries since I’m here. So, any recommendations for must-visit places?” Charlie hoped to get insider tips about sites to visit in Taipei from a local.

Without missing a beat, Peng responded enthusiastically, “Oh, I’m thrilled you’re enjoying Taipei! It’s such a vibrant city. Personally, I frequent the night markets as much as I can. Taipei’s street food scene is incredible, and there’s always something exciting happening there. If you haven’t been to Shilin Night Market yet, you should definitely check it out.” 

“Thanks for the suggestion, Peng. Xing also mentioned the amazing local delicacies there. I’ll make sure to check it out soon.” Charlie appreciated Peng’s input and memorized the night market’s name for his next place to explore. 

“Well, enough talk about food. I’m getting hungry. Care to join me for breakfast? I know just the perfect place.” Peng’s flirtatious tone was hard to miss. Charlie agreed to join Peng on this impromptu breakfast adventure since he was hungry.  

Peng led Charlie to a modest, yet charming breakfast shop called “Good Morning” (no pun intended), a local eatery institution that had stood the test of time in the Da’an district.

Charlie was pleasantly surprised by Peng’s choice, which contrasted with his usual over-the-top demeanor. The unassuming place gave a delightful scent of rich flavors, which instantly roused Charlie’s appetite. Peng smirked, clearly pleased with his selection. “Trust me, Charlie. If you want a hearty Taiwanese breakfast, Good Morning is the place to be.”

A smile tugged at Charlie’s lips as he responded, “Judging by the crowd and the heavenly smell, I have no doubt this is a great spot for a local breakfast experience.” 

From savory soy milk and doughy scallion pancakes with fried eggs to steamy congee with thousand-year-old eggs and youtiao, the traditional fried dough bread, Peng skillfully placed their order, making sure they had a taste of everything.  

However, the friendly atmosphere unexpectedly turned when a confident and handsome man entered the cafe. His eyes locked onto Peng, and a grin curled on his lips. Charlie noticed Peng’s expression change ever so slightly, a mix of surprise and uncertainty crossing his face.

“Who’s that?” Charlie asked, curious about the man’s identity and connection to Peng as the stranger approached their table. 

Peng hesitated for a moment, then sighed softly. “His name is Ling. We know each other,” he admitted, a hint of vulnerability in his voice. 

Before Charlie could respond, Ling approached their table, his steps deliberate and purposeful. “Well, well, well, Peng,” he said, his tone dry and sarcastic. “Fancy seeing you here.” 

Peng managed a polite smile. “Hello, Ling. What a surprise to see you here. It’s been a while.”

Charlie observed an unspoken tension between them, realizing there was more to their history than Peng had let on. He chose to stay silent, not wanting to intrude but feeling curious about the drama unfolding. Ling’s gaze shifted to Charlie, and he raised an eyebrow, sizing him up. “And who’s this? A fresh meat, Peng?” he asked with a hint of mockery.

Charlie felt discomfort at the insinuation, but he maintained his composure. “I’m Charlie,” he replied calmly, extending a hand. “Nice to meet you.”

Ling shook his hand with a sneer. “Likewise. When it comes to hooking up with men, Peng knows how to pick them,” he said, his eyes locking with Peng’s again. 

Peng’s demeanor remained composed, but Charlie could sense an undercurrent of unease.

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