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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Another Sunday in Taichū & アンバーの始めて運動会

One of the rites of growing up in Asia is the 運動会, or "undōkai", an athletic meet. For children, of course, an undōkai isn't very difficult or challenging, and the emphasis is (or should be) on having fun. A little while back, Pamela enrolled in a program offered by a company called Your Family, which sends us material designed to encourage Amber's physical development, and holds classes that our daughter attends in T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中 once a month. Today they organized a sporting event, and Amber took part in some activities like pushing a tire, or standing on my shoes while I walked us around. When she wanted to, that is. For it seems our daughter, much like her old man, doesn't go in much for group activities, preferring instead to have fun on her own. Which in northeast Asia, at least, could be a problem should we still be here when Amber is old enough to start school. Or am I just worrying too much?

After the event, we drove to a sporting goods store, where I finally found what I had been looking for for so long: a kiddie porter, or a kind of backpack that allows the parent to carry the child on their back when they go hiking. It's been my dream to bring Amber along when I go for walks in the mountains, and the child porter would have been ideal. Note that I wrote "would have been" instead of "is", because Amber did not enjoy being in one at all. Trying it out in the store, she started to get very upset, and wanted to be put down as soon as possible. Faced with the question of whether I should force my daughter to do something she clearly didn't enjoy, I decided to forgo the porter, at least for the time being. One step at a time, I suppose...

Following lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon in downtown Taichung. First stop after finding a parking spot, was the old Taichung Broadcasting Bureau 台中放送局 building. Built during the Japanese colonial period in 1935, it was Taiwan's third broadcasting station, after ones in T'aipei (Taibei) 台北 and T'ainan (Tainan) 台南. It's now a cafe for the most part, though there is apparently a commercial radio station broadcasting from the second floor. I'm happy to see Japanese-era architecture not just being preserved as museum pieces, but as functioning buildings in their own right as well. Lots of photographers were taking pictures there, including one group that was seemingly inspired by the Japanese connection.

The fascination among Taiwanese youth with Japanese hipness was in evidence along Sanmin Road 三民路:
 
For those in the know, Shibuya 渋谷 is a trendy young fashion district in Tōkyō, and the 109 Building is one of the well-known landmarks there, hence the name of the hair salon in Taichung (I'm guessing).

 
Amber checks out some of the Japanese magazines in Mag Freak. Two floors of virtually nothing but reading materials in Japanese. If it wasn't for the hefty price tag (NT740; that's ¥2480, or $24.15), I would've bought a magazine on Taiwanese trains. Amber was checking out the latest trends in fashion from Nippon: shades of things to come?

Finally, it was back to the car for the trip home, but not before stopping off at the Taichung Broadcasting Bureau again for a quick doughnut or two in the late afternoon sunlight. At the end of a long day, not even the genkiest of children could find the strength to stay awake.

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