I would post more often, but these people are so kind taking us out to sight see and to dinner, we hardly have time to worry with a travel diary---we’re too busy enjoying our travel!
The following account is so long, I have posted pictures to separate page (CLICK HERE TO SEE PICTURES TO GO WITH THE NEWS BELOW)
Joy went back to the Kaohsiung Art Museum on her own, and took a number of pictures of the sculpture park and building. For you plant nuts reading this, she also insisted I post a picture of a gorgeous double hibiscus growing in the museum gardens. My favorite picture of the museum garden is one of the picnic sites near the lake, with benches carved to be like water buffaloes in a flooded field.
Joy has also been out walking all over the city (when her feet did not hurt) and taking cabs here and there. Cab drivers, I should mention, are specially tested before being given a license. They MUST have suicidal tendencies. There seem to be few traffic laws here, only a few “suggestions.”
The opening ceremonies for the festival were the evening of the 17th. All the federal and local politicians, as well as the major business sponsors (including my sponsor, Mr. Huang) were brought on stage, put into welding jackets and gloves, handed a helmet and started to weld to the background music of Star Wars while fireworks went off. I cannot imagine such a thing happening in America!
Besides the speeches, camera crews and interviews, there were tumbling acts and a large troupe of native drummers (see pictures).
We are in a district of Kaohsiung the city is trying to revitalize with festivals and new night life—a sort of Moore Square improvement project, for those of you in Raleigh. Anyway, I see nothing wrong with things here-----there are so many street level shops full of marine salvage scrap. There are shops filled with nothing but second hand motors, second hand wenches, fans, arcane scrap I can only describe as “interesting looking.” From a metal sculptor’s point of view, it is an ideal neighborhood. Joy has taken a number of pictures from the roof of our hotel to show the narrow streets filled with these little shops.
Just a few blocks north of here is the main road for bridal jewelry and silks. Joy has made one trip there already and is planning on more. She has also walked along the Love River photographing the parks and sculpture, as well as the large manger scene set out in front of the local cathedral.
Saturday afternoon, Prof. Liang and Prof. Takamitchi Ito and I were part of steel sculpture symposium held in the middle of the largest book store in Taiwan. The book store is a top three floors of movie theaters, and a 12 floor department store. Joy had a good time shopping while I was on the panel.
After the panel discussion wrapped up at 6 PM, we went back to hotel to change and were taken out for a night in Kaohsiung’s wharf district. The Festival staff took all the sculptors and many sponsors out. We took a ferry across the harbor to the wharves and walked along the roads filled with seafood restaurants. It was much like the wharves in Barcelona, Spain, where the sous chefs or maitre de’s stand outside touting their fish and cooking in front of giant tanks filled with live lobsters, crabs, fish, and creatures of every description. Mixed in among the restaurants, are gaming shops, comic books stores (very big here), 7-11s(!!). In short, it is a bit like the NC State Fair Midway gone Chinese at the beach.
We ate a HUGE amount of Chinese sea food—none of it like anything we get in a Chinese restaurant at home—and all of it very good. We strolled some more afterwards. I tried my hand at home made Chinese pinball for NT$10 (about 33 cents) and won a few pieces of chewing gum and a ginger flavored candy. (You push marbles around with a red paddle by hand through a maze of nails hammered into board.) We stopped at a shop called Green Tea Station, where we ha all sorts of iced tea drinks. Here, iced tea is made much more like a milk shake at home. They mix in balls of tapioca, mint flavors, raw eggs, sugar, black tea, red tea, green tea all with ice and then it is shaken up. Everything is drunk with a straw here.
We took the ferry back (cost 33 cents) and got to the hotel about 11PM. I should mention, EVERYBODY has a scooter here, so the ferry has an entire deck devoted to scooters and their riders. When the ferry docks, you had better get out of the way, because there will be swarm of scooters coming off the ferry like bees.