Chuni said I must have been drunk when I did my post last night as I referred to her cousin, Alex, by his son's name, Andrew, and that I double posted a bunch of pictures. I wish I was drunk, then maybe I would've slept. I was hyped up on Coke (as in cola) and ginseng. I cannot ingest any caffeine after 12 noon or I can't sleep. Ask Greg. Chuni had a 11:30 pm conference call from the US for her consulting business, came to bed around 1 and was up by 6. She had said we could sleep in this morning, but all of a sudden was yelling "Get up. It's 7. GooGoo is picking us up at 8!!" Chaos reigned. She neglected to tell us this was the trip where we would attend an Aboriginal wedding and Michael only brought flip flops, shorts and t-shirts, even though he just purchased a dress shirt and nice shorts the night before.
We took the high speed train to Hsinchu to meet Chuni's friend, Miriem. They have a beautiful 5 story row house with gardens. They all knew each other from the Catholic Fellowship group at NTU. I think Chuni's friends and family make up the entire 1.2% of the country that is non-Buddhist. My luck, since I was raised Catholic and would love to learn more about Buddhism! Miriem also got her graduate degree in Children's Literature at the University of Illinois at Champagne. That is where Michael is going in the fall and it is bizarre that almost everyone we meet either lived or went to school there! Even Miriem's friend, Sherry, who we met today, was born in Champagne and her father was an Ag Econ professor there. Miriem's husband has a PhD in Physics/chemistry works at Synchrotron here doing research . He was very excited about a discovery out of Lucerne today announcing the biggest particle accelerant. I have no idea what that means, but I nodded and smiled. Their kids both graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle and are very accomplished.All very intimidating, but again, such nice, welcoming people.
Miriem took us to a beautiful garden called "The One" - Nanyuan, Land if Retreat and Wellness in Hsinpu. Chuni said Chia would love it. It would bring out the poet in him!! And maybe inspire him to play his guitar. It was beautiful. The buildings were amazing and all the doorway shapes symbolized the 9 life principles. (I think.) It was originally owned by the founder of the United Daily News and was built for his retirement. He had guests like Margaret Thatcher and Mikhael Gorbachev. It was opened to the public in 2008. The buildings were made out of cypress wood. We had a beautiful lunch there and we saw the biggest honking beetles in the world and a praying mantis eating a butterfly. Plus black swans and white peacocks.
We went to a smaller night market for a simple dinner and finally got some bubble tea, which originated from Taiwan. Yum.
It is a bit unusual to be the only Caucasian face in any crowd. When I see another one, it startles me a bit and I think it may be true we all look alike. I have been seeing the faces of various members of my family in the beautiful Asian faces that surround me!
Since Chia's beautiful comments yesterday, I feel a closeness to their son, Richard, in Afghanistan, though I do not know him. Michael says he is his idol and Chia and Chuni have such a strong, simple pride in him, though he has not taken the usual path expected of their friends' children. He left Princeton to join the Navy. Chuni says the best you can do with such strong gifts is to serve others. They are letting their children lead their own lives and it is beautiful. Special people.
I'll write more tomorrow! Too tired and we have an early train out tomorrow to Taichung for a reunion with MORE of the Catholic group. One of them has ALS and is bedridden, but his mind works beautifully and he can compose
by eye movements through his computer these friends chipped in to get him. I look forward to meeting him and the others!