I’m loving my no frills NDB flip flops.
The toe isn’t huge.
Fit is perfect.
Insole isn’t slick (the one downfall of my Sanuk Fraid Nots)
These babies get on, stay on and never ask for a raise. They know their job is to be your silent appreciated partner on the journey of the day.
So, how’d we get here? In a last minute trip to Taiwan I needed some great flip flops for the emerging spring days ahead, I reached into the flip flop pile looking for something I could trust, something that didn’t have a mind of its own and a pair that generally wouldn’t bring any more drama into my life. A quick survey and the NDB’s came to the top of the list. (it was also REALLY helpful that they were still in shoe (flip-flop) bags from my last trip).
Saturday morning, after exploring the Xinyi district for a while and waiting for coffee shops to open, I got a cup of joe and headed off past the office buildings, fancy condos, nice parks and a bunch of people dressed up for a zombie (COVID) apocalypse.
“…’Administered middle aged guy first aid’ badge”
I followed the trail in the park, a few signs, and the smell of freshly opened Gatorade. Suddenly it’s in front of me, “Elephant trail”. The trailhead has a mixed collection of; trail regulars, those prepared for Mt Everest, the athleisure crowd and a few boy scout troops all giving their scout master the, “we got up early and gave up Xbox for this?!” Looking up I see why, a seemingly endless flight of stone steps winds up the mountain side and into the heavens lies ahead.
Assessing the situation, I looked down…just as I’d suspected, everyone else is wearing tennis shoes at the very least – most are wearing hiking boots. “Alright NDB, let’s do this!” I elbowed my way through the bleary eyed, neckerchief clad scouts and hit the trail with a sense of determination and a keen awareness that a lot of eyes were on me.
All I gotta do is get out of the watching eye’s view, while keeping up this ridiculous pace. The one thing I didn’t account for in my bravado inspired rush up the trail – the stairs are completely uneaven and worn smooth. Holy shit did I choose right with the NDB flip flops. If I’d worn the Uggs, I’d have put on a meme-worthy display of me going ass over teakettle down the mountain side steps, careening into the crowd below and giving the scout troop a chance to earn a collective – “Administered middle age guy first aid” badge.
“The NDBs with me every step, laser precision”
The pace turns out not to be that bad. I slow a little and hit a well measured here, there, here, there approach as I spot each coming footfall onto the disjoined elevated step of worn stone. The NDBs with me every step, laser precision; no oversized toe-pad catching the stair above, their perfectly tensioned strap keeping the sole close, but not cutting off my circulation. The functional and grippy sole taking me the distance.
There are apparently a total of 600 steps to the top, I’m not sure how many flights this works out to, but it’s somewhere between “Really…more?!” and “If I stop here, I can just post stock images on Instagram.”
The NDB’s and I continue on and get to a gravely part with big rocks, all good; my flip flops are locked in and not going anywhere I don’t want them to go. There’s a line of people waiting to climb the rocks while a VERY pregnant woman occupied the prime “INSTA” spot doing tube top yoga ensuring that her cameraman captured; baby to be, Taipei 101 and her “good side” for a full 20 minutes. So, we sojourn on and set sights on the overlook deck.
Upon reaching the crest I took in the view and unintentionally photo bombed dozens of aspiring Instagram Influencers. I reflect on how the balance of, fit, sizing, grip and weight were perfect for our journey. The other contenders for this trip were the always great Chacos, but at what feels like 4x the weight it would have been like trying the climb the peak after eating 3 McMuffins.
WHOA! The ascent was 20 minutes of sweat and cursing, the descent could easily be 30 seconds of cursing, broken bones and an emergency room visit. The steepness and disjoined nature of the stairs wasn’t clear until I retraced my path back to civilization. It was nothing short of terrifying.
As each step on the way up had to be checked, each mini fall and catch on the way back down was sheer terror. There are only really three pair of flip flops I would have done this in. Any other I would have taken off and known my own bare feet on stones would have performed better.
The only way I was able to stay upright on the descent was having a partner on the journey as dedicated as I and not looking for any drama. I only embarked on this journey because of my trust in the NDB’s. If they were better looking…it wouldn’t work. This is what real flip flops are for.
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