gas lines!

Apparently people here take their gas prices seriously. On Wednesday night at midnight, prices here went up about by NT$3.9 per liter, taking it to NT$33.9/liter or about US$4.20/gallon, which makes it still cheap by most countries’ standards. This was done by the government-controlled distributor – there’s a private one too, but they’d already raised rates. Since it’s controlled, rates went up at a preannounced time, as opposed to usual practice in the US, where news programs say something like “Gasoline prices are expected to rise aover the next two weeks,” and then they rise that day.

It turns out there’s a downside to knowing exactly when prices will rise: the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen at gas stations (and I can remember both 1973 and the time the main pipeline to Arizona broke in around 2003). Unfortunately, we’d been planning to fuel the car that day, not because of the prices but just because the gauge was getting low, and when we turned onto the street where the station near work is, it was a parking lot. We gave up on getting an gas there, because it was bad enough to get past that station in the far lane, let alone actually getting to a pump. We had another long wait at the freeway exit near our house because of people coming from all directions to the gas station there. Reports on the radio said conditions were the same everywhere. Fortunately, we had just enough in the tank to get us home and back to Linkou the next morning, though the low-fuel light was on by the time we pulled into the station. I was just glad it was open – I was afraid their tanks would be empty after the rush!

Ted and I have staggered but overlapping trips to the Netherlands coming up; he leaves home the second weekend in June and I leave the third. As always, email and cellphones will get us wherever we happen to be. I’m hoping I’ll have a trip to the US sometime in the next few months; if so it will probably be to Tempe. I anticipate lots of rowing and shopping!

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