Arrival in Taichung

The plane was only three hours late – 4:30 am departure instead of 1:30, so I had a night in the closed Seattle airport.  Now I am flying over the Kamchatka peninsula, having just crossed the International Date Line from east to west for the first time.  It’s still 7 hours to go.  The plane is full and the air is thin with stale perfume.  Already, walking the aisles for circulation, the faces differentiate, the smiles are ready.

Over Japan, the plane wakes up, voices raised in anticipation.  Arrival in Taipei is easy, and Benjamin Lin, my host, a Taiwanese physiatristis holding my book to identify himself, drives me the couple of hours to Taichung and my hotel.  We could have been on any SoCal freeway, full of Toyotas, a few Fords, and the occasional BMW – except for the slight oddments of architecture, and the occasional concrete or fiberglass 30 – 40′ statues of Quan Yin or the Laughing Buddha, and sudden views of rice paddies, even in the vacant lots of the cities – green shoots rising above the shallow water pools.  There is a growing tropicality of the foliage, as we move from the dry side to the wet side of the island.  All the numbers are in western numerals.  The billboards are simple, old-fashioned to my eye.  There is a pall of pollution making the far buildings dim and silhouetted.  The radio is playing Western music.
The hotel room is large, and I will settle in and get my bearings before Benjamin comes back at 7:00 – which will be 7am at home, so I will try to call.


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