Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spring and Teresa come to Taiwan

Isn't this tree beautiful? The campus is blooming: trees, bushes, grass, poinsettas—these last don't know Christmas is over. Providence campus is a beautiful place and beautiful Teresa came to see it, both very good things, indeed! We had many adventures as she was here almost three weeks. We saw most of Taiwan, many places I had not seen myself before. One of the first things we saw was an exhibit of Ju Ming, a famous Taiwan artist whose sculptures often adorn I.M. Pei buildings, in the local Museum of Fine Art. Taichung has wonderful museums.

We fell in love with his work. It doesn't photograph as well as I had hoped, but you can see some people, individuals, and then a huge wall of smaller images rather like a Pebworth only in wood. The life-sized sculptures convey a vivid sense of action and are very entertaining and even cheering to see.

I loved them so much I bought the small replica in the gift shop—the only one like it. More about this later . . .

The next adventure we had was very very strange, indeed. Teresa, Anna, and I and Jane, the artist whose paper sculptures I have shown on the blog earlier, waited in the car for Time, Jane's husband, to run an errand. We were parked Taiwanese style, which is to say illegally. As we sat in the car chatting, a man and a woman came out of a beauty shop onto the sidewalk with a chair. The woman sat in the chair and the man wrapped something strange around her and stuck an inflated ball under it. Then the man started to wave his arms around and make strange motions in the air. We noticed right away, and were fascinated. So fascinated that Anna decided to go inside the shop and find out what was going on. Only Anna would be that brave—and inquisitive! She came back to tell us, no kidding now, that the woman was undergoing some kind of expensive treatment involving electricity which was to improve her health and psyche, but it was a demonstration for which she had not paid, so could not get the treatment inside the shop with the other customers! She sat in the chair quite some time, and occasionally the man came out and waved his hands around with motions that looked as though he was pulling something out of the woman and throwing it away.

I was hoping whatever he pulled out would not slither over and jump into us!

A day or two later Teresa and I went to an authentic tea shop with John Wong, a friend whom Bessie had introduced to us. It was quite an experience. The owner, a charming man, served us many varieties of hand-rolled tea specially grown on mountains and chosen by him or his wife. Their tea shop is the number one champion of the annual Taiwanese tea competition for many consecutive years. They are the best in the business, simply put.

Here's one of the evidences of their championship.

The ceremony was elaborate, and we had never tasted tea like that in our lives. Tonight I ordered some packages for gifts when I return home.

After we had the tea, we had lunch with John and Johanna, his wife, and then John took Teresa and me to see my favorite temple in Taiwan, the Buddhist temple in Cheng Shui. It has wonderful dragons and a tiger and lots of other terrific stuff.
That is the back of John's head; he is standing in front of it.

We happened by during the lantern festival and saw many beautiful lanterns in the temple. They had all been made of found objects, and most were made by children.

Teresa and John very patiently waited while I made photos of all the wonderful aspects of the temple: dragons, murals, giant dragon, giant tiger, dragons, other stuff, dragons. Here are a few of the myriad I took:

These marvelous dragons! Maybe I was Chinese in another life . . .

Did I mention the dragons?

To be continued . . .