40 Hours in Taiwan

Well – the BEST part of staying at the Hyatt Incheon is that it’s owned/operated by Korean Air. We could check our bags at the hotel and catch the shuttle bus without shlepping all of bags to the airport! Loved it!

Once we landed in Taipei, our driver took us through the heavy traffic to downtown. Along the way we passed The Grand Hotel where Mike had stayed in the late 1980s. Beautiful building and grounds. Our hotel was downtown, not far from Taiwan Normal University. Our first evening was a banquet with some University of Akron alumni. Again, the College of Polymer Sciences has produced over 100 alumni in Taiwan! We ate on the 35th floor of the World Trade Center, once the tallest building in the world.

Our Saturday morning was so very special. We spent time with Dr. Chin Lun Fang, ‘Frank’. Frank and I completed our PhDs together at Texas A&M University a long, long time ago. One day when I went to see my statistics study partner, Gary; he was busy. So I stopped to ask Frank how his dissertation proposal had gone – Gary and I had been helping Frank with his English. Frank said, ‘Fine, thanks.’ Another guy jumped in and said it was super, excellent, yada, yada. Since I didn’t know him, I said great and left. Little did I know that I’d met my future husband! Gary and Frank set Mike and I up – and we married a year later.

Frank’s wife Tina came and spent an hour visiting with us at the hotel. It was special to meet her. She and Frank were apart for several years while he completed his work. Frank’s now the senior faculty member in Physical Education at Taiwan Normal University. Afterwards, we walked through a lovely park. It  had built in physical therapy work areas, kids roller-blading areas, farmers’ markets; just lovely! Next we headed toward the Flower Market. During the week, these areas at street level, but under the elevated freeway, are parking areas! Weekends roll around and like magic, the Flower Market appears. Beautiful orchids, bonsai type trees, a beautiful array of blooms and scents surround you.

After a few blocks of the Flower Market the Jade Market came into view! Wonderful – you stroll along the booths and see fabulous jade pieces – carvings, jewelry, statues, chops (signature blocks carved from jade). Frank and I bought a chop for Mike and had his name in Chinese hand-carved into the bottom. We found a charming teapot for me to bring home. I’m a big tea drinker – not coffee – so there were lots of types of teas for me to try on this trip!

After a great day with Frank, we met up with University of Akron alumni for dinner! What fun – there were 5 men named Frank at dinner! Yet another fine meal. There are over 150 alumni from the College of Polymer Science in Taiwan. After the meal we had the best dessert ever (including ice cream) – mango icers. Shaved ices and fresh mango – yum! It was fun to walk the streets at night with all of the people walking around, the neon lights, the scooters everywhere.

The only downside to our trip to Taiwan was not being able to see any of the countryside. We were there such a short time and we heard about so many wonderful places to go and see. I guess that means we’ll have to go back!