We swung up to Hsinchu, the center of the island’s electronics industries and arguably, the second most important conglomeration of electronics firms in the world outside of Silicon Valley. My brother-in-law Peter works for the semiconductor giant TSMC there, while my sister-in-law Jessie works at the international airport as a ground manager for Japan Asia Airlines. Here’s a shot of the Science Park:

Jessie got some tickets for the health of club of UMC, another gigantic semiconductor maker.

So we spent two pleasant days hanging out at the swim club. Here’s mom enjoying the spa.

Dan-dan also had some fun in it.

In addition to good swimming, we of course went out to eat. We went to a small bistro that served “Italian spaghetti” which was as about as Italian as Chairman Mao, and seemed to have been in a crypt just as long. Here’s Zeb boning up on the world:

Our other eating experience left a doubly bad taste in the mouth, for it offered an experience I hadn’t had in quite a while. Here’s some Twice Cooked Pork:

Looks delicious, eh? The boss of the place had lived in the US, and spoke pretty good English. She asked me if I spoke Mandarin, and then blew off the answer and continued to speak in English. Despite the fact that everyone at the table assured her my mandarin was fine, she continued to “advise me.” I think she thought she was being polite, but the effect was patronizing instead. The high point was when I read off the menu choices in Mandarin, and then ordered a dish that wasn’t on the menu but is typical of such restaurants, Twice-Cooked Pork. “That’s very spicy!” she said, warning me. Hello! As if I didn’t know? Didn’t I just read the menu off in front of you? Didn’t I just tell you I’d been here since 1989? Didn’t your stay in the US make you understand that the categories by which you construct and understand the world are not adequate?

Another interesting thing was the comment that Twice Cooked Pork is “spicy.” Someday I’d like to take Taiwanese restaurant owners to India for experience with real spicy food, of which there is none on the whole island (there is no race of eaters more timid than the Chinese when it comes to heat). I assured her in both languages that spicy was great and the spicier the better, but the dish we got was sweet. And disgusting. Looks nice in the picture, though. She probably only thought she was being nice….but she suffered from the inability to see the foreigner in front of her as a real human being. A salutary lesson to us all.

Another great thing that happened was finding out my talented father in law is developing a bit of a name in the world. Here’s one of the pics he held out of the exhibition he’s having in Hsinchu.

and another.

At the frame shops in Taipei and Hsinchu his paintings were much in demand. He’s very excited about it, and may start painting again. The guy in Taipei asked my aunt if he was back from the States yet. “I heard he’d gone there” the owner explained.