Saturday, December 29, 2007

Welcome to Taiwan! Lets be friends!

So, this lady sitting next to me is screaming in Chinese like she just wet her pants and it's all the dude's fault at whom she's yelling. I doubt it's really his fault--he hasn't said a thing for the ten minutes since she came up to him raving mad. You lose face in Taiwan when you lose it in public--a good policy for anywhere--and this lady was losing face in a rather major way. I, on the other hand, was not losing face, though I had lost my luggage, which was the reason for me sitting at a desk next to a lady who was losing face. Somewhere between Delta and Chinese Airlines, my bags had fallen between cracks and though I had successfully made it through customs without anything but the hope for a charity landing visa, my bags had not. The prospect of not being able to brush my teeth that night made me ill, but all the pink, baby-blue, and violet decor of Taipei's international airport padded my illness with warm fuzzies, making me feel strangely happy about being there. It was like the reality of a Disney World facade, or the draw of an insect to bright lights, or the lure of a pink sign reading "Welcome to Taiwan! Lets be friends!" How could I help but feel a bit complacent about my lost baggage when I felt the semi-out-of-body experience of first-time Asian travel. I mean, the airport literally transitions between florescent colors as you look back at it from the parking lot. You almost feel like they hire people from the North Pole to work their off-season at Taiwan airports just so they can have someone throwing sparkles from the ceiling onto airport travelers. I felt great. You might think the discouraged china-woman would kind of mess up the mirage, but hey, every pearl deals well with sand, right? Her attitude was hardly revolutionary and no one else seemed the least inclined to follow her lead in detracting from the mild tempered atmosphere of pink and blue. Happy fuzzies saturated the air and I was high.

They delivered both pieces of luggage to my residence in Fongyuen just now, so all's well as "stuff" is concerned. I rode my bike all over the city today, ate Japanese cuisine, went to the night market, and bought a first round of sea-creature groceries. The weather is warm and humid. Everyone is in coats. I'm in short-sleeve. Flashing Chinese characters line the street venues and palm trees are a plenty. There are about ten billion scooters per square foot of asphalt and everyone has the right-of-way. Traffic police are spectators. I know why I went to Russia on my mission: experiencing Russia is like living inside the great complexity of a Dostoevskian novel. Experiencing Taiwan is like living inside a video game. I wasn't allowed to play video games on the mission.


amanda said...

ha ha!!!! that's all i be the first one to comment on your NEW blog. awesome. i'm cool. and so are you. let's be friends. i'm glad you're enjoying it...drink it in some more, just for me. i've never been to any part of asia. sounds...great. :)

Maren said...

hi joe--
i'm only posting a comment so you know that i know you're alive. I hope you're well and that taiwan's well and that that screaming lady next to you is now well.

Laura said...

Ah, nephew...'tis the red-headed auntie checking out your blog! I would say I was impressed, but it would prob swell up that over-sized object you carry around on your shoulders!
Very interesting....and I hope you find the time to keep it updated, and add pictures as you can.
Glad the luggage made it ok! I would hate to think of you without a toothbrush...