Richard Rueda, Director of Community Services, is visiting Taipei, Taiwan, as part of a delegation of leaders in the blind community.
I arrived in Taipei City, Taiwan, with Sam Chen and Rob Turner (from Bookshare.org) early on the morning of September 12 via direct flight from SFO.
After a nearly 13-hour flight, Rob and I were met at our hotel (The Guesthouse) by two docents who provided us with a daylong tour of Taipei City. This city excursion included visiting the very popular Forest Park (similar to Golden Gate Park), where families and their children played in the playground and others meditated. There was also an international festival being set up in another pocket of the park.
Another section of the park included a 50-yard stretch of pavement with stones the size of tennis balls affixed to the sidewalk. The arrangement of these round, smooth stones was for brave folks who dared to take off their shoes and socks to walk on and between the surface (the idea being that walking one’s bare feet over and in between these stones would apply pressure to sore areas, thus creating a massage that ultimately would begin to reduce foot stress). Rob and I both took the challenge and walked part of this stone pathway. And, indeed, it was an exhilarating and foot-awakening experience.
Our tour continued from there as we next headed to a temple where the worship of five gods was a common practice. The temple visit was followed by a ride on the local Taipei mass transit bus system to a restaurant where the group tried octopus, fried radish cakes and other local samplings from a platter of snacks.
In the early afternoon we enjoyed a visit to see the changing of the guard at a nearby memorial site, complete with a 10-minute ritual ceremony.
Wrapping up the day, we headed to downtown Taipei, where we were joined by more conference presenters and guests totaling 15 persons. We lined up to eat dumplings and soup at a very popular restaurant that is known throughout Taiwan as the place to eat at. Each dumpling was handmade by the restaurant staff.
As you walk into this four-story restaurant, you pass rows of staff dressed in black and white, frantically assembling trays of dumplings for patrons. Originally famous for selling cooking oils to the community decades ago, they later learned that their calling was in pastry and dumpling production. Later, the restaurant stopped selling oil and focused on pastry and dumpling sales. Had we not had our special reservation, which is difficult to get, we would have stood in line for over two hours.