Today we attended several meetings and our first field briefings. Our understanding of the Tainan City objectives continues to grow. Everyone we have worked with has been very helpful, and they are willing to go to great lengths to offer detailed explanations.
We also had our first major cultural gap today. We learned that the Chinese language does not have the concept of verb tense. During one of our briefings, it was difficult to reconcile several of the statements made in the presentations. As the translators struggled with conveying the answers to our questions, we learned that the staff were talking about current activities, current plans, future plans, and future ideas — all of which sounded like they were activities that were currently being conducted. Once we discussed this with the translators, we learned to be more precise in our questions to understand which tense – present, pluperfect, future – was meant.
The highlight of our day was a two mile walking tour of Anping. We started at the Banyan Tree House, a building where banyan vines have taken over the physical shell of the structure. We also visited a small museum located in one of the former merchant houses. From there, the tour stopped at an electric motorbike charging station, located outside the post office. The city is trying to encourage electric scooters as they are more energy-efficient and create less carbon. The charging stations are free to use and dozens are located throughout the district. Anping also has a free bike “rental” program, T-Bike, to again decrease the use of scooters in the district. From there we wandered several small lanes visiting tourist sites including Anping Fort, the original military presence in Tainan City from the Dutch.
We ended the evening with a traditional Tainanese dinner, where the secret to the dan-szu noodles is that they *never clean the pot* where the sauce is cooked. Not sure we’d get away with that back in America.
Our awesome team photographer was hard at work on the flickr set again today, tons of great pics at that link (and one of the few times you’ll ever see me wearing a hat!).
–Ed Brill (Twitter: @edbrill)