they estimate about half of the island was affected (and it’s only the beginning of our summer). it’s such a shame as it’s a beautiful place that we were fortunate to take my brother and his family (visiting us from overseas) to this scenic place a few years back. for a tourist place, it was not “too touristy” – if that makes any sense. it’s harder for the residents (and the wildlife) as they are on an island and can’t “easily” evacuate.

you know the bushfires were “bad” because i left a window open and we could smell the smoke even in Adelaide (all the way on the mainland). my wife said that sometimes it’s “smoky” in the mornings but never like this. it’s significant because people outside Australia are offering aid and support – it truly is a global community.

we’ve had bushfires in OZ before but according to the people with direct experience fighting fires for years it’s more “extreme” now. thoughts and prayers are welcome but i don’t really know what the right thing to do is…

we went to a a temple where one half was a tiger and the other side was a dragon – hence the title (subtext aside).

it was mostly raining while we were there (not at all typical for that time of year). my wife presented at Kenting (going there was a long , wide, and straight highway – our driver explained that the dividers can be removed and as a contingency can serve as a makeshift runway), a beach town (which we were unable to enjoy because of the weather and time of year – December isn’t exactly an ideal time), which was still about a two hour drive away from Kaoshiung airport. we were able to go to the night market – we would have enjoyed it more had it not been so windy. we had a cheap meal there – luckily the menu had pictures because we didn’t speak Chinese an they didn’t speak English at the restaurant. that said, most of the cuisine has a pronounced star anise or 5 spice smell and flavour – so if your not a fan of liquorice or aniseed be careful what you order.

the wi-fi at our hotel was very “efficient”. when we left the room that network disappeared. when we were at the lobby it was different, and when we were downstairs at the conference area another one took over. moreover, they had one on the tour bus they helped arrange.

among the tour, we were able to see a “shelled” beach where people are no longer allowed (as some tourists kept taking away the “sand”). we also visited the southern most tip of Taiwan (where you can supposedly wave to someone in the Philippines – it’s a “nice”, if highly implausible story). A very kind stranger got out of his car and helped my wife push my wheelchair up as the road was inclined upwards (it must be because we encountered a lot of Hindu temples).

we spent the last few days in Kaoshiung so we changed hotels. I was delightfully surprised that it was also highly accessible (and in my experience, second only to Australia and well ahead of several Western nations i’ve visited). honestly, i didn’t have great expectations as most Asian countries have what Hofsteder refers to as high cultural (adjective my own) power distance – case in point, ramps in other parts of Asia are quite steep and assumes there is someone at the back pushing the wheelchair instead of being self-propelled (which wasn’t an issue in Taiwan – at least the places i visited). that said, our driver said that a person in a wheelchair couldn’t just hail a cab off the street and special (read as: prior) arrangements need to have been made)

anyway, we were also able to go the night market in the city (it was obvious it was Japanese designed as the architecture and layout reminded us of Tokyo) but were not able to find the stall driver recommended – it’s really difficult when you can’t read or Speak Chinese. serendipitously, we ended up in a restaurant were another Filipina worked so it was easy ordering food.

our driver took us around the city before dropping us at the airport. we were able to visit the temple i mentioned previously. there were a lot of Japanese tourists and i noticed a heap of flights back to Japan at the airport. it was a “hidden” gem – we wished we had a few more days to explore it “properly”.

open arms

January 27, 2014

we went to this year’s Australian Open for my son’s birthday – unfortunately it was the week of the heat wave. All in all we enjoyed despite the heat and my son not getting an autograph from Nadal.

Aside from seeing a boat-load of player practice sessions,   we were able to see the second round match between Nadal and Kokanakis at the Rod Laver Arena with the roof closed. Thanis and Nick Kyrgios bode well for the future of Australian tennis.

I am not one to be fanatical but I admire Sam Stosur’s stroke – not since the backhand of Jusine Henin-Hardin have I viewed such beauty.  Some people even positioned themselves at 1 pm in the sweltering sun just to get a glimpse of Federer who was scheduled to practice at 5 that afternoon.  It was also nice seeing Rafter play doubles after 9 years – even if they lost during the initial match.  Nonetheless, it was amusing to see and hear the Fanatics barrack for each of the Aussies for their various matches.

While there, I was able to catch-up with an “old” and dear high school friend and her family – unfortunately, we were not able to meet-up again due to scheduling conflicts.  If we had known there was a kid’s day the day before, we would have booked a flight sooner.

Wawrinka had a good run towards the men’s final – strangely enough, he’s now ranked as Switzerland’s top player and at the same time is a close friend of Roger. He has a “killer” serve and backhand.  The “Stanimal” won his 1st championship in 4 sets.  Unfortunately, Rafa was plagued with back problems – so we’ll never really know.  He fought hard to get back his number 1 world ranking last year despite injuring his knee.  After missing 7 months and last year’s open, is it any wonder he showed such emotion for what seemed to me the first time in his storied career.  It’s a testament to him that he finished the match when the commentators thought he would surely retire.

Maybe my interest in the sport was rekindled because my son plays the sport, we were at the Open, my view is the racket is part of the player and just not equipment,it is as much mental as it is physical, or a combination of factors.

cool change

February 9, 2012

the cold front in Europe indicates what i’ve observed all along – the weather is changing.  i’m not an environmentalist but i agree with Sir David Attenborough: it doesn’t matter whether Climate Change is caused by humans or not, what’s important is what the world does about it. like it’s been said, Mother Nature is just Biology, Chemistry and Physics as such it will just react according to the rules of science.