32nd edition: shiao shin!
In all honesty, there is no exclamation point included in the character itself, but it just seems appropriate. This weekend, we spent a day in Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwan's most famous natural attractions. We stayed in a swanky hotel and spent all of Saturday hiking.
I should say that "hiking" is a term that is used pretty loosely here. It includes everything from walking on a flat, paved road that doesn't allow cars, to creeping along the inside of an unlit cave with waterfalls shooting out the walls. And we enjoyed all varieties of hiking in Taroko.
Because Taroko is still very much of an active geological site (what with the tectonic plates bashing about), almost every sign in the Gorge began with shiao shin! Or... "Be careful." For those of us who are not yet blessed with Mandarin fluency, this was also expressed in "ROCKFALL!" signs, large red exclamation points painted on the ground, and great pictures of stick people dangling off the side of a cliff while rocks are falling on them. Obviously, we had a great time.
Shiao Shin! Extreme geekiness approaching!
On a sidenote, this is also a fabulous example of how darn complex Chinese is. "Shiao" on its own means "small" and "shin" on its own means "heart." And, I actually can read and write those characters too... So how the heck do we end up with "small heart" meaning "be careful"? This is one of the many reasons it will take me forever to really learn Mandarin.
And, here, I betray my profound geekiness yet again: So Frank Lloyd Wright, a famous American architect, felt strongly that the most powerful use of space was in contrasts. To make the maximum impact, place a tight space before an open space, or a light space before a dark space. Taroko's development into a tourist area includes many people-made tunnels to give hikers access to the best parts of the Gorge. For me, these tunnels made the expanses of the Gorge even more striking... going from this...