May 3, 2006 - Wednesday
Around the Penghu Islands, Taiwan

Option for the day: For me wake up early and go with Felipe to school (both on the bike) or for me to "hire" Tom to come out and get me about lunchtime. Since I was up until 1 am doing computer stuff I decided that sleep would be a good thing. Tom, being a college student, could always use some pocket cash. He came out about 11 am and I was ready. Before stopping at school we stopped for lunch at a spot Tom chose (I'm still clueless as to where things are in the city of Makung). We stopped at a place that I assume was operated by a surfer dude from California. Many U.S. items adorning the walls. Tom said that the owner teaches wind surfing and that lessons could be in English. There was a competition trophy or two in the place. The menu was also dual language and this was the first time that I ordered for myself - and got what I expected!

After lunch I made sure to waypoint the restaurant. I am finally finding good use for the waypoint function of the GPS (a function that many GPS users rely on but in my time with the unit (a few years) I've never really had much use for). With waypoints for the University, a grocery store, the ferry, and now this restaurant I can at least find some of the basics. The streets are NOT a grid layout so getting confused / lost only takes me about three or four intersections. There are about 60,000 people in town so it is a decent size. It seems to only take about 8 minutes to drive from one side to the other. With water being on about three sides and the other side being the highway in/out I can't get hopefully lost - I just can't get where I want to go.

Today was "teaching day" for me. Felipe asked if I would show one of his classes the GPS reciever I use (Garmin GPS III Plus), how it works, and how I use it. Sure thing so at 3:30 today I'll do a demonstration. Felipe secured a projector and I brought the camera, GPS and laptop. Felipe is strongly trying to get the students to practice their English. He feels that the United States Universities are a good opportunity for his students and the better they get at English now the easier things will be later. For this he told the class that I would talk for 10 minutes (and I only speak English). There was a general roar from the class as they felt this was crazy. He then worked to pick out the student most proficient in English to do the translating - more of a roar - though one student did surface (I thought Tom would be a decent candidate). In the end I didn't do "10 straight minutes in English" and Felipe did do most of the translating.

The demonstration went well and with the function of WayPoint+ (a utility program I use to interface with the GPS) to do screen grabs from the GPS I was able to display various GPS screens on the classroom projected screen. There were some questions: Can you use a GPS reciever to track somebody? [Yes, and this is used in some 'track your kids when they take the car' packages]. Can one GPS reciever "take over" another one (hijack it)? [In general - no - but maybe if the conditions were right], Do the satellites ever crash into each other? [No - care is taken that they follow a safe orbit], How much does it cost? [This unit cost $100 US Dollars - on sale], Do new roads, when they are built, automatically show up on the GPS screen? [No, but that would be a nice feature!].

Perhaps a constant with students: some of the class goofed off a bit, most of the class was reasonably interested, and after the demonstration there was a small group that came up and wanted to know more. The more interested kids took the unit outside to walk around with it and play with the functions.

After the demonstration Felipe invited me and some students out for dinner. It would be a quick dinner as the "tug of war" trials for the school athletics day was tonight. We needed to get back to watch the competition! So, on the back of the scooter I hopped while Felipe navigated the maze. Camera in hand I took some video of the traffice. To me traffic seemed light and Tom mentioned earlier that today was some holiday and the people were not traveling on the streets. Felipe did not think this was the case. To me traffic seemed lighter than prior days.

Dinner was delicious and plentiful. The restaurant gifted us two additional plates - that was gracious of them. Unfortunately two of the students did not make it but Felipe took the extra food and had it packed to give to them later. Felipe believes that some of them do not always have good options to getting food so he tries to make food available to them. There's always at least some bread in his office.

Back at the activity field the students were arranged by "college" or "school" Engineering, circuits, hospitality, agriculture with each wearing a uniform shirt - Orange was for Felipes students. I am starting to recognize some of the students that I've met the past few days - a smile and a wave back and forth for sure.

The lighting would not be too good (or I don't know of some feature on the camera that would assist) for photos here. The space is too great for flash and if I disable the flash the shutter duration is too long for me to get a non-blurry photo (not having the tripod - some things in this universe are constants - gravity, and my forgetfulness are but two. I knew I wanted the tripod for tonight (fireworks) but I still forgot to bring it). Anyway the tug of war competition was good fun and the crowd did some good cheering. Some of the tugs were essentially "walks" with one side decidedly overpowering the other. There were two sets of very good tugs though - they would start off with fervent pulling on one side with distance pulled then the other side would seem to ramp up and stop the pull - things would come to a standstill and the chanting would die down (each team had a set of people yelling "Pull, Pull, Pull" in rhythm to the pullers) - then slowly the chanting would rise and with it the ability of the weary pullers and one side would get the job done. The crowd would really get to cheering on these. There were two pulls to each competition and between each the teams would switch places for equality.

With the preliminary eliminations complete (final competition is this weekend) Felipe and I headed across town to the fireworks display. I'm not sure what the bridge is called but at night it is lighted with rainbow colors. The airline industry pays for the fireworks display during the summer tourist season - so there are fireworks every other night! The park where this took place at was a festival / multi-use area of town. A band was playing, basketball courts were nearby, vendors in tents were selling things. A fun time.

We settled down on the stairs that went down to the water and I tried different camera holds to attain motionless photos. Enjoy the colors - it was a fun show.

Leaving the show and heading back I again turned on movie mode to get some of the traffic. Felipe, even back at the tug of war events was cold, and was now wearing a light wind breaker jacket. His body is in "warm weather" mode whereas mine isn't quite there yet. While he was cold I was quite comfortable.

Looking from the house to the town square. A blue tour bus getting ready to back up into the square.

What one of the announcements sounds like: short audio clip. The beginning of the announcement will have a similar tone - the same tone as the end but it is rising.

Blue tour bus in the square, renovations going on a few doors down.

Panorama from the roof of Felipe's apartment (click for a larger size)

Highway 203 (I think) heading towards Makung (first shot with the camera mounted on the handlebars of the motorbike).

An odd site - big bikes. [edit: I would meet the gent on the near bike on the ferry ride]

Sitt'n at a light.

Lunch stop


The outside of the restaurant.
WGS 84:    N 23d 34.042'     E 119d 33.898'

Yep - the golden arches. This is the only sign, outside of the "7 Eleven's" I recognize from afar. Note the KLC sign - it is a take off on Kentucky Fried Chicken / KFC.

Back at the university and in the category of "things I don't encounter often 'back home'". The shool is replacing the handrails on the stairways. The workers need power for their saw so they just walk to the nearest power panel (which are out in puclic spaces and unlocked), 'wire in', and leave the panel door wide open. Black to White and White to Black (and ground???) - who cares - it's AC right!?!? I'm not in Kansas any more - and it's OK by me.

Engineering class and the GPS demonstration
The orange shirts are for the athletics competitions going on.

Daytime driving around Magong (wide roads mainly). Not too crowded at all.
MPG, 3.9 MB, 56 sec

Dinner! It was a nice place. Motion activated power sliding front doors and air conditioning.


So, now get this. I BARELY had time to get me camera out of my shirt pocket to get this shot. We're driving down the road and I see the "Yamaha" signs coming up. I know the scooter needs an oil change (flashing indicator on the instrument panel) and I figure Felipe is going to schedule the service. We pull up and onto the sidewalk and the kid is getting up out of his chair to greet us. Felipe says a couple words and the kid grabs a pail and wrench. Felipe turns the motor of and the kid turns off the oil drain plug. Holy Cow - at some places in the U.S. you have to call for an appointment - that may be several days to a week or more away - bring your bike in - probably have to leave it there for the day - just for the same oil change. This oil was changed in perhaps less time than it takes for some gas fill-ups. Amazing - fantastic - the way it should be.

While that was going on I took a quick walk through the store....

Looking in....

Hmmm - a Quad (4-wheeler). The only one I've seen since I've left the states.

New scoots

Two police scoots were in there as well. The switch box to the left is for the siren and lights (I assume).

Light and siren is just barely visible at the back of the bike - left in this picture.

Note the cans of grease in the bottom of the picture. It looked like they used the grease, with a wide paintbrush, to cover the iron / steel portions of the scooters to keep them from rusting (being surrounded by salt water).

Yamaha "Eliminator"?

Scooter - with plastic bits removed. On the gas tank (left in photo) you can see some greenish color - that is the grease coating.

Used bike - sitting outside.

Tug of war arena at the activity field.

Start of the Tug of War competition

The orange shirts are in Felipe's area

Tug of War
MPG, 8.3 MB, 1 min 22 sec

The fireworks are about to start!

MPG, 3.2 MB, 46 sec

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