Ni Hao, Taiwan!

31 Dec

Some of you may have noticed that though the last post was posted yesterday, it was actually written last Saturday. That’s my oops – in the craziness of the last week or so, I didn’t get enough time on the internet to actually post an update, only to write one. Sorry about that. And boy, has a lot happened since that last post.

And yes, my Saturday night was spent booking the flight, which I did with the help of the travel agency’s 24-hour helpline (man, does that job suck). And then, on Sunday, it was off to a place called Pittwater, an area North of Sydney which is basically a large and beautiful bay, lined with houses that are only accessible by boat. I spent Christmas with a lovely family I met here called the Akermans, and though I don’t like spending Christmas away from my family or in a hot climate (come on, it’s just not the same), I had a lovely Christmas, the highlight of which was probably attending, on Christmas eve, the annual Pittwater Dog Race. This event, which has grown in stature over the last couple of years, consists of all the worthy dogs of Pittwater being loaded into a boat and rowed across the bay (not a huge distance, in case you were dialing the ASPCA), where they are helped into the water to swim back to the shore, accompanied by their owners. The entry fee is a six-pack of beer and a can of dog food, and the first dog to cross the finish line takes all. It’s a one-of-a-kind event, and quite a thing to see.

So Christmas was good, and then back to Sydney to clean and pack all the stuff I’ve accumulated over my time in Sydney (which is a lot of stuff). And then, Wednesday, my day started at 5:15 AM when I was woken up by the sound of a large flying insect buzzing around my room, which I was convinced was a large flying cockroach, of which there are unfortunately many in Sydney (it turned out to be a moth, but still, it was a moth that looked like you could ride it if you forgot your car, which negates the general innocuousness of moths). Then, at 7:00AM, I had a call from one of the cast who was Melbourne based telling me that their flight was delayed, and the airline wasn’t loading in the luggage. Great. Off to the airport, and all the Melbourne cast arrived (huzzah!) but their luggage didn’t (ahh!), which meant that either we all transferred to the international terminal, checked in, and hoped that their luggage arrived, was sorted, and put into a cab by the staff of the domestic airline in time for us to check it in, or I left the missing luggage people there, took the others over, and hoped to god that the luggage arrived before we had to get on our flight. I did the latter, and it ended up working, although there was stress like I’ve never known as I waited for the six people who had finally gotten their luggage to arrive in a cab so that they could check into the flight that was leaving in twenty (!) minutes, with the airline anxious to give away the seats to the people on standby, who were all standing around me with murder in their eyes. Good thing China air is generous about their alcohol on board.

The day didn’t end until 4:30 AM, after a five-hour bus ride to Tainan, complete with a stop at McDonald’s and emergency pitstop for a castmember’s gastrointestinal emergency (welcome to Asia!). It was a long day, but here I am, in Taiwan, where the people are small and the portions are large.

Working a theatrical tour is half fantastic and half painfully tantalizing – you are in a fantastic new place, but you will see the inside of the hotel and the theater for eighty percent of the time you are there. All sightseeing has to be squished into the day or so you have off, or in the hours before the call or after the show. And while you will get to know aspects of the culture never shown to someone who’s there as a tourist, there is much that you, by necessity, miss.

However, I haven’t done badly so far. My second day here in my jetlagged early-morning wanderings I discovered a day market, which is mainly for food (the night markets, famous in Taiwan, are more for clothing and other stuff like that ). It’s a different world there, with spiky hot pink and green fruits (called dragonfruit, perhaps the best name ever for a fruit) on tables next to buckets filled with writhing shrimp and eels, next to tables that sell only the innards of dumplings, next to a stall that cooks and sells the dumplings right there for you to eat. Outside this market are clothing stalls, where I made a useful discovery – I was trying on a jacket that was, shockingly, too small when a woman looked at my friend Holly and I and made a noise. I thought it was a word at first, but then realized that she was actually meowing. Yes! I meowed back, and instantly Holly and I were the stars of the stall, and the woman brought me everything she could find that was clearly the biggest things she had, which was lovely of her but also incredibly depressing. This is my new trick for Tainan, and though it’s slightly dishonest, I figure that ‘not actually in the show, but assistant company manager’ is too difficult a phrase to learn in Chinese. 

Alright, I must go to prepare for New Year’s Eve (makeup has disguised the scar on my back by covering it with silver spangles, which hopefully will look awesome with my black dress), but I will update more about Tainan as I go. Oh, and for a Happy New Year, I leave you with my favorite thing of the week: The only Irish pub in Tainan is called – wait for it – O’Chang’s. Happy New Year.

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