May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets’ towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkey’s howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches where storms come and go as lightening clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you---beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ---Edward Abbey (thanks Trudy Hall)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oh, I want to move to Taiwan!

Chinese Zodiac in Newspaper
Buffalo on campus of University of the Arts
Mother daughter commode

Home: First Floor
Fishermans Warf
Home first floor view
April 14-15—We arrived in Taipei and Arthur picked us up at the airport and drove us a LONG way to his lovely home.  The view of Taipei from the north blew us away.  We went up the little elevator to the 2nd of 5 floors to our beautiful room and bathroom (with a fancy toilet: heated seats, a variety of controls for bidet and water force and temperature!).  Ming-Shen was in the South of Taiwan seeing a dance concert by UK-based DV8, so the three of us went to a nice tourist pier where people were enjoying the dark night air, some music, party boats and conversation.  It felt tropical, and smelled of the ocean; I felt great.  We ate amazing Chinese food and soon I was so groggy I dozed in the back seat while the guys got to know each other. 
We woke to a misty world.  I went to their beautiful kitchen to look for tea and finally figured out how to work their digital stove. 

Arthur's garden


Riding "folding" bikes

Arthur on ferry
City from the river

Searching for clams

For Neelima: an ancient essential oil diffuser
This symbol means "don't."
Soon we mounted “fold up” bikes and glided across the bridge to Bali, down the bustling bike paths where there was also a running race.  To encourage the racers we yelled, “Giay Ho!” to each one.  I felt so happy to have the wind in my hair, warm and most air on my skin, blood flowing through my muscles and neurons flashing. 

We caught a ferry across (the bikes cost the same as 5 people), checked out a private collection of impressive ancient (mostly religious) art.  For Les’s daughter we took a picture of an ancient essential oil distributor.   We spent some time by the waters edge watching crabs and a strange fish that can also walk and breathe air.   

 A woman waded in the low tide muck to collect clams, a dog with a Mohawk walked by, and we passed a service of Buddhists chanting.  Arthur took us into a temple that instead of silence, shoes-off, cover the knees and shoulders kind of place, it was hot with activity: bowing with incense, lively conversation, putting away decorations, burning wishes in the fireplace and dense with offerings to be blessed by this goddess of the temple who will keep you and yours safe.
Les at the Temple

Burn your wishes here

Dog with mohawk
Dentist advertisement with shark and mouth cover smile

Christopher at showing as Master of Ceremonies
We pumped up the big hill just in time for Ming-Shen to take me to a concert of graduate performing students.  I enjoyed the group piece a lot.  There were tons of huge flower arrangements with fragrant lilies, and after the show a little display of congratulations with a cheer on the dancer’s exit.  Did you know that the University of the arts has two pet buffalos? 
The dance "Lanes" in progress

End of our danc
We came home for a bite and then ran to a different studio to rehearse a score that I’d made for a performance that night.  My God!  Ming-Shen has amazing dancers!  They are so open, responsive and artistic—and very nice people!  The piece looked beautiful.  A lovely cellist agreed to play in response as well. I loved being reunited with Christopher and Mei-Kuang too and later with Yen-Fang. The other work was well supported: a new improviser playing with how to be in front of an audience, another exploring focusing on specific body parts, Te-Fung Ke (Xiao-Ke) reading the present in his own body/mind/soul, and Mei’s—thinking about how the piece intended for Christopher (now with a back injury) would work for her.  The ensuing discussion was revealing; Ming-Shen stressed how important performing improvisational art is, and how a person makes decisions while he/she dances is serious.  She’s extraordinary.
Beautiful river bank

Ku and Dancers rehears
April 16—One highlight of the day was taking in the rain from the naturally hot pools in the mountains.  We soaked in the hottest pool, lay in underwater beds that pushed water in jets on us, I got into the steam room and sampled each of the powerful flumes of water jetting from the wall (OW!).  It was wonderful to relax there and let the heat do its thing.  Outside, from the rocks poured steam.  Ahhh.
The other highlight was going to rehearsal for Ku and Dancers.  After warming up they practiced scores.  One had the audience in the middle that could respond or help a men’s trio on the outside.  I enjoyed seeing my “love square” score developed by Christopher to include more spatial and choreographic elements.  The trio at the end where a couple came in with different emotional states on each entrance was fascinating.  Seeing the dancers improvise made me think about the difference in our cultures.  We tend to get aggressive to raise the attention of the audience; they are more nuanced, gentle, playful and quiet in general.  Even their most violent sections seemed to be calculated enough to feel respectful.
Betel-nuts pose a problem

"I don't eat octopus"
Nephew of Arthur: Jou at the Palace Museum

Delicious tea with cream jello dessert

April 17—Ming-Shen wrote notes that would help us while traveling: “I do not eat octopus!” one said; the address of each of the places written in Chinese helped to find the right transport to the Palace Museum.  Again, public transport couldn’t have been clearer or cleaner.  (You can’t spit betel-nut juice in the metro area.) People stood to offer Les a seat on the metro, and we got help from young people who noticed us with the map open.  Taiwanese people are some of the most considerate and gentle people.  We got to the museum and had them contact Arthur’s nephew, Jou.  He got us some audio guides and brought us up to the most important treasures of Taiwan, then we promised to meet him for lunch.  Carvings were most prominent, from basic ancient stone tools to fine jade pieces like the bok choy made of part green and part white-green jade.  My favorite was a white sphere, carved with VERY intricate patterns, outside another sphere, and another for 14 layers.  Each sphere spun independently inside the one bigger than it, and the whole thing was made out of one piece of ivory.  My dad would have loved to see that!  We continued to peek between the mobs of people visiting until noon, and hadn’t yet seen most of the galleries.  Jou took us to the top floor teahouse with a lovely view.  He ordered a beef noodle dish for us.  Then more dishes kept coming!  We saved room for a delicious tea gelatin and mango something with real gold threads in it for dessert.  Jou was delightful and sent us on our way so I could be on time for teaching a contact class to 33 students at the University of the Arts.

 I loved teaching the class; it turns out it could have been more challenging, I think.  The students are eager and willing and reflective.  At home, Ming-Shen made a delicious dinner and we all sat around the table telling stories.

I taught a contact improvisation class at the University

Airport "green" wall, lush with plants
April 18—We packed and went to the airport to say bye.  I didn’t want to leave Taiwan.  I didn’t want to go to India.  We can just stay in Taiwan?
We got a message too late from a student who might have been able to meet us during our long layover in Hong Kong.  Also, Les’s credit card got compromised, so he has to deal with that each time he wants to use his card.  Our flight was delayed about an hour, but finally we got to Delhi about 1AM, with no one to pick us up as promised, so we paid a taxi service to take us to our hotel.

Arthur's Orchids

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I too recently went to a temple similar to that you described - noisy, crowded and FILLED with smoke. The pillars were dark and sticky from all the layers of soot. This was in Penang, Malaysia a couple of weeks ago when I was there for my visa run. It was named the Temple of the Goddess of Mercy. Oh, but it was so sad, because literally just half a block away a Chinese shopkeepers little restaurant/home building was on fire!