First day in Tainan
Trip Start Apr 26, 2008
20Trip End May 09, 2008
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Where I stayed
I was so starving I thought I would eat anything. Breakfast was not quite what I expected, but wasn't bad either. Just different. There were many choices, with a variety of western and eastern foods served buffet style. I did discover that the orange juice here has no pulp (not a problem for me) but is quite watered down in comparison to what I usually buy at home in the grocery store. Evidently Frosted Flakes are a favorite, and were a pleasant surprise. At least I won't starve.
Dr Wu's other assistants Patrick and Alan arrived at 9:30a to pick us up so that we could meet Dr Hwung-Hweng Hwung, the Vice-President of National Cheng Kung University, the university at which Dr Wu teaches
We had tea with Dr Hwung and exchanged minor pleasantries before heading out to take a campus tour of National Cheng Kung University. The campus reminded me of older state run college campuses in the US. Many of the buildings were in some state of disrepair, and there was construction going on in several places. It is a shame that the sun was not shining, because on the campus there is a beautiful lake with garden and arched footbridge so often stereotypically painted in Asian watercolors. Patrick informed us that it is common practice to throw graduating Masters students into the lake just before graduation. I'm not sure how pleasant that would be. There were many snapping turtles and some large orange koi that seems to be trained to beg for food as soon as you set foot on the bridge.
It started to rain just in time for us to make a pit stop in the Earth Sciences building. There, we were greeted by a large blue poster with Chinese writing and our names written near the bottom. It was an advertisement for our talks at NCKU next week! I must get a copy of it to bring home for my scrap book. Melinda, Ted, Shuying, Alan, Patrick, and I sat in the conference room in the Earth Science department and waited for the rain to stop so that we could go to the NCKU Medical College Cafeteria for lunch (evidently it has the best student food)
Lunch at the Medial College Cafeteria was very tasty. I don't know what we would be eating without Shuying to interpret the menu. Between her, Alan, and Patrick we generally are able to figure out what will be arriving. Melinda and I got cashew chicken, and yes, it tasted exactly like it does in Raleigh. It was accompanied by soup, some sort of bitter green leafy vegetable, and a cold dessert soup that was made of green beans and barley. Not bad, but definitely not my first choice for dessert. Ted, the vegetarian of the group, ordered fish of unknown origin. He asked Shuying, Alan, and Patrick what type of fish it was, and all 3 were stumped. Shuying said something about "yellow fish", but she wasn't quite sure and even the waitress didn't seem to know. Of course, Ted's fish arrived complete with head, tail, and bones, but he didn't seem to mind. Maybe by the end of this trip I'll be able to stomach eating a fish with the head still attached.
After lunch we traveled to the Tainan Hydrologic Laboratory (THL) to get our presentations in order and transferred over the their computers. We were shown to the "Guest Office" which had been conveniently set up with 4 desks and chairs and a computer with internet access. Ted settled in to put finishing touches on his final presentation, while Melinda, Shuying, and I chatted. Two hours later Ted was still working on his computer and I was starting to nod off
Shuying, Melinda, and I wandered off to find the Ladies room and discovered what appeared on the surface to be a western bathroom with 6 toilet stalls and a long row of sinks. However, only 2 of the toilets were "western" while the others were "eastern". If you don't know the difference, take a look at the photos I attached and I'll explain when I see you next. Disturbingly, there also was not toilet paper anywhere to be found. Also, for some reason in every bathroom I have been in here, there isn't any soap to wash your hands. I think I understand now why before you eat they give you a wet wipe to wash your hands at the table.
We left the THL at about 5:45 to go to a formal dinner with Dr Wu and several officials from the NCKU. Dinner was at a Japanese restaurant, but was not hibatchi style. Instead the food was served like dim sum, with many dishes on a huge lazy susan. Dr Wu picked the dishes and for the most part, dinner was very tasty. The calimari was a favorite, but there was a very large variety of sea food, prepared in many ways. I even ate some tuna sushi and fish complete with head and tail. I seem to be getting the hang of chop stick use as I am steadfastly refusing to use a fork if offered.
Attending the dinner representing NCKU were Drs Wu, Hwung, Lee, and Hsu. Our "coffee table book" gifts of North Carolina were well liked by Dr Wu and Dr Hwung. Many thanks to Sherry in the NCDENR WSO for finding them! During dinner Ted very nearly got roped into a drinking game with Dr Hwung, which was quite humorous. Because Ted is the only man in our group he is generally assumed to be our leader. We sort of perpetuated that idea by making him carry the bag with the gifts and present them at dinner. He seems quite happy to fulfill the charade, which is good because Shuying, Melinda, and I were not keen to do it.
After dinner we returned to the hotel and made arrangements to meet tomorrow morning. We are supposed to spend the day at the THL discussing their project.