There are some things which are difficult to understand in life. (Ed.note: At least they are for Geoff). Here are two examples.
Terry mentioned the lack of litter in the streets. It is more than a “lack”. Taipei is estimated to have a population of 3,913,000 people. It doesn’t seem to matter if you walk down one of the incredibly beautifully treed and landscaped boulevards, a back lane or a food street.
There is NO litter, food scraps, paper wrappers etc. etc. The bizarre thing is that we walked yesterday for about six blocks with an empty water bottle looking for a place to get rid of it – no garbage containers. We finally just left it on the table where we had breakfast. Amazing. Today, I saw a man in a suit walking towards me and just before he passed me, he bent over and picked up a piece of paper off the sidewalk. We were in a restaurant and a delivery man brought in a 12″ x 15″ box of what were probably pastries or muffins or something similar. He dropped them off at the front, the woman said something to him and he went into the back and came out with three obviously used but still totally usable similar ones. The Taiwanese must lead the world in recycling!
I once taught a lovely young girl who had Tourette’s Syndrome. She was just the same as everyone else in the class – except that every fifteen to twenty minutes she would say “F**k” out loud. She had no control over it – it was just a verbal tic and after the first few times the kids never even noticed. Why do I tell you about her? Well, just because. Actually I think our taxi driver yesterday had a form of Tourette’s. It was very strange. When he wanted to change lanes he would turn his signal on and off, on and off, on and off rather than turning it on and leaving it on. That was his left hand. His right was in constant motion. If we were stopped, the gear shift was going from neutral to drive and back constantly; if we were in motion he was clicking something on the temperature controls on and off, on and off etc. If he was going to change lanes, before he moved to the signal he would point in the left or right direction with his index finger. If he was going to slow down, he would move his right hand up and down gently to indicate “Slow Down”. If he had to step on the brake hard, his hand came up like “Stop!” When something met his approval he gave a little thumbs up. It appeared that whatever he was processing with his brain had to be acted out through his hand. Now, I am a firm believer that people with any kind of affliction, disability, or whatever the current politically correct term is, should participate in any activity/occupation they wish and are capable of doing. So one on hand driving a taxi in the middle of a city of almost 4 million is proof that it can be done, while on the other I wonder if his insurance covers him since he did seem to make a lot of spontaneous movements.
Taipei is quite a multicultural city. We also saw a sign for the “Thaippanyaki Restaurant”
Here’s a conversation between Terry and these girls (there were about 8 of them):
Terry “Hi what are you doing?”
Spokesperson “We are making flowers to celebrate a Korean festival.”
Terry “Oh, you’re Korean.”
Spokesperson “No, we are Taiwanese”
Of course you are.
Also yesterday, we saw some cool looking masks and Terry asked the shopkeeper “Are they Chinese opera faces” Response “NO, Taiwanese opera!” Okkkaaayyy! Don’t confuse Chinese and Taiwanese – on the other hand we get “American” all the time and we don’t freak out…much.
We spent time yesterday at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. The Taiwanese hold him in very high regard. Every hour on the hour the two soldiers who stand at attention are changed through a ten minute, sloooooow stepping drill program by two others. There is a lot of high stepping and toe dragging and stamping that goes on. (Ed. note: Today we saw exactly the same procedure going on across town at the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.)
While we were standing around, a volunteer came up and asked if she could help us. She was quite disappointed to find out that we were Canadians and not Americans. This was because it took the wind right out of her speech. She asked what we thought of the statue of Chiang Kai-Shek and Terry said that it reminded her of the statue of Abraham Lincoln (Ed. note: Which we have only seen photos of.) “Oh you are so smart!” Indeed, the architect modelled it after Lincoln – right down to using the same Vermont marble for the walls. So if it looks familiar…
The memorial was opened in 1980 and 7 years later, they added the opera hall on the left and the theatre on the right. Sadly, the photos do not do them justice as they are HUGE!
We had many more adventures yesterday – but you will just have to wait, as we are going back to the restaurant with the mussels and fantastic whisky for dinner!
The Shoe Blog
Okay, so shoot me. I had planned on using a different pair of shoes for this edition, but since they came about on our adventure after the museum, I will keep them for next time. These puppies were on a young lady on the subway. Besides wearing them she had on a pair of denim short shorts. Terry described them this way: (Ed. note: Sadly, Geoff was unable to get a photo as he was consistently, but unintentionally, blocked) “You know when people/women have a sweater or, in this case jean jacket, wrapped around their waist and tied in front? Well, she doesn’t – the shorts just have a “pair of sleeves” coming out of the side seams and tied in front. Who would buy these? Who would design these?” Still, she could likely take out the eye of a snake.