29 October 2008

10-10 in Taipei

Before I started playing catch-up, Taiwan's birthday 10/10 or 雙十 (think 4th of July in the US) was coming up. As a Fulbright recipient, I was invited to Taipei for a big parade and banquet on 10/10. Luckily, Jon was able to come with me to the parade that morning under the auspices of dating a Fulbright. Sweet! The banquet was a little more closed-list, though, so he had fun wandering the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial while I half-heartedly, wholly-sunburnedly mingled at a very VIP event.

The parade was certainly the highlight of the day for me. Basically, it was four hours of speeches and performances in direct sunlight (guess who forgot to wear sunscreen)... the president of Taiwan was there, as well as several other politicians and Taiwanese celebrities. Being with Fulbright meant coming as a VIP, and we sat in the front of the parade area, next to the tent where the president/etc. sat, facing the masses of Taiwanese people who had waited in line for hours that morning to get in. I even got interviewed by someone in the Taiwanese media, and apparently some colleagues saw me on TV. The interview was pretty bland... I just played the happy American and said I love hot weather, the line wasn't too long, and the security was reasonable.

The event invitation had stipulated no cameras, so I didn't bring mine; when we got there and saw several people subtly and not-so-subtly taking pictures, I decided it would be okay to use my camera phone. Especially after I took a few pictures and the Taiwanese secret service dude sitting behind me didn't stop me.

So hold onto your internet connections, folks. I have probably 50+ pictures and videos from this event, but I'll try to crop this down into a tasteful, bloggable, slowconnectionable amount.

It began with what you'd expect... soldiers, military music, important people yelling patriotically:

Yes, it was sunny and hot and I didn't wear sunscreen. The only reason my face didn't get burned? Free (patriotic) hats!

The parade also had plenty of floats, representing various organizations or regions of Taiwan.

And plenty of choreographed performances, like these girls from Kaohsiung promoting the World Games in Kaohsiung, 2009. These girls made a performance at a recent Kaohsiung event, to be blogged later on...

And plenty of other performances, many with young children and/or traditional cultural displays and/or, for lack of a better way to say it, strong presence of the Asian "Hello Kitty" aesthetic.

Finally, because I believe the 10/10 banquet was more adequately covered in many fellow Kaohsiung ETA blogs, I'll leave you with just a few photos of this outrageous and fancy experience.

Taiwanese President Ma Yingjiu/Yingjeou (spellable many different ways)-- he's the guy between the backs of the Taiwanese Secret Service heads, mixing tea Hakka-style (though not the unidentifiable-but-probably-famous westerner in the middle).

On my way out... The "guest house" where the banquet took place, only open a few times a year for special occasions such as this. Note the red carpet on the left.

Someday when I'm home in the US and we're passing a slow afternoon, ask to see the rest of the pictures from 10/10. You probably won't regret it.


Shava said...

Wow, Ms. VIP! I can't believe you were so close to the President! Simply incredible. I'm waiting for that slow day when I'll look at some more 10/10 pictures with you. Miss you!

Shava said...

oh, and p.s. GO PHILLIES!

Anonymous said...

PHILLIES WIN! Your shirt will be in the mail. Love Mom