Sunday, May 28, 2006

Partying in Hsinchu

Ran up to Hsinchu this weekend to hang out with the in-laws and visit my friend Michael Klein (Michael's version of the visit is here).

Michael lives in an industrial area near Hsinchu, and like many such areas of Taiwan, there are large numbers of foreign workers from Thailand and the Philippines. Consequently a whole infrastructure of support for the workers has arisen, with bars, cantinas, and grocery stores. Even ordinary Taiwanese grocery stores often carry products aimed at this market.

A Filipino grocery store in a factory area in Taiwan

The Thai bar where Michael and I hung out

A nerighborhood in a factory district

Another neighborhood in a factory district.

Parked cars crowd cramped neighborhoods

The cantina

Michael and Hui-chen took me to one of the local Filipino factory worker hang-outs. The place was run by the Filipino wife of a local man, friendly and efficient.The great thing about hanging out with the Filipinos is that the music consisted largely of familiar songs in English, instead of unfamiliar songs in Taiwanese. And the Filipinos, especially the women, could often sing beautifully. Confession: I've never liked karaoke, because I can't stand listening to people who can't sing butcher a song at the top of their lungs. But I became a convert this weekend. Had an absolute blast.

Nothing like fried fare to stimulate the thirst.

Belting Out Behind Blue Eyes

A kind of cream soup, like a bisque. Delicious.

Heidi does a number.

At the end of the evening everyone begged Heidi, one of the staff, to come out of the kitchen to sing. She had a voice like an angel.

Red Horse Beer. 7% alcohol. Goes great with karaoke and deep-fried squid.

Here's Michael belting out a song. Michael is a professionally trained musician with many years of experience playing on the road with bands you probably have heard of if your brain cells can still recollect the '60s and '70s, and hundreds of hours as a sound engineer in the studio. He has a fantastic voice, and it was a privilege to sit next to him and sing with him.

The Thai bar

A great night, but the weekend lost some of its savor when the Indonesian woman working for my in-laws turned out to be from the area affected by the quake this weekend. Like many working abroad, abandoned by her husband, she had left her three children in the care of her grandparents. Unfortunately she was unable to get hold of them as of this morning, and her brother told her that their house had collapsed.


MJ Klein said...

Michael, you are too kind! everyone who met you really enjoyed your singing and your visit. they are all looking forward to your next visit. we've all marked off blocks of days in July, in anticipation!

our heart goes out to the Indonesian woman who works for your in-laws. as it turns out, i know someone who's hometown was affected too.

neo anderson said...

Welcome to Taiwan; )