mardi 28 juin 2011

A 4-days Trip to Vendee

Friday Morning, 9:00am Taoyuan International Airport - Taiwan's main gate to the Outerworld. The sky is clear, the sun shining. I'm watching the planes taking off one after the other, apparently unconscientiously of the gusty winds brought by Taiphoon Meari.

My flight to Hong Kong will take off in slightly more than one hour, provided it is not affected by the strong and whirling winds. This flight is the first step of a 4-days trip which will see me flying to Paris, celebrating my sister's birthday, driving South-West with four old buddies, "marrying" my closest friend and celebrating it as it has to be, driving back to Paris airport, flying back to Hong, finding there Sweet Nicole and flying back with her to Taiwan - the beautiful Island.


Friday, 12:30pm Hong Kong International Airport - Asia central hub. The morning flight was smooth, no delay, a few turbulences before landing. The descent above Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula was amazing, as usual. The sea was really rough around Taiwan coastline, with an exceptional pattern: the big waves, guessed from the white foam at the surface of the sea, were moving in a complete mess, without any common direction: that's the typhoon effect.

During this morning flight I started to look back at the experiences I had in Taiwan since I moved there 2 months and a half ago. I wish I had taken my notebook computer with me to write down these thoughts. The opportunities to take a break and look back are rare since I started working. I moved in a new country, met new friends, entered a new company, started a new job - the first one after graduation - I should find a way to keep track and share more of these experiences!

My next flight will take me to Paris: 13 hours. I'll have to be patient. At least I'm traveling with Cathay - It should be comfortable - and I prepared a few books that I will try to finish.


Tuesday morning, 8:00am at my breakfast table in a street of Taipei. The last days went so perfect. No plane delay, no engine break, no traffic jam, no terrible jet-lag effect. And the wedding was so awesome. The newly wed were beaming with happiness the whole day long, and brought a lot of fun to the party with their cupcake fighting and Tennessee dances! I was really excited to attend this, and the almost 24 hours of travel one way and the other were really worth it! We sent the sky lanterns from the beach, the operation was not made easier by all the champagne that had been drunk so far, but not less than five of them successively took off and disappeared in the sky. Will they be enough to give the newly wed triplets in the first year?

Pictures to come little by little:

The newly wed

College Buddies

dimanche 12 juin 2011

Baishawan Beach

Baishawan Beach, Taiwan, Sunday afternoon

mardi 7 juin 2011

Dragon Boat Festival in Hong Kong

Nous fêtions hier le 5eme jour du 5eme mois de l’année lunaire : 端午節 communément appelée fête des bateaux dragons par les occidentaux.

J’écrivais quelques lignes sur l’origine de cette fête dans un article publie sur ce blog il y a deux ans de cela:

L’histoire remonte à Qu Yuan, poete et proche du pouvoir dans le royaume Chu a l’epoque des royaumes combattants. Très patriote, il n’accepta pas de se plier au pouvoir de l’envahisseur, et pour ne pas trahir son royaume, se jeta dans la rivière Miluo. Extrêmement populaire auprès des citoyens de son pays, l’annonce de sa mort fit grand émoi. Les citoyens se précipitèrent à la recherche de sa dépouille. Ne la trouvant pas, ils ajoutèrent des effigies de dragons à leurs embarcations pour faire fuir les mauvais esprits, et jetèrent dans l’eau des zongzi (粽子), petit paquets de riz glutineux enveloppés dans des feuilles de bambous, afin que les poissons de la rivière se concentrent sur eux plutôt que sur le corps de Qu Yuan.

Si vous êtes un inconditionnel fan de Qu Yuan, jetez un coup d’œil aux quelques vers traduits ici par Aurélien.

L’ appellation Fête des Bateaux Dragons est très amusante car elle illustre ce qui marque le plus l’occidental qui observe cette fête traditionnelle chinoise. Et a Hong Kong ou je passais le week-end, les chinois etaient bien peu nombreux en comparaison des etrangers qui se massaient sur et autour des bateaux dragons !

Quelques photos :

La veille de la course, le calme avant la tempete sur la plage de Mui Wo (梅窩)
D-Day sur la plage de Stanley - Observez la foule massee sur la plage

Les rameurs sont avant tout etrangers

Il n'y a pas d'age pour devenir un rameur de bateau dragon
La course est lancee! C'est une dizaine de bateaux dragons qui s'affrontent simultanement sur emviron 500 metres.

Autre vue sur les courses

Bear-Cat or Cat-Bear ?

I've been asked yesterday what made a Taiwanese different from a Mainland Chinese. 

I would say... A different philosophy of life.

When a Chinese sees a panda, he calls it a 熊貓 = Bear-Cat. The Taiwanese? 貓熊 = Cat-Bear 

Hence the misunderstandings I have with my colleagues. Each time I say “我要打車過去”, they ask me: “搭什麽車”?Though differences in vocabulary may appear in all kind of fields and registers, they seem to be the most frequent in modern and technical fields. A good example are the computer-related words: Software, Hardware, Printer, Notebook Computer, Default Settings, Mouse, etc. All different!

The article shows that only 2% of the Chinese speakers use traditional characters. What is not mentioned is that most of the well-educated mainland Chinese can also read the traditional characters. Traditional characters are also widely used in Mainland China on street or shops signs: It looks upper-class. It is also the language of the KTV... On the other hand, Taiwanese people look at simplified characters with disdain.

I laughed when I read in the article that Taiwanese people wonder "how the simplified word for love can be missing the character for heart, and the word for noodle the character for wheat.". I laughed because there seems to be a consensus in Taiwan to use these only two examples when arguing that simplified characters lost their meaning in the simplification process!

But let's come back to the heart of the problem: should panda be called bear-cat or cat-bear? After discussion with a few locals here a few days ago, we finally agreed that a panda looked a lot more like a bear than like a cat. Point for Taiwan.

Nevertheless, we then realized that pandas and cats had so little in common that 貓熊 was still a really inappropriate name for pandas. We thought 黑白熊 (Black and White Bear) would be a lot better. We’ll make a proposition for this!