The new Bradt Taiwan travel guide came in the mail yesterday. How new is it? So new that Amazon neglected to send me an email informing me that it had been shipped. So new that up until a couple of days ago, the Bradt travel guides website (www.bradt-travelguides.com/) didn't even have the book listed. So new that I haven't had a chance to give it more than a cursory look, so I can't say yet how it stacks up against the recently published Lonely Planet T'áiwān guide. That quick perusal, however, did turn up the interesting fact (for me, anyway) that, for the first time in English-language T'áiwān 台灣-centered guidebook history, my home area of Fēngyuán 豐原 has been mentioned as a possible destination. For that matter, my edition of the Japanese-language 地球の歩き方 (dating from 2005-06) doesn't give this former county seat any heed, either. Author Steven Crook accurately describes Fēngyuán as a "standard-issue, medium-sized city", and lists the Hòufēng 后豐自行車綠廊 and Tūngfēng 東豐自行車綠廊 bicycle trails as the (only) reasons to visit, with brief but informative descriptions of both (page 171 of the guidebook).
Has TCFKAF (or The City Formerly Known As Fēngyuán) finally made it to the big leagues? If this ex-city desires more than just a cup of coffee up in the Show, it's going to need a Subway or two. That's "Subway" as in the sandwich-shop chain, and not an underground railway (though that is supposedly on the drawing board for some future point in time). According to an article put out by the Associated Press (ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/There-Subways-McDonald-capress-3196713668.html):
"Subway now has more restaurants worldwide than McDonald's. The sandwich chain surpassed the world's largest hamburger chain in terms of number of stores in the U.S. in 2002 and now it has taken the global lead. Subway had 33,749 restaurants worldwide at the end of last year, according to the company. McDonald's Corp. had 32,737, according a regulatory filing."
Here in Fēngyuán, however, the score is McDonald's 5, Subway 0. The fifth branch of the Golden Arches, in fact, only just opened a couple of months ago as part of the new A-Mart hypermarket complex. That's five in a district that had a population of 165,000 before it was absorbed into a larger T'áichūng city 臺中市 last November. Technically speaking, there are outlets of Subway here now that the former cities and towns of T'áichūng County 臺中縣 are part of one, big happy urban conglomeration, but it's hardly convenient for me to hop on the scooter or drive the car to buy a Steak-and-Cheese or BBQ Pork sandwich. In central T'áiwān, at least, Muammar McDonald's reigns supreme. A Tunisian- or Egyptian-styled fast food uprising doesn't seem to be in the culinary cards for now, at least.