All entries for Saturday 16 July 2005

July 16, 2005

Taiwanese Trains

I took the train at 9am and struggled to find my seat carrying my heavy gift-laden luggage. I sat next to a pretty girl who I managed to say a few words of Chinese to, but then she got off at the next stop! That left me with little entertainment except for the electronic sign which announced the next station in Chinese. The only English that it proclaimed was the following insightful message: "Railway crossings are extremely dangerous. If you see a car stuck on a crossing, press the emergency button located on the warning rod. Only press this button in case of emergencies." This sign had me confused for ages. How could anyone on the train see if a car was stuck on the crossing before hitting it? Even if they did encounter such an event, I couldn't find the 'warning rod' anywhere!

The Taiwanese seem to be very safety conscious, which I hadn't expected for an Asian country. They wouldn't dream of crossing the road anywhere except a pedestrian crossing, and even then they always wait for the green man. I guess they have inherited this fear from the Americans.

Back to the train journey and my next entertainer was an insane guy who sat next to me. He was continually talking to himself, like complaining about things, and occasionally he would shout at some kids to be quiet. Luckily he didn't stay for long, and afterwards I was able to get a bit of sleep. When I woke up near Taipei there was a friendly woman sat next to me. We had a little chat and as we got off the train she helped me find my way to the exit and let me use her phone to locate Lyn and Gate who were waiting to pick me up.

Last day in Kaohsiung

My final day in Kaohsiung was a busy one. In the morning I visited the famous Fo Guan Shan temple on the side of a mountain with its thousands of Buddha images. Back in the city for lunch and an extremely large portion of vegetarian dumplings. Next I headed to the university where I borrowed a motorcycle and took off on my own to do some shopping. I couple of hours later, when they were all worried I was lost, I returned to the university. Then I was taken to the department store by Prof David Yang who very kindly bought me some Taiwanese tea to bring back to England. By this time the sun was beginning to set which marked the beginning of my last night in Kaohsiung and therefore the last chance to fill my belly with delicious snacks. It was a very special night which included dinner at the night market, drinks at the former British Consulate overlooking the harbour, a motorcycle ride halfway up a mountain, soya dessert at another night market, and finally, mango by the lotus lake. I returned home very late and set my alarm for 6am to pack my bags ready for the journey up to Taipei.

Quote of the day Go to 'Today's Quote'

John Irving
"If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it."


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