It’s blue skies and a cool 32°C (90°F to you and me). It feels cooler here somehow than it did in Shanghai. I’ve been telling my friends… the heat doesn’t bother me when I’m on vacation. It’s only when I have somewhere to be at a certain time, when I have deadlines to meet, people waiting for me.
So I’m sitting in my favorite cafe in Taipei; it has good coffee, free wifi, gentle air conditioning, and a lot of natural light. Aussie L and I took to calling it “Benny’s Café” while he was here, due to numerous sightings of Benny the Irish Polyglot. Chicago J hates it when we call it that; their crew’s name for the place is “Nuisance Café,” and it is right near their pad. The official name of the place, by the way, is “Naissance Café,” which is French; I like to translate it as “childbirth coffee.”
I was on the Dieciocho this morning on the way to my class, and I get a text from my teacher that she can’t make it. It turns out she won’t be able to meet again until next Wednesday. I’ll have to take a lot of chatty cab rides to make up for that… Anyway, when I got the text I decided to get off the bus at Shida and walk to Benny’s Nuisance. There’s not much of a plan for today; this is about it.
Tomorrow is the same, only later in the afternoon I’ll meet some people to see the Salvador Dali exhibit at the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. After that is the crazy red-eye flight to Manila, for the weekend.
So 10 days in Shanghai… was kind of too much for me. It was awesome to see old friends and places I used to know, and awesome to see the march of progress. It was not awesome to be behind the GFW. When my blog went down, I immediately assumed it was because of the Chen Guangcheng stuff I posted… I tried to be tricky about it! The fact that the very next day my blog was off line, and the only other person I knew who that had happened to was blogging from Chengdu (btw, it’s a great China blog, if you are into that!).
Of course I was worried when I went offline, and I wondered if a truckload of SWAT would be coming to take me into custody. Even when my blog came back online, I was still worried about getting out of the country ok. I was a slightly worried, just slightly, when my plane sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes before finally being allowed to take off.
In any case, it was awesome to be back in Shanghai, but I’m very glad to be back in Taipei. Some of my friends really preferred the “wild west” aspect of the Mainland, where you can do anything you want; me, I enjoy the political and digital liberties of the free world. If and when I go back to the Mainland, it will be to visit friends, and it will only be for a few days, not like the 10 days I spent there this summer. 10 days is a long time.
I have volumes to write about my time in the Mainland, but the only thing you do faster than find Mainland topics to write about is to forget your Mainland topics to write about. It is a glorious warm sunny day in Taipei, a friendly kind of heat, and my laptop battery is telling me it’s time to have lunch.