Field of fun

On Saturday we went to soccer practice. Sandy and I had been looking forward to this, and we weren’t disappointed. In fact, we were delighted in what we found. We enjoyed a huge field of fun. Of course our attention was on soccer practice and the little ones. So what is involved? First came stretching. Then warm ups followed by a motor skills drill with jumping over small cones (the ones in the picture). All warmed up and ready, the kids lined up and each practiced taking shots on goal. Surprisingly good! Ready to go, the kids were divided into teams with one team wearing fluorescent orange vests and the other in a shocking yellow green. Let the chaos begin.

In Taiwan with its tight population density, green space is readily available and is used. This park in downtown Kaohsiung covers about 2 city blocks. One section is a traditional park with winding sidewalks, trees, grassy areas, and a pond. The side where we were is a huge, flat, grass lawn. I counted 9 groups using the area for recreation. One young couple was playing Wham-O Trac Ball. There were kites, soccer balls, and frisbees.

How did the wheelchair do? The field is hard packed, and the grass is manicured short. I rolled right across it without help. Amazing.

Thanks for stopping by, and thank you for the Likes and Comments on the earlier entries. We have some new followers following our journey, and you are appreciated, as well. We will be here another week exploring this beautiful island and visiting with our family. London awaits.

Opening picture shows a group of very small children seated with hands up as they begin practice. The second picture is of the ornage and the green teams together in a moment of sportsmanship before beginning play. 

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Return to Lotus Lake

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When we were in Taiwan 3 years ago, one of the things that was most memorable was beautiful Lotus Lake (or Lotus Pond, as some prefer). We arranged to have more time this trip. Cliff let Sandy and me out; then he and Cameron joined us in the early afternoon. There is a temple built in 1681 and restored in 1977 along with the twin pagodas of the dragon and the tiger. Each are 7 stories tall and are connected to land by a 9 section bridge. You enter the dragon’s mouth and exit through the tiger. (‘Tis not wheelchair accessible inside.) Magnificent statures as tall as the pagodas are also in the lake. Everything is done with exquisite detail.

The day was quite warm and humid, so Sandy and I visited one of the small fruit markets that are in front of the temple and got some cold water from the ancient Coca-Cola machine. The kind lady invited us to sit under her umbrella. Before leaving we bought more water, and we got bananas after Cliff and Cameron joined us.

I was fascinated by what is essentially tether tennis. The ball is attached to a very long, elastic cord and secured to the ground by a heavy weight. You serve and return underhanded a la Pickle Ball. Had it not been for size and weight, which we are trying to reduce, not increase, I’d have bought the set from the nice lady who was demonstrating it on the square near the pagodas.

With due apology to my visually impaired friends who might not see the pictures well, the site does warrant a small gallery.

Thank you for reading, and please feel welcome to comment. Today, by the way, was an easy day with a quick trip to Carrefour’s grocery before lunch. Carrefour is the French company that is the parent company of Trader Joe’s and Aldi. Pizza for dinner!

Top image shows the huge green dragon and tiger. Below are smaller images of some monuments along with Sandy selecting our water from the old Coke cooler and a fisherman with his net.

IKEA Day

On Sunday afternoon we went to IKEA. What to expect? How would it be different? If you wanted to hear what is the same, we’d be here all day. The similarity was indeed fascinating.

Kaohsiung’s IKEA is downtown and doesn’t have the outside signage I am used to in Orlando. Parking is in a 2 level underground garage. Once inside, I felt right at home. Same layout, same merchandise, same signs – only in Taiwanese with prices in NT. Conversion is easy, and they correspond right on with the US.
Most interesting was the food court. The most popular food item? Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes. I was told I that is the most popular the world over. Menu? Exactly the same. The drinking glasses here are more formal.

The store is twice the size of Orlando’s and crowded. The people tended to be younger with small children up through pre-teens. Despite the congestion everyone was polite. No one bumped me, and no one stepped in front. I didn’t run over a single person. (Okay, I never do anyway.😎)

A good afternoon with lunch and people watching! Something for us all to remember…Halfway around the world, despite languages and cultures we are very much the same.

Thank you for reading. Comments are always welcome. I’m getting a bit behind in responding, so please bare with me. I shall spare you an entry on Costco. It’s nearly identical to the US, including English.

Picture is Sandy with her long red hair shining, and she is in front of a sign that is in Taiwanese with the IKEA logo and a map showing Sweden.

The real hero

I asked if you’d wondered about someone you see or someone you know’s life on wheels and said, “You are about to find out.” For the most part, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, the wheelchair is more evident than are actual changes in our lives, which is good. But there is more, and today we are going to shift our focus to Sandy.

When we travel, things fall for Sandy to do. Let’s look at our arrival in Seattle, the airplane, and the airport in Taipei as examples of how the caregiver is the actual hero.

We are on the ground in Seattle. Sandy has pulled the 44 pound suitcase through the airport, across the cold, damp parking garage, and onto the train. $1 per person into downtown. Not a bargain; take a taxi. Downtown it’s off the train, through the station, onto the street and 3 blocks before we give up and find a taxi stand. (Me? I’m sitting in a custom chair that weighs 19 pounds and rolls nicely.)

Behold the Toyota Prius. I digress, but I want to say that I like small cars and would drive a rear engine Porsche if I could afford it. The Prius is fine for a businessperson who tosses a small suitcase in the back and carries his/her laptop in the back seat. For a real suitcase, 2 passengers, and my ever present wheelchair, the Prius is a rolling nightmare. Toss in a taxi driver who speaks limited English and inherently works fast. Sandy is standing in the cold, wheels in the street, turning the frame every possible way, turning the suitcase, turning them at once, and still has to fit the wheels in.

Now we’re at the airport counter heading for Taipei. Sandy does the talking because the counter is above her but somewhere in the sky for me. The suitcase is checked, and she is free – not exactly. Whilst airport personnel get me strapped onto the refrigerator dolly and hauled onto the plane, Sandy is behind explaining how the wheelchair folds the back but not the seat. She gets the cushion and both backpacks.

Now we are in Taipei and for the first time we encounter a truly rude man, probably the only one in all of Asia. It is his job to push me on my ball bearing wheels whilst Sandy lugs the suitcase. Faster and faster and Sandy is running half a block behind. I grab the hand rims and grind the chair to a stop, telling him we wait for the lady. When she, panting by now, is almost to us, he starts again, and I grab the rims again. And so it goes until we finally reach the taxi stand. Are we rid of him? Do you think that would make this enough? Well, it’s not enough, and we weren’t rid of him. The taxi is a Toyota of some design that looks like a Corolla station wagon. I’m in the car, and there is room for the suitcase and the chair in the back and Sandy on the backseat with me. But, no! The aforementioned gentleman insists on folding the wheelchair, the same one that doesn’t fold. He grabs it and tries folding the rigid, titanium frame whilst leaving the folding back open. Finally Sandy takes over, tells him to go away, and the taxi driver nicely assists her in lifting it in. Away to the Taiwan High Speed Rail, where all is fine except Sandy is tired and our suitcase now feels like 16 tons.

Now we are “home” and outside playing with our little grandson. I remark this is one of the best days of our lives…just before a very tired Sandy trips and falls. She is bruised and sore, not to mention the deep scratches on her new sunglasses. THIS, MY 33C880E1-CBB7-4A1B-B7AF-D11EFC5F05F5.JPGFRIENDS, IS REAL LIFE FOR OUR CAREGIVERS. I OWE EVERYTHING TO SANDY.

We had lightened the load this trip. One suitcase instead of two. Smaller backpacks, less crowded. Better connections. Stops in Seattle and London to rest and relax midway.  In the next day or two we will go Carrefour and look for a smaller suitcase. The clothes can stay and be donated and some shipped home. The wheelchair rider needs to be doing a better job of taking care of the precious caregiver.

Sorry this is so long. There is so much to say for our family and friends. When we get home folks will say how awesome or inspiring I was to go around the world in 27 days. Without Sandy I’d likely have been lost in the luggage compartment leaving Orlando. You tell me who is awesome! Who is inspiring! Now we all know the real story.

Next on Popping Wheelies, our visit to IKEA! Thank you for stopping by. I’m trying to keep caught up with comments, and I appreciate every one of them and every one of you.

We meet our new grandson

E8F4B9EC-DEC7-4D54-8CFE-66D63CE783AE.JPGGood morning or good evening depending where in the world you are. We have arrived in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After months of Skyping, we hugged our little grandson. We adore him, of course!

Cameron is 4. Cliff and Natalie adopted the little angel, and he is loved deeply. We were delighted that he warmed to us almost instantly. People have asked about language. He is fluent in Mandarin and English. He attends a day care/preschool.

Cameron likes cars and my wheelchair! We are going to take it apart in a few minutes – the wheelchair, not the car.

We will be venturing out soon, so we can share our day trips. In the next few days we’ll be returning to Lotus Lake with its temples, mighty tiger, and the dragon. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate every one of you and always welcome comments. I try to respond. Things are a bit strange with the app on an unfamiliar iPad.

Image is our grandson sitting on a Little Tykes fire truck watching a cartoon, nice and close the way kids love it. 

Flying all night

Following lunch atop the Space Needle where we had great food and a look at America’s rainiest city in the pouring rain, we rested and then went to the airport. Midnight came, and we boarded EVA Air. What a pleasant surprise! A new Boeing (made in Seattle) 777. Our premium economy that I’d read online is crammed was anything but crammed. Nice seats, personal headphones, an entertainment center with our choice of movies, music, games, and more!

Sandy watched The Beatles. I started The Girl on the Train (loved the book) and fell promptly to sleep. Thirteen hours is a long flight, trust me on this.

Once in Taipei, Taiwan we went through the customary customs and immigration. Passports, address, proof of our tickets to leave, and fingerprints done we climbed in a taxi to the Taiwan High Speed Rail.

The electric powered train is 997 feet long, and there are over 900 trains a week running the length of the island at 187mph. Sleek, virtually silent there is a swish as it enters the station. Comfortable, quiet, seats.

In the station at Kaohsiung we were met by our son Cliff, and we are halfway round the world! Thank you for joining us, and we would be delighted if you’d continue the adventure with us.

Photos show the 605 feet Space Needle from the bottom and George and Sandy in red and blue raincoats.

Chilling in Seattle

img_0049Yesterday Sandy and I caught the early bird fligt to Seattle. We settled into our First Class seats and lived the life of luxury. That won’t last because the next flight is in steerage.

As we approached Seattle we had a close up view of Mt. Rainier with Mt. St. Helens in the background. img_0054

This is to be a rest stop, so weary travelers won’t be so weary as the trip unfolds. Today  we visited Pike Place market. What a cacophony of sounds and smells. Fish, pastries, sausages, flowers, incense, Puget Sound. Vendors with layer upon layer of sweat shirts and gloves in the chilly air.

 

Tomorrow we visit the Space Needle with a 100% chance of heavy rain forecast. We have good L.L. Bean raincoats, so bring it on.

Thanks for stopping by. I apologize for the format of this post; it doesn’t work at all like my familiar, old iPad. I’ll work on that as time and energy permit.

Images show George and Sandy as they boarded the plane in Orlando, close up of Mt. Rainier from the air, Public Market sign, a fruit stall with unusual tangerines, and an overview.