Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Asleep off the job

I rather feel we wasted our first day in Taiwan. We arrived so early at Hong Kong airport that Cathay moved us onto an earlier flight, and were in our hotel in the middle of Taipei at 1 o'clock. The day was ours to make the most of. So we went to sleep.

After about an hour, I woke up and nudged my wife. "We should get up" I groaned. "We're going to miss the sunset in Danshui."

We've been to Taiwan umpteen times. Every time, we take the train from the centre of Taipei up to Danshui, a picturesque area on the northern coast, blessed with beautiful sunsets and a long boardwalk past dozens of tiny craft shops. And every time, we miss the beautiful sunsets because we don't get onto the train until much too late. At best, the last red glow of the sun will be fading over a warehouse next to the rail line, three stops south of Danshui. This holiday, we were going to make a concerted effort to catch the sunset.

"I know" my wife moaned, half conscious. "Just a little more sleep."

We passed out again. We had started far too early in Hong Kong, and last night I'd taken the foolish decision to stay up until 1:30 in the morning to watch A Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia. I'd failed to observe the simple rule that you should never watch a film with a colon in the title. Unless you're a proctologist, I suppose.

AHIC2:GOG was simply dreadful. There was a little bit of creepiness near the start, which is easy to do if you put a family with a 'gifted' child in a cabin in the woods, miles from anywhere, but it soon descended into cliche and a plot so lacking in twists it was like driving down the M20 between Ashford and Newingreen. There are few people who are reading this who will have had the opportunity to make that insufferable commute; for those of you who aren't fans of the English motorway system, let's just say it's damnably straight, and leave it at that.

It was also a plot that required a cast of idiots. I would reuse that simile about the M20, but then I worry that a cartload of angry Kentish types (sorry, types of Kent, they are below the Medway) would come bust my windows.

Anyway, I was sleep deprived and so unconsciousness came easily. We both awoke at 3.

"We should get up" I croaked.

"Yes" my wife murmured.

At 4, we woke up again, and finally managed to crawl from the bed. We'd taken two plane rides and spent hundreds of dollars in order to sleep all afternoon.

On reflection, that's not a complete waste. There's little chance that Chinatown would take a pause from the banging and shouting to allow an afternoon nap, and if we hadn't lain in bed so long, we might have missed the little glimpses of politeness that Taiwan exemplifies.

First, as we left the hotel, we saw a daschaund trotting across a busy street, bereft of owner. In some cities it would have been left to trundle around until its little legs gave in or it ended up squashed under a car, but instead a passerby caught the dog, and tied it's lead to something so it wouldn't run away again. I hope the owner finds it. If not, we'll retrieve it when we get back to the hotel tonight, and it can sleep with us.

Second, as we waited at a busy intersection, a tiny old lady, about waist-height on me, began to haul her metal trolley across the road, before the lights had changed, and while some cars were still turning into the junction. The woman next to us ran forward and caught her arm and guided her back, before she could get squashed.

You could put negative interpretations on either of these, to do with careless dog owners or old ladies having to pull metal trolleys around in the final years of their lives, but it's better to be positive. We are on holiday, after all, and if you can't peer through rosy-tinted glasses when you've slept half the day away, when can you?


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