Its almost time to go home

Stanley, HK

As I near the end of my stay it is almost time to reflect on my 7 months here but that’s the next blog. For today i want to catch up on what has been a hectic couple of weeks and, as such, time to blog has been severely limited.

Ximen, Taipei City, Taiwan

I start with a brief look at my short stay in Taiwan. During the weekend I wandered a little aimlessly around the big sprawling city of Taipei. I found my way to the two memorial halls which celebrate the two great historical figures of modern-day Taiwan – Sun Yat Sen and Chiang  Kai Shek. They were imposing monuments and I was able to see the changing of the guard which was an interesting experience. (see pic below) Taipei is a little more spread out than Hong Kong but has that same feel of safety and the over abundance of shops. The underground is as efficient as Hong Kong and enabled me to move about the city easily. I wandered the streets just observing and sitting in big Starbucks to read my novels.

Changing of the guard at Sun Yat Sen memorial hall, Taipei

On Monday the pace shifted as I was invited to the National Taipei University to give a talk to students and magistrates on the youth justice system. This went down well with the professor SJ helping with some impromptu simultaneous translation. The thoughtful questions from the class indicated both an interest and a clear perception of what I was talking about. After that we chatted about criminal justice and I learnt a lot about the local set up in a short time. In the evening I met two police officers with the professor and we enjoyed a Peking Duck Restaurant and some interesting conversation. One of the officers specialises in the use of polygraphs (lie detectors) on sex offenders and was quite surprised to think this was not in use world-wide. He recognised the human rights issues and the issues concerning professional judgment but was happy to receive the knowledge from his US trainers about its efficacy. It was a great evening.

Talk at National Taipei University

The professor SJ when taking me back to the hotel indicated that I need not take a taxi to the airport the following day as she would meet me in the morning and eventually take me there. This was splendid as it gave me a great last day. We went to the National Museum and saw some wonderful exhibits of pottery, paintings, sculptures and other chinese past often removed from mainland China when the republican government retreated to Taiwan in 1949. The strong cultural heritage has been preserved here in Taiwan and was a great start to the day.

The Peak in the Mountains Restuarant, Taipei County

We then visited the Chinese Cultural University to meet an ex-chief probation officer, now academic and his post-graduate student for an excellent lunch in the mountains. This was a Sichuan restaurant and was another memorable lunch. I may be able to return in September for a conference on Probation which would be really worthwhile.

Hot Springs in the mountain mist, Taipei County

After lunch we wandered through the somewhat misty mountains and looked at the many hot springs which are present there. Note to self to visit a hot spring when I return to Taipei. Got an invitation to a conference in December but sadly do not think I can make it then. After that we drove back into Taipei city and then to the airport. the last two days had been great and the time Professor SJ spent with me was so generous and stimulating I will hope to return sooner. It is so close to Hong Kong it really is easy to do so.

Ex-chief Probation officer, Professor SJ, and me in the mountains

Since being back I have tried to focus on my writing and have two articles well-developed just needing some quality time to finish off. I have been diverted by the need to write my speech for the conference coming up this week which I got done this week and so am now looking forward to the event. Unfortunately I will be away from my desk most of this week so it will be tight to finish these two off before returning to the UK.

Lamma Harbour at night (from the Waterfront bar)

I have spent a little time at the weekend re-visiting some of my favourite spots – have been to Lamma again, Stanley Market yesterday and Nan Lian Gardens. Part of my reason for going there was to collect some gifts for my birthday and farewell lunch held this week. I invited some 15 people to join me as a thank you for all their help and assistance over the past seven months. D choose the menu for me which was another enormously varied and wondrous display of chinese cooking and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I gave each a card with a quote reflecting my interaction with them and this went down very well indeed. It was a fitting occasion to end my stay here.

Friends and colleagues at my birthday and thank you lunch 12 May 2011

So I am now packing my goods and chattels into my three suitcases, thank goodness for business travel and getting ready to depart. My next blog will be some reflections on my stay here. Keep you posted.

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