February 28, 2007

Episode XVII: Big Screen and Small Football


First weekend of February brought me lots of wonderful experiences. Good old tried system says: work on the weekdays, have fun on the weekend. More or less, that is what I practice here in Kaohsiung.

I have paid a visit to Hong Kong at the end of the year 2006. Then I have become amateur of that place. Famous from Hong Kong is cinema, and I personally found it fascinating and brilliant. After coming back to Taiwan I am trying to follow some directors and actors that I became fond of.
According to that plan, with the company of my good Taiwanese friend, lately I have seen two wonderful films that will stay in my mind for a longer while. I simply love how do Hong Kong filmmakers show their city, with all its lights, immensity and ambiguity.

What I truly enjoy in Kaohsiung about going to cinema, is a variety of venues to choose. To make it clear, there are first-round cinemas and second-round cinemas. Maybe it is obvious, but in Poland we do not distinguish cinemas in such a way. Coming back to Taiwan, so-called first-round shows newest premiers and asks for pretty big ransom for it. Usually free drink is served or some wee souvenir given. It is quality.

Yet what I prefer are second-round cinemas. The reason could be, in my home-country there is no choice like that. Here, price is usually three or at least two times cheaper than the first-round. Films arrive few months after their original premier, but I do not mind waiting three months. What difference does it make?

There are some disadvantages like rubbish all around the place, people talking on their cell-phones or sometimes even lack of sharpness on the screen, but frankly speaking I do not care. It gives the place an atmosphere and that counts.

My favourite venue is, famous around the city, He-Chuen cinema, located in the neighbourhood of 2nd Dashun Road. This one is a bargain, offering two different titles for something like 60 NT dollars, which is better than cheap. Calculation is easy for me.

Apart from having fantastic time, being entertained by great films, I also have found another occasion to spend some spare time, which is playing football, better known in Taiwan as soccer. Fact is, far more popular here are baseball and basketball, so to practice football I had to meet some foreigners.
Opportunity came all of a sudden and I just found myself running around after the ball, on the school pitch near to Boai Road, accompanied by folks from England, Ireland, Canada, United States, South Africa and Salvador. It was amazing and I am absolutely looking forward to having more regular chances like that.

Working in office environment is pretty easy to end with the sedentary life style, which definitely I do not want to be familiar with and I think none of us should be. It is time to move!

February 15, 2007

Episode XVI: Summit, Wall and Rail


Unexpected drop of temperature and gloomy weather kept me from reaching the summit of the Kaohsiung city on the last week of January.

As a city peak and its proudest spot I consider the top of the Sky Tower, the 85-storey-structure that climbs up far over 300 meters. Before the completion of 101 Taipei tower, it was the tallest building in whole Taiwan. Unavoidably it became a symbol of the ocean capital, of the Kaohsiung city.

Apart from the fact that opportunity to fulfill one of my goals was not given to me this time, I have visited some other significant places.
As an inhabitant of Tsoying district, northern part of the city, where Lotus Pond is located, I felt obliged to see old Fengshan city wall, which was raised almost 200 years ago. Gate is square and heavy. Fortification, built from red brick is at least two meters wide, with the space for walking, on the top.

After I have experienced the taste of the past, I met the sign of the future, which is, as well, located in Tsoying district. It looks like an airport but it's not. Actually I have found it accidentally, while I was continuing my walk through nearby indigenous plant garden.

I have crossed the park, passed the spot where we played the flying disc with my friends few weeks earlier and got to the garden's fence. Strolling along the wire I arrived to the place where huge impressive freeways were flying high above my head. It had cleared up and aura was friendly. And there it was. Tall as a tower block, packed as a tanker, shining and glittering, incomparably vaster, brand new Tsoying station.
Newest baby of technological development of Taiwan, high speed railway, connecting north and south and offering extraordinary fast transport between distant destinations in approximately 90 minutes.

We can travel at 300 kmph but does it mean we will have no chance to slow down and see how everything else goes by, while sitting on the bench in the park, somewhere in the north of Kaohsiung?
I hope not. Access to the newest inventions is only available for a small part of a society. It will definitely not change their lives. Probably some of them will never have an occasion to experience it.

But that’s how life looks like. And that’s why I love it.

February 01, 2007

Episode XV: Sun and Space


During the weekend I have decided to visit some new places across the city as often as having some spare time. After the period of five months of my stay in Taiwan, there are still many locations in Kaohsiung that I did not see. It's pretty easy to waste time by watching television or wondering around the shopping mall, but I don't want to do that if I have an occasion to go and find some new interesting spots and venues in such an exotic place as Taiwan.
On Saturday I have paid a visit to National Science and Technology Museum on Jiouru Road. I was surprised because I found it almost empty and very quiet. As I already know something about Asia, I was expecting crowds of people who want to take a look at the fighter airplane, try the “moonwalker” or learn something about Taiwan's industry and its most famous products like computers, clothes or scooters. But I was wrong and actually I felt more comfortable in such an environment, where I don't need to force my way to go through.

Interior of museum is impressive. Massive spaces and long corridors make you feel like visiting an airport, not a spot of cultural interest. Most of the visitors were children accompanied by parents, because that's a great place for those young folks. You can push the button or turn the handle and learn how physics, gravity or electricity does work. It's gaining knowledge through experiencing the phenomenon. That's a wonderful lesson.

Then, on Sunday, to ventilate my mind, I went to pier 2, also known as pier of art. There, I have found what I was looking for. Wide, spacious and noiseless location, just at the harbour. That's a place, where modern performers of south Taiwan can exhibit their artistic visions.
I have seen some colourful and surprising sculptures and kind of theatre, where I imagine, independent young people enjoy being actors.

Sky was calmly blue, sun warm and kind, tranquil and vast area made me feel this specific pacifying mood. I felt even better, when I went for a walk along the pier. View of those huge used ships was striking. You could tell they have been through a lot, met some sinister waves and storms in their past. Its mildew could tell stories.

Finally, when I have stepped on the wooden terrace from where I faced the sight of the city, with sky-tower in the background and colossal yellow cranes in front of me, I felt the weight of the distance. Tons of surrounding air, city on my palm and heat falling from above. It was something stirring and solid.
Few blocks further, there was a humble in size but proud of its importance, tight and slender bright shape of cathedral. How many times I have been passing by and never stop to discover its secrets?