So like, I was actually not planning on going to the Taipei International Flora Exposition.
I'd seen the ads everywhere since I arrived, but it didn't sound all that interesting to me. I don't like flowers enough to want to stand in lines to look at them (although I wouldn't mind if you want to buy me some! :P). My parents went to the Expo when they were in Taiwan over Thanksgiving break and weren't exactly impressed, so I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. Plus, I already got a photo with the entrance sign — good enough for me!
But as you can see, I ended up going anyway. It was John's idea. He had a lot of free time after the wedding (his sister and new brother-in-law were honeymooning in Kenting), so I said I'd hang out with him. I wasn't too enthusiastic about going to the Flora Expo, but I considered the little I knew about him based on my observations from the day of the wedding, then concluded that he would probably be entertaining enough to hold my interest should the Expo prove as overrated as it sounded (hahaha so optimistic huh). And since he's pretty photogenic I'd have at least have someone to photograph, which would be enough to keep me happy. :P
Oh alright, basically John seemed like a cool guy and I thought it would be fun. So we went to the Expo on Wednesday morning slightly earlier than opening time. We wandered around looking for a place to buy tickets until we came across these volunteers with the vests and hats. We asked about tickets and one of the ladies said sharply, "You're not supposed to be in here!" Apparently we'd walked in through an unguarded entrance and was roaming the park with no tickets when it wasn't even open to the public yet. She shooed us out and reprimanded a coworker for not watching the entrance. "They're tourists!" she said accusingly. But at least we figured out where to get tickets.
Once we got there, we joined up with some strangers to qualify for the group discount. While waiting in the group line, the same lady that kicked us out on the other side of the park happened to spot us and immediately made a beeline toward us to ask if we knew what we were doing. She probably thought we were completely clueless and somehow managed to stand in the wrong line. I thought it was kind of cute that she recognized us and came straight for us, but John was convinced she hated us and was a stalker (despite the size of the Expo, we did see her a couple more times in the course of the day, though she didn't deign to acknowledge us a third time). I think John was sorely tempted to steal her hat.
But anyway, we got in for NT$180 each and the place was definitely not crowded at all, for which I was very grateful. The other visitors were mainly tour groups and students in uniform.
We strolled through the outdoor gardens and checked out the pavilions, which are sponsored by various counties from around the world, but we didn't bother waiting in line to get into any of the exhibition halls, which was fine with me. It was nice just to walk and chat.
John trying on a cowboy hat at one of the American pavilions.
Since there were a ton of uniformed student groups everywhere, we couldn't help but notice the interesting ways they chose to pose for the camera. We watched a group of students take photos with the dragon boat, waited until they left, then recreated their style. See, an authentic Taiwanese tourist photo!
Ok, so the Taiwanse compulsion to make fobby peace signs when posing for the camera isn't exactly news. But I must say we were intrigued by the variation I model below:
I'm demonstrating a pose we observed several times that day, but I don't think either of us had seen it before. Is it some new mutant breed? The students would make a V with their index and middle fingers, touch it to their chin, and then — this is crucial — not smile. (I'm pretty sure the V part is a rude gesture in Europe. Good thing it doesn't look that V-like in this photo.)
On the left is John with his feet in giant wooden clogs in front of a few tulip plants and a photograph of rows and rows of tulips as a backdrop. He totally tripped when trying to extricate his feet. I'm sorry to say that my battery chose that exact moment to run out of juice, forcing me to change it for a fresh one and completely missing the shot of him flailing to catch his balance (don't worry, he was ok).
On the right is John hugging one of their flower mascots. You have no idea how long it took me to coax him into posing with one. But I prevailed in the end! :)
And that's a random pond decoration that's apparently turned into a target for coin-tossing. We didn't try our luck at it, but it looked interesting.
Ok, I have too much to fit into one post - so stay tuned for Taipei Flora Expo Part II, where I describe our encounter with a Taiwanese news reporter!