Pop art and 85 Sky

I hope you like the catchy title, though it says little of the topic. We’d best forge on to the Pop Art Cafe. Friday evenings are for relaxing and giving ourselves a little reward. That seems to be a universal thing. With my pockets empty and no camera (and apparently the world didn’t end) we piled into the small Hyundai and visited a section that I’d describe as the Taiwanese version of Soho. With limited accessibility and maximum help from the chef/owner himself, I worked my way through a series of ramps and bumps that he had mapped out ahead when Cliff called to make a reservation.

The Pop Art Cafe’s chef, another George, explained to us that he is a Canadian who came to Taiwan as an adventure, fell in love with a lady and with the nation, and merged his art profession with his culinary passion. The fare is what he described as simply delicious American ranging from burgers to pizza to steaks plus a bit of Indonesian. Excellent!

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Pictures resumed yesterday with a trip to the 85 Sky Tower. Approximately the height of the Empire State Building, all similarities to other skyscrapers end when one views the building. The first 39 stories are two office buildings that then connect and have a single spire rising from there.

We were in time for afternoon high tea, which did not disappoint. Salads, fresh seafood, sushi, ham, pot stickers, and an amazing lemon green tea. Let’s not mention the seafood pizza. “Pizza is not to be made with seafood.” – G Rector, 2017

Have you enjoyed Taiwan? I hope over a couple of weeks I’ve introduced you to wonderful people and an amazing nation! This was Kaohsiung, family style, which is what the world is all about. I’ve popped wheelies over bumps, rattled down old sidewalks, and glided on marble floors. This is my family, and I love them dearly.

Thank you for the wonderful comments and the many Likes. To our new followers, I hope you will join us as we continue around the world in 27 days. My time and my energy (remember old MS fatigue?) have been stretched thin. I promise that once home I will visit your sites, as well.

Picture above is of Cameron standing in front of a drawing of 85 Sky Tower. Below are some pictures taken from the 74th floor observation area. They show the harbor, Love River, and the city. And a photo of my my beautiful daughter-in-law Natalie. 

Night market pinball

Thursday evening Sandy, Cliff, Cameron, and I went to the small night market near home. Having worked all day, Natalie cherished a few moments of quiet. Space in Taiwan isn’t wasted. The seashore area where we had gone has fishing by day, but on Thursday nights there is a local night market.

There are two areas of interest to children, and those are what interested us most. We arrived early, so things weren’t so busy. Cameron got his choice of the tiny pinball machines. He did well and won a helicopter. And had fun.

After pinball we made our way to the other end where a tiny train is set up in front of a temple that appears to be of ancient origin. Along the way were food stands with spicy foods like  fresh fish, chicken, shrimp. Having had dinner we stuck to enjoying the odors.

The train, a tiny set up of cars pulled by an “engine” connected to an electric motor supplied from an industrial battery, is hugely popular with the little ones. For a modest fee you can ride until your parents can stand no more. Then you receive a toy. Awesome.

As we worked our way back to the car we passed stands that resembled an American flea market that had some intriguing goods that we didn’t buy! By then the food stands had lines and the seats full. Willpower, George, willpower.

Thanks for reading. I got a bit behind in writing, so let’s put the night market to bed and move on to Pop Art and 85 Sky.

The top images show Cameron at a long row of tiny pinball machines with child size stools. He is wearing his light jacket, a baseball cap, and has his Snoopy backpack to carry home his loot. A third images shows the tiny train. Below are two roofline images of the old temple and a small shrine that is attached. Both are forms of the pagoda style architecture. 

Time with family

E8074989-3520-4303-8810-CBF1C8F9528F.jpgfa989dee-701f-4d0a-9c3d-08fdfd4b827eThe pace has slowed a bit as we recharge our batteries, as it were. Quality time with family and friends. We met our friends Amanda, Lawrance, and Christina. Cameron and Eden had a ball on the playground. This is in yet another park near downtown Kaohsiung. There is a huge jungle gym, and the picture shows only a portion of it. The park and the playground are fully wheelchair accessible. I rolled so nicely on it, and it was padded to protect the kids if they fall.

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Our son Cliff on the left and Lawrence on the right.

After a couple of hours we all ventured through the city traffic to a restaurant Amanda and Lawrance recommended. Unlike restaurants I’ve encountered here, this is entirely Chinese. Here we are in a beautiful restaurant with light lavender table cloths and chairs, a large multi-page menu that was all Chinese. Lawrence explained that the food is served family style with dishes rotated on a huge Lazy Susan. With nine of us, it was a large, round table. The presentation reminded me a bit of P.F. Chang’s in the U.S.  There were more items, and spices were different, however. It was one of the best meals I’ve had – period. You will be proud of me; I got all my food into my mouth with only one small spot on the tablecloth using chopsticks. (They offered a fork, but that seemed like a mood killer.)

Even when company comes, the routine must go on, so we were off to the hardware store. The store is large but in a downtown location. Parking is above the store, whilst employees park underneath. Inside is a store that easily rivals The Home Depot. I was right at home!

Yesterday Cliff took us over to the coast. The seashore is “fortified” against typhoons. Kaohsiung is at the southern end of the island and is on the leeward side with mountains for protection. (Taipei, the capital, is at the very northern tip and is cooler with more typhoons.) The smell of the sea was as I remembered it from years ago. The shell of the original Kaohsiung Light still stands, but its functionality has been replaced with an automated light.

Last night we went to a night market. That’s next. Thanks for reading. I hope you are enjoying our glimpse of life halfway round the world.

Top picture is a very old lighthouse, blue gray color with colorful fish. Then snapshots of Sandy and Cliff and Sandy and George. Underneath is an overview of the colorful Little Tykes jungle gym. Lower are pictures showing Cliff and Lawrance. Cliff is wearing a Del Sol T-shirt, sunglasses, and an orange hat. There is a winding, stone path through the wooded park. Finally a picture of a downtown intersection with tall buildings and the sea of scooters.

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. 

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.