Team Tainan finished up the business side of our first week successfully.
Our day started with a visit to Cheng Gong Elementary School. We participated in English language class and met students who were volunteer tour guides for the Chikkan Tower located next to the school. The guides had memorized their scripts and some even added an acting dimension to their oration. We gave them compliments and then tried to match their skill by being tour guides at the Chikkan Tower. The tower itself is an impressive temple housing the god of examination, Kuixing.
From there we participated in several meetings with City agencies, and our wrap-up/debrief for the first week. While generally I have avoided the specifics of our meetings on the blog, our morning meeting was notable for some cultural points. We met with the traffic police, who welcomed us with a color guard salute and cheers. During the meeting itself, they gave each of us several gifts, including a wonderful police emblem teacup set. They also gave every participant a box of fruit and Anping Bean Jelly. This was extremely generous, and the mango from the fruit box is deservedly being celebrated all over Tainan right now. But we also learned a cultural lesson – since none of us finished any of this fruit or bean jelly, we could and should have taken it with us to continue consumption, e.g. at lunch. Our apologies to the Police Commander for missing this culture cue.
One part of the culture we definitely did not miss was the command “gan-bei” which came up frequently during our Friday dinner. It is like “cheers” and means it is time to drink the beer in front of you. Even the wizened old restaurant owner commanded us to “drink up” towards the end of a delicious, local meal that included everything from lettuce wraps (much better than PF Changs) to pig’s ear.
Our first week in Tainan has been a success – and today we start a little relaxation with some museum tours and entertainment.