We arrived last evening in time to get settled into our room, take a little walk around the building grounds, and go to bed. It was early when I woke up this morning. The sun was peaking through the curtains so I looked out the window and saw the scene I captured in this photo. Beautiful! It was already warm at 5:30 am when I took this picture -- not unlike my friends are experiencing in Southern California right now! Well, maybe Taipei is a bit cooler!
Steve and I went down to breakfast and we saw more bishops who came early this morning or later last evening. It was fun to catch up! Those who came early looked a little tired, but were determined to stay up for the day. Some had made plans of things they wanted to do (the National Palace Museum, the textile market, etc.) Others were weighing their options. These bishops, like me, know that when trying to come into a meeting such as the House of Bishops where the time difference in my case is 15 hours, it's better (schedules and funding permitting) go to in a day or two early and acclimate as well as tour a bit. I am blessed that a member of our Diocese, Peter Huang, who was raised here is home visiting his parents -- and he graciously offered to help us get around town on our two days of touring! Anyway, I was watching for our friends to come and they did. There were 8 of us gathered to head over to the National Palace Museum to do a "deeper dive" than the City Tour for the Bishops and Spouses on Sunday might provide. We headed out and made our way over to the Museum. Here is a picture of the entrance up the steps to the museum. That's Michael and Marla Hanley on the left of the picture.
As no photography was allowed in the museum, I can only point you to the website and have you look through the collections there. http://www.npm.gov.tw. There are beautiful works of art in all forms there. We wanted to see two of the most famous -- the jadeite cabbage with insects, and the ivory ball made out of 1 elephant tusk but which has 17 individual balls within it that can move. Both of these, which I had seen before, are beautiful. What was interesting was the long lines to see these two pieces specifically. Large tour groups crowded the pathways to see these items. We made our way with them and moved with the crowd. We then went to less crowded areas to view -- scrolls, paintings, bronzes, curios -- it was wonderful!
After over two hours we were ready to get off our feet and we were all hungry. Peter suggested the dim sum restaurant (San Xi Tang) at the top of the museum. When we sat down at our table -- which was a little secluded (as though we had our own room) -- we all smiled -- great views from the windows and wonderful company made this feel good even before we ordered! We had Peter do the ordering (except we each ordered our own kind of tea we would like). We started with the beef noodle soup -- and went on from there. Yum! Here's a picture with Peter dishing me out a bit more soup -- notice all the dishes that had already gotten dug into! We ended out meal with some cold sweet soups.
We went down to see one last exhibit (not that we covered them all!) and to go into the large gift shop. Everyone was a bit tired, so we decided to go back to the hotel and rest. When we walked into the lobby of the hotel Marla Hanley quickly pointed out the rotating sign that had, at one moment, a sign talking about the House of Bishops. I waited for the sign to change and then snapped this picture.
We went upstairs to our rooms. Everywhere I have gone in this hotel I've been warmly greeted. Whenever I've needed anything or had a question, I was greeted, listened to, and my question was answered. It has been a great blessing to be here!
After resting for a few hours (and in my case working on my paper travel journal and this blog), we all met in the lobby and took cabs over to the Westin Hotel to go to Yi Yuan Pekinese restaurant, which is a Huang family favorite! A leisurely dinner ensued -- every bite more delicious than the previous one. Good conversation about the church, life, children, hobbies, sabbaticals and more. I'm always so grateful that we gather around food and share what is on our hearts. We laughed and we also talked about some hard issues facing our world. It was a blessed time!