Our Taiwan Travel Memory

台湾旅行の思い出

台湾へは出張で何度も渡航したことがありましたが、残念ながら観光する時間はありませんでしたので、夏休みを利用して息子と共に観光名所を回るツアーに参加しました。出発日直前まで台湾近海を通過中の台風の影響が懸念されていたのですが、我々を乗せた飛行機は関西国際空港を出発しほぼ定刻に台北松山空港に到着することができました。入国審査を待っている時、息子が「嵐だ。」と言うのでてっきり外の天候のことだと思い「台風の影響だろうね。」と返事をしたのですが、「違うよ。ほら、嵐だよ。」とささやき、我々のすぐ横で列に並ぼうとしている若者達を視線で示したのです。どこにでも居そうな普通の若者のようでしたが、よく見ると人気歌手グループ「嵐」のメンバーだったのです。羽田から彼らを乗せた便が遅れて我々の便とほぼ同時に着いたみたいで、そのお蔭で人気芸能人を間近に見ることができてラッキーでした。その後無事に入国審査を終え、預けた荷物を受け取って到着ロビーに出た瞬間、カメラの凄いフラッシュとロビーを埋め尽くした大勢の女性ファンの大歓声で迎えられたのです。我々のすぐ前に「嵐」のメンバーが出たので大騒ぎになっていたのですが、邪魔してはいけないという思いと、こちらまで人気者になったような錯覚が入り混じって妙な感覚でした。翌日の現地新聞を見ると到着ロビーで出迎えを受ける嵐のメンバーの写真が大きく載っていて、もう数メートル接近していれば一緒に写っていたと思うと少し残念な思いがしました。

I have been to Taiwan several times on business, but unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time for sightseeing on my business trips; therefore, I participated in a tour of sightseeing spots with my son during our summer vacation.
In spite of our anxiety about the typhoon in the sea near Taiwan, till just the previous day, we left Japan. Our flight from Kansai International Airport arrived at Taipei Songshan Airport almost on schedule. While we were waiting in line for an immigration check, my son said to me, “Here comes Arashi!” (literally meaning “storm”), so I thought he was talking about the weather and replied to him, “Probably because of the typhoon.” He whispered to me, “No. Look, they are Arashi!” and turned his eyes to the young men who were coming to the end of the line just next to ours. They looked like ordinary young boys, but as I looked closely at them, I recognized them as members of a Japanese boy pop group, Arashi. Their flight from Haneda Airport (Tokyo International Airport) was delayed and theirs and ours arrived almost at the same time, so we luckily could see popular artists up close. We passed the immigration check, picked up our luggage and went out to the arrival lobby. At that moment, my son and I were welcomed by innumerable camera flashes and a great cheer by female fans who covered the lobby. Actually, Arashi, walking just ahead of us, caused this turmoil. We had mixed feelings that we didn’t want to bother them or that we were under the illusion of being popular stars ourselves. The next day, big photos of Arashi in the arrival lobby were in local newspapers. If only we had walked several meters closer to them, we would have also been in the newspapers.

このツアーはとても新鮮に感じ主な観光名所を満喫することができました。それに加えて、空港の大騒ぎの一件ともう一つ、フリータイムに台湾に長年住んでいる仕事仲間に会い、とても興味深い体験をさせてもらいました。ツアー二日目、日中の観光メニューを終えて夕方その仕事仲間と待ち合わせて食事をした後のことでした。少しドライブをしてみませんかと誘われ、タクシーに乗って30分ほど郊外へ出て、小高い山の細くて暗い道をくねくねと登って行きます。辺りは車のライト以外の明かりはなく漆黒の山の中です。どこか尋ねると有名な茶畑がある地区(木柵地区、猫空=マオコン)だそうで、お茶を飲みに行くようです。さらに山奥に進むと「茶芸館」(お茶を飲ませてくれる店)の明かりと看板があり、そこでタクシーを降りて店の中に入りました。

In this tour, everything was just new to me, and I fully enjoyed popular sightseeing spots. Besides the uproar in the airport, we had a very interesting experience during our free time of the tour thanks to one of my working companions. On the second day of the tour, after sightseeing during the daytime, we met him and had dinner. After dinner, he asked us if we would like to have a drive, so we took a taxi to the suburbs for about 30 minutes and went along the winding road up to the hill in the pitch-black darkness, where only lights of the vehicles were seen. I asked him where we were, and he answered we were in the tea plantation area (the Muzha District, Maokong) to drink tea. We went deeper into the mountains, got out of the taxi at the tea house with lights and a signboard, and entered the shop.

店内には受付のようなカウンターがありました。いろいろなお茶の缶やお菓子が並んでいる壁の棚から好きな茶葉と茶菓子を買って入りました。お湯と茶器が置いてあるところに行って自分たちで淹れ、好きな席に運んでお茶を楽しみました。その仕事仲間は台湾の大学を卒業していて、学生の頃から茶芸館によく出入りしていたそうで手慣れたものです。

There was a counter like a reception in the tea house. We bought tea leaves and some sweets from shelves with tea cans and sweets on the wall, and made tea for ourselves at the place where boiled water and tea sets were equipped. We could choose seats wherever we liked to enjoy the self-made tea. The working companion, who graduated from a university in Taiwan, often came to this tea house since he was a university student; therefore, he seemed accustomed to making tea.

お茶を飲むお店といっても広大な敷地で、屋外に大きなテラスが3、4層の階段状になっていて、たくさんのテーブルが配置され椅子は数百席あるようでした。すでに夜10時を過ぎていましたが、学生らしき10数人のグループが大きな声で談笑していたり、カップルが仲良くお茶を淹れ合っていたり、たくさんの人がお茶を楽しんでいてとても良い雰囲気でした。木柵地区にはこのような茶芸館が点在していて、観光客は少なく地元の人たちの憩いの場になっています。山の中で市街地より気温が数度低いため、特に暑い時期は夜に多くの人が利用していて、若い人達は明け方まで議論したり楽しく会話したりすることもあるそうです。たくさんの種類がある茶葉や茶器の選び方、お茶の淹れ方、飲み方などとても興味深く、台湾人の生活に密着した文化の一部分に触れることができてこのツアーで一番印象に残っています。旅行ガイドブックにも紹介されていますが、街中にある茶芸館に行く人が多く、実際に茶畑まで行く人は少ないようですので、台北に行く予定がある方には必ず木柵地区の茶芸館をお勧めしています。

That was not a common tea house but had many tables with hundreds of chairs on the large terrace in the shape of 3 or 4-layer stairs on the huge site. It was already past 10 p.m., but a group of a dozen members who appeared to be students were loudly chatting, a couple were happily pouring tea for each other and many others were enjoying tea in a very good atmosphere. Tea houses like this were dotted in the Muzha District. Tourists rarely visited them, but many local people would relax there. The tea houses were in the mountain where it was cooler by some degrees, so especially at night in the hot season, many people came to the tea houses. Young people sometimes had an argument or chatted until dawn. We were much interested in how to choose tea leaves and tea sets among many variations; how to make tea and how to drink tea. This experience in which we came in touch with a part of Taiwanese life was left most vividly in our minds. These tea houses are introduced in travel guidebooks, however, not so many tourists went all the way to the tea plantation area, but they go to the tea houses in the downtown area. Therefore, I always recommend the tea houses in the Muzha District to those who plan to go to Taipei.

 

 

 

Business Episodes in Singapore

シンガポールにおけるビジネス余話

約20年前、シンガポール西部にある日系大手電機メーカーの現地工場で生産システムに異常が発生したため、日本から技術支援に来てほしいとの要請があり、技術者を連れて初めて同国に出向きました。

About 20 years ago, at a factory of a major Japanese electric appliance maker in the western part of Singapore, a production system had some problems, so my company was requested to provide technical support and I went to Singapore with an engineer for the first time.

海岸に面した巨大な工場の生産ラインで原因究明している途中で、お昼休憩となり社員食堂で昼食をいただきました。まず食堂が大きく清潔で設備が充実していること、また料理の美味しさと種類の多さに驚かされました。従業員の採用対象は中国系、マレー系、インド系など様々な人種であり、良質な人材を獲得し長期雇用するためには、福利厚生施設の充実と労働環境の良さで欧米からの進出企業に格差をつける必要があるようでした。

While we were investigating the cause of the trouble of the production system in the huge factory on the shore, we had lunch at the staff cafeteria. I was surprised that the big and clean cafeteria, which was fully equipped with facilities, sold a wide variety of dishes and what I ate was very delicious. The recruiting targets of the factory were various races including ethnic Chinese, Malays and Indians, so satisfying welfare facilities and a good labor environment were necessary to obtain high-quality workers for the long term, somewhat different from local European companies.

さらに従業員のマナーの良さと礼儀正しさにも驚かされました。 同工場の日本人管理職に聞くと、採用後に一通りの教育はしますが、日本式のマナーや礼儀を強要したことはないそうです。人種の違いで考え方や表現の仕方が異なりますが、社内の共通語は英語(所謂シンガポール英語のシングリッシュ)で、お互いの意思の疎通に問題はないとのことです。 一概に勤勉で真面目な人が多く、従業員同士のトラブルもないと聞きました。

In addition, I was also surprised at the employees’ good manners and courtesy. I asked a Japanese manager why they acted like that, and he told me that he provided general work training but never forced them to accept Japanese-style manners and courtesy. Ways of thinking or expressing oneself varied from race to race, but they could smoothly communicate with each other in English (Singaporean English: what is called Singlish). Generally, many of the employees were hardworking and no disagreements seemed to occur among them.

シンガポールでは中国系が人口の約74パーセントを占めており教育程度も高く、14パーセントのマレー系や9パーセントのインド系の国民を圧倒しているようでした。 技術打合せにおいても中国系の人々が積極的に発言することが多く、上昇志向と自己主張の強さを感じました。 彼らはアジア圏の様々な国で強い存在感を示しています。

In Singapore, Chinese, who accounted for about 74 percent of all the population, seemed to outnumber Malays (14 percent) and Indians (9 percent). Chinese tended to speak assertively in the technical meetings, and they seemed to have strong ambitions to rise in the world and have their own ways. In many Asian countries, they play important roles.

昼食を終えて外の空気を吸いに建物を出たときに、再び驚きました。 早朝チャンギ空港に着いて同工場にタクシーで移動した時には気持ちいい晴天であったにもかかわらず、昼には辺り一面が薄暗く焦げ臭い臭いが漂っていました。 おそらく近隣で火事があったのだろうと普通に考えましたが、現地従業員に対岸のインドネシアのスマトラ島からマラッカ海峡を超えてマレー半島に流れてくる野焼きや山火事の煙だと教えてもらいました。 それにしても目に染みるし、むせこむような酷い煙でした。 現地の人達はマスクをするでもなく平然としていて、住民の健康面への影響はないのだろうか心配になりました。  4月から9月の乾季だけで毎日ではなく、一日の内でも風の強さや向きにより影響度は変わるみたいであり、我慢できないほどではないのかも知れませんでした。 なるほど夕方その日の仕事を終えた時には煙たさはほぼ消えていました。 この煙害(ヘイズ)については長年に亘り関係国の政府間で改善に向けて対策を講じているようですが、未だに妙策はないようでした。

I was surprised again when I went out of the building for a breath of fresh air after lunch. I smelt something burning all around though it was nice and clear when I came from Changi Airport to the factory by taxi in the early morning. I naturally thought there was a fire in the neighborhood, but one of the local workers told me that it was the smoke of a burning field or a forest fire from Sumatra Island in Indonesia beyond the Malacca Channel to the Malay Peninsula. The really terrible smoke made my eyes tingle and my throat choke. Local people without masks didn’t seem to care about the smoke. It was said that the smoke came only during the dry season, from April to September, and it didn’t come every day, but I was worried about the influence on the residents’ health. It was also said that the degree of influence of the smoke changed by the power or direction of the wind even for one day, so they might endure the smoke. Indeed, the smoke almost disappeared when I finished my work in the evening. The governments of related countries have long taken measures to reduce this smoke pollution (haze), but they have not reached a conclusion yet.