Saturday, March 26, 2011

Back from Taiwan

Chiang Kai-Shek: "Are you sure you love Taiwan?" Mao: "Sure!"
Nana and I got back to Fukuoka today (after an early flight this morning--ugh) and promptly fell asleep for a few hours. More on the trip to come over the next couple weeks.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Short update

A great, fun, and fortunately safe day here in the south of Taiwan, where we've been staying at a great little hostel called the Surf Shack. Since the weather wasn't cooperating for surfing today, we rented a scooter and tootled all over, from the great nearby aquarium to the coral reef park which marks what's basically the southern tip of Taiwan (but don't say that to them - they claim a little pod of offshore coral, which lets them extend territorial waters some fourteen kilometers). For someone who really just sat on the back of the scooter and hung on, I'm surprisingly exhausted tonight, so I apologize for the lack of photos and the little video I shot on the back road.

We may surf tomorrow morning if we can, then it's back up to Taipei and dinner with friends from Edinburgh University. We'll be back in Fukuoka on Saturday - which, don't forget, is the last day to vote in the "Spend Our Money" charity poll! You can vote by clicking on your choice from the list on the upper right of the blog, or by sending an email or leaving a comment. Winning charity gets Justin and my $180 ANA refund.

Interestingly, there's been a lot of charity fundraising here in Taiwan for Japan. I asked some people raising money at a temple about it, and they said (I think; my Chinese is a bit fuzzy) "In the 1970s, Japan was a very good friend to Taiwan," and has continued to be since. This may be a reference to Japanese investment in Taiwanese manufacturing during this time, or to Japan's support of Taiwan in the international arena during the years when Nixon normalized relations with the PRC, culminating in Taiwan losing the "China" seat in the United Nations. In any case, it's been quite touching to see little Japanese flags and fundraisers around the island, and I hope the Japanese know how many friends they have here in Taiwan.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hotel in Kaohsiung, and an Unexpected Delicacy

Nana and I made it safely to our hotel in Kaohsiung this afternoon, after a leisurely 1.5-hour ride from Taipei on the high-speed train.

It's a nice little hotel, I must say--Nana came across it on Agoda, a discount hotel website that seems to do a lot of business in Asia. It looks like a dump from the street (but then again, so does just about everything here), but the inside is tastefully decorated and spotlessly clean. Plus, the room is almost as big as our apartment in Fukuoka, with a really posh bathroom, to boot.

The best feature, though, is the "romance" dial beside the bed.
I was kind of hoping this would be something really tacky, like a vibrating bed or mood music or something. Alas, it's nothing more than an Engrish-ified dimmer switch.

PS: It is so cool to watch Nana spring her Chinese on unsuspecting locals. Today, she navigated the whole freakin' island--bought train tickets (with reserved seats!), asked directions, found yummy food. That she does so fearlessly, and to the obvious delight of her audiences, only makes it much more charming. 

In fact, the only language-related mishap this whole trip was an unlooked-for order of chicken feet.
 Which, of course, I promptly tasted . . .
 . . . and which I stopped eating after the first bite. (Think chicken skin, with the consistency of a Gobstopper.)

PPS: We're saving the good food for a later post.

Heading South to Kaohsiung

Nana and I had a great day in Taipei yesterday--an aboriginal cultures museum, a Taiwanese hot spring, the world's most crowded boardwalk, and a bustling night market. Today, we head south to Kaohsiung, Taiwan's second city. More details to come!