Getting a visa is killer. The Taiwanese love Americans, but their bureaucratic maze prevents them from being as helpful as they would like. I applied twice at two different Taiwan offices in the states and never got it. I hopped a plane, walked up to an immigration officer in customs at the Taipei airport and received a visa in 30 seconds. It's a different kind of visa, but getting my residence visa and work permit will be 10 times easier from inside Taiwan than without. Kind of strange, considering the reasons for visas. I'm not breaking any laws, they tell me, I'm just working around them. Around is good because it's not as if they don't want me here. Taiwanese love Americans. Everyone stares and smiles back at me when I smile at them. I smile at them because they are staring at me. And they stare because I'm American . . . I wish I could say it's because I'm good looking, but they stare at Steve too and all Steve has going for him is his great personality . . . and now his nationality. Hi Steve. Thanks for reading. I think you're cool. Anyway, we're all celebrities. I was never a celebrity in Russia. I was only good looking, but that only made gangs want to jump me for cool ties and cash. Taiwanese never get past the "hey look, an American!" part to notice my cool tie.
I went to a Taoist temple today . . . twice. Once in the morning and once after dinner. It was a special day because they were rededicating a temple that was ruined by an earthquake a while ago and was now reopening. I have never seen so much food just sitting there with no one eating it. They had about a billion huge pigs up on racks with apples and incense stuffed in their mouths. Three king boars sat flayed astride great blocks of ice at the head of the rows of pigs. Baskets and baskets of grain and fruit lined the field and all sorts of other intricately displayed food offerings packed the area in front of the temple. The temple itself was highly decorated (and at night shown with lights all over it). Little theaters presented puppet shows of Taoist mythology and vendors packed the road way in and out of the grounds. Some people describe everything we've experienced these last couple days as sensory overload. I'm just drinking it in. This is exactly what I imagined China to be like and my dreams are coming true. My senses are alive again like they were at three years old when everything is mysteriously exciting and captivating. I can't get enough.