10 August 2013

From one heat wave to another

TAIPEI, Taiwan—Wherever I go, weather records are broken. This week, the weather in Taiwan has been the hottest on record for 100 years. Depending on what you read or to whom you speak, the temperature in Taipei yesterday was either 37.5 or 39 C (99.5 or 102.2 F). Either way, the air temperature exceeds body temperature and, according to this morning’s Taipei Times, the government is considering calling public holidays if these temperatures return. There are hotter places but, as one who visits here regularly, I’m finding the crushing humidity exhausting. When there’s no precipitation which, when it comes, is in the form of torrential rain, the relative humidity has varied between 70 and 90 percent.

A few years ago, colleagues and I were caught in Typhoon Morakot, a low-grade typhoon against which it was almost impossible to walk. (Our hotel shook.) I would not like to see a typhoon that registers at the top end of the scale. Last year, at dinner in Chaiyi City, the room suddenly moved a few inches in one direction and then, after a few wobbles, settled back to its original position. Earthquakes, some literally tearing large parts of Taiwan apart, are a regular feature here. I have been here for a week, at Tzu Chi Buddhist College of Technology (TCCN), which is in Hualien, on the Pacific coast of Taiwan. (I’m hoping my university insurance company agents are not reading this entry.)

With me are my colleagues from the Wiley stable, Mark Hayter, PhD, RN, FRSA, and Graeme Smith, PhD, RN, editors, respectively, of Journal of Advanced Nursing and Journal of Clinical Nursing. We have been providing writing-for-publication seminars, workshops and consultancy sessions to colleagues in the nursing school at TCCN. Our link with the college spans eight years, over which time the school has significantly increased its publication output, and not only in our journals. All three of us have also held research grants with colleagues here and have co-authored articles with them.

At TCCN, Yours Truly seated at center, flanked on my
right by Mark Hayter and on my left my Graeme Smith.
We prefer the long train journey between Taipei and Hualien to the short plane journey. It is demonstrably safer (Google “Hualien airport crash”) and takes in a large section of the beautiful and lush Pacific coast. A free day on these journeys is rare, but today is relatively free, and we will re-visit our “old friend” the 101, previously the tallest building in the world. This Gothic-art deco tower never ceases to inspire awe in terms of its symmetry and elegance. The view from the top, accessible via an ear-popping elevator, the fastest in the world, is truly leg wobbling, even for a rock climber.

From Taiwan, I head to Hong Kong for one night before flying on to Sydney. In my last entry, I stated that no visit to Taiwan is without incident and that I would be surprised if none occurred on this trip. My problem? Which one to tell you about. 

We have a favourite restaurant where we requested to eat. On the way from our hotel, we screamed directions to our driver, who willfully ignored our instructions and drove us to one of the best local hotels. It was a soulless place with a large deserted dining room and mediocre food. Our host, completely aware of our request to eat elsewhere, thought it better for us to eat here. The Taiwanese are a polite, caring, and attentive people, but cultural differences run deep, and what you receive is rarely what you ask for.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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