Sunday, October 16, 2005

Thanksgiving, Kaoshiung and The Kindness of Strangers

So thanksgiving came and went completely forgotten by most of the ex-pats here in Taiwan. I was talking to my mother, when she spoke of Thanksgiving dinner and I asked quite suddenly, when was Thanksgiving? I would have at least made a point of eating some manner of fowl and possibly some pig on that day. Oh well, there is always next year.
We spent our Thanksgiving day taking the train to Kaoshiung (pronounced Gow-shung) We hiked up the Monkey Mountain and took some lovely pictures of a smog shrouded city from atop it's peak. We spent a couple of hours taking in the sites. There were lions and tigers and beer, oops, I mean bears. We walked and sweated, and then walked and sweated some more. We managed to see most of the animals and were making our way back down the mountain, when a strange little Taiwanese woman came running in our direction, very excited and demanding to take our picture with our camera for us. Of course, my mistrust was immediate. I am after all, from the North End of Dartmouth. Common sense dictated that she was not a threat. She was maybe 55-60 years old, (it is very hard to tell with the Asian people) and no more than five and a half feet tall. I figured, even with my considerable girth, I could take her in a footrace down a mountain. She took a few shots of us, jabbering constantly about how attractive we are. The entire time she was snapping shots, the Dartmouth boy in me was expecting her to cut and run with our camera. She didn't do that, however, what she did do was invite us to her gentleman friend's car, whom she advised us, was a professor of English at a local university.
Karen and I went with her, reluctantly, already thinking up excuses for why we could not drive in the car with them. They turned out to be perfectly nice people who just wanted to offer us a ride to our next destination, which they decided for us. They told us we simply must check out the Lover's River, as it was especially beautiful at this time of night. Karen and I had specifically arrived in this city without a plan, and had every intention of Forrest Gumping our way through the day. I find those days always turn out better than vigilantly planned outings. This lovely old couple were a perfect example of the kind of thing Forrest Gumping can accomplish. So, we were driving in the back of a luxury automobile, wonderfully air-conditioned and given a full tour of the city. We said our goodbyes at the Lover's River, took a business card and promised to call the next time we were in the city.
The river was more like the Rideau Canal in Ottawa than a river. There were boat tours and lots of people walking hand in hand. It was very nice and Karen took many pictures. We made our way to a Pub called the Pig and Whistle, and proceeded to be thorougly unimpressed and overcharged at the same time. We finished out our day trip drinking beer on the train for the trip back to Tainan. It was a great day, all and all, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to do it again soon.
Bye for now,

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