Taiwan trip Dec 19 and 20, 2004
Mr. Huang took us to an extraordinary water massage spa for two hours this morning. We were limp and relaxed as jellyfish on Prozac afterwards. There were a maze of swimming pools, deep baths, saunas, and water jets of all descriptions. One stood under the water jets which squirted a strong stream of water onto whatever part of your body needing massage. SOme of these were under water jets and some were simply giant waterfalls you stood under while it pounded the top of your shoulders. Some were hot herbal baths, while others were nearly freezing.
He then took us to a typical Taiwanese eatery--sort of the local equal to Copper's or Wink's Bar B Q for Taiwanese food. He was very kind to me and Joy and the other sculptors, bringing around snacks, beer, and taking time off from work to show us around.
Joy spent most of the day at the Pier 2 site with me, catching up on her journal and taking lots of pictures and talking with people.
I have been working on a large, spectacular sea dragon to complete my under water scene. I got the idea this morning while still in bed, and then worked on it this afternoon, sort of making it up as I went along (how else do I work?) After decades of marriage to a metal sculptor, Joy was able to jump right in scavenging more metal parts, and making good suggestions about design. It turns out the water dragon I designed, is a dead ringer for the "King of the Sea" dragon of Chinese mythology. (Their Neptune, as it were.) I hope to finish it today and have good pictures posted by Dec 22 or 23.
A sculpture team of Taiwanese aboriginals (their reservations are along the eastern coast) has come over to see my work several times and are so complementary, I shall have a hard time getting my head into a taxi or plane. Their work space is a few tents down from mine and they not only eat Chinese food that is brought around to us, but have set up their own smoker and eat something--I hesitate to ask what--they keep over the fire at all times.
Their fire with just some special tea going. Below, their work site
The sculpture assistants all smoke like chimneys and chew betel nuts, which gives them a legal, mild narcotic high in addition to a constant bright red drool you could mistake for the results of a bad fist fight or advanced tuberculosis.
Interestingly, iced tea is HUGE here. I would have thought it would be unknown. There are more kinds and flavors and mixtures of iced tea sold here than you or I had ever imagined. Same for iced coffee, and the stands are all over the places. Chains run them as well as mom and pops. For this to be popular, the public has to feel the ice and water are safe, so there's big
money behind getting clean water.
Everybody drinks bottled water and it is cheap and freely offered around. We
have a special gizmo in our hotel room hat offers instant hot water for tea.
Most buildings seem to have a water tank that is used for potable water
only, and another for washing----It seems these fill from the municipal
water supply and are then treated.
view from Pier 2--our hotel is at the red sign on right.
Kaohsiung seems to be a modern city, interested in catching up
infra structure for strictly business reasons. I think nearly all American
conservatives should be brought here to see the effects of unfettered urban
unplanning; unfettered pollution controls and a total lack of safety
regulations from an office like OSHA. It must be very hard to be a local politician, caught between rising economic demands and expectations and trying to explain to people new concepts like urban planning, pollution controls, etc. as an over all infra structure and quality of life issue. For example, the Art Museum was built in a great spot with a terrific view of the forests and mountains ten years ago. Now, there are main roads, a planned metro stop and high rises all around the sculpture garden. The good side to this is the private developers will demand good roads and clean water for their building projects.
A new view from the Art Mueum Sculpture Garden
I have met a local sculptor who does work much like mine, and, surprisingly or not, has a background much like mine. Tin-Tsan Liu, 46, trained as a metal worker and welder, later running his own metal fabrication business until his factory site was condemned and taken over for a new base ball stadium. With the money, he has acquired a small tract of land on the mountain were he’ll be setting up a sculpture walk. In he meantime, he has turned over the metal fabrication business to his children and gone to his self taught, found object metal sculpting full time. He has a shop about the size of mine at the end of a large warehouse here at Pier 2. He has been a huge help to me, supplying extra washers, bolts, etc. that I could not have found otherwise. He is a true genius at found art welding well as having a strong talent for realistic clay modeling. He speaks no English and, yet we get along very well since we do such similar work. For the 2002 Kaohsiung Steel Festival, he was technical guru (he has a lot of metal working tools) ad he built a 20 foot long stainless steel water buffalo for the event. He threw a surprise birthday party for his wife at his studio last nigh which was a riot from an American point of view. We had strange and delicious party foods and an accordion player dressed in outlandish costume played Happy Birthday and Jingle Bells in Chinese while the Chinese conga danced around the studio singing.
Tin-Tsan Liu below. see more of his work on www.joelhaastudio.com/Kaohsiung_trip2_pix2.htm
There was a terrific symphony orchestra performance this evening--by an unbelievably large symphony of 10-14 year olds; a jazz quintet; and a very Chinese, very happy and amusing birthday party at one of the local artist's studios.
When we walked back to the hotel, our laundry was proudly presented to us; everything, including tee shirts, socks and underwear, pressed and sealed in child proof cellophane wrappers.