Sojourn in Taiwan Part Two

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A Ghost Month Dragon

Sailing keeps me sane, relatively speaking. If I didn't have something to do that got me out of the city regularly then I would be a gibbering wreck by now. I value quality of life, and this is the wrong place to be with that attitude. Litter, pollution, traffic, overcrowding, oblivious slow-moving people, mindlessness: the Taiwanese have it all and I need to get away from it all occasionally. Actually I've been having an 'I hate Taiwan' few days, but was able to take a few days away courtesy of Philippe, and am all refreshed and eager for the battle again.

The Boat Lulu from the Mast

Philippe is a French dude, and his company posted him here earlier this year. His plan is to sail the whole family back to France when his contract ends, and he enlisted my help with his boat. He found just what he wanted - a 47' Jeaneau - in Hong Kong, and has scheduled a couple of delivery runs to bring it to Taiwan. The first time we didn't even try. There was a tropical storm building which would have slowed us down enough to risk being caught in the typhoon behind it. This time we managed a day bashing against a 25 knot headwind, before calculating that we simply didn't have time to do the crossing and still get to work any time next week. Reluctantly we turned around and ran back to port under the starlight.

Apart from the puking I had a pretty good day. Helming a boat like that over endless 2-3 metre waves is good experience and quite exhilerating. I don't expect I'll be trying again as I have other commitments, but there's still my Sundays.

There have been some changes to the Sunday regime. I got a bit fed up with being 'Mr Fix-it' on a boat full of bumbling old men. The crew were all cronies of Kenny, the owner, and my job had evolved to running around behind them correcting their screw-ups and then showing them AGAIN how to do things correctly. Kenny was as frustrated as me, but where do you get crew in a country with no sailing industry?

I've made some efforts through friends and colleagues, and put the word out on the internet too. The result is that I now have half a dozen young ladies as 'my' crew, and we have started a semi-formal training program for them. They're mostly smart enough to figure things out and seem to be getting the hang of it all pretty quickly. On the days when I sail with them the old farts get relegated, and Kenny is a very cheerful chappie indeed. He gets quite disappointed if we won't let him take us all out for dinner and booze!

So, all-in-all, I'm quite pleased with the way things are turning out in that department. We're still looking for more crew, and hoping to get a second boat operational soon. I am seriously thinking of trying to get a 'youth' program underway too, and bring a few high-school kids in. I think it would be a great thing to take a few 16-18 yr olds out of the city and teach them to do something practical and fun. The poor buggers have so much homework that I don't know if that would be possible though.

A Taiwan Ruin - shame the rest of the country is so shabbily maintained

Kids here are incredibly overworked. My High School students start at 7:30 and go home at 6 or later. Many of them have to go to evening classes too, which explains why there are jobs here for anybody that can speak English and show up reliably. School is all about parroting your teacher and taking tests. Hell on Earth, and I try to make life a bit more bearable. Mostly they're good kids and I can't help liking them. Some of the girls are real honeys too. One of them (18yo) invited me to go skinnydipping a few weeks ago, and somehow I talked myself out of it. I keep thinking impure thoughts but so far have kept myself under control.

My adult classes are a mixed bag. The 'conversation' classes are just fun, and I keep getting the same students re-enrolling for more. I'm getting to know some of them quite well, and have to bake an apple pie to take in for them next week - the result of some stupid bet. I also do exam preparation for students wanting to go to universities overseas. That's so easy (for me) it's boring, but we find ways to amuse ourselves. Again, more beautiful girls than you can shake a stick at. Can you believe I get paid to sit in a room with 15-20 ladies who all want to know all about me, and chat? There is, thankfully, no justice in the world.

I am, incidentally, sitting here naked, pleasantly warm now that the summer is over.

Graphic by Wotchit

Sojourn in Taiwan Part One


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