We went to Tainan this weekend. It was quite a nice city. We drove down on Saturday in the late morning. We kept Vince awake until we got on the road, so he slept for the first 90 minutes or so. Of course, when he woke up, he wanted out of his car seat pretty badly. We stopped at the next exit and found a McDonalds. Officially he is not allowed in the playscape, but I pretend I can not read the signs, and no one bothers explaining the rules to a dumb wai guo ren. I can’t be expected to understand. He has a lot of fun watching the other kids and crawling around. Once he is antsy, nothing but crawling will make him feel better, and so far McDonalds is the most reliable source of rooms full of kids with padded floors and walls.

After lunch we got back on the road and persuaded him to go back to sleep for most of the trip. The last half hour required repeatedly playing and singing Bad Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce to keep him from screaming non stop. This is a tip I got from my Uncle Andy, and it definitely comes in handy.

When we got to Tainan, we explored the down town area. We checked out the caves book store, which is bigger than the one I have been to in Taipei, and has a whole floor of English books, which is far and away the biggest collection I have seen in Taiwan. It also has Starbucks, several huge department stores, and lots of attractive Chinese and western restaurants, including one with the name FOZO that had a fancy glass mural with the inscription “No cream No sugar / I drink my coffee black / Surrendering to its authority, I let the coffee pervade all my senses / I swallow the coffee and the coffee swallows me.” We checked into the Tainan Hotel, in the center of downtown in front of the train station, and after letting Vince crawl a bit more in the hotel room, we hit the streets again. We visited a couple parks, and then looked for a restaurant that had an intriguing description in our Lonely Planet guide book. After walking a few blocks down a street of pachinko parlors and arcades, we found the “DongMen Art Gallery,” which is in an old restored traditional Chinese house, with the front rooms used as an art gallery of attractive modern art, and the courtyard and side rooms housing a restaurant and cafe. We had a very nice meal there, before heading back to our hotel.

We should have called it a night at that point, but since it was not late, we headed off to one of the night markets of Tainan. However, our enthusiasm was flagging and since we were neither hungry, nor in need of a new mobile phone case or cover, there was not much for us to do. One amusing moment when I was wondering what to do with the 12 inch high soft serve ice cream I had ordered but no longer wanted. I couldn’t find a trash can, and asked Doris if she would help me keep up with the drips before I was covered. She had the idea that by holding it upside down, all the drips would fall to the ground, which they did, along with all the ice cream. The cone was a much smaller mess without the ice cream, so the mission was accomplished. We walked away from the pile of ice cream, as actually the ground seemed to be the trashcan of choice for pretty much all of the assembled masses.

In the morning, we walked through the National Chengwung University and through some other parks and neighborhoods. The university campus had a very pleasant atmosphere, especially on a large open field of Banyan trees, where we saw groups of children practicing martial arts with swords decorated with colored ribbons. We looked in on the Zhongshan park, and then drove around some other neighborhoods before heading for home. The trip back was uneventful, with remarkably little traffic, and very little noise from Vince who slept most of the way, without once hearing Jim Croce. All in all a very nice weekend.

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