December 19th, 2013


Ni hao Knowhow

Usage note. Several people here in Taiwan have asked me whether I've been to Asia before, and when I tell them I once went to Ankara they don't feel this counts (or only on a technicality). It seems that the word here carries connotations closer to American than British usage.

Meanwhile my little Mandarin phrase book is remaining sadly unused. Here in the hotel people somehow guess that I'm a Westerner (what is their secret?) before I've opened my mouth and greet me in English. Outside I've generally been accompanied by my hostess, who is Belgian but has lived here for thirty years. I occasionally chip in with a "xièxiè" to show willing, but it feels a little pathetic. Tomorrow will be the acid test, when I take a solo day trip to Taipei, weather permitting. What will await me?

Today, though, has been another talk, and another university campus. This one is a Christian college, and perhaps for that reason is even more focused on Christmas than the rest of Taiwan (which is saying something). Here the festival has been given a superhero theme, as you can see from this picture of my guides, Ivy and Betty, in front of the chapel:

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