The Montana Trade Mission delegation got off to a slow start from San Francisco after a “fuel gauge” issue at the gate that ended up extending from a few minutes to three hours. Thus, the thirteen and a half hour trip to Taipei ended up being more than sixteen hours. I took an Ambien about three hours into the trip and actually slept pretty well waking only during some turbulence over the Bering Sea.
The delegation made our way to the Grand Hyatt by way of a two bus motorcade with police escort. We arrived at the hotel to greeters, notes, food, and flowers. I found that I have a great view of Taipei 101, the iconic World Trade Center building that was the world’s tallest until 2010. It is now the tallest certified L.E.E.D (green) building. I got settled and took a quick walk down the street to get a little air and exercise before hitting the hay.
On Monday, the first event after breakfast was a briefing at the American Taiwan Institute, the US government office that provides an embassy-like presence in Taiwan. We were briefed on culture, trade statistics, and domestic politics. Taiwan has an aging population with a very low birth rate of 8.54 – compare worldwide rates here. While Taiwan is the #10 trading partner for the US, it is the #2 market for Taiwan. A new president will be elected in January 2016 – there has been some chaos with the party that is currently in office. It is expected that a woman, Tsai Ing-wen will be elected. http://thediplomat.com/2015/10/taiwans-ruling-party-ousts-its-presidential-candidate/
After the briefing, some of us moved on to other meetings, while others of us visited a peace park and the Chaing Kai-Shek Memorial. We regathered for a reception and lunch at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Minister and Governor Bullock made brief speeches and red-wine toasts and introduced their guests (the Montana business delegates and staff, and Taiwanese business people and Ministry staff). The lunch consisted of multiple courses of meat, soup, vegetables, coffee/tea, and a coconut-tapioca soup-like dessert. The Taiwanese people we met were very kind and thoughtful and made for easy conversation. I learned that there is a great interest in organic Montana products.
After the lunch, Lindsey Owens, trade delegate from Big Sky Resort, and I made our way by cab to the National Palace Museum to view jade, and ceramics, and bronzes, and calligraphy and books, and some beautiful Buddhas. While we anticipated busy traffic, it was not bad at all.
After freshening up and checking my Sunday emails, I rejoined the regathered group along with staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for an excursion to the 86th floor of Taipei 101. We then had world famous dumplings at Din Tai Fung, which the New York Times named one of the top 10 restaurants in the world in 1993 and currently ranks as 1 in the 101 Best Restaurants in Asia by the Daily Meal. It holds 1 Michelin Star and is very casual. The food was very good and there was a lot of it.
By the end of the meal, I was full, and tired and ready for a good rest. Xie xie! (Thank you!).