Scribbles in the Sand

All About My Life in Taiwan


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The Premature Opening of the Four Seasons Hotel

Fiona and I went to the opening celebration of the brand new Sheraton hotel this evening. It was a somewhat surreal event given that the hotel is still essentially a building site, but nether the less, within the giant arches of this concrete labyrinth were some twenty large circular tables filled with food and surrounded by foremen, architects, business owners, workmen, and managers of the hotel. We arrived quite late into the meal around 8pm, and by this time many of the guests were sufficiently intoxicated, more so than a Geordie at closing time. As is the tradition, we were guided around each table of 10 unknown people and shared a toast with all 20 tables. I’ll try and get some pictures of the night, but this photo by Laurie is essentially what the hotel looks like currently.

The food was catered by one of the best places in Penghu, and as ever, the giant platters of food could barely fit on the table before a new dish arrived and a partially touched platter would depart.


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4 Days Left in Taiwan

By LRB JAMES

Four days left in the country and only an over-riding sense of guilt inspires me to write this blog. There has been a change in the weather and a bitterly cold northerly wind taunts the tin roofs, screaming as it escapes the nooks unseen.

The streets are deserted but for a lone moped weaving unsteadily, braving the torrents.  The hum of the air conditioning is now replaced by the lonely tic-toc of the clock and a longing for the sunshine I cursed on arrival.

I dream of Roquefort, Roblechon, Romao… the crackle and hiss of a log fire and the deep scent of rosemary and garlic roasting under a leg of lamb. I miss little else other than the warmth of a group of friends or the presence of my loving family.

The choice I made took me away from a stable job and relationship and thrust me into unemployment and mild solitude. For the most part, I live alone, dine alone and sleep alone. Am I happy? For now, yes. I am following a dream. I am not ready to settle and I hope to achieve something other than mediocrity in my life.  From time to time, Facebook reminds me that my peers are starting families and from time to time I am envious.

In England I was heading for premature hypertension and a life of servitude, frittering my money on alcohol and material desires. Here, I have lost 5 kilo’s in weight without trying, my blood pressure is at 130/65, and the crushing sense of stress and anxiety has alleviated. I eat healthily – an average day includes a bowl of porridge with soya milk for breakfast, pork/ chicken, rice and veg for lunch and dinner. In the New Year I aim to lose a further 6 kg to get to my ideal weight of 90kg, continue Taichi training and join the windsurfing club/gym.  My abstention from alcohol is mainly cultural and it saddens me to see that the only people drinking in the street are other foreigners. We are a minority out here and we act as ambassadors.

We return to Taiwan on January the 11th. We return to work permits, residency and an empty school. Our opening date is set for the 6th of February and our opening strategy has more or less been set. It includes launching our weekly English language column in the local newspaper, launching the full website, three waves of flyering and with luck appearing on local radio (tbc).

Meanwhile we are to be baking and making marmalade in preparation for our open days – meet the teachers, short presentations and enrolment into the following weeks taster sessions etc. We have to germinate thousands of seeds for the school ‘garden’ including lavender, rosemary, coriander, chilli and tomato. We hope to create a school that does not just teach English but gives the learners a sense of community and pride.