Sunday, December 17, 2006

President A-Bian's Doll

Thanks to Iris, Cindy, and Eva, the trip was a great success. I tried to make an entry into the blog in Taiwan, but everything came out in Chinese, and I can only read food (which is VERY useful in Taiwan, but doesn’t help me log in…). I am now back in the states, in (usually) sunny southern California, although it sprinkled a little bit this morning.

Others have already described our visit to the President, so I won’t repeat the details, but I’ll just tell you a little anecdote. My aunt who lives in Japan had mailed me an A-Bian doll several years ago, and I brought it to Taiwan hoping that I could get President Chen to autograph it for me. On the bus on the way to the Presidential Office, I showed everyone the doll, and Carolyn asked (I’m paraphrasing), “How come his pants are down?” I tried to pull the pants up but they kept coming down. It’s the way the doll is designed, I guess.

The President was surprising humble and seemed just like a normal (but important) guy chatting with us. After he was done talking and we took group pictures together, I rushed up and asked him to autograph my doll. He took the doll and looked at the front and back of the doll, presumably to decide where to sign it, when he said to me, “Nai4 Teng4 Koh3 ?” which roughly means “why are the pants down/ why did you pull the pants down?” in Taiwanese. (I romanized in my own way, using Mandarin’s four tone marks since I don’t know how to number the seven tone marks of Taiwanese). I was horrified, because I thought I had pulled the pants back up, and I was afraid I had just majorly insulted the president. However, he flashed me a grin, and started signing his name on the doll. I guess he didn’t take offense…

For those of you who wanted to go on this trip but couldn’t, I encourage you to go on a future tour. And thanks to all those people at FAPA who made this tour possible. Everytime I go to Taiwan, I learn more about my own background. I also learn about how the Taiwanese think of America and Taiwanese-Americans. And I ALWAYS go to Din Tai Fung as well as eat lots of tswa4 bing (shaved ice) and other delicious food and drinks.

--Thomas

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