Friday, May 15, 2009

Always take your camera with you

I made it in to Taipei last night, and for the most part the travel was uneventful. I flew from Detroit to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Taipei. Both flights were pretty crowded, but not packed. The strangest part of the process was when we landed in Tokyo, and had about a 90 minute wait while the Health Inspectors checked to make sure that no one was carrying the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. Everyone had to fill out forms saying whether they had been to Mexico recently, or had been around people who were sneezing and coughing. Apparently, some folks didn't realize that you had to do a form for infants as well, so we ended up waiting while they had to match up the number of forms with the number of people. The health inspectors were not quite dressed in HazMat clothes, but cl0se -- they were all wearing medical gowns, gloves, eye protection, and serious masks (not the little surgical ones like we often see, but ones that were much more Darth Vader-esque), and most of them wore hair covers, as well. I was supposed to have about two hours in Tokyo as a layover, but ended up with about 25 minutes instead.

Taipei was much easier, and I got to the hotel actually a little earlier than expected. I checked in with Heather to let her know I had arrived, and then got some sleep (but it is always weird sleep after a flight like this -- not quite deep sleep).

This morning I got up, had an online chat with Michael before he went to bed (Yahoo Messenger lets us use audio and video, which is nice), and then went out into a beautiful Taipei morning. It is about 85 here today, and I walked up to a local bookstore because I had forgotten my Taipei guidebook, and I got another one. While I was on my way to the bookstore, I saw a man on a modified scooter (scooters are the preferred mode of transport for many people here). It was a three-wheeler, loaded high with at least 8 feet high and five feet wide of empty cardboard boxes and other such things. I wished I had had my camera with me, so that I could have posted the picture!

After the bookstore, I grabbed some munchies from the old familiar Wellcome Mart up the road, and set to work, finalizing my class. The conclusion of last semester and several other projects kept me from getting everything completely finalized for this class, but it is a leadership class, and so I am in pretty good shape for it. I think that I will go now and grab some lunch, and then finish off my class prep.

This should be a good trip. I have a lot of work to do on various projects, but I have scheduled in some fun things here, as well. I've been here often enough to have done a lot of the typical things one does in Taipei, but I've scheduled a Chinese Cooking Class for Monday, a baseball game for Friday evening, and a visit with a former student from Wayne State for Friday morning. I will also be speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce of Taiwan on Thursday, so that should be interesting. All in all, a trip with lots of work time, but some good activities built in as well.

So I'm here, safe and sound, and ready for some lunch!

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