Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A day in the life... Andrea's birthday to be precise

Now, for a start don't start worrying that you didn't call her or write to her wishing her a happy birthday. It is fine. Really. I just thought that it was a nice sequence of photos that illustrated some of the aspects of our life in Taiwan but in this case all these photos (apart from the beach/cake/night shot) were taken on the same day. A day in the life then...

A Day in the Life of Adrian and Andrea
(day described may not be entirely representative of average days spent in Taiwan by persons featured)

Birthday eve. We had a nice time with a group of friends on one of the local beaches. I know you can't see anyone else in the picture besides us but there were other people there. Honest. We really do have some friends here in Taiwan okay. If there was no one else there then who took the picture? To prop it up and set the timer would have required quite a tall mount. Sure we could have asked a random passer-by to take the photo but we didn't. Look at all the footprints in the sand. There were many other people there. Really.

Take no notice of the date-stamp on these photos. I replaced the batteries and couldn't be bothered resetting the time and date. Here you see the birthday girl enjoying a hot cup of pre-breakfast tea while watching the baseball game. Note the potted plants that have changed the feel of our apartment so much.
Baseball is so popular here. There are several baseball fields in the few blocks around our apartment building and I know of two a couple of blocks away from where I work.

Here I am ready for bad deeds. Rebel of the roads, demon of the byways, scourge of the streets, devil of the highways! On our 125cc motor scooter I cause havoc and mayhem wherever I do wander, hither and thither, to and fro but mostly fro 'cos I'm OUT OF CONTROL! Actually, the last thing I want is any more havoc or mayhem on the streets. It's dangerous enough out there and regularly spending 50 minutes a day riding my bicycle to work and back I have had ample opportunity to witness the results of a less than austere respect for traffic legislation. These "results" I speak of usually consist of ambulances, police, damaged vehicles (cars and trucks but most commonly motor scooters) and sometimes blood-stained rags or blood on the ground. In Australia you can "switch off" because the movement of other traffic on the road is almost always predictable and drivers as a whole are a courteous bunch. In Taiwan you concentrate on the road ahead and the vehicles around you because anything could happen. You have to be so much more reactive here and people often do unpredictable and seemingly dangerous things. Sometimes people get creative and think laterally and discover new ways to get from A to B. If driving on the right side of the road means you have to go all the way to the traffic lights to turn around but you could drive a short distance on the wrong side of the road to get to the same place, then why not just wait until there is a break in the traffic on the other side of the median strip and drive on the other side of the road. It's pretty easy to get a foreigner here to start on a rant about traffic conditions on the road and most people seem to have heard of the couple who were killed in separate traffic accidents months apart (in a city to the north).

Breakfast. For the sum of NT$260 (AU$9) we were both able to eat a multi-course meal at this relatively trendy place.

Taiwan has a history of mainland Chinese, Japanese and Dutch colonisation. There are many reminders of the island's diverse history. Here Andrea is sitting outside the museum of Taiwanese literature, formerly some kind of Dutch colonial administration building. The museum is a beautiful building inside and out with a very recently renovated interior.
We did have a brief look at the collection but were disappointed that the Taiwanese literature on display is not in English. While disappointed that the only English in the building was to be found on the signage and maps, I have to say that we were not entirely surprised.

This photo illustrates several things of which I will mention two. The large numbers (119) on the building is the emergency services number in Taiwan. It's vaguely reminiscent of another famous emergency services number. There are many things in Taiwan that look like familiar cultural icons from abroad but, on closer inspection, turn out to be not quite the same. Take the fast food chain KLG which serves fried chicken for example. How about those Oleos in the store that you thought were Oreos until you got them to the counter. And those expensive Gucci sunglasses? They sure are selling at a loss - IF they are genuine.
The other thing I want to comment on in this photo is the parade that you can see winding it's way along the street. There are many parades in Taiwan and most of them seem to be held in honour of one or more of the plethora (or cornucopia, or abundance, or plenteousness, or profusion) of deities. And each deity should be honoured with his or her own temple which is why there are SO many temples around. Some are small and some are huge, multi-storied behemoths, gargantuan in scale and attracting an assortment of hawkers who make themselves available to anyone in need of a bowl of noodles, green tea or suchelse after a heavy morning of faithful devotion.

Andrea hides her dissatisfaction after an attempt to order two green teas goes awry. They were meant to be the same. Well we don't speak Chinese or Taiwanese (a different language) and you take your chances when you attempt to communicate anything.

I dropped Andrea off to get a haircut (and head massage) while I returned home.

Dinner by candlelight on our balcony. Lovely. A nice end to a nice day.


KombatRock! said...

I dont know who you're trying to fool, but one can easily tell that all these pictures were taken back in 2003. ;)
Hope your enjoying life!
-Kelly (from GSNU winter a couple years ago...)

Adrian Brown said...

Yeah, it has just taken me 5 years to get around to blogging about them. I was busy pulling the wings off flies.