Sunday, 3 November 2013

A train in Taiwan

Risk of the Day
Getting out of the car on the offside in Taipei.
Traffic does not give priority to pedestrian lights and a young female surgeon was recently killed because of it.
Classification:     NTD (nutty Taiwanese drivers)
Control:                Nil (3/4) get out on the other side, stupid!
Likelihood:          3
Impact:                 3
Score:                   9

Luxury hotel breakfast - oh dear, another three-full-meal-day. I tell Lue that I will have to eat small portions, and eat slowly as we are being too well-fed. He replies that after today, normality will return - but I'm not sure I believe him, given the level of generosity and eagerness to be hospitable I have found so far.

So after a bit of a lie-in, off to an elegant restaurant situated on an inelegant street corner under a motorway flyover. This is a meeting of the society of group psychotherapists - including Lue and Min's mentor Dr Chang, the 93-year-old founder of psychotherapy in Taiwan, and about ten others. An altogether more congenial and less hierarchical affair than last night's conference dinner*
The Taiwanese Group Psychotherapy Society
Next to the main railway station in Taiwan. The city does not have several main stations - but just one for the metro system, all the provincial lines, and the high speed trains. As the size and bustle of it all amply showed - the lower level included a vast area of shops, restaurants and activity - and the bottom level (where the metro is) was more than double the size of that. I'm not sure what level we waited for our train before we went down for it, but it is a thoroughly bewildering place that I would be rather worried about negotiating on my own, without a local guide.

The train was advertised as two minutes late, and was one  minute late - for the two hour fifteen minute journey along the northeast coast to Hualien, where Lue and his family live. Although grey and rainy, the scenery was spectacular once the train cleared Taipei: wooded mist-covered mountains to our right and the Pacific Ocean to the left. Next stop in that direction, California.

As soon as we arrived at the hotel, it was time to go for meal number three - with Lue and his family. A very congenial affair, memories of the UK and Oxford (his wife and two now teenage daughters daughters spent 3 months there with us in the Thames Valley), and gifts for all**

So, after writing this, happily to bed - stomach well full. But slowly with small portions...

* fourth banquet
** fifth banquet or celebration meal

New Thing of the day
Getting the train from an East Asian capital, 
Taipei station handles over half a million passengers per day and is unimaginably busy. Make Paddington seem like a tranquil country halt. 

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