Day four of tour was the first day of rehearsal for the Glee Club, although Lite did rehearse for a bit yesterday. We met our host from MNA at the hotel, and she led us to the subway station, and took care of our subways fees. In Taipei, eating, drinking, and chewing gum on the subway is prohibited, so we all stashed the water bottles we brought for rehearsal before getting on board.
The subway in Taiwan is wonderfully clean and quiet, a far cry from the rattling cars of the Red Line and the screeching trains of the Green Line. There are flashing lights by the doors which indicate which side of the train the doors will open on, and markers on the floor of the stations to indicate where the doors will be when the train stops. However, the most interesting part of the subway ride were the PSAs which played on the tv screens inside the cars. The vignettes of “metro-riders” who help keep the subway clean, happy, and safe use a sense of community and collective teamwork that’s been strangely absent in the PSAs back in the states.
The rehearsal space is located on the 11th floor of the KHS building, where MNA has a room full of lovely Steinway pianos. Although the display room was a bit cramped when the Glee Club piled in, it was nice to sing together after having been apart for almost a month. We sang through some men’s choir standards, like “Shenandoah,” “Ave Maria,” and “Got A Mind to Do Right,” in addition to some new repertoire we are going to perform with the Gunsan Civic Chorale and the Korean International School. In between, we took a quick break, and I wandered down the street and found a bakery inside a hotel which sold bolo bao with cha siu inside. At the end of rehearsal, we filmed a short publicity video for the concert, then took the subway back to the hotel.
The next thing on our schedule was a dinner at the hotel, provided by our host Albert Ting. Our tour manager told us to dress up a little nicer than casual, but when I arrived in my button down and slacks, I was totally underdressed for the banquet that awaited us. There were six different appetizers, prawns and vegetables, a rich pumpkin seafood soup, roast duck, smoked cod, and fruit and shaved ice to wrap up. It was also our tour manager’s birthday, so we had some delicious sponge cake as well. I also had a bit of merlot with dinner (drinking age in Taiwan is 18), and I started to see why people like to have wine with their food. However, rice wine is still something of a mystery to me.
The dinner party wrapped up with a few words from our host and some raucous karaoke, after everyone had their fill of the food, the alcohol, or both. After such a large meal, it was a relief that our bedrooms were only a short elevator ride away.