Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

A Much Too Long Short Vacation

Posted by hyperpat on June 23, 2008

I just spent last week in sunny Taiwan. Unfortunately, this is not my vacation spot of choice (happily, this wasn’t a vacation, so I can blame it on my evil bosses!).

Let’s start with the weather. The word for this is hot. And sticky. And miserable. Everyday. Not counting the typhoon approaching rapidly from the south.

Next let’s tackle the streets. I’ll admit that the big tollroads between major cities are nice and wide, well maintained, and serve their purpose well. However, once you get on the city streets, problems appear. Like so narrow one car can barely squeeze by the sides, and it’s a two-way street. Or the lack of complete sidewalks for even one complete block – you’ll walk about three storefronts worth, then find the sidewalk peters out (or is totally filled up with motorized scooters), and you’re forced into the street. Where you don’t want to be. Street priority is 1. Trucks and buses. 2. Cars 3. Motorized scooters (lots of). 4. Bicycles. 5. Pedestrians – who should otherwise be labeled targets. Add some very pronounced odors issuing from sewer grates, along with the lovely sunshine burning your neck, and it makes your morning constitutional something of nightmare.

Next are the drivers. Never heard of what a lane marker is. Or a red light. For whom proper following distance is two inches. Who use their horn in place of brakes. Who actively try to make pedestrians into road kill.

Now we come to the store fronts. Windows? Who needs windows? Just roll up your rust-stained tin door and viola! you’re open for business. Displays? Who needs displays? Just stack your junk up everywhere – your customers will be sure to dig through every mountain of it to find what they want. Or, if your business so happens to serve something that’s supposed to be edible, don’t bother with anything like sanitation or fly screens -totally superfluous.

Tourist attractions. Well, there are some pretty mountains. And oh yes, over here we have a Science Park, where we put 200 high tech businesses into one acre, and put up a pretty entryway. And tourists must bring their own water. Tap water is officially undrinkable. You might want to beware the political climate, also – tension between the two China’s is never zero, and it just might up and bite you.

Now perhaps I’m being a little unfair. Taiwan is, after all, one of those Asian tigers that have grown from almost nothing to an economic powerhouse in a very short time, and we in the US have become very much dependent on what they make. Most of the world’s electronic fabrication plants are located in Asia, and without them much of our vaunted high-tech life style would disappear. Their engineers are just as smart and well-educated (many of them in our universities) as our’s are. And they manage to do it cheaper than we do (perhaps it has something to do with concentrating on only what is absolutely necessary for the job – just like their storefronts).

But still. Not my choice of vacation spot.

4 Responses to “A Much Too Long Short Vacation”

  1. Peter said

    I have heard that the museums there are wonderful – as Chang Kai-shek carried over boat loads of loot from the mainland.

    Also – I have heard the food is wonderful there – as well as all the same issues that you point out.

  2. hyperpat said

    Although the food may be wonderful at some restaurants, typical company cafeteria food is, to put it mildly, terrible – the only reason I think they are patronized by the employees at all is the price and the limited amount of time they have for lunch. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling this cafeteria stuff at several companies over there – they all seem to be equally bad.

    The museums may be wonderful, but I didn’t get any chance to see them, as most of them are in Taipei, and I was in Hsinchu, about 40 miles south of there, working 10 – 12 hours a day.

    And I forgot to mention the billboards – giant things stretching from the ground up to about 15 – 20 feet up, typically in garish yellow or red, no pictures, just Chinese characters, and frequently tattered, faded, and torn. These are all over the place, and contribute mightily to the impression of unkemptness that pervades everything.

    And parking, or lack thereof. All the motorized scooters clutter up the sidewalk (if there is one) and extend out into what would normally be a parking spot, and the cars park willy-nilly beyond them, often double parked, and to hell with what this does to the street traffic.

    As you might guess, I’m just not thrilled with this place. This was about my tenth trip over there, and every time I come back from there I promise myself that I’ll never go there again – but my company keeps saying otherwise.

  3. Peter said

    Hmmm….sounds a little like Newark, NJ.. 😉

  4. Katrin said

    Excellent, what a blog it is! This weblog gives useful data to us, keep it up.

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