At 03:00am the alarm goes off. I just went to sleep not too long before that, so – being a bit fuzzy – I make my way into some cloths and out on the motorbike. The streets are quiet, with just a few 24 hours convenience stores, restaurants and pubs running in street corners. I park my car, yawn a few times, and slowly make my way into the Confucius Temple.
It turns out the IMBA announcement on arriving at 03:30am was a bit off. I wondered around the temple and the Confucian teachers for about an hour before something actually happened. At around 04:00am people started arriving and the ceremony began at around 04:30am. As it usually is with events organized for us by the school – nobody has prepared us for what was actually going to happen. I was expecting to be a tourist admiring the ceremony from afar and running away if it gets too much, but the school had something else in mind. They dressed us up in Chinese student clothing with our professors wearing the traditional teacher clothes and put us in the middle of the ceremony.
<later in class that day>
Teacher: So, who went to the ceremony with us this morning?
-no body answers-
Teacher : you! you were there this morning, I remember! Please tell us what you thought about the ceremony.
Vietnamese student : It was… eh… it was… eh… interesting?
Teacher : ah! you say interesting, I say it was really boring!
And so it was. We had to stand there for an hour+, not moving, being photographed by just about every Tainan and southern-Taiwan media newspaper and TV as the International bunch of the ceremony. They repeated some strange ceremony of taking the teachers to the Confucian halls with the wisdom scripts for about 7-8 times. First time I thought it was interesting, second time I hoped it was only 3 times, 3rd time I started to feel uncomfortable, by the 6th time I begged to Confucius, where ever he may be, to end my miserable existence then and there. From the little I understand about Confucianism it was interesting for me to try and understand why some of the rituals performed were so religious and God-oriented, especially the bit about the cow, pig and deer being cut open for display in the middle of the whole thing. As soon as we finished the media line-up photo and got the cow’s wisdom hair, I quickly drove back, took my Chinese studies books and headed out to my 08:00am class. Yep, another sleepless night wondering around the streets of Tainan and staring at undecipherable Taiwanese phenomenas.