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Although I knew it is colder in the north, I was quite excited to head there this past weekend. I’d be staying in a hotel and that would mean soft western mattress and a room with a thermostat!! Rose decided to head up with me, so we hopped on the High Speed Rail and arrived in Taipei almost at jet speed! Thinking I was going up alone, I splurged a bit to stay in a convenient hotel so that I wouldn’t have to explore parts unknown by myself. O! It was well worth the splurge! While too many give the hotel poor reviews for being ‘too western’ and being located in an area void of any activities, we found The Grand Hyatt laden with comfort and located in the heart of the happenings! Outside our window? A full view of Taipei 101, the tallest building in the world!

Saturday morning began by meeting new friends. We met a young Canadian living in Japan, his wife and children and had very interesting conversations about a variety of topics. The most interesting to you will probably be the mention of the first all-Black prime time TV show in Canada which his sister co-created and co-stars in. I was able to view episodes online and yeah, I’m a sucker these days for anything I can see online, but “Da Kink in My Hair” really is a good show!

Any day that begins with new friends has to be a good day, right?!

We walked over to “NY Bagels Cafe” where I had PANCAKES!!!!!!! and steak and eggs and a close your eyes and savor the moment cup of coffee!

Our first stop for the Taipei International Book Exhibit was Hall #3, comics and manga.

And we were immediately separated in the crowded. We each lasted as long as we could stand being in the throbs of young people who were on a mission to get the latest books, see the characters and collect paraphenalia for their favorite manga and comics. I also made it to the other two halls where I was able to meet a few authors, learn about the features of Google Book, and see what books are popular in this corner of the world. This year’s exhibit featured Australian literature and I was really disappointed that I missed the opportunity to meet Mark Zusak, author of one of my favorite books, “I am the messenger“. Just a few observations I can make about books and literature here:

  • The fastest growing format is that of the comic (DUH). The comic format is moving into other genres.
  • Manga is growing in popularity with girls.
  • Reading for information is more popular here that reading for enjoyment. Exception: young people and manga.
  • Publication of western books in this region lags US publication by several months, if not longer.

Even after our long day surrounded by books, we still had the energy for a night on the town! Just down the street, was “Brown Sugar“, The Jazz Club in Taipei. There, we had a deliciouss supper, heard great stylings by their house band and had an enjoyable close to a very good day.

Yeah, this posting is full of superlatives, it was just that kind of weekend and it was just that much harder leaving the city thinking that I may never be back again. Never.  What a sad and final sound!  (There are not many months left in this gig!)! I’ve had so many wonderful memories in Taipei from Kris, Sean, Suzanne and I first venturing up there with Amanda while we were in training, to our field trip to Snake Alley, our Christmas get together and then, this incredible experience!

Yep, Taipei is world class!

The weeks are going by so quickly! Here it is another weekend, once again time for that deep, deep cleaning necessitated by the grimy environment of polluted air and water. Its so ironic that I see such a deep need for nature expressed through the placement of potted flowers and trees in front of every home and parks everywhere, yet rivers and streams are the color of mixed cement and smell like septic tanks. Ah, the cost of developing an economy!

I took a while to process last weekend’s events, and never took a moment to mention them here. I was scheduled to give a presentation for Pingtung County at my school on international teaching and Carolyn (Kansas) and Rosezina (Michigan) were kind enough to come and provide support. I looked forward to outlining education in the US and particularly discussing the role of media centers. Here, school libraries only contain books.

No technology and no staff.

Teachers staff the library when they bring their class and there is no librarian or media specialist to promote literacy, select books or provide instruction on research, finding information or developing presentations. Computers are only in the computer lab and computer skills are taught in isolation.

So, I wrote a nice little presentation and developed a Powerpoint with some nice photos to add a few visuals to spice up my talking. (Vernon sent about 30 current photos from AHS and I was able to create a very nice Powerpoint!) I was pleasantly surprised when the Taiwanese teachers on the program mentioned the public and school libraries they visited on their tours of Australia and Singapore respectively, providing a nice opening to what I was able to report. They were quite impressed by the libraries they saw and the important services they provided to schools. I hope I am able to provide more information on this important topic and maybe, maybe influence even the slightest of changes.

After the program, we went looking for a new Caves bookstore. These are stores that exist in Taiwan mainly to provide books for English language instruction. We walked a little further than we expected (which was fine because we found a great new restaurant!) but eventually found the bookshop which couldn’t be more than a month old. Can you imagine the heaven I was in to smell the newness and the books??!!! They don’t necessarily have the newest of selections, but when you consider I’m in little Pingtung where I never expected to find a single book to purchase in English, you have to realize what a wonderful place this is! They really do have a large selection of children’s books, many of which I hope to purchase to enhance my teaching. And there are many paperbacks for adult reading as well!

All that having been said, I think my download of “Men in Trees” is about done and it’s time to scoot!! Yes, I have to find random websites all over the web to ‘watch television’. The network sites only work inside the US!! I find that one of the little things I miss (and it’s really only little stupid stuff that I really miss!) is the regimentation provided by nightly television shows.

In August, 2007 I will be leaving Indianapolis with my daughter, Kristen, to live and work in the Republic of China (Taiwan). This will be my fiftieth year on this planet and my first year living in another country. This blog will let you join us on the adventure!
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Taipei

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