Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Puddle Jumping

It was 30 degrees at 5 pm in Taipei yesterday and children were jumping through fountains fully clothed to ward off the effects of the heat.

I am staying at Grand Hyatt which is opposite Taipei101 and a quick ten minutes stroll to the British Council where I spend my working day.

My fellow guests include the 158 strong Austalian cast of Phantom of the Opera who are opening their show here in a week's time. I sat next to the sound crew at breakfast and it reminded me of my days as a 'roadie' for the touring exhibition Te Maori in the late 1980's.

The Aussies thought I was an American from my accent - have I changed that much after three years in Singapore?

There is also a heavyweight US dignitary staying at this hotel although one never sees him or her.

How do I know this to be so? The heavy set suit brigade are in evidence with their earpieces and crackling intercoms.

One of the security detail breakfasted alongside me yesterday; a large and well muscled black American. He received a summons which saw him drop his walkie talkie and then quickly abandon his breakfast and hurry off to his duties. Indigestion is clearly one of the less known trials of an ex-marine.

As to the hotel itself, the service is excellent and the decor a little tired but well maintained. I am on the 8th floor, having refused my first room on the 14th which smelt of residual cigarette smoking despite the fact that the entire hotel is smoke free. The is a recurring problem in Asia where Chinese tourists and businessmen point blank refuse to follow the non-smoking rules.

Today I am at the British Council for a second round of meetings and presentations. I shall return to Singapore tomorrow.

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