Thursday, November 24, 2005

My evening stroll

I had about an hour to kill before meeting Peggy & Sabing (and relatives) for dinner so thought I'd go for a walk.

This is significant.  Since I've arrived here, I have never gone anywhere unaccompanied.  As I'm leaving tomorrow for Hong Kong (reports may be sporadic as I don't think I have the right adapter for my computer, so will be on battery), this was my last chance to wander Taipei aimlessly.

OK, not aimlessly.  With aim, or at least, direction.  I did not take with me a business card (or anything else) with the hotel's address on it.  Which meant that I could not hail a cab or ask someone directions if I got lost.  So I kept my route extremely simple -- down the street, cross the street, back to the hotel.  Repeat in another direction.

I was snapping random pictures for one of my planned photo essays when some dude in an official-looking hat looked at me funny.  Didn't say anything, just looked at me funny.  When I crossed the street and came back, I realized what was going on.  Don't snap unusual pictures when you're standing across the street from the country's main Air Force building.  (Complete with intimidating barbed wire fence.  No, you will get no picture of that one.  I didn't want to get hauled off and interrogated for espionage.)

Wandering down another street, I saw lots of folks selling goods on the sidewalk -- sort of a night market (although not as official as the one I'd been to on Monday -- with the snakes).  One woman was selling hair thingies.  I saw a cute scrunchy, picked it up, and looked at her questioningly.  She correctly interpreted my glance and responded, very clearly, with the price.

It was then I thought, "Man, I gotta learn numbers in Chinese if I expect to shop." 

About a block later, I remembered that many Taiwanese speak English, and I could've asked.  Alternatively, I could've asked her to write it down -- as they use the same Arabic numerals as we do.  Of course, I didn't think of any of these things in her presence -- and I was too proud to open my wallet in her general direction and have her point to the currency she wanted.  The scrunchy remained unpurchased.

(I'm certain I can get the same thing at Duty Free.  For three times as much.)


hewasolddog299 said...

Wise choice, skipping the photographic evidence of the Air Force office. I don't have the pull at the Pentagon I once did ... forget about the State Department having any ability to secure your release when it comes to supposed terrorism and espionage. The Taiwanese have no sense of humor, whatsoever, about those subjects and way too much at stake to care about one little woman from the USA.

Enjoy Hong Kong, even if you can't tell us about it until you return. And remember, while things may appear very cosmopolitan and relaxed in HK, it is no longer the Crown Colony it once was and there is a boatload of things one doesn't do, especially if one wants to get home again. Rely on your concierge to steer you straight.


rgwindland said...

Good thing you were careful. I don't think they have computer priviledges in the pokey, LOL. Rhonda