Jun 282010

Tainan (Monday, June 28, 2010)

We started our morning with a breakfast buffet in the exclusive 24th floor lounge. In addition to eggs, potatoes , and yogurt, there were a wide variety of Chinese and Japanese items. We tasted widely and then headed out into the morning heat.

The main campus of National Cheng-Kung University begins just across the street from the hotel, and our building was a couple of blocks down. So I thought. Because the online map led us to a derelict-looking building with dusty looking floors through dirty glass. We asked around and eventually made our way to the registration area where the friendly staff ushered us into the first presentation. On the side, I negotiated with the tech gurus to copy the PowerPoint file onto the laptop and produce a printout of the slides. Then we settled in for the welcome and initial talks.

The conference was about capturing carbon dioxide from the air to ameliorate global warming, and the talks touched on a wide range of topics, from growing oysters, to examining trees buried undersea by a post-monsoon mudslide. Although I saw various attendees nodding off during some of the talks, the speakers were surprisingly understandable if you could adapt quickly to their individual accents. At some point I realized that we needed a few more slides and headed back to the hotel for some frantic web searching, Photoshop, and PowerPoint work.

I arrived back in time for a lunchbox of Tainan specialties. Despite what you might imagine, it was remarkably good. Soon it was Dad’s turn to speak. The wireless microphone conked out, but he was not content to stand behind the lectern, so the audience had to strain to hear him on the hand-held microphone. I was concerned that all the revisions to the slides and unfamiliar technology would leave him speechless, but I should have known better: all my life, he has never been at a loss for words.

At day’s end, the helpful staff reimbursed us for our train ride and covered our hotel bill. Fantastic. And the hospitality did not end there. We called Richard Foster to arrange to return his sweatshirt and he took us out to dinner at a local joint that, thankfully, did not serve the same old Tainan specialties.

Dinner was a simple affair. There was no English menu, so Richard assisted with the ordering. Good dumplings, a couple of solid stir-fried dishes, and Taiwan beer filled us up. Not bad for our last dinner in Tainan. And Taiwan.

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