I slept over 8 hours last night for the first time. I needed that and feel good as I wake up to the 4th of July in Taipei! It is still the 3rd in the US, but as usual with things I like (like birthdays and holidays), I stretch it to the limit and will celebrate both days.
Fireworks are legal (and made) here and are probably mandatory on Chinese New Year. That date varies according to the lunar calendar, but Chuni thinks it was February 6th this past year. I tell Chuni, Michael and Nelson (who is taking a break from studying by playing video games) that we should eat hot dogs, drink beer and light firecrackers and sparklers on the roof. Once again, they stare at me blankly. I don't think this idea will fly, either. That's ok. When in Rome...
We just got back from walking over and meeting another cousin of Chuni's at a (thank God) vegetarian restaurant , buffet, of course. His English name is Alex Dow. I forget what his PhD is in and from where, but he met his wife, Lynn, when she was getting her PhD in Chemistry (ugh! Did I even TAKE chemistry?) in Washington DC and he
was a Taiwanese Diplomat. They are pretty comfortable speaking English. Busted. I ask who the US president was in 1986. Can you remember? I couldn't. The buffet is beautiful and I can't resist trying new things. 3 plates full when I promised myself it would be easy to lightly graze. I took something that looked like a chocolate nougat, but it wasn't on the dessert table. I asked what it was a nervous when Michael mentioned pig's blood, but then I saw all the Buddhist Monks sitting all around us and I remember it's vegetarian. Phew. Purple rice pudding. They do have grape tomatoes at the dessert table. Chuni says you are supposed to put a piece of the dried spiced plum in the middle. I couldn't resist one small coconut mochi. Andrew and Lynn have an exporting company (mostly parts for military). Since I am part of the conversation I ask if he has any connections in the LED light manufacturing business, since Noah may want to start a business using them. Lynn and Andrew both light up (pun intended) and say manufacturing LED lights is their OTHER business!!! SCORE! We exchange business cards. Mine is really a goofy retirement card and I have the initials FA (free lance advocate) and RDG (retired do-gooder) behind my name and my email has a typo in it (the dreaded no "middle m), so I have to hand write it. Alex scrutinizes it carefully with a very puzzled look on his face. Unscore? We then walked a couple blocks to their beautiful apartment with an imprisoned parrot named BaoBao (Baby) and met their son, Andrew who is 19. Alex then drives us to a SHOE store across town so Chuni can get fancy ballroom dancing shoes for herself and Chia. We are now up to 15 pairs of shoes that Chuni alone bought, Michael has 2. I'm embarrassed to say I'm up to 3 pair (one for Hannah) and I find myself still looking. I do wonder if they're made in sweat shops. I ask Chuni, but she doesn't know. I ask Alex if we can charter one if his export planes to ship our shoes home since I only travel with a backpack.
Next Chuni and I went quickly to Sogo's Department store as she wanted to look for handbags for her niece. She bought 2. One for PeiPei and one for herself.
Vicki called and said it was time to go to dinner. Nelson didn't come as tonigjt he was being tutored in Math. Vicki didn't like the hot dog and fireworks idea, either, so we ate mass quantities of authentic Korean food including ginseng chicken soup. My niece, Rachael's family is from Korea, so I hope she recognizes the dishes. I ate the whole ginseng root before I knew that THAT makes you hyper. That, coupled with the free cokes the owner gave us because we were American, will keep me up all night. I'll make Chuni play truth or dare. Who needs Betelnuts? Coke and ginseng for the 4th of July!!
Next, Vicki needs to help her Mom Lily pick out new eyeglasses. It is an area with tons of tiny shops with cool cheap clothes. Wish I was 15 again! Chuni buys another pair of shoes in the first shop and I get a couple of tops as I can hardly wear anything I brought as it is TOO hot. Nothing with sleeves or collars. Even my Costco knee length shorts are too heavy and hot. I buy 4 sun dresses at the next shop for $5 apiece. Two for me, 2 for Hannah. Chuni bought 4 tops and 2 dresses. Michael bought 2 pair of shorts and a dress shirt. I haven't bought anything for Noah, but did make the LED light connection...
Tomorrow brings a high speed train to Hsinchu, I think to visit more relatives .
Chuni and I sleep in the same bed, so it will be easy for me to talk to her all night...
If you haven't checked out Chuni's husband, Chia's, guest blog in the comment section from yesterday's blog, please do do. HE has really captured the meaning of the 4th of July. Much more than hot dogs and fireworks. A good reminder for those of us who have only lived in freedom.
I am so privileged to be visiting your beautiful country with your very special family.
Happy 4th of July from Taiwan.