There seems to be a fascination in Taiwan with covering things. Everywhere you look, you see things covered: tissue boxes, cell phones, car seats, car headrests, scooter seats, etc. Perfectly advanced and hi-tech looking cellular phones are covered with horribly stale plastic and leather. In Taipei I saw a nice looking black mercedes with all of its seats covered in thin white cloth dotted with bright cartoon animal drawings. In my grandmother's place in Ping Tung (my father's side), the little radio on the top floor by the ancestral altar is covered by a little washcloth, and even the mirror hanging on the wall in the kitchen is covered by translucent plastic. I have yet to figure that one out.
I've been having a good time here so far. We've been hanging out with relatives in Taipei, Pingtung, and (now) Taichung. I wish I could have looked up Christine's posse in Taipei, but we literally had our schedule booked to the minute. (I'm sorry, Ginny!) My Dad's old childhood best friend (and the current magistrate of Taipei County) Su Tseng-Chang (Ä¬s©÷) took us around Taipei to show us some of the things he has done to improve the county. It was sort of surreal. We sat in this van that he uses to get around from place to place, with a driver who drove like a maniac (albeit it a very competent maniac). Tall-ish Taiwanese suits with ear buds accompanied us from place to place in another car (which drove ahead of us), but they didn't say anything the entire time (they did give us hats, though). At each location (like the ceramic museum and the Lin family estate), respective directors would be waiting for us and would whisk us away on private tours.
Being in Ping Tung was a big change from being in Taipei. The city is almost hick-like in its feel, and our family's house there is only modern enough for basic survival of its inhabitants (my grandmother and aunt). On the bus out of the city a man was snoring so loudly that Wendy and I couldn't stop laughing. Oh! I also have to bitch about waiting in lines. My parents, sister and I were waiting at the Taipei domestic airport to check in for our flight to Pingtung. We were literally three or four feet from the counter. When the person in front of us finished, some guy cut walked around us, straight to the counter. We sort of stood around in shock, until I walked up to him (from the side) and made a snide comment, which eventually resulted in an apology (he said that he was standing there waiting, and when we didn't move, he decided that we weren't in line). When my Dad was standing at the counter checking all of us in, the next person (old, with moles sprouting long hairs) was literally touching him from the side, with his hand outstretched to the woman behind the counter (between my Dad and the woman). I thought it was hilarious and took a photo of him (deliberately with flash, from a few feet away).
Anyway, now I'm in a well-lit (no horribly green fluorescent lighting!) room with hard-wood floors in Taichung, visiting with my Mom's younger sister and her family. If you look at the apartment building from the street, you see a grid of rooms radiating oppressive fluorescent lighting -- except for one room. Thank god. :) This is yet another drastic change from our previous location. We even have normal showers here, although there still isn't a clear distinction between the shower and the rest of the bathroom. Taichung is really nice. I'm enjoying hanging out here.
I should go. At some point in the next couple of weeks I'm sure I will work up enough energy to post lots of pictures. Happy Holidays!