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Organised Tours - as opposed to self-planed travel

The Taiwan portion was an organised tour. In Hong Kong the accommodation was paid for, including breakfast, and we had an organised bus tour of the City but most of our time was free, to use the metro the ferry and so on. 

The advantage of these organised tours is that they are easy.  They involve a lot less work: researching the places to go and getting the best deal on accommodation and transport.  Lugging luggage about is minimised as is driving on the wrong side of the road. There is lest ‘wasted’ time.  And in this case there were also significant savings.

But independence is lost and contact with the local people is limited to the guides provided and the guides have an agenda – to give the tourists their particular, usually positive, story. 

Further, one becomes a package to be labelled, quite literally, and ‘despatched’ from one place to another for predetermined periods that seldom conform to the time that one would spent at that location if deciding independently. Some places, like an hour a jewellery factory or on a rock strewn beach would be by-passed entirely.

In addition to these uncalled for ‘sites’, inordinate periods were spent in temples and inadequate time was allowed for places of historical like the former Dutch East India Company fortifications or of economic interest. Even a simple drive-by of the nuclear power stations, steelworks or shipbuilding would have been welcome.

As part of the schedule we were taken to a marble factory, where I succumbed and bought a toy top for grandchildren's eventual amusement, and at another point to a jewelery factory where everything was a 'bargain'.  This seems to be inevitable on an organised tour where hidden commissions get involved in the scheduling.

Nevertheless, as I recall from my first visit to Spain and Portugal in the eighties and particularly if travelling alone, if one has no idea where to begin in an unfamiliar country a local idea of what is best to see and visit may be a lot better than ‘pot luck’.

 

 

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Travel

Taiwan

 

 

 

In May 2015 four of us, Craig and Sonia Wendy and I, bought a package deal: eleven days in Taiwan and Hong Kong - Wendy and I added two nights in China at the end.  We had previously travelled together with Craig and Sonia in China; Russia, India and South America and this seemed like a good place to do it again and to learn more about the region.

Taiwan is one of the Four Asian Tigers, along with Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong, achieving the fastest economic growth on the Planet during the past half century. Trying to understand that success was of equal interest with any ‘new sights’ we might encounter.

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One night of at the end of March in 1979 we went to a party in Queens.  Brenda, my first wife, is an artist and was painting and studying in New York.  Our friends included many of the younger artists working in New York at the time.  That day it had just been announced that there was a possible meltdown at a nuclear reactor at a place called a Three Mile Island , near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. 

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