Saturday, November 3, 2007

Unfolding Events out Back

The front side of the home I moved into recently looks out at fields and the chickens and geese and dogs (and their messes) my neighbors have left over there on the other side of the street. There are no homes. The back side is a different matter. There are two rows of 3-story units that are connected together separated only by a separate alley that is very dark at night and very much unobserved in the day time.

In the last two days two events have unfolded out back. First, yesterday I photographed a few of the hundreds of swallows hanging out along the lines and walls. They're here for the winter I guess. They are very pretty but also unfortunately very prolific in what they leave on the second floor cement patio/balcony. I got out there and hosed it down this morning.

The second event is a little more negative. This evening my neighbors told me a home behind us was robbed sometime this afternoon in the brief period of 2 -3 hours when no one was at home. I was home at the time, probably just 10 or 15 meters from where the crime took place on the other side of the alley. The robber apparently got in through a back door. Coming down to eat a late lunch a little past one, I vaguely recall seeing someone somewhat suspiciously ambling by out front. In retrospect, now I realize he was casing out the block-- probably not just for the present job but maybe also for future intelligence-gathering as he studies everyone's routine. My neighbor, who also saw him, tells me he was probably not the thief but someone else on the thief's team.

Unfortunately, whether it's the birds or the thieves, there's really nothing any of us can do in situations like that here. As an American, culturally I feel like wanting to take the law into my own hands and take care of this kind of person myself since I'm a taller and stronger person physically here, and since I'm told the police don't really do anything in this sort of situation. But my neighbors tell me that if you approach a guy like that and ask him why he's on the street he'll only say that it's a free world and you can't get him arrested without proof. Makes me a little more glad to have the dogs and other animals out front who react loudly to the presence of any stranger. But they're only out front... I'm thankful to God that none of my "stuff" is really very valuable.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

It's a Different World Up There

This past week, I attended the last few days of a meeting in TianMu north of Taipei city. It felt really different being back up there where all the foreign import shops and restaurants are located that cater to foreigners. Sadly, some foreigners who come to Taiwan don't get much beyond that.

Sunday evening, after filling in first at a meeting up in Keelung (I was even able to sprinkle in some Taiwanese this time!), I was back in Taipei visiting an American friend and his Taiwanese wife and their kids. He took us along with their domestic helper over to Taipei 101 which until earlier in the year was the tallest building in the world. We enjoyed dinner in the food court and some incredible ice cream at the Cold Stone Creamery (the likes of which you'll never see where I'm living now!). Not only that, but we went up to enjoy the view from my friend's spacious office way up on the 53rd floor (sorry, the pics above are only daytime pics and not what I saw). Spectacular! Also on the 53rd floor, I had the pleasure of standing in front of the highest convenience store in the world.

As we rolled back into my friends' reserved parking spot in the basement of their high rise apartment building, I inquired into the cost of the space. His parking space costs 8,000 NT a month, only $1,000 (or about $30 US dollars) less than what I pay down here for an entire 3 story home in the least-developed part of Taiwan-- an amazing differential in cost-of-living. It sure is a different world back up there!