Happy New Year folks!

Back on-line…. actually B- and I went on a holiday excursion to Southern Taiwan. Originally we were supposed to attend a wedding of one her B-‘s US friends in Neipu, Pingtung County. We took the train down to Pingtung City (屏東市) and stayed at Fu Guang Da Fan Dian (hotel) on Gong Yuan Rd. Train ride from Taipei Main station took about 6 hours and was really leisurely and smooth. I like trains from my college days in Pgh, taking the Amtrak from Newark Penn Station. I got a lot of reading done, enjoyed the views, and generally got my space to decompress and rejuvenate.

When we got there, it was chaos at the Pingtung Railway station. Mass jam as everyone was coming and going all at once. Found a helpful taxi driver who took us to the hotel. It was perfectly spotted thanks to one of my English students who grew up there and forwared the recommendation. Fu Guang was next to the big park where they were going to hold the majority of the New Year festivities. So we got to see from the 5th floor, fireworks which was pretty awesome :). It was also near the main drag of Pingtung which is a pretty small city, we walked from the hotel to the train station and saw the major shops and streets, night market etc. There’s a nice big Sogo Dept store a couple of blocks from there as well. B- and I spent coffee shop time there with our books and magazines reading. So relaxing :). I feel better going back to work tomorrow.

Anyways, 2007 is here and lots to do in the first three months. Back to the war tomorrow but at least I got one reinforcement!

Be well all,

Why Water, or YMCA

Welcome to my New Year’s message for 2007. You’re reading this because you played an important part of my life this past year. As is traditional, I give you a few stats and then a little something about what happened in the past year.

Stats for the year:
Miles on a plane: 23,248 (down 17% from last year)
Miles in a Hertz rental car: 1,724
Miles on a Chinatown intercity bus: 621
Miles in a Zipcar: about 4,800
MB of email: 1,044 (up 40% from last year)

Top search words on triscribe.com:
– Inner Universe (have no idea what they were searching for)
– Keira Knightly (from the Pirates of the Caribbean)
– Grassland Bus (bus line between Singapore and Malaysia)
– Alton Brown (host of Good Eats and Iron Chef America)
– caltalpa (the type of tree that was in front of the house I grew up in)
– Dennis Farina (took over for the late Jerry Orbach on Law & Order)
– roast beef (I had a roast beef recipe)
– Incheon (airport in Korea)
– TVB (Hong Kong television)
– kaoliang chiew (sorghum liquor – all of the sting of vodka, with twice the taste of turpentine — not pleasant stuff)
– Baishawan (ghost town in Taiwan)
– Colma the Musical (the rock musical film, based on a city of the dead, is still alive)

Why Water, or YMCA

There’s something about water. I like it a lot; I hate it a lot. I dislike getting wet in the rain, but I find warm sun showers irresistible. I prefer living near a large body of water, preferably on an island or peninsula (people forget that Brooklyn is on an island). On the other hand I won’t spend much time at the sea shore, and then maybe only knee deep. I like being on boats – never had a problem being seasick, no matter how rough the waves. But forget about white water rafting. I don’t swim, and I don’t know how; it’s almost as common as not having a driver’s license in New York.

Last year at this time Pei and I decided to visit Hong Kong. She had never been there before, and I always had good memories of the place, so we made plans to be there for the Dragon Boat Festival. I would take care of the air, and she the land. The water would have to take care of itself.

I would have been happy with the guest house in Kowloon that I was at the last time I was there in 2001. Well, obviously that wouldn’t do with the two of us. P-searched and discovered the best place to stay is not any of the name brand hotels, but the YMCA. While in most places the YMCA is associated with youth hostels, in Hong Kong they operate a three-star hotel with the same harbor side views of the Peninsula next door, for a quarter of the price. The hotel is operated as career training for its members.

The first night there I wanted to do something romantic, like walk along the Avenue of the Stars or go over the Star Ferry, both near the water. P- would have none of it – she was jetlagged and didn’t even want to go out to eat, not to mention go out anywhere else. So, I finally got her to a view overlooking Victoria Harbor – albeit from our hotel room – got down on my knees and proposed to her. That was the secret resolution that I made last year.

Oh yeah, she said yes. We’re aiming tentatively for October 11, 2008 (yes it’s a long engagement). Thanks to all of you that helped me out in keeping the secret from P– — she still can’t believe that everyone knew, including her best friends, random people at events we go to, and even a couple of Christmas parties.

As for a resolution for the coming year, we’re dumping our memberships at the sports club – we’re going to join the YMCA here and going to actually figure out how to swim. Have a happy and prosperous New Year, full of love and life.