I took two weekend trips to Taiwan in 2007. It was my first time to go there so I visited all the tourist spots – Yang Ming Shan, museums and in my second trip, Taroko Gorge.
Yang Ming Shan is very popular among the locals. Apart from being a hill, it also has hot springs. With hot springs, you can expect to see some hotels there too. Unfortunately, it was springtime when I went there which meant ‘fog’. It was so foggy that the public tour minibus that I took crashed with another car when we went uphill. It wasn’t a serious one – a collision, a big ‘bang’ and a dent in the car (not in the public minibus). That was it. Not a big deal. But it gave all the passengers on board a shock.
The public tour minibus went around the hill and had a few stops at some small, shallow hot pools (apparently, they were for feet), some attractions and hotels. Of course, the hot pools in the hotels would be big. It was too luxurious for me so I didn’t stay in any of the hotels there.
My friend who used to work as an English teacher in Taiwan told me she used to live in Yang Ming Shan. Seriously? ‘I want to work as an English teacher there too!!’ 😀 But she said, ‘no, it’s not as posh as you think.’ Ok, got it. 😀
Speaking of Chinese characters, recently (in 2020) one of my students told me she decided not to learn to write Chinese. I think her plan is to use Siri or voice control to help her learn the Chinese characters. While it is a good idea (it’s free), she will miss the essence of Chinese characters. As opposed to English letters, each Chinese character has a meaning. When these Chinese characters combine together and form one character, it means something different. Take the Chinese word ‘listen’ for example, you can find six characters ‘ears’, ‘king’, ‘ten eyes’ and ‘one heart’ within that one character. That means, when you listen, your ears are the king. Apart from using your ears, you need to use your eyes (hence, ten eyes) and your heart. That’s actually very beautiful. When I first learnt it, I was amazed! I felt a bit disappointed when my student told me about her plan. But that’s her choice.
The Chinese cabbage is usually the first thing that visitors go to see when they visit this museum, just like Mona Lisa in Le Louvre. The other item that will catch your attention is a jade roast pork. Needless to describe, the craftsman made good use of the natural colour of the jade again and created a piece of roast meat. When you look at it, the first thing you have in mind is to eat it (well, at least, that’s what I had in mind) because you can clearly see the different layers of the roast meat, including the fatty bit. It was just amazing.
In August, I went to Taiwan again. This time, I only had time to go to Taroko Gorge, the marble gorge. It was apparently another quick trip. It was so rush that I booked a local tour online to the Gorge from Taipei, by plane. What a luxury!
That wasn’t the only time I realised that money could buy time.
Actually, no. Money is just a tool to get me to a destination faster. Ultimately, time is the ‘destination’, without a form, without a shape.
Time is definitely more important than money.
In 2018, I went to Taiwan again. But I had a mission that time – I did my first solo paragliding flight there! And 8 more solo flights afterwards. My coach said I could get a P1 licence but I was so scared of flying that I decided not to get the licence yet. He asked me why. Well, the more I flew, the more I was frightened. The more I learnt about the sport, the more I knew that I was not good enough. The study of the clouds, weather conditions, wind directions, plus the skills needed to control the glider, all these were too much for me. I did have trouble multi-tasking and making good judgment. To be good at this sport (actually, to be good at anything), you need to practise a lot but this sport is weather dependent. It’s not like running or swimming which can be done indoors or outdoors, almost everyday. Also, I was pressured to buy the gear. The pressure wasn’t from the coach but from the peers. Sometimes to the extent that they ‘bullied’ or even ‘attacked’ me. I wasn’t sure if I would or could continue because I was so scared in the air. After taking 10 solo flights, I still couldn’t decide. The full gear is expensive. It’s an investment, just like cameras. The peer pressure really put me off. It may sound ridiculous but if you hear those words every other day, you just don’t want to interact with those people anymore. But when we practiced, it had to be done in groups. Sometimes the coach got affected by the students too and he’d also ask me to buy the full gear. In fact, I have discussed with other paragliding pilots from other countries. One told me it was too early for me to buy the full gear. When I met him, I had only done 6 flights. So you can imagine when my peers started urging me to purchase mine – basically, after my maiden flight.
All these added together… and now I am sitting here with a record of 10 solo flights only.
I still enjoy flying but as a passenger. 😀
15-18 March, 31 August – 2 September 2007, 2018