New to the Agenda: Taiwan

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Photo courtesy of the Ge Ge

My brother is an English teacher in Taiwan. Due to this fact, I rarely see him, but he was in town last week and we met for coffee. This brother is one of 4 that I am in possession of, so to distinguish him from the others, I’ll refer to him as “Ge Ge” (a poor phonetic translation of the Mandarin term for brother- he refers to me as “Mei Mei”- the Mandarin for little sister).

He has extended the invitation to me to come stay with him in Taiwan either before or after my visit to South Korea. I’m thinking before– August in Taiwan is brutal. My brother showed me some pictures of him and his roommates with some horrible heat rash on their backs. “Have you ever had heat stroke?” he asked me, showing me a chart of temperatures from August in Taiwan marking days of full sun, high humidity, and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

“How’s June?” I asked him.

“About 90 degrees.”

So, I think I’ll go for the last week of June and then fly into Seoul for the program. To be fair, the heat rash picture not the strangest photo my brother showed me. Ge Ge likes to keep a running collection of photos and videos of oddities he encounters. His specialty is public restrooms that are especially gross or strange. He makes discreet videos of people picking their nose on the subway, takes photos of burnt out factories and piles of garbage in the street. He could probably exhibit in a gallery– if you have enough photos of related themes, someone will give you wall space.

So I have no illusions about Taiwan being full of untouched, exotic beauty. However, wherever Ge Ge goes he seems to find bizarre adventures that make for excellent stories. I expect to have plenty of oddities of my own to relate. He will probably go out of his way to give me culture shock and moderately endanger my life, because that’s the kind of brother he is.  The best kind.

Of course, my visit may take some further arrangement. He tells me I only need to give him a few weeks notice, that I’m “welcome any time.” Then he tells me that he currently has four roommates squashed into his tiny apartment.

“So where would I be… you know, sleeping?” I ask him.

“Oh. Hmmm… I’m sure we’ll sort it out before you come stay.”

I’m sure of all else fails, some youth hostel or other might have me. Though, that may ruin my brothers’ matchmaking plans. He apparently has selected one of his roommates as my future husband. Arranged marriages? I’m not so sure about that. But I’m very excited to go adventuring in parts unknown with my insane brother.

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