Trip Start Feb 26, 2006
Trip End Sep 16, 2006

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Flag of Taiwan  ,
Thursday, March 9, 2006

Eva and I took a trip to visit her grandmother in the small village of Pingtung, at the south of the island. Kaiosiung, Taiwan's second biggest city is nearby. So was Eva's sister's friend Amber, who bought us foot massages, but that story comes later.

The south of Taiwan is a tropical climate, while the north is sub-tropical. Despite the title of this blog, Taiwan has really been quite a temperate climate, until now. After getting off the bus at the Kaohsiung (kow-SHUNG) bus station, we felt our first real blast of tropical humidity. It wasn't that bad, as the buses are air conditioned, but it was definitely noticeable.

We arrived at Eva's grandmother's house and spent time with her, drawing all manner of stares from the neighbors, who turned out to be quite pleasant and friendly-- offering Eva and me their scooters and bicycles so that we could follow Eva's grandmother as she carted around town in her granny scooter (see video). I've noticed that there is a real sense of family and community here, perhaps in the way that America once used to be when immigrant families pooled their resources in an attempt to help out their own kind. (Of course this being Taiwan, everyone is of the same kind). It seems that eventually this sense of community largely dissipated in our culture (at least in the large cities), and most people in America seem to be on their own. I can't imagine a stranger in LA lending me their scooter without signing an indemnity/liability form in triplicate and making a significant security deposit.

Although Pingtung is a small town, we stumbled upon an extraordinary temple, with an elaborately decorated roof (see photos).

In Khaosiung, we met up with Amber, who was intent on feeding us every single type of food available for sale in the city. Italian pasta is extremely popular in Taiwan and is considered an "exotic" Western food (and has prices reflecting this). The irony is that the prices of Italian food is quite on par or even cheaper than what we would expect in America, but here in Taiwan where you can virtually stuff yourself on dumplings, soup and stinky tofu for $3.00, a $12 Italian dinner is an extravagance reserved for special occasions.

Amber was delightful, even going so far as to buy for us all foot massages (see photos).

We must come back.

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