This sign greeted as we waited to board in Narita - felt good to see it.
Back as far as DC - next stop State College- and that's a wrap - !
Chenlin bought me one last gift, the T-shirt I'm wearing in this picture. Note the logo. She went out of her way to get it for me; I had mentioned that I wished they had a t-shirt, but I never had time to get to the restaurant to find out. This sums up the hospitality and thoughtful regard that has met us at every turn. I will be glad to return to State College-it's our home. I'm a messy, fractious American, and I am used to myself. But as much as it's possible to know any country in a short time I have come to admire the kind, hardworking, intelligent people we've met here, who know how to make a stranger feel like a friend. As usual- I've learned far more than I've taught.
Typhoon Soulik was not due until later on in the afternoon, so Dean Sung and Yvonne and her husband took us to Yangming Mountain. We toured the summer residence of Chiang Kai-Shek who knew how to pick a spot for a summer residence. It's now a national park. Then the rain started so we ended the sightseeing early and went to have lunch!! at the Grand Hotel. Word came that the government was early dismissing everyone, so David didn't have to get back for class, so lunch was, as I imagine many lunches have been at the Grand Hotel Buffet, relaxed and leisurely. Then David and I figured that everyone would be hunkering down at home because of the typhoon, but no. Ming came around and took us to dinner!! with his family. We dined at a rather fabulous vegetarian restaurant where the wait staff was so deferent and proper that I was worried I would offend them even though they would never ever let me know I had been a disappointment.
Radar image of Soulik approaching Taipei around 8PM
Even though I'd rather not, I'm getting to see how a major city reacts to a major storm. The weather reports have been dire, at a minimum, but people were more sanguine, they say the really big ones are usually a surprise. And so far, that's been the case. The storm is, as of now, not the huge superstorm that was being predicted, but more of a moderate typhoon. The biggest concern was that the price of vegetables was going to go up , and that's what got reported. Liyun told us that on a typhoon day, (which has the same feel as a snow day) one favorite activity is to go hang out at Taipei 101, shop, eat, go to the movies. People are worried about things falling off buildings, that's the main reason not to go walking in the city. But Taipei is a hail city, there are cabs EVERYWHERE, you don't have to wait more than a minute for one to come by. Outside of the city, it's another story- mudslides in the mountains and storm surges on the coasts were the biggest worry. One big difference is that the government is the one that makes the call for closings, not individual entities for the most part. You wouldn't have some schools open and others not, or some businesses open or others not. An owner might want to stay open, but he or she can't compel employees to work. David's last class was cancelled, mine was wrapped up yesterday!. Which is why I have time to work on this blog!
We went to lunch at a most unusual (to us) restaurant on the slopes of Yangming Mountain. It seemed Japanese to me, but the folks with us were divided on this... Japanese influenced, fusion, Asian. There is a real love hate with Japanese culture here, which is understandable given the recent history of occupation (which I only learned about this visit- 1895-1945) Anyhow, we had to remove our shoes, and each table was separated from the other by bamboo dividers, and each had a view of the mountainside. Stringed music, Asian, soothing played in the background, and once again, the dishes kept coming..
This is a quick video of a dried lotus blossom being added to a chicken soup to enhance the flavors. It's Sun-chieh explaining to us.
The first sentence I have ever formed in Mandarin and said as was more or less understood. Note the lack of tonal marks, Which is why I said more or less.
Ta shi lao ban, ma? He's the boss, right?
There is this big typhoon heading this way, according to all weather reports, which use words like pummel, devastate and buzz saw. But everyone we talk to seems remarkably sanguine. It will come or not, they say. Which is true. But since we are planning to fly out in the midst of it, it makes me considerably more antsy. But that's part of travel too, along with the fabulous food and learning about how the world works. My favorite comment on it all is from Yvonne - she says if it's too rainy to go hiking we can go shopping.
Ming and his daughter picked us up for a trip to the National Palace Museum, filled with treasures that Chiang Kai Shek and his people brought with them from the Forbidden City in Beijing back in the day. You can imagine the roiling controversy over where they should go.. not that anyone provided much insight. Pretty much people don't talk to me much about the politics of the region, and I haven't inquired very strongly. We had a tour of bronze and jade sculptures, including the famous jade cabbage, which we had to fight through crowds to glimpse. Then we had lunch at the Museum which also turned into a lesson on tea culture and tasting, you can be a connoisseur of tea just like wine. Then to class, we are only have one more day after this, although finishing papers can go on through ANGEL, so there is some flex. THEN, (the days are packed!) Yvonne, one of the co-ordinators of the trip, took me to an awesome nail salon, where I had a manicure. The aestheticians there are so artistic they have their nail paintings hanging on the wall as art. It was downtown Taipei in the neighborhood of Taipei 101. We headed there after -for a dinner at a restaurant on the 85th floor hosted by Dean Sung, one the main partners of the collaboration. The food there was typical Taiwanese cuisine, and plenty of it!