July 26, 2007

Episode XXX: Hard Goodbye


My adventure with Kaohsiung began eleven months ago, in August 2006. In September I came to Kaohsiung Broadcasting Station to start Foreigner's View on Kaohsiung. This is its thirtieth and final episode. The chapter closes. I would like to express my appreciation and friendship to the people who I spent my time with during that period. You are all important to me.

Let's start with Britta Jurgens, Chiara Gomiselli, Nasima Khusnutdinova and Satoko Murao. Those four girls and myself have been members of the same project. We all arrived to Taiwan more or less simultaneously, representing Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan and Poland. It was a true pleasure to me to meet you and have a chance to cooperate with you, as well as spend some spare time.

We used to discover secrets of Taiwan together by traveling, meeting people, going out and partying. Each of us is pretty different but we found ways to get along fairly well. Thank you for your patience, outstanding sense of humour and a good will.

Our trips to Kenting, Fo Guang Shan and Hong Kong were fantastic and the memories of it will stay with me for years. Days spent together have got a great value to me. I have learnt a lot about the others but also about myself. Taiwan did connect us. Taiwan will see us apart.

Great words of appreciation have to go to Rita Su, who did a tremendous job by making splendid efforts to keep all five of us organized, safe and happy. Her help is priceless and I will never be able to return all the favors. The project is you, Rita!

No mistake. The place to be for me was KBS – the radio station. I could easily list everybody who works there but I want to focus on a couple of people. First of all Jennifer Tzeng. A person who gave me lots of confidence and was showing me her understanding. I could not think of a better superior than you!

Amber, Ge-Shien and Linly. You are the women who know what does hospitality and care mean. Being in your company I always felt special, important and lucky. You genuinely made me feel like home. Without you I could not be happy in Kaohsiung. All the help and advices given, all the questions you had to answer, all that I will never forget and never underestimate. It was my honor to share a working place with you.

Another person without whom I could not imagine my life in Taiwan is Marshall Chen. We are almost of an equal age and share a true passion for cinema. I am not able to recall how many films we have seen and discussed. Besides having a good time together, Marshall was always there for me if I needed help or any kind of assistance. You are a firm friend Marshall!

All of you comrades made my stay in Taiwan wonderful and unforgettable. You were my family here and you always will. If I think of Kaohsiung I think about you. No doubt.

Now is the moment to say goodbye to the people who listened or read my writing. Thank you for your time and attention. It was brilliant to do something like that. I will be missing it. Cheers!

Episode XXIX: My Very Own Moments


The summer in Kaohsiung is in full. Early afternoons are extremely sunny and hot. It was great to experience it at first but at the moment I'm trying to hide in a shadow as soon as I can. There is no way I could underestimate such a blessed device as air conditioning.

Lately also the sky in Kaohsiung is clearer. Maybe it is because of the heavy rains. A possible mighty typhoon as well would get rid of the smog alright. The fact is I have not seen before such a nice blue colour in the south of Taiwan. Big white shapely clouds add that extra thing, which makes me feel delighted.

Only in May I had an opportunity to find a moment to take some quality photos with that extraordinary beautiful sky. It was on Sunday. I simply quickly grabbed my camera and rushed to the Lotus Pond. Without a doubt, that is my favourite place across the whole city.

I walked around it taking countless pictures. It was a wonderful time. Just later I found out that it caused me some heavy suntan. Being exposed to the baking tropical sun might be tricky. Sunscreen is truly recommended.

To change the subject I wanted to say it took me ten months in Kaohsiung to finally decide to visit the viewing deck of the tallest building in the city. So-called 85-tower offers a splendid panorama from 300 meters above the ground. Believe me it is impressive. Especially because there is not much competition in height around the whole area. Even the skyscraper at the intersection of Shyhcyuan and Minzu looks small, though once it was the top structure throughout the whole island.

The view of the harbour is amazing. I have just realized how big it is. Another thing that struck me was the size of Chaishan (Monkey Mountain) and its dominating proud green mass. It has got an unquestionable role in the landscape of the city. It is actually hard to believe before taking a look from a different perspective. Give it a try. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee.

If you are looking for something as exciting but social I honestly suggest paying a visit to a live baseball game. Stadium located at the Cheng-Ching Lake area is one of the biggest grounds in the country. It can host 25 thousand people. The residing team you will see there is Kaohsiung Bears. Taiwan champions of 2006 season.

You say you do not fancy baseball? Friend of mine was saying the same. After the game he was genuinely happy and glad that I persuaded him to accompany me. Baseball in Taiwan is about much more than simply the sport. Each team has got an orchestra, flagmen and a fairly big bunch of determined supporters.

Game is loud. Drums and trumpets do not stop playing. Speakers are tireless and loaded with energy. An atmosphere is intense and overwhelming. A phenomenon itself. It is worth of witnessing as part of the cultural studies.

In Kaohsiung I feel like home. I am happy to be here. I am happy with what I have seen and experienced. My attitude is to enjoy a very single day. It pays off.

July 15, 2007

Episode XXVIII: Rice in the Soup


Some people describe Taiwan as a food paradise. I will not argue with that statement. I think it is pretty accurate. Local cuisine is tasty and inexpensive. An impressive variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is available on almost every corner.

Tofu is eaten in every possible form. That is splendid news to all who do not fancy meat that much. I would still recommend watching amounts of fat and salt that are being put to the dishes. If you care about your health I mean.

The base of a regular meal in Taiwan is a bowl of rice. Not too big. Just to fill your palm comfortably. The rice is usually eaten separately. The rest is on the plate or another bowl.

Before I have arrived to Taiwan I did not have many occasions in my life to eat with chopsticks. Obviously it was a challenge at first but I have taken it with a pleasure and joy. Now I do not even think about it. It simply became a part of myself. I feel very comfortable with it.

I would like to talk about some significant differences in food culture between Taiwan and my homeland – Poland. If Taiwanese person will ever travel to Poland, I suspect might be very surprised with what we do with rice.

Rice fried with an egg is probably common everywhere but in Poland we often eat it sweet. We add sugar, butter, and cinnamon and apple mousse to it. Quite a popular dessert it is. I know it might sound like a blasphemy to the Taiwanese traditionalists but there is nothing I can do about it.

Another thing is we do not use those smart pressure machines to prepare our rice. We boil it directly in the water. That is not the best option. I know.

To shock you more I will tell you that we also do put rice into the soup. Just instead of noodles. Sounds crazy? It is tomato soup, which is commonly eaten that way. Actually I have never question it before but after spending some time in Taiwan I feel like I should. Maybe next time I am offered I will tell the people what a missed idea it is.

To continue the strange stories from a distant Poland I would like to mention that we have totally different bread back in Europe. First of all we have many kinds of bread – white, brown, black. Soft, light and sweet. Hard, heavy and a bit sour. Crunchy and full of grains. The choice is vast and mouth-watering.

I suspect the Polish people could not live without their bread and potatoes. It is like rice and noodles in Taiwan. Eaten everyday and in big amounts. Our potato is not sweet to clear the doubts. It tastes the best with a pinch of salt and lots of fresh dill.

Another noticeable difference between Taiwanese and Polish cuisine is that here red beans, green peas and lentil are mainly consumed as a dessert or a snack. Often with squares of solid jelly and roasted peanuts, all drowned in a sweet soup or a hot herbal jelly. I was used to eating beans with a spicy tomato sauce back home. Nevertheless after a while in Asia I became a true amateur of a local specialty.

All those funny or sometimes shocking differences make the world exciting and inspiring. That is why I enjoy discovering new tastes and ways to cook and prepare food. It is a pure joy and delight!