A Week of Books and Butterflies

Confucius said: To see what is right and not to do it, is want of courage, or of principle.

The past week has been filled with beautiful things.

In Taiwan, this time of year, the days are magic. It is still hot but without the humidity. So I have a lot more energy and cannot say no when I’m invited on a trip to a rural area I have never been to before. After a 10km scooter ride we took the local bus from Koahsuing into the mountains and to the village of Maolin. All year round there are places to see the butterflies: spring and summer in the Meinong area to see the lemon-yellow butterflies. In winter Maolin area when the purple butterflies gather here. So many people travel to this area in the winter months to see the purple butterflies that the local government schedules extra busses on this route for a few weeks.

October, my personal art festival

Confucius said Imagination is better than knowledge.

If you think the people living in Taiwan and craving some cultural activities are stuck with drumming and dragon dancing, think again.

October was a month in which I fed my craving for all things beautiful and I had loads to choose from. In this month I saw some world class performances all within 36 km of my home. My personal art and music festival started with The Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra from New York. Conductor Milen Nachev led this orchestra in performing a variety of pieces which included Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Sarasate as well as music by Asian composers like Yu Deng, Jing Xian, Yunyi Tan. It was interesting and refreshing to hear the classics with new sounds brought by the Asian instrument, the erhu.

Chimei Museum

Mr Wen-Long Shi is the founder of the Chimei Museum. As a child he was a keen visitor to museums and as an adult and successful businessman he has established the largest private museum in Taiwan.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Confucius said: The essence of knowledge is, having it, to use it.

The Mid-Autumn Festival started about 3000 years ago. It was a way to celebrate the harvest. Families would get together on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar at full moon. It was a time when people were looking forward to the sun’s heat again and women who wanted babies would send out those wishes at this time. All these wishes were represented by the lanterns that the Chinese would traditionally hang all over at this time of the year. Over time this cultural celebration has gone through many changes.

Taiwan 921

Confucius says: We have two lives, and the second begins when we realise we only have one.

September 21 1999 was a horrible and tragic day in the Taiwan history. In the early hours of that morning, while most people will sleeping peacefully, the earth gave a shiver and an earthquake reading 7.3 on the Richter scale shook the centre of Taiwan awake. 12 911 aftershocks were recorded, on September 26 there was one that measured 6.8 on the Richter scale. 2 415 people were killed, 29 missing, 11 300 injured, 51 711 buildings were destroyed. 

Taiwan – Taichung: Coffee at the pharmacy?

Confucius said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Imagine seeing an ad “a qualified pharmacist who is also an experienced barista wanted…” or “qualified barista who is also an experienced pharmacist wanted..”  Then image this person turning up for the job interview, his GPS says this is the right address but when he opens the door to the pharmacy he thinks he has just walked into an art gallery. 

Taiwan – Taichung Budokan Martial Arts Hall

Confucius said: Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

I spent a long weekend in Taichung with six fellow teachers. One of the places we visited was the Budokan Martial Arts Hall.

The Japanese colonised Taiwan between 1895 and 1945. They left beautiful buildings and many of these are restored and put to practical use again. The Japanese did not treat the Taiwanese well (that is an understatement) but Taiwanese have forgiven them (or so it seems to me) and the people I mix with in Taiwan have a great respect for the Japanese and anything Japanese. Many of them regularly visit Japan, they buy Japanese products and like this weekend, they take their foreign visitor to experience some Japanese culture without a single reference to the bad things they suffered at the hands of the Japanese.

Taiwan – A Lazy Day

Douliu Cat Street

Confucius said: Man differs from the animal only a little; most men throw that little away

Taking a road trip in Taiwan on a lazy day is like opening a lucky packet or an unexpected gift. It offers lovely surprises that lead to memorable afternoons.

The past weekend I took a trip to Douliu. There is a street in a neighbourhood and about 100m of this street will leave you jaw-dropped. Here you will find the most amazing 3D Land Art with cats as the theme. My Mandarin and Taiwanese is virtually non existent so I can not answer any of the W’s (who, when, why) because I could not ask the questions, and internet research has not been helpful at all.

Taiwan – My first typhoon

Confucius Said: Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.

My first typhoon in Taiwan

I tried to make a booking for accommodation on Green Island (using a student who is fluent in English) but the lady on Green Island says there is a typhoon approaching and I may want to postpone my trip. That’s the first warning I get of a typhoon. I start doing the internet searches and find more evidence of this typhoon. It will be my first typhoon ever and I have no idea what to expect. I’m nervous but also a little excited, and there is a lot of adrenaline pumping in my body.