Taipei and Danshui
In the early morning, I visit Sun Yat Sen memorial, the father of the first Chinese republic, revered on the two sides of the strait. It is the perfect time to observe many inhabitants practicing shadow boxing, yoda or Latin dances in the park just before going to work.
Afterwards, I go to the National History Museum. I ask for a ticket. When it comes to pay, I cannot find my wallet in my back bag. A bit embarrassed, I explain to the cashier that I can't pay the ticket and that I need to go back to my hotel to get my wallet back. As am I speaking Chinese and looking nice, she let me in "Free ! Free !". After some time, I finally find my wallet and go back to pay. In any case, this shows how nice Taiwanese might be.
This museum's collections aren't as rich and impressive than the National Palace ones. Nevertheless, they have a good number of ancient jades. They also have many three-colour sculptures 三彩 from the Tang dynasty. Interestingly, most of the representations of women from this era show some females rather fatty and curvy. This is why many large-waisted Chinese girls sometimes sigh "I wish I had lived during the Tang dynasty". This very day, there was a temporary exhibition of French marbles from the XVIIIth century. Pretty familiar.
For my last evening in Taiwan, I go for a walk in Danshui, a peaceful and scenic port, some twenty kilometers east of Taipei. Per recommendation of my friends, I try the local seafood which is quite tasty and fresh (yellow eel and fried octopus). The city is also the home of a few buildings built by the British or the Spanish. I stay there for the sunset, a splendid point of view on the sea.
In Danshui I come across a young American begging on the street with his guitar. I haven't stayed long in Taiwan but it seems to me that he was the perfect example to illustrate the cultural gap between the local Chinese and the Westerners living there (mostly young Americans teaching English). The Chinese ideology is straightforward: if one doesn't work, this person should not eat (this is why Chinese Buddhist usually farm instead of begging money like in other Buddhist countries). In the cultural framework, a beggar must feel very shameful. During my trip in Taiwan, I have seen a few beggars that share the same posture. Lying on the ground, they were respectively hitting their forehead on the ground without glancing at possible benevolent pedestrians. A very humble attitude. Going back to this US youngster, who could probably easily find a job as an English teacher, he was standing on the street with his guitar, without the least spark of shame. He was even probably thinking "Ah ! These Chinese ! Why don't they play music on the street ? I am teaching them a way to get money". The very bad reputation these American teachers have in Taiwan is well deserved.