Saturday, April 26, 2014

Taiwan Nice

We've just spent four days in Taiwan, two in Taipei and two exploring the northern part of the island.

I'm going to have to quote others when I come up with a description. Ryan Ha, my Beijing son, calls Taiwan "China's well-behaved older sister." That's pretty close to a perfect description. And my actual son Daniel said to us today, "Hong Kong is China with nicer things. Taiwan is China with nicer people."

To clarify, it's not that mainland Chinese are not nice. But they don't always go out of their way to help strangers. In Taiwan, opening up a map or even pausing on a street corner was reason enough for Taiwanese to rush up and offer help.

Even a cab driver we took to see the outdoor museum of sculptor Ju Ming on the northern tip of the island stopped his cab and bought a steaming bag of zongzi, the special food of the dragon boat festival, which he offered to us.  After all, it was noon, and for Chinese people of all nations, 12 means you stop what you're doing and eat. Same for 6 pm.

In any event, it was a fun respite, even with the usual hassles of spontaneous travel, such as the two-hour bus ride careening down a mountainside, hands gripping the seats because we had to stand the whole way. We rewarded ourselves after that with a heavy Italian meal and a bottle of Pinot noir, which in return rewarded us with a sleepless night of indigestion.

Ugh. Another line.
Only you can prevent gold mining.

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