As predicted, yesterday was simply brutal. By the time I arrived home at 2130 I was exhausted and went straight to bed. But it was a good day, worth recounting. And so, armed with the delights of the little coffee setup in my room (insta-boiler, Nescafe) I shall begin.
Before I do, can I say yet again home much I love Nescafe? I know I raved about it during my trip to Israel and South Africa....must be getting old for you, though not for me.
We started our day with a trip to the American Institute in Taiwan, which is essentially our Embassy in Taipei, except that since we do not have diplomatic relations with Taipei, it isn't an embassy. We met with the Director (Ambassador sort of, but no Senate confirmation) and some members of his staff for an hour. I am always impressed with the quality of people we have at our diplomatic posts around the world, and this was no exception. We had an excellent chat about US/Taiwan/China relations and the challenges all three nations face in the region. Note: yesterday I mis-identified AIT as the sponsor of our trip....this is not the case. The Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs engaged Hudson to put together the delegation.
After this meeting, we piled into our little tour bus for a trip the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We were ushered into an elevator to a plush meeting room where we spent the next hour with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, (Secretary of State). A polished, smooth older man, he engaged us in the manner of an experienced diplomat, returning to his themes and verbally jujuitsu-ing any question that was a little too hot for him to handle.
From here, we went to a buffet lunch in a "five star" hotel (words of our handler) that was an orgy of food. I embarrassed myself and our nation with the volume of food I ate. You cannot imagine the bounty that was spread before me. I should have exercised restraint for a number of reasons, but avoidance of an afternoon food coma should have been chief among them. I did not, and so struggled with consciousness for the remainder of the afternoon.
Our next stop was the Taiwan National Security Bureau, which is essentially their CIA and FBI combined. We got a brief on Chinese military modernization and we engaged in a spirited discussion of Taiwan's reactions/plans/strategies. We sat facing each other in a nicely laid out command center, with the Taiwans on one side and we eight on the other. Across from us were ten officials and the Deputy Director, a Navy three star I met in DC a few months back. One of the interesting things was that of the eleven men facing us, three were named "Wang"----and they had the largest speaking roles (except for the Admiral). By the end of this event, I was dying. I needed my bed, desperately. And an angel of mercy intervened, because when we got on the bus our handler told us we were essentially free for two hours once we got to the hotel. I obviously hadn't been following the program closely enough....but yes...there it was...sweet, blessed relief. I hurried to the room, stripped off my suit and climbed into the rack for 1 hour and 48 minutes of bliss, awakening to the rude tones of my alarm and then dressing while still asleep to head down to the lobby for dinner. Eat till you're tired, sleep till you're hungry--the Naval Aviation creed.
Our dinner was in a private room hosted by Su Chi, former Taiwan National Security Adviser. I rallied long enough to engage in both the meal (very good, though I was somewhat more restrained than at lunch) and the conversation--which was superb. Dr. Su was engaging, very intelligent, and quite funny. Afterward, it was back to the room and again, straight to the rack.
We don't rally this morning until 1130, and I awoke at 0530--so I've been diddling since, taking care of some admin back home, Skyping with various customer service reps, etc. I need to grade a few papers, and to do a bit of other work, in addition to hitting the treadmill. Our day looks pretty gentlemanly, and I don't think we have an extended dinner to contend with. Some thoughts?
Surgical masks. The air quality here is pretty high, but there are a lot of surgical masks. It seems to me that Asians resort to this more than others Am I right here?
Motor Scooters. This city is lousy with them. They appear to have special travel lanes. If I lived here, I think this is how I would get around. In fact if I lived in any city it is how I would get around.
Ok---time to put in a little work. Ciao for now.