Crisis in Taipei (Mel's 18)
Back to where I left off. The week preceding the trip to Chia Yi with YuYing and her family, I went with the Principal, Polan and Wei Chang to a Primary School just around the corner. This was by far the largest audience to which I have presented - nearly four hundred kids. Yes, it was pretty daunting. And yes, I'm pretty sure they didn't understand a word I said. Still, I survived to try to be understood another day. In fact, before my presentation, there was a performance of the Virginia Reel by the Jhong Siao students that I had taught to dance. The massive improvement they had made has given me my first sense of achievement since I arrived here. It feels pretty good.
The rest of the week was a standard week, slowly working away at homework and the audio books I am creating. The last one I recorded was "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", so if you feel like listening to my soothing voice reading out a childhood classic, just let me know. I finished that and the weekend had arrived.
Friday evening involved an outing with YuYing, her professor and some of her friends to a hot pot restaurant. However, this was no ordinary hot pot restaurant. The hot pots not only contained boiling
water, but also a large quantity of rice wine - definitely the most intoxicating meal I've ever had.
Saturday the 17th was noteworthy as the first time I can remember having a long lie. Bliss! When I woke I had lunch. Yes, lunch.
A quick aside: I've been calling my host’s son, "Danny". Rather embarrassingly, I found out a few days ago that he's actually called "Denny". However, I’ve decided that for the purposes of this blog (and my sanity) I'm going to continue to call him "Danny"!
Back to the weekend… After lunch, Danny took me to play badminton with his friends, Sam and "Oh Yeah"... I have no idea how he got that English name but he did. We played doubles for 2 hours, which was far too long for me as I was still tired from what seemed like a long week. Not much rest for the wicked as Winnie was taking me to the cinema (again not a date) to see "Crimson Peak". Other than her dreadful parking and her screaming/ squealing at the "scary" bits, I feel our non-date went well.
After a relaxing Sunday spent with YuYing, and later with Danny and Oh Yeah (table tennis this time), reality hit. I faced a mountain of homework, which I finished in the early hours of the morning.
Yet, I went to school a few hours later in a very positive mood – it was a 4-day week! I'll skip the detail of 4 regular days: to school, audio book work, research for presentations (latest subject kilts), to Cheng Da (Uni) for Chinese classes, some exercise and finally homework in the evening.
On Thursday evening, life became more exciting. I was bound for Taipei on the High Speed Railway. Andie met me there and thankfully guided me on the Taipei metro system to my hostel because my brain hurt after a Chinese test in the afternoon. Andie and her friend Lily entertained me over the weekend showing me parts of Taipei, including a cool exhibition, a shop with the craziest hats I’ve ever seen (extortionately priced), a creepy puppet display (puppets freak me out) and the Taipei National Palace Museum (which has so many artefacts that they change them everyday and if you go every day for a year, you still wouldn’t see them all – see photo below), after which we collapsed in a heap at the hostel.
Then I really freaked out. Why?
It was Mel. It was her 18th birthday. I had almost forgotten. So, I sent her a message wishing her a happy birthday. She was not amused. Surely this was an inadequate way to mark the occasion given a friendship as old as ours. I couldn’t agree more, so my second photo for this blog is nothing to do with Taiwan. It is a reflection of the high esteem in which I hold my old friend, Mel. I don’t do collages (if you can call it that – artists look away now) for just anyone
Happy (belated) Birthday Mel!
Back in Taiwan, Andie and Lily were keen to show me the Taipei nightlife, so they took me to what seemed like a normal pub. It was a normal pub until some girls jumped on to the bar and started dancing in a way that you will just have to imagine. Better still, one of the girls came and sat at our table…but only because she was a friend of one of our group. So, I now have interesting connections in Taipei.
Sunday was no less exhausting – I met Paige (my exchange partner from 4 years ago), took a gondola up a hill to see an incredible view and sample its famous Tea Ice-Cream – seeing as I am not a Taiwanese tea enthusiast, I left that to Paige, who rated it highly – ate Vietnamese food for lunch, met Andie and Lily to visit the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, an attractive white concrete and marble monument erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan.
After dinner, I was safely deposited on the High Speed Railway back to Tainan. Many thanks to Andie, Lily and Paige for a memorable weekend and for keeping me alive in Taipei. I’ll be back.