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I’ve been home almost a week now. Former participant Linda Airy tells me that it will take about 6 months to finish adjusting. Jet lag takes about two weeks, or one day for each time zone crossed. I do get disappointed when I look for something to drink and there is no fresh watermelon, kiwi or strawberry juice. I was completely disoriented when I walked into Meier’s and heard Mandarin. I feel an emptiness when I drive the streets and see no people, when I step outside and hear no noise and when its 8:00 and there is no trash truck. I feel a tremendous sense of space when I look up into the sky and see such an immense, blueness that extends so far and wide and that has clouds that float gently by rather than oppressively hugging the space above me. I am so glad to have my children in the same time zone and just a text message away! I love being able to call friends on the phone to get together for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I’m getting used to walking with no destination in mind. I really miss not having thousands of dollars in my wallet!!LOL

Well, this is my last post. I can’t say I’m stopping because I’m at home. I was at home in Taiwan. And, I can’t say I’m stopping because my journey is ending. Two teachers from Taiwan have just landed in Indianapolis and students from China are on their way! I can’t wait to share my homeland with them, and helping to make it become their home as well. I can’t say I’m stopping this because I’m tired of blogging. My counter shows that my little blog was read over 3,500 times. Sure, there are blogs that take that many hits in one day, but I’m happy to know that I was able to share my experience with so many people. I met Dianne Murray who picked up my blog through the LM_NET listserv; I made friends with Sandy and Michael in Neipu; I heard from my wandering professor, Annette Lamb and my friends and family were able to know I was safe during typhoons and earthquakes.

This blog has simply served its purpose.

I’ve gotten into the habit of creating a Top Ten list when I travel. I guess it’s a way for me to reflect and give thanks. Here it is and I’ll see you next time!

CAMPBELL’S TOP TEN:

  1. Favorite souvenir: calligraphy from my student
  2. Best memory: Christmas at Foster Hewitt; riding the banana boat with Kristen in Kenting
  3. Favorite new words: ‘xing-xing’ (Chinese; star); ‘alight’ (British; to exit)
  4. Favorite place: The Dream Mall
  5. Most unusual food (that I ate): gelatinous rice balls
  6. Best teaching tool: YouTube
  7. Favorite picture(s): those taken in Kinmen
  8. Most difficult adjustment: getting used to a new standard in cleanliness
  9. Most important lesson learned: cultures are different on so many levels!
  10. Regrets: None

5 countries in two days.

Typhoon.

Diverted plane.

A stay at the nicest hotel in Taiwan. Just as an example, they were kind enough to pack a breakfast for me because they knew I was heading to the airport early. How nice is that?!

People keep asking me about the flooding in Taiwan, but I was in transit when the flooding happened. I’ve spoken to my friends in Pingtung and they were not affected by it.

I suppose if I got into poetry I could arrange that into a clever little piece to close out my year, but I don’t! Besides, I’m finding that vestiges of Taiwan appear in my memory constantly. I drive through the streets and wonder where all the people are! I’m relieved to see that people do stop ar red lights and there are no left turns on red. The biggest adjustment? Fitting back into this time zone. I mean, waking up at 5 am to do a blog post is not my style. I’ve come back during the summer sale season and have found bargains instead of high prices. The price of gas has double since I left. WalMart has built a new store within walking distance of my home. My sister tells me of the numerous calls her agency receives from parents who want someone to take their children because they cannot afford to feed them. There is still no bus system in this city to speak of, yet We have a massive new airport about to open and commuter transport lines from Fishers to the city. I’ve heard Chinese in Meiers. Still didn’t understand a word of it, but it took me to a place I’m calling home.

I do plan to come back and post my Top Ten list. If you have any questions related to Taiwan, go ahead and post them and I’ll post your answer here.

WHEN does IPS begin?? LOL

This map shows Taiwan taking its hit on Thursday. Could this be a Typhoon Day??  (NO SCHOOL!)

I’ve been eating a wider variety of Taiwanese food. Lately, I’ve visited a vegetarian buffet restaurant that had really delicious food! I couldn’t identify what most of the food items were (OK, I couldn’t identify any of it!) but, I can say I really enjoyed it. I discovered a very nice coffeehouse restaurant near my home that has about the best atmosphere of anyplace I’ve visited here. The front wall is a sheet of plate glass which looks onto a serene patio and the music is always soothing, soft jazz. Quiet is not something often found in Chinese culture, but this place has it! Although I walk passed this place all the time on the way to Carrefour, I hadn’t visited it before because they have neither food photos nor English menus. With new friends who can handle themselves quite well in the language, I’ve been able to venture into the heretofore unknown.

Sunday night, I went to a fairly traditional restaurant. The outside of the building was decorated with intricately carved wooden shutters. Inside, diners were seated at one of many unique wooden tables, most of which were crafted from antique items which were boxed in wood and topped with glass. A painting of the face of Buddha glowing in the radiance of a nearby light along with other pieces of artwork indicated that this was probably a Buddhist restaurant, and therefore vegetarian. Some of the workers were able to speak some English and we were able to orders dishes of cheese with rice or noodles. The restaurant even had a library! I know this because the books had spine labels on them.

Meals here are usually ordered from a set menu which will include soup, entrée and a beverage. Salad and dessert are usually availabe in a higher priced set. In these Taiwanese restaurants, if beverages are served, they will be served after the meals. Food is delivered to the table as it becomes ready which means not everyone at the table will be served at the same time. There is no tipping!

Even with all these experiences, what I have to particularly note was Saturday’s dining at TGIFridays. Yeah, I have actually gone there so much that I’ve been given a special discount card. We Americans are used to varying our menus. We may have American food for a day or two followed by a day of Italian and then some Middle Eastern or Mexican. So, from time to time I have to switch up from the Taiwanese.

What I noticed here this time that I had never noticed before is that Taiwanese people will prefer to eat family style, the style offered in Taiwanese restaurants. Even in American style restaurants, groups will order several plates of food and place them in the center of the table. Diners will then take food from the plates and serve themselves. They well eat from smaller plates. The food will be ordered by the highest ranking person at the table, typically the father or grandfather. Since there is no tipping, American chains charge a service fee.

The government just announced an increase in fuel prices.  Read the full story

Imagine if you will walking into a store. Image the store to be large, bright and clean. Image everyone bustling about as usual, but imagine if you can the whiff of something that just isn’t right. Imagine that stank smell that is from fruit or “fresh” produce that makes you want to open a window or scrub a refrigerator. The smell is that of something that is overripe, too sweet, dead or dying. It’s almost nauseous. The smell is durien fruit (lio lian) and it is in season! I smell it when I enter Carrfour or when I walk past certain vendors in the market. It is so bad that busses and stores sometimes ban its presence. I have tasted it and have not liked it, though many people do. It doesn’t taste quite as bad as it smells, but the taste wasn’t good to me. I do not at all think the flavor is worth putting up with the putrid smell.

The fruit will be in season until September.

100 days left! Just over 3 months and I’ll be home! I hear the weather back home full of spring struggling to be free. Here, I think summer emerged with no restraints! The days are hot and sweaty already. Thankfully, the evenings, with darkness falling at 5:30 pm, are a bit cooler. Weather patterns are easy enough to figure out. It’s things like maneuvering space that I don’t get. I do know not to leave any space between me and the person in front of me while waiting in line or someone will cut in. It seems a long line is merely an invitation for those who know better to guise their need as a quick question and jump to the front. I just observe the patterns, no need to complain because…I can’t! I don’t speak no Mandarin!! Besides, I’ve figured that situation out. It’s how to maneuver space while moving that I don’t get. I am used to walking out of someone’s way, cutting behind them when I pass them in the street (especially if there is nothing behind them), waiting for others to pass or walking around cars trying to turn into traffic. Here, you just cut in front of cars, bikes or pedestrians (we all share the same life threatening streets.) It is so hard to get used to people (adults and especially children) who just cut in front of you regardless of the amount of space in front (or behind!!) me or how fast I may (or may not) be moving. It feels so rude. This cutting is so pervasive there has to be an explanation. There seems to be an effort to walk in front of people at every given chance. It is even seen in how left hand turns are made. Vehicles that are turning left will jump into the intersection and make their turn before the oncoming traffic is able to proceed. Cars or scooters that cannot make the turn quickly enough will often move to the far right hand lane so that they can drive across the interestion when the light changes as if they are driving straight across and not turning. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand this one. My usual sources of information on such matters are as perplexed as I. I do know where to stand in line at the post office, when it will get dark and when I will be headed home.

 12.jpgPingtung  2-28 Memorial

28 February is Memorial Day, a national holiday in Taiwan.  To commemorate this day in Taiwan’s historical consciousness, many people choose to fast in remembrance of the cruelty of those times in Taiwan’s past. From midnight to midnight, drinking only water, why not join the people of Taiwan as they meditate so that we may find better ways to take action in this world. As we feel our hunger, let us be reminded to share the stories of Taiwan’s past on that day.

This is what unfolded on that fateful day.

After the end of World War II, the Allied Forces left the occupation of Taiwan to Chiang Kai -shek, who was still holding on to large parts of China with his Nationalist forces. The Taiwanese, who had been under Japanese rule from 1895 through 1945, initially welcomed the Chinese Nationalist forces. But their joy soon changed into sorrow and anger, when the new authorities turned out to be repressive and corrupt.

The 28 February 1947 arrest of a woman selling cigarettes without a license was the spark which led to large-scale public protests against repression and corruption. For some ten days, Chiang still on the mainland and his governor Chen Yi kept up the pretense of negotiations with leaders of the protest movement, but at the same time they sent troops from the mainland.

 As soon as the troops arrived, they started rounding up and executing people, in particular scholars, lawyers, doctors, students and local leaders of the protest movement. In total between 18,000 and 28,000 people were murdered. Thousands of others were arrested and imprisoned in the “White Terror” campaign which took place in the following decade. Many of these remained imprisoned until the early 1980s.

Until a few years ago, the events of 1947 were a taboo subject on the island. The authorities did not want to be reminded of their dark past, and the people did not dare to speak out for fear of retribution by the  secret police.

 The US press reported on the incidents in 1947 both in the New York Times and The Nation. Yet, despite the Cairo Declaration, the US did not act or Formosa’s behalf.  The regime from mainland China was able to establish itself on the island.

 When, after forty repressive years, the harsh martial law in Taiwan was lifted in 1987, the newly-formed Taiwanese democratic opposition started to push  authorities to stop covering up the facts, and to come to a full airing of the matter. It wasn’t until 1990 that the Kuomintang finally decided to open the records. In 1992 President Lee asked for reconciliation and decided that a monument would be built in Taipei. Other memorials had been built earlier in Chiayi and Pingtung.

 Scholars who want to conduct research about the February 28 incident complain that they cannot get access to a number of government archives. Although the Executive Yuan’s Ad Hoc Committee on 2-28 Incident has so far issued two volumes of findings from the archives, the Department of Defense continues to refuse to make public records in its archives covering the period from 1945 to 1950.

 sources:  http://www.taiwandc.org/228-intr.htm

               http://228.culture.gov.tw/web/web-eng/228/228-c3.htm

              http://taiwaneseamerican.org/2008/02/remember-2-28.html

I started talking about the lotions and creams here back in August.  My friend, Les, has followed up with this article from the Cincinnati Enquirer.  Although the article refers to China and India, know that the products would be the same in Japan, Taiwan and probably all other countries in this sphere that have been controlled by China or Japan.

“We’re an underground movement, we’re all eyes when planted in front of the TV, vegetation is an important part of our existence, and we’re Tubers. Get it?” ~source: wikipedia

It’s 63º here and has been that chilly all week. Nights are in the low 50s. It’s colder and wetter in Taipei. Kristen told me they’ve had 21 straight days of rain! 63º is cold when there’s no heating unit to knock that chill off! I could have been better prepared clothing wise, but I was told the temps in Pingtung are only hot and hotter. Knowing that, I couldn’t justify bringing more than a few outfits for cool weather. Thank goodness for the ones I did pack! Clothing is an issue for me because Taiwanese women are o! so small and I’m o! so not! Stores here carry items for these small Taiwanese women, not for me!

I’ve been told it will warm on Saturday which will be good because I’ll be in Taipei and it will be cold there. I’m going to the Taipei International Book Exhibit (TIBE), so look for a book related posting soon!

So, since the weather is cold, I get the idea to stay inside and watch some TV. Maybe you’d be interested in know what TV is like here? Well, its more interesting to write about than to watch.

I have cable tv and I believe I have 60-some odd channels. I get a plethora of Taiwanese channels, CNN Asian Edition (English), Discovery(English and Chinese), Travel and Living (English), Disney (mostly Chinese), Animal Planet (English and Chinese), a Christian station, HBO (English), ESPN (English),National Geographic (Englisna and Chinese), AXN (English and Chinese movies and TV shows), and 2 Star Movie stations (English, French, German). The only TV shows I pick up here are CSI, Vegas, CSI, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Sex in the City and CSI. There’s a lot of CSI. The networks focus on all things Asian.  I’ve not seen any shows on NG or Discovery about Africa, South America or Europe but then, I’ve given up watching them for the most part, too. Travel and Living shows “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and not many know what ‘queer’ means. There are a few newer movies that will run for 2-3 weeks but for the most part the movies are action and adventure or horror movies. What is really amazing is that HBO will show a movie with Harrison Ford and I’ll change to a Star station and there’s Harrison again! The same happens with many major actors as if movies are bout in packages based on who is in them.

I’ve gone through the Taiwanese stations a few times. There are a couple of movie stations that have sub-titles in English and Mandarin. ALL STATIONS, no matter what language has sub-titles in Mandarin. I do believe there are a couple of Japanese stations here, a couple of which show anime. The Taiwanese stations have a lot of dramas. I don’t see many game shows, though because I haven’t seen them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There are ‘qvc’ type networks. The Hakka, an aboriginal group, have a network to educate about their culture. There is even a channel with a camera directed at the gate to my apartment building to monitor comings and goings. There are music networks (there is an MTV) but I see more talking that singing. The last time I was channel surfing, I saw a commercial for McDonald’s delivery! Most McDonald’s are open 24 hrs.

CNN is the only televised news source I have. Their coverage is much different than in the US. First, they employ British correspondence. I do get Larry King and sometimes I get Anderson Cooper (I miss that cute little face with its etched look of concern!). I get A LOT of sports on CNN. Did you know that Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions just lost the African Cup to Egypt? Many CNN produced shows are broadcast and rebroadcast throughout the month. The US debates are shown here live and are rebroadcast once. Hilary and Barack do get a lot of coverage, and McCain to a lesser degree. Something that kinda bothers me is that CNN broadcasts “The Daily Show“. In the US, there is much concern that people get their news from this show, so CNN decides to show it outside the US on a legitimate (?) news network??

Second semester has begun! Students are back and classes are underway. I now have third graders and that’s. . . interesting. . . They are so excited about being in English class! My 5-1 class presented me with Valentine Cards and that was so touching! Valentines Day isn’t a big deal here as romance and passion aren’t a big part of the culture. So, it was really nice of them to do that for me!

My fingers have gotten warm, time to go cook dinner. YES!!! I’M COOKING!!!!!!!

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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