About Me

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Yilan, Taiwan
I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.

Monday, June 13, 2011

April in Taipei

About 2  weeks before the Flower Expo ended we met my dear friend Alisse at the Yuanshan MRT. She and I go way back, we have been friends for ten years. When we first met she was dating my then housemate Eric from Santa Monica. He and I were squatting in a condemned building in Chu Wei, where my job was. They broke up we all remain friends to this day. She came to stay with me in the UK when I was pregnant and in grad school. Sometimes I go up to Taipei to stay at hers and catch up. For my 36th birthday she bought me tickets to the Flower Expo and because of the weather put it off til the end, which was fine, we went when the weather was perfect.

Alisse and Z among the petals
The Flower expo was crowded we stood in line forever to go inside the big main one, but I didnt mind as we were catching up. Z was with us and was great a first, but after a couple of hours wanted me to hold he and was fussy. We walked around some of the outdoor exhibits, listened to some drums, saw the eco building made of plastic water bottles and then Z was finished.

I had read in the paper that a nearby temple was having some festivities and that President Ma would be there. I just happened to be right around the corner and seemed a shame not to check it out. Bao-An Temple originally built in 1760 by Fujian immigrants. That day was Bao-An's birthday. He was a Fujian doctor healer who became worshipped by the people as a deity, so many people go there to pray for health. Also there is a goddess of birth enshrined there as well so women pray to her for fertility and a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

It was fairly subdued for a Taiwanese Taoist festival, or I have just got used to Tainan style god birthdays, all loud firecrackers, visionless incense clouds, early am instrument clanging while driving around the neighborhood. It was serene peaceful, uncrowded. Z and I watched Alisse worship. She had to ask the volunteers there how to go about doing it (every god is different). She had to get the right about of incense sticks for the right directions, etc and even then she was unsure if she did it properly (seemed complicated). Then afterwards she went to a basket of palm sized wooden crescents. She then asked the god a yes/no questions, threw them on the floor and the position of their landing answered ye or no. Next she pulled out a long stick with a number. She walked to a nearby wall full of many slips of numbered paper and there she found the god's answer.
 After this we walked across the street to the Confucius temple which was pretty empty. We started to notice Secret Service, some of which looked too young, with ear pieces in their ear looking fierce. The next day we decided to take a bike ride. Alisse lives in Chu Wei so she brought her bike and I rented one with 2 seats (the little kid one in the front) and we biked along the Tamsui River going over the red bridge to Bali, biking down the other side of the river and taking our bikes and ourselves on a boat to Tamsui. It was  a nice leisurely morning, and hot, maybe the first summery day in Taipei for the year. We parted and I went to meet my other dear friend for an afternoon of high art.

Taking a break during our Tamsui River biking with Alisse

Sherry and I also go way back. She was my manager while I worked in Chu Wei (great manager, how many of us can say that?) ten years ago and we even were housemates for a time in Tamsui. She has been to my home in Colorado and she has visited me in Tainan and vice versa. Her brother has always been a friend as well. Anyway she was keen to see the Chagall exhibit too so we met at the Shilin MRT and took a taxi to the National Palace Museum. It was one of the the first, maybe the 2nd weekend of the exhibition and thus crowded. Z loved it! She squeezed her way to the front and seemed to be just as impressed and energized by the colors. the dreaminess and love all around us. I have always admired Chagall as a kid and have never seen so many of his best pieces together. It was inspiring. His color was was brighter in person, more vivid than I imagined, better than any book.

Sherry and Z after some Chagall

All in all it was a memorable weekend, with my 2 best Taiwanese friends, Chagall, Flowers and Z. Sometimes I miss living in Tamsui, always feels like a holiday.

More photos of the weekend, click here.

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