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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Silence is Golden

Last night I was feverish and my joints were aching, and today was rainy. So of course I took advantage of a free afternoon today to ride out to the Dakeng Scenic Area to do some hiking. I arrived at the start to the No. 1 Trail just after 12:30, and set off in a steady downpour. Fortunately, the rain let up as soon as the repaired trail started climbing in earnest, and for the entire two hours I was out on the trails (up No. 1, down No. 2), not a single other walker was encountered. The hike was far from quiet - birds were singing, (more ominously) there were continual sounds of falling rocks, and at one point I was sure I could hear monkeys moving about - but the sounds of the mountain are never annoying. It was great to be alone in the mist, even for a brief couple of hours.

Young Taiwanese children in public places, on the other hand, are often far from quiet. This evening I was teaching a private lesson at the local KFC when a mother came in with her young son. As is sadly too often the case in this country, Mom proceeded to let her child run riot all over the dining room, never looking up from the magazine she was reading (or the cell phone she was speaking into) while Junior climbed over various chairs and tables, stood up on countertops, yelled at the top of his little (but still powerful lungs) and had a good, up-close look at the hairy barbarian in his midst. As a parent of a small child, I can understand (and sympathize) how one might want to take a break from constantly having to tell their little one not to do this or that, but when we're out in public places, I'm always conscious of what negative effects Amber's actions might be having on the people around her, and therefore do something about it, if necessary. However, and to be honest, unsurprisingly, many parents in Taiwan just don't seem to care. My students, who are no doubt used to these things, just tried to ignore it. Had I been on my own, I might not have.

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