Oh, I may make fun of their mystical Chinese medicine, Feng Shui, superstitions, ghost concerns and a host of other completely illogical remnants to the dark ages of man’s reason, but that notwithstanding, the Taiwanese are at heart a science-loving, technology-obsessed people, which makes them infinitely superior to a vast swath of science-denialist Americans who constantly cause problems for our own country.
It somewhat surprised me, then, that we had to travel to Taichung to go to the science museum. I suppose on an island this size, that’s little more than having to travel to Tucson from Phoenix, but it seems odd that it wouldn’t be in Taipei. Nonetheless, we have friends in Taichung and so we decided to
- Enjoy a trip on the High Speed Rail
- Spend the day at the science museum
- Visit with our friends at their home
The Hight Speed Rail (HSR) is awesome. You can purchase your tickets at 7-11. It’s a short walk or bus ride from my in-laws house, a two-stop subway ride to the main train station and under an hour (at 300kph) to Taichung, where, they give you free bus rides to major destinations in town, including the science museum. It was effectively door-to-door service.
Irene’s never been to the Taichung science museum and, even for her, the admissions process was a bit confusing. Apparently, there’s multiple areas, including the Natural History area, the Science area and the Space theatre. I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s a massive two-building, four-storey complex. We were, predominantly there to see the natural history museum and when Irene asked about the science hall, they gave her some explanation about it being an exhibition of some company’s products, so we decided to skip it. Mistake. That was apparently only the roving exhibit, and the rest is four-storeys of hands on science fun. Still we just barely had enough time to cover the natural history area before it was time to meet our friends. I can’t help thinking that I need to go back before I leave, although that would be a little expensive.
The natural history area was beautiful, perhaps a little bit light on exhibits, but most were in both Chinese and English, well laid out and attractive. (Perhaps they brought a Feng Shui master in to get it “just right”) The kids (and I) had a lot of fun and that’s what counts.
Here’s one that will shock you though. You don’t have to exit the museum through a gift shop!
We met our friends and traveled by taxi to their home. Never travel by taxi. Our driver’s very instincts were different from my own. For example, when we’d be on a single lane road (well, single lane with a sort of side area for scooters and pedestrians) and the traffic in front would slow to a stop, instead of slowing down as would seem prudent to me, he would instead swerve to either side, sometimes into oncoming traffic but most times into the scooter pedestrian area. In one instance at an intersection, the car in the oncoming lane looked as if it was going to make a left turn in front of him. (That’s common) So he aimed his cab at exactly the oncoming lane, with the intention of occupying that space as the other car left it. The other car chickened out and we came to a deadlock, while all the cars that were behind us continued on, passing us on the right. I can’t say for certain that the traffic in Taichung is scarier than the traffic in Taipei, but it sure felt like it.
Our friend, Don, is from the US and teaches at a nearby university. They live near the university and the area is full of restaurant choices of various ethic types. We chose Indian food and it was excellent. We went back to their place to let the kids play for a while and I was very impressed. Unlike my in-law’s place in Taipei, which was built in the 1970’s, their home, built this century was vastly advanced in terms of comfort and modern conveniences. One area that is so difficult to judge about a country are the homes. So rarely do we get to go inside anyone’s home – apart from those people who live in their shops – that it’s hard to decide what is a “typical” Taiwanese home. I believe I’ve been inside five, total. Perhaps I’ll never know.
Then is was back to the HSR for a smooth, effortless ride into Taipei and “home.”