Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Back Again!

(I hadn't meant to take this much of a break from writing during the better part of April.  It just seemed to happen that way.  First I was in Taipei, then I was coping with jet lag (which didn't make me sleepy tired by destroyed my cognitive abilities), and finally we arrive at this week! )

So, #28daysofwriting round 2 post 16!  My, my March has gone on a long time!

I hadn't meant to talk about Taipei in my #28daysofwriting posts but my slow debrief (if that is the right word) after my visit, has led me to some observations.  One in particular jumps out at me since we are in the lead up to a general election.  In 2012, the voter turn out in Taiwan was over 76%.  For presidential election in 2000, it was 82%.  In the UK, it was 65%.  In 2001, it was 59%.

I've been pondering what conclusions to draw from this.  I did notice that Taiwan's voter turnout has generally been on the increase, especially since the death of Chiang Kai-shek.  The voter turnout in western countries such as the UK, the United States, Canada and France, have gone from high turn out in the 50s and 60s to ever increasing lows.

When I was in Taipei, a lady I met talked about life under the nationalist Chinese and Chiang Kai-shek and compared it to the North Korea of today.  Since people have been able to vote freely and had options other than the one party, they have taken to democracy whole heartedly!  Do we need a few years of a dictatorship to shake off our lethargy and indifference, (and I do talk here of the west as a whole and not the UK in particular), and make us realise the value and importance of our democratic freedoms.

Oh dear, I do sound as if I am beating a drum here.  I don't mean to.  Furthermore, I do understand how this could have happened.  Slowly the major parties have been merging and at one point during the labour government under Tony Blair, Labour seemed more conservative than the conservatives.

Scotland seemed this fall to have rediscovered enthusiasm for the democratic process and I do envy them the excitement that seems to have been generated.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Post 15 part 2 of #28daysofwriting: Taiwan and First Impressions!

I did wonder at one point if I would ever take off from Heathrow and then later, whether or not I would ever get off the plane.  Having said that, I did take off and I did land, first at Bangkok, and then finally at Taiwan, oh so many hours later.  I had decided before leaving that I would have a device-less flight and instead read a book or do some writing.  Well, that plan fell apart before we ever got off the ground and after a two hour delay, all I wanted to do was sleep once I got on board.  I packed 3 books in my backpack...well I was on a 17 hour flight!  I will take a lesson from this and not take so many books when I go to North America.  Why didn't you take a mobile device, I hear you say.  Well, as I said, I wanted to go without my I-pad and truth be told, I much prefer physical books!  I learned another lesson from this flight as well.  The next time I fly a long distance, I am going to spend the money for a more comfortable seat.

Enough of the flight!  Despite the delay in London, we arrived only an hour or so late in Taiwan. As we drove from the airport to Taipei, I couldn't help comparing the city with many I have seen in the US, except of course, for the Chinese-English signs.    There were wide highways and sweeping overpasses.  The traffic sped along and then emptied into the wide treed, city boulevards. At intersections, the stoplights counted down, often as much as 90 seconds, giving pedestrians plenty of time to cross. Western shops lined the streets, many of them high end designer labels, interspersed with local ones and on every corner, or so it seemed, a 7 Eleven. I was later to discover that 7 Elevens are so much more in Taiwan than their counter parts in the US but that for a later post.

And then my taxi started to climb, up through the ever narrowing streets.  I had no idea till this point that Taipei is surrounded by mountains and that my daughter lived part way up one of them.  The taxi took a sharp turn, dipped down a narrow road and crossing a bridge, we arrived at the entrance to the complex of appartment buildings where I was to stay.  Even though it was dark, the street lights revealed a mass of white bricked buildings with red tiled rooves and over hangs.  It wasn't beautiful but it was impressive. And standing outside one of them was Emma.