Sunday, 28 August 2011

How Conrad Copes with All the Attention

We took a trip today on Taipei's lovely MRT system. There is no smoking, eating or drinking allowed and it is pristine and highly efficient. There are queue lines on the ground before the perspex gates, and, yes, people do stand and queue on them!. Trains arrive every two minutes and people are generally considerate and well-behaved. Here is Conrad on at the Taipei City Hall station:

As we were on the train Conrad commented that in Taiwan people were always looking at him. He's quite right. There aren't a lot of white foreigners in Taipei compared to more typical Western tourist destinations, and even fewer foreign children. Also, blond hair and blue eyes are deemed unusual and attractive. I was concerned that all this attention might be upsetting him.

"How do you feel about that?" I asked.

"I love it," he said.

So that was that.

We were on our way to Gongguan swimming pool, which styles itself an 'aquaculture centre' or something like that. It has a large shallow pool, a couple of water slides and a stream with a current running around the perimeter. In other words, Conrad was set for the day.

In Taiwanese swimming pools all patrons are required to wear a swimming hat; 'for hygiene' is the claim. Baggy swimming shorts are banned, also 'for hygiene'. All men must wear something more closely fitting. Luckily, most had managed to find something a little more demure than Speedos. The rules apply to young and old:

As this is Taipei, it rained. But what do you do in an outdoor swimming pool in a tropical country when it starts raining? Carry on exactly as you were, of course. You're already wet. Actually, that isn't strictly true. Most people left during the really heavy, raindrops bouncing off the water, downpours. Conrad and few others didn't care. The poor lifeguards had to stay and continue to do their job, though they would clearly rather have been somewhere else:

You can hire a big rubber ring for about £1 for two hours. Here is Conrad going around the river current:

As I'm sure you can tell, we had a great time. All that swimming fun left us a little peckish, so we had a snack at the poolside cafe. Until my Chinese improves, we're down to pointing at things that look good to eat when we order. Always willing to try something new, I'll often order things when I have no idea what they are. This is what we chose:

The drinks choices seemed to be tea or tea. I don't drink tea, but the girl serving said that you got a free drink if you ordered two things, so I thought I'd give some green tea a try. That's it on the left. With ice. The chicken wings were nice. I thought the cubic things were some kind of carbohydrate: potato, sweet potato or yam or something like that. They tasted okay but not very carbohydrate-y, so I split one open and it seemed to be chicken skin fried in batter. Oh well, not much different from reconstituted chicken nuggets.


Sabrina said...

Jenny, I am really enjoying your blog. I followed you here from because I'm also moving to Taipei (from New York City with 2 kids under 5) so that we can all have the experience of living in a different country and learning Mandarin. The difference for me is that my parents are actually from Taiwan, and I still have relatives there, so it's not quite as foreign to me. But it's still foreign, and it's definitely so for my white husband and our kids. We were due to arrive tonight (Sunday night), but due to the hurrican here and the typhoon hitting Taiwan, our flight was delayed, and we're hoping to finally get there on Wed night. Anyway, I'll be following your blog with great interest and maybe we will meet one of these days!

Jenny J. said...

Hi Sabrina
I'm glad you're enjoying my blog. I am just trying to keep family and friends informed of our shenanigans, but you're very welcome to read too!
I hope you manage to get here eventually. I was oblivious to the fact that there is a typhoon going on, until the director at a school we visited today said that the school may be closed tomorrow due to it. I just thought it was wet and windy. We must have typhoons in the UK all the time without realising it.
Yes, we may well meet. Do let me know how you get on.