Eish!!: SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - Update II

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SA swimmers tackling Taiwan Strait - Update II

Ok, so now all we really have to do is send an update - house bound. Although it might sound like we are bored, there really is never a dull moment in a Taipei apartment with approx 14 Chinese, 1 Taiwanese and 4 South African's!

After our free day yesterday where some of the more affluent of us shopped in electronic mecca for 5 hours or so, we arrived home around 8pm apparently with seconds to spare before the devastating typhoon hit us - wind and rain already pounding. All we wanted to do was hit our wafer-thin blue matts and head off to sleep after a swim in the 25m complex pool. Upon hearing about our swim intentions, all eyes widened considerably and the plan was quickly crushed. Mr Wang (host) rather invited the team to his house down the road for a drink. All completely not keen, but remaining polite, accepted the invite as long as it was a "que que" visit - (hurry, hurry). We arrived at Mr Wang's ultra-modern apartment to be immediately met by a 76inch LCD screen, full surround sound system, lounge and bar. Suitably impressed, we were then escorted to the second floor which displayed another LCD screen, bar, lounge and kitchen for a bottle of wine and beer (hooray!). Then it was off to the 3rd floor for the same. Then to the 4th, then the 5th, then the 6th!! - an apartment with 6 floors and a full-on lift which goes 'ting' at each floor. Amazing and clearly a great display of wealth and status.

Mr Wang had made it known that we were to make ourselves at home and it was then clear that this was not designed to be a 'que que' evening and again the SA team had missed the brief. None-the-less we got stuck into some mighty fine wine and, at last, sitting around a table 5 days into our visit, we finally got to know all our new friend's names. You can forget about remembering even one of their real Chinese names as they are ridiculously complicated but most have an 'English name' too. Those who don't already have an English name, we have now allocated one. So its Fire, ET, Andy, Candy, Zoe, Mama, Lilly, Coach, Tom, Jerry and many others...communication is developing slowly.

It was not long before Mr Wang announced that we were to all relocate to the ground floor where he had some very 'special entertainment' for us. At first the mind boggled, but as soon as two microphones were produced, it could be only one thing.........karaoke!! Chinese karaoke! What followed could only be described as one of the most entertaining, different and fun evenings. The SA team managed to smash over 6 bottles of red and were just as tipsy as our super fit Chinese mates who were still on their first bottle. Thankfully there was English karaoke too and a really good sound system, which led to myself, Kieron and Andrew all giving it horns on the mike until the early hours...."I believe I can fly..." (I dont think I have laughed this much since Kieron announced in loud, fluent Chinese at the international press conference that he "needed to poo".... )

With the typhoon now coming in strongly, but still not getting to grips completely, we decided to follow through on our 'typhoon swim' and managed to convince 2 Chinese to join us. Good experience and often quite eery.

To illustrate how our communications are coming along, Mr Wang arrived this morning with news of a 'surprise'. He summoned Andrew to follow him who returned 5 min later telling us he had figured out that the surprise is "German Sausage" for dinner (we were not sure whether to be excited or scared about Taiwan-German sausage!) but a minute later, Mr Wang walked in with a new fan for the apartment. This was the 'surprise' and it had absolutely nothing to do with any kind of sausage!! But we really are improving...and even the meals are now fun and less traumatising. Herda, who finally has some comfort after receiving a spoon, is still battling a bit, but Kieron, Andrew & I are confident with the chop sticks, know what to avoid, have learned to lower our heads and slurp from the bowl rather than lift the food to our mouths and we no longer care about the inevitable laughing at our expense.

Last night was another 2hr strategy session where plans and rules are made. The only difference now is that they look to the SA team for direction...and we have manipulated this position to mould the entire event to suit us. It is interesting to note the difference between us and the Chinese....they would never dream of questioning a rule, where we are quick to point out that it is flawed or it does not suit us. For eg, there is a strict and well structured schedule for the swim. You are either swimming, 'on duty' or resting and in the mandatory 8 hr rest period, there is a very strict no talking policy. We all knew that keeping Kieron or Herda quiet for 8hrs is impossible, so we have negotiated it down to a lesser 6hrs of quiet time... Also, only the SA team refuse to wear the sharkpod and rather insist on it being tied to the accompanying duck alongside. They were very unhappy about this, but swimming with an strong electrical pulse down the leg is ridiculous and we all flatly refuse. They have now agreed (this causes huge issues as relay swimmer switching and sharkpod charging systems are very streamlined).

We are now off to clean boats some more and add finishing touches. Tuesday is looking good for departure...



ryan at stramrood dot co dot za

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