Taiwan

The captain sails us south through the busy East China Sea. We can tell when we have some distance to go by how bad the ship rattles. At 10-12 knots you feel nothing, but with some seas and making 18-19 knots you can really tell! The next morning we arrive in Keeling the main port for Taiwan. Group tour today! Oh Boy, what fun. As soon as the ship clears customs, we are on our way. Its warm and humid and the ships passengers are restless. Our first stop is a memorial to General Chiang Kai-Shek. We watch a changing of the guard ceremony. Next we went to a very impressive National Palace Museum. It houses some 700,000 items from China’s past many dating from 4,000 years before. This collection was begun during the 10th Century when Chinese emperors seized art treasures for their own personal enjoyment. During the 20th Century, the collection was crated and moved from city to city to avoid invading armies. When Chiang Kai-Shek’s army fled to Taiwain to escape the oncoming army of Mao, he took the art treasures with him and they still reside in Taiwan. Our guide explains that there are a huge number of mainland Chinese who travel to Taiwan to see what they consider to be their national treasues! The Taiwanese just chuckle as they consider themselves to be the rightful Republic of China. Only a portion of the huge collection can be shown at any one time, so they rotate the exhibits and displays. We really didn’t have enough time here to fully appreciate what was on display. I am considering leaving the tour and staying here for the whole afternoon and missing out on the additional shrines and another wonderful Asian lunch. We decide to be good children and stay with our assigned tour mainly because we cannot figure out how to get back to the ship which is some 30 miles away. We are still regretting it. Lunch was terrible. I am getting tired of rice and tea. The rest is not usually edible. The Martyr’s Shrine is not that interesting to me. It is very hot and we are forced to stay and see another changing of the guard ceremony. We are not the only ones showing the strain. The bus’s air conditioning system is not working very well and we nearly have a mutiny.I am embarrassed at just how rude Americans can become when they are the least bit uncomfortable. Although we are not comfortable, we at least try to remind ourselves that we are guests here. Maybe its time to call Loyal, our travel agent, and cancel the rest of our onshore group tours. On another note, it is remarkable how this small island has stood up to the giant that is mainland China. It is an outpost for democracy and a vibrant bustling economy.