Sunday, May 24, 2009

Winding down

Today was our last day of class, and I think that it went really well. The students did their group presentations today. I had told them that they should shoot for 15-20 minutes, and all of them ended up going 35-45 (an hour with question and answer time), and the extra time was not padding -- it was good material, thoughtfully presented. I was really pleased with what they came up with.
For lunch, we went to a Beijing-style restaurant, and I had several good things, including bitter mellon, glass noodle soup, dumplings, and a barbeque beef roll that was described as "Chinese Mexican enchilada" by the students. It was all excellent, including the dish whose name I never could get right, but which when I tasted it I immediately said "This is grits!". It was a little more liquid than grits, and yellow, but I felt vindicated when I was told to add some sugar to it to give it some taste -- all those years of adding sugar to my grits in Arkansas, and who knew that that was the way Chinese people were eating it all along!
When class was over, the students gave me a lovely card they all had signed, and they wrote many very thoughtful messages -- I will definitely add this to my "shelf of treasures" at work. Afterwards, about half the class went out for a "beer session", and we went to a Belgian bar, where almost everything they had was a Belgian Trappist Ale or a lambic. It was all served in the proper glasses, and I was pretty impressed to see this little Belgian enclave in the middle of the lanes of Taipei.
Tonight I stopped by the Wellcome Mart to pick up some seaweed potato chips for Heather (the one thing she asked me to bring home for her), and now it is time to pack. Tomorrow will be a long day -- my car comes at 6:45am for a 9:45am flight to Tokyo. I have a 70 minute layover in Tokyo, and I am pretty concerned about it -- on the way through to Taipei, the health inspection on the plane took 90 minutes, and if anything like that happens again, there's no way I'll make my connection.
Assuming I do make it, the flight leaves Tokyo at 3:30pm on Monday and arrives in Detroit at 1:30pm on Monday -- I'm always amazed to have arrived earlier than I left!
I've enjoyed the time here, and the new things I got to do (and eat!) this time. The cooking class, the walk on Elephant Mountain, the paper museum... lots of fun things. But I miss my family and my home, and it is time to go. I'll be traveling again soon -- I go back to Singapore in July -- and I'll be back here in Taipei in a year. But for the moment I'll look forward to sleeping in my own bed (though I have to admit, I'll miss the sumo wrestling on tv).

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