Taiwan Bits and Bobs

* Went to Geant, a Taiwanese Wal-Mart, to get a small suitcase to carry extra stuff to Japan. Walking the food section was a welter of the familiar mixed with the entirely unfamiliar – wasabi crackers and strange crackers, familiar mushrooms and alien ones, leafy vegetables of unknown provenance, and many packets of I-don’t-know-what along with the ginger chicken potato chips. The rest of the store was entirely familiar, and I got a great rolling backpack for $10.

* Went to see the largest greenhouse in Asia – a tensegrity cake of a glass building, concentric circles holding up a large roof, from which spilled water into the waterfall and pool below, Huge catfish in the pool, trees reaching for the ceiling, a tropical paradise among the towering apartment blocks.

* The other museum exhibit was the terra cotta warriors buried with Chin, the first emperor for whom China is named. I had seen pictures of the huge buried army, but did not realize that they were supposed to awaken in the afterlife to help the emperor in the next world. So much effort went into the afterlife of one man – just like the Pharoahs of Egypt. His son entirely blew it, so that dynasty had only two rulers before being overturned.

Each figure was different, and brilliantly colored in the original, though the color fades qwuickly and completely after they are unearthed, so excavation has been stopped until the technology of preservation catches up. He even thought to create a band, with instruments, along with the fierce warriors, generals, charioteers, and slaves. I didn’t see any clay food, so I don’t know what they planned to eat.

* Also in the museum was something I always wanted to see – a bronze full-size figure with the acupuncture points drilled through the surface. These points would be filled with the same color wax, and the figure filled with water. To test the acupuncture students, they had to insert the needle in just the right place – success being marked by piercing the wax and the water flowing out. There was also a dog, horse, and water buffalo with the acupuncture points inscribed into the bronze.

* Ben showed me a typical Chinese house in the museum, each successive building marked by the natural order, where the older son would live, and the younger, and where the servants would be, and the animals, all accurding to the fung shweh. In the vast industrial wasteland outside my hotel lies one of these houses, surrounded by the city. Is it from here that the morning rooster comes – I hear it every morning, and cannot imagine where else it could be in this frantic cityscape.

* One night after the workshop, Ben takes me to a highway rest area to seee the sea.  The rest area is a tourist attraction – “Don’t stay for more than 40 minutes” says a sign as we come in.  The view is supposed to be spectacular, but the air is sulpherous, menacing, the sea a tiny patch of silver in the haze, the slope between us and it webbed with high-tension wires.  We drive back in silence.  This is the hazy season – summer is supposed to be clearer, but I suspect the pollution is a large part of the weather.  My eyes are burning regularly, my skin subject to random itches.
* The last two days of workshop have been held in hospital physiotherapy departments. My incredible spoiledness revealed in the spaces in which most of these doctors and PT’s work – institutional floors and drab walls, no floor work possible for this supposedly movement-based workshop – I am improvising like mad. The clinics are well-equipped, though, with machines and ramps and balance boards. The head of the department, Dr. Cho, has been present for all six days, and though he doesn’t say or participate much, it must be through his good graces that this set of workshops is happening.

I have covered a lot of material in 6 days, culminating in what I jokingly call, in satire of the Asian way of naming things: The Seven Heavenly Movements of Health – intertarsal gliding, tibio-fibular relative movement, sacro-iliac differentiation, spinal lengthening in breathing, chest deepening in breathing, free movement between the oociput and atlas, and the cranio-sacral pulse.

Though there are bows, and two-handed business cards, and many photos to be taken, there are also hugs (from the men, not the women) and very cheery goodbyes as we finish up the whole project. One of the syudents who rush in to restore the clinic for an evening session asks me to sign her Anatomy Trains book. Later, I learn from Ben that students were not allowed in my classes, only to the talk last Saturday night. Though, he says, they are so steeped in the old language of physiotherapy, and musculo-skeletal relationships, that many students’ reaction to the talk was “What?”


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