TAIPEI was great, better than expected. The reason for stopping there was to see two CouchSurfers whom I had
Hosted in Pai in August. They happened to be having breakfast with me on the morning that I booked my ‘round the world ticket. The ticket began in Seattle and went to Chiang Mai with a plane change in Taipei. When they heard that, they suggested I CS with them.
A stop at the Shanghai airport in late February 2012 and several short stays in Hong Kong in November 1999 comprised my total Chinese experience. (Unless you count Chinatown in San Francisco, NYC and Washington, DC.)
A number of factors made the 5 days there wonderful. These included:
*my terrific hosts, Riccardo and Dudu (more about them later),
*easy to use Metro (subway) and bus system,
*bilingual signs in Chinese and transliterated English,
*terrific, inexpensive food,
*one of the best museums I’ve ever visited (more later),
*a fantastic bakery and a typical Chinese breakfast/lunch restaurant a block from their apartment,
*a spacious 3 bedroom apt. that allowed me my own room.
RICCARDO & DUDU, Italian and Taiwanese 26 year olds, have been together several years. Rick, as he’s known, teaches Italian and translating courses at two universities and Works as a simultaneous translator in English, Chinese and Italian. Next month he’ll earn his PhD in translating from a Taiwanese university.
Dudu works as a freelance costume designer and they had warned me that if he had an assignment, the living room would double as his workshop. Luckily for me, he had six ballet costumes due for delivery on my third day there. Thus, I watched in fascination as he cut and sewed the last one. Turned out that one costume didn’t fit the young ballerina. This necessitated Dudu returning on Saturday with less than 48 hours to re=do one outfit. He worked non=stop on Saturday evening and Sunday all day until 3 a.m. Then Monday morning he added the finishing touches on two gorgeous headpieces that he had created, filled with sequins, feathers and fake jewels that he glued on individually.
When they visited Pai we really hit it off. Our friendship continued and blossomed in Taipei. Rick was quite busy on the weekend, taping three segments of an hour=long TV show where he appears regularly. That was fine since he wrote out directions in English and Chinese each morning for my sightseeing activities. Had no problems navigating the Metro, which Rick said has been voted #1 subway system in the world several years in a row.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM takes its place among the top museums I’ve ever visited, along with D’orsay and L’Orangerie in Paris, The Natl. Gallery of Art in DC, and the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. When the Chinese nationals lost the war against Mao Tse Tung, they grabbed nearly half of the country’s finest art treasures. They’re now housed and displayed at this fabulous venue. Only a tiny percentage of the artwork goes on display at any time. During my visit there was an outstanding exhibit of Chinese Bronzes from the past three millennium on loan from Mainland China.
I spent nearly two days at the museum. The first day I rented an informative audio guide and took a two-hour tour with a fantastic docent who had spent 24 years with Intel in the USA. Her English sounded fine. On my next visit the docent’s accent didn’t live up to the first one’s English. But the tour was enjoyable anyway.
It’s odd that I enjoyed the museum so much since the Freer Gallery, part of Washington’s Smithsonian, never held great appeal to me. Perhaps it’s my maturity (last visit was at least 35 years ago) and the fact that seeing in China/Taiwan had much greater impact.
OTHER TAIPEI HIGHLIGHTS included a lovely day trip to the
Seaside where “old Taiwan” remains with its narrow, winding streets filled with vendors. A wide variety of vendors displayed colorful fruits and vegetables, numerous unusual fish, fresh chickens, meat, delicious food, and many souvenirs. Rick suggested I take the ferry to “Lover’s Bridge,” a pedestrian bridge that connects Fisherman’s Wharf with the island of Taiwan. The day was bright and sunny, perfect weather for a 20-minute boat ride and stroll.
COMPUTER AND iPAD PROBLEMS plague me. Those of you who follow my blog know that my hyphen doesn’t work, thus the equal sign substitutes for it. Now the delete doesn’t work either. It took me about 30 seconds to figure out how to use Command X to remove unwanted material.
The iPad now resides in the repair shop in Chiang Mai, CM.My fingers are crossed that the repairman can order the chip and install it===it’s an important chip that enables internet connection. No doubt the 5 or 6 times that it has been dropped, particularly the one in August that shattered the LCD screen (when stung by two wasps), damaged its internet capabilities. I’ll pick it up on Nov. 28 when I return to CM for the wonderful Loi Krathong Festival.