The fifth installment of “A Story to Tell: Conversations with Richard Runyon” has arrived, building on the series’ success. This new installment focuses on Richard’s adventures in Asia.
SEATTLE, WA, November 17, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Celebrated storyteller and retired FDA senior analyst, Richard Runyon, invites audiences worldwide to enjoy the fifth installment of his captivating interview series, “A Story to Tell.” This latest chapter promises an enthralling journey, not just across miles, but through the rich tapestry of culture, cuisine, and the unexpected adventures that life offers.
In this new installment, Runyon takes us on his remarkable travels through Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. While these trips were initially for business, they swiftly transformed into a journey of cultural immersion. Richard’s narratives are a delightful blend of professional pursuits and personal discoveries, as he navigates through the bustling streets, indulges in exotic culinary delights, and interacts with the vibrant people of these regions.
The stories Richard shares are more than just accounts of a traveler in a bygone era; they are reflections of a man finding himself in the midst of the unfamiliar. From humorous anecdotes to profound insights, this installment is a rich portrayal of Runyon’s “fish out of water” experiences taken to new heights. Richard masterfully intertwines his professional expertise with the whimsy and mystery of adapting to new lands, proving that every journey is not just about the destination, but also the surprising and enriching experiences along the way.
“In this chapter, I aim to encapsulate the thrill of adventure and the delight of uncovering the unknown,” shares Richard Runyon. “Each of the three locations featured holds a special place in my heart and I cherish my memories of them. It’s my hope that through this story, their mystical allure will continue to resonate and captivate.”
Richard’s “A Story to Tell” series has been a resounding success, appealing to audiences with its four previous globe-trotting installments. The series has not only garnered widespread attention but has also led to Richard Runyon’s website receiving over 1.5 million visitors in the past year. With several thrilling new projects in the pipeline, along with the continued journey of “A Story to Tell,” the future shines exceptionally bright for Mr. Runyon. His wealth of stories, brimming with adventure and insight, promises to continue enchanting and inspiring readers around the world. This new installment is no exception and will surely take its place alongside Richard Runyon’s many, many stories to tell!
Discover the much-anticipated fifth installment of “A Story to Tell” right here, right now:
TSR News Group: Good afternoon, and welcome to the fifth installment of A Story to Tell: Conversations with Richard Runyon. Now, every interview so far has had its fair share of adventure, often on a global scale, but this time we’re really focusing specifically on Richard’s Asian odysseys, if you will. We’re going to be delving into his captivating journeys through Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China, exploring a diverse range of experiences. And I’ve been very excited for this one. There’s a lot to talk about. Of course, we have the man himself with us today. How are you Richard?
Richard Runyon: I’m good, I’m good. Thank you for asking. And yourself?
TSR: Very well, thank you. Thanks for asking. I am definitely eager to get going! We’ve got all this ground to cover. I think we should dive right into the deep end, no pun intended, what with your love of diving. But I don’t know how much diving you did on this particular trip! [laughter] But in Taiwan, you did have a wide range of experiences, from EPA training to strange foods. Why was this such a significant journey for you?
Richard: Well, I had been working for Santa Barbara County, and I’d hired a technical firm to assist me. So when my contract was over with Santa Barbara, this firm hired me on, and my first project was in Taiwan. So, that’s how I ended up there. They wanted me specifically to train the EPA, which was a brand-new agency with Taiwan. And the youngsters, and that’s what they were, who were running this thing really didn’t have much training. So, we were working with them and with some industry folks to do this training. Initially, they were going to bring experienced teachers over who would then translate what I was giving them into Chinese. But frankly, that didn’t work out very well. So, we ended up doing it ourselves. I always worked with a contractor while I was there called CTCI.
TSR: And what did that stand for?
Richard: A Chinese Technical Consulting Institute, I believe. And their engineers, for sure, also young kids were almost all pretty bilingual. And we worked with them throughout the project. So, I was told I had to go to Taiwan. Now, we had an apartment there when I first started. And that was because they had another project going on that was long term and they had sent over our young engineer to manage that. And he had an apartment, a two bedroom apartment. So they gave me directions to this apartment. Well, their directions were written on the back of a business card, so obviously there wasn’t a lot of detail. But I arrived in Taipei after a long flight from San Diego, and I think I flew through Los Angeles, probably.
Anyway, it was nighttime and I was tired. I got through immigration and customs without any trouble and I found a taxi and showed him the business card which had the street name and the number… and away he goes! And he drives and he drives and he drives. You know, like an hour later, I’m wondering what’s going on. And I had no idea that it was that far away from the airport. Then he jumps off the freeway and now I’m into the streets, and he finally stops at a corner and says, “Here we are.” And I said, “Well, okay.” I’m still half asleep, and I grabbed my luggage and got out. The first thing I did was try to picture I was in the right spot. And luckily the numbers on the buildings were in our script, they weren’t Chinese. So that helped. And then the street name was in both Chinese and English. So, I could verify at least that I was in the right building. I go to the directory and I find the right floor but all the names on it were in Chinese. So, I had no idea which button to push.
TSR: Yeah, that makes it complicated.
Richard: Yeah. By now it’s midnight or one o’clock in the morning, so I really wasn’t interested in just starting to push a whole bunch of buttons. But I knew that their apartment was in the middle of three. So, I thought, well, maybe the buttons are the same way. So, anyway, I push the button and a Chinese lady comes on and talks to me in Chinese, and obviously that’s not who I wanted, because Eric Jorgensen, the guy I’m sharing an apartment with, is not Chinese. So, finally somebody comes out the door, so I slip in and I take the elevator up to that floor and I follow the directions on the back of the business card to the apartment. And I’m just about ready to start ringing the bell and I hear two Chinese ladies in the apartment talking to one another. I went, Oh, man. This isn’t right. So I didn’t ring the bell.
Then, I went back down to figure out what I was going to do. And some guy comes out of the building and I asked him, “Do you speak English?” and he answered me in better English than I spoke! He’d just arrived from Oklahoma City and asked what I needed. So, I asked him if he would be so kind as to make a phone call to see if it was the right place. He said sure. So, he went back in, made the call, came back down, said yeah, that was the right place. Then, I went back up, rang the bell and two Taiwanese ladies answered it. Turns out one of them was the girlfriend of Eric’s and the other one was her friend. So, yeah, they’re all waiting for me and I showed up. And all I really wanted to do was go to sleep, which I did shortly thereafter. The room that I had was pretty small. But I guess I really didn’t care — I’m just sleeping in. So, the next day I took off and we started the training. The training was not just there in Taipei, it went through the island, all of Taiwan. So, we stopped in many different places and trained.
One of the things I did was they had a national park that they liked to visit and watch the sun come up in the morning. It was a big thing. And so I thought, well, okay, I’ll do that. And my Taiwanese friends at CTCI thought I was crazy. You know, they don’t travel by themselves everywhere, let alone in a foreign country. But I had them put me on the train, they gave me the Chinese name for where I needed to get off and the first thing I did is I grabbed a schedule and I could see on the schedule where this particular station was. So, I counted the station between where I got on and where I was supposed to get off, so I had the number anyway. And sure enough when I got that number the name of the station was painted in Chinese on the wall. I managed to get off at the right spot and somebody had given me directions to where I could get a bus.
So, I got to the bus station and I showed them the card. I had cards with English on one side, Chinese on the other and it got me everywhere. So, I showed them the name of the park I want to go to, they took my money, and pointed to the line I was supposed to get in. There were a number of lines and people getting on buses and so I confirmed it with the bus driver when I got there. And took the bus up to the top, got off in this little town at the end of the bus line — And I had reservations in one of the hotels so I walked up and found it and I got in my room without any trouble. It was really cold in my room and I couldn’t figure out how to turn the heat up.
So, I finally walked up to the front desk and found someone who spoke a little bit of English and I said, “Please turn on the heat.” The response was heat. And after a while I figured out that the hotel did not have heat; heat was one of the things they didn’t provide. So, yeah. I went back to my room and I put on all the clothes I had and I sat there and watched MacGyver in Chinese on television.
TSR: Oh, boy.
Richard: Yeah. And then finally I figured I’d go to bed, and luckily, though, the beds were really warm. So, that worked out okay and they woke up early in the morning so I could catch this railroad train, this narrow gauge train that went from this little town up to where everybody would get off to watch the sunrise. So, it was — we got on this little train and it was jam packed full of tourists, and we took the train up and we watched the sunrise and everybody — on and it seemed to me kind of an odd thing but whatever. And I realized — I had my picture taken many times. The Taiwanese like to take pictures of foreigners.
TSR: Yes, I’ve heard that before.
Richard: Yeah. But anyway that was fun. I ended up walking through the park a bit and just kind of took my time while I was there. I enjoyed what I could and then I had to be back in Taipei for business again, and everything worked. I didn’t get lost. My Taiwanese friends were really amazed; one, that I was going, and two, that I didn’t have a problem! So I’m glad it worked out pretty well.
Now the last week that we had on this project required a really significant amount of training to be set up and I think it was four or five different cities and we had to bring all of our equipment and set it up and then break it down and take it with us. So, it was quite an important enterprise and so I asked if I could get some extra help and they said sure. So, I got a friend of mine who did a lot of this kind of training in Santa Barbara, to come help. His name is Bruce Lee.
TSR: [laughs] Bruce Lee! Wow.
Richard: I told Bruce, I said, “Look, we’re going to do a lot of traveling by train and you don’t want to bring anything big, you want to keep it down to like one suitcase and something that you can easily handle.” Well, he shows up with these two giant suitcases! The train goes along and it comes to the first stop — we need to get off and the Taiwanese culture is such that when the train stops, everybody tries to get on at the same time, everybody’s trying to get off. You know, there’s nobody, they don’t wait for you — you got to fight your way through them.
Well, for those trains we kind of knew that. You’d get to the station and grab your stuff, work your way up to the front door as best we could. And I told Bruce, “Come on, we’ve got to go.” We all got off, and we were standing there talking, we turned and Bruce was getting off the train, and he missed the step, and he ended up between the platform and the train! He had these two giant suitcases that held him up and they were stretched across the same area, so he just hung up his arms on the suitcases. He was just kind of there, and we were laughing so hard that we could hardly help him.
TSR: [laughs] I bet.
Richard: And luckily, some Chinese or Taiwanese folks were there and they helped him out of this jam. But if it hadn’t been for these two giant suitcases, he’d have ended up all the way down on the tracks. And it was pretty funny, we got a good kick out of that. One of the things that was kind of fun to do in the evenings when we were in Taipei was, well, they had what they called night markets, where they closed down a whole couple of streets, and the locals set up all kinds of stuff, selling food or trinkets, or you know, all kinds of stuff. And I tried to stay away from the street food. I just didn’t feel comfortable eating it. And, in fact, I was specifically told that the noodle vendors that were on the street had a high incidence of hepatitis.
TSR: You’d think there would be more of a problem with the meat dishes, not the noodles.
Richard Runyon: Yeah. Well, what they would do is clean all their utensils with a hose, and they didn’t have any hot water. You know, it really wasn’t very sanitary. So anyway, I stayed away from the noodle vendor. But one of the places that was sort of permanent was something they called Snake Alley, and it was called that because in addition to all kinds of vendors, they had certain ones who would specialize in snakes.
They would grab a snake, hook it up, and then they’d cut it down the middle and collect all the juices that came out. It would be a pretty big line of Taiwanese folks who wanted to drink this, because it was supposed to be a powerful aphrodisiac. And then they, of course, would eat the snake as well, and cook it up and eat it anyway. So, this was always a fun place to go and just kind of watch the craziness. And I’m back in there and I came across a vendor who was selling fake watches, and I wanted to buy some fake Rolexes. So I got talking to this gal, and she knew what I wanted, so she helped me find someone who could help, and this big guy, I mean, he was huge, he was like a sumo wrestler—
Richard: Anyway, so she told him what I wanted and he tells me to come with him, and it was a little spooky. None of my friends were around, so I couldn’t really tell them where I was going. But sure enough, I followed this guy, he was downstairs in this basement, which in itself was a little bit weird. And so I followed him into the basement, and it was just kind of a rec room down there. But then he turns it, goes into another room, and I still didn’t know what I was getting myself into. And sure enough the room was full of watches, all kinds of fake watches, and not just Rolexes, lots of other fancy names as well, a lot of French watches. Anyway, I went ahead and picked up some watches and went back upstairs, and I was completely safe the whole time. I had gotten nervous over something that I really didn’t need to, but you never know.
I did have an opportunity to have some interesting meals. One of the things in Taiwan was the food was absolutely great! There were many times I had no idea what I was eating, but it tasted wonderful. I always looked forward to the food. After I was no longer in the apartment, I was staying at the small hotel and I was getting there right after dinner, but they would help me. I ordered a big bowl of Sichuan beef noodle soup and a bottle of Taiwan beer — their bottles were huge, like quart bottles in size, a liter. So, I would eat the soup and drink the beer and I was ready for bed. It was really great. I loved that soup.
TSR News Group: So, let me ask you a question. Did you ever manage to find those particular flavors again in life?
Richard: No, I looked to try and see if I could make that soup myself, but I couldn’t quite duplicate it. It’s too bad. Anyway, half the time I didn’t know what I was eating. And there was a smell sometimes you’d notice when you’re on the streets. It was really disgusting. And I finally asked one of my friends what it was and they said, “Oh, stinky tofu.” That’s what they called it. It was a fermented tofu of some sort. It smelled just absolutely terrible. And sure enough, I was at a dinner one time and one of the guys ordered that stinky tofu. And so the way you eat there is like a lazy Susan, so all the food would go around it, and usually you pick something off of every tray just to try it. Sure enough, the stinky tofu ended up on my plate and I thought, “Well, there we go.” And so I ate it. And the odor, by the time it had come up to me, somewhat had dissipated. The flavor wasn’t bad. It certainly wasn’t strong like the odor. It was actually kind of a mild flavor. So, I felt better about that.
But I was in the southern city of Kaohsiung and I had gone out to lunch with a number of Taiwanese gentlemen and I was by myself. So they ordered lunch and I never knew what they ordered. Sometimes I could recognize what I had before. But this one dish came around and they all started chatting among themselves and looking at me, chatting and looking at me. So, finally they put it on my plate and it looked kind of odd, but it turned out to be a barbecued duck tongue. Just the tongues. I didn’t know tongues are attached to a bone that’s sort of free-floating. So the bones were still there and it’s kind of like a “Y”. You use your teeth to pull the meat off of it. It was actually pretty good but I kept wondering what happened to the rest of the duck.
Anyway, that one got published it in the Seattle Times, and then there was one other one that was also published. One of the Taiwanese engineers that I worked with, she knew I liked to cook and she was talking about her father who was a very good cook, according to everybody. He had this special dish that he would make and she told me what it was. But anyway, we were down there on a trip and she was staying at her parents’ place and invited us over for dinner, myself and another American. Her father was cooking and she said he made a special dish, and I went, “Oh, okay!” Because I knew what it was. And John, the American who I was with, did not know, and he asked me about it. I said, “I’ll tell you later, just eat some of it.” It turned out to be barbecue dog.
TSR: Oh, wow.
TSR: What did it taste like?
Richard: It was very good.
Richard: Yeah, it was good.
Richard: Yeah, that’s what I said: “Oh, wow.” And later that night, as we were leaving, John says, “Okay, well, what was it?” And I told him, and he just kind of looked at me, and he said, “Well, I’m glad you told me afterwards, because I don’t know if I could have eaten it had you told me before.” He was a big dog lover and he had a bunch of dogs at home. So, anyway, it was good. That one also got published in the Seattle Times.
One other situation that occurred while we were there that was of interest was I had shipped a number of video tapes, for teaching, into Taiwan, and they got hung up in customs. So, I had to go down there and get them back. It was quite the zoo! I was told which line to stand in. I was told who to go talk to first. Turns out there were no lines, so that’s a cultural thing, no lines at all. You just kind of fight your way through the crowd, and even though I was bigger and tougher than these guys, I really didn’t want to be obnoxious about it. So, I wasn’t overly crazy, but eventually I had to get this thing taken care of, so I worked my way up and gave the guy the card. He stamped it and pointed to another line, another guy. Okay, so I went over there and did the same thing, and they pointed to a third guy, and again, I was fighting the crowd to get over to this third guy. And he takes it, or he does whatever he needs to do and points me back to the first guy. So, I go back to the first guy, and he does something, I don’t remember what it was, trying to determine whether this package had to be visually examined or not, and it turns out that it did. Which he kind of looked at me apologetically, but there wasn’t anything to do. And so I had to wait for the examiner because it was his lunch time.
So, anyway, I waited for an hour and the guy finally shows up, goes back and gets the package of video tapes and he brings him out. He looks at them and realizes there’s no way he can tell what’s on these tapes because he didn’t have a machine to play them on. And he just kind of holds him up to the light, scratches his head, he hands them to me like, take off now. I think it cost me, it was like $60 to get to the airport and back, so to get these things was 120 bucks! Even though there was no cost to the customs folks, just look back and it took me that much to get down there and back, it was kind of a pain. Being a project manager, I had to be careful of all the money I was spending. And one of the things that I ended up having to do, I had to buy a big tea pot and its cooking unit for the fire chief who helped me. I had to buy backpacks for all the students. And there were all these things that I had not planned for in the budget. Anyway, that was my Taiwan experience.
TSR: Man, that’s something. What an adventure! When you visited Hong Kong, I understand that you had a similarly wide range of experiences as you did in Taiwan. But one thing that’s especially interesting is that all of this happened during Hong Kong’s period of British rule. Isn’t that right?
Richard: Yes, yeah. I figured, well, I wondered what it would cost to take in Hong Kong on one of my trips before I went home and it was $100. I thought, Well, heck, I’m going to do this! So, I booked a room and I got ready to go and told my boss I was going to do that. It was over the weekend, so he didn’t care. Then, they came back and said, “Hey, if you put on a presentation, we’ll pay for your trip.” So, I think, what the heck — pay for my room and my meals and an extra $100 on the airplane?
TSR: Why not?
Richard: I said sure, so I did that. And I ended up doing a presentation to the Hong Kong EPA, which was really interesting because their biggest problems were guys who were managing hazardous materials on, you know, like the 15th floor of some building. And how do you deal with something at that elevation?
TSR: Yeah, that’s tough.
Richard: It had all these regular problems, plus, you know if they spill the stuff it’s going to be a real disaster. So anyway, they asked me, what’s the biggest disaster I had ever managed, and it was an explosion of the Titan IV rocket that had taken off from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB). And the Air Force detonated it shortly after it left the pad, because there were problems. A fair amount of unexploded propellant had hung around, so I sent my team of guys out to make sure that we didn’t have to try and evacuate this little town of Lompoc, which was next to Vandenberg.
And then we also– I got the guys at the Air Pollution and Control District manager, and he looked at weather patterns and realized that anything that was a cloud like that was going to go offshore. So we needed to notify the oil rigs that were offshore, and he had a way to do that. So, he made contact with all of them, told them to shelter in place, go inside basically while this cloud of toxic material floated by. So, it worked out pretty well, but the interesting thing was, I had reservations to fly up to Northern California for a wedding, and so I dealt with this thing, and I still made my plane. And as I’m flying north, I could see the fires and embers still going, they hadn’t gotten them all out yet. And one of the other things that was kind of weird was VAFB had a team of guys out looking for a radioactive source. Apparently, the satellite that we’re going to put up was using a radiation source. But the source was what’s called an alpha emitter.
TSR News Group: An alpha emitter?
Richard Runyon: Yeah. And without going into all kinds of details, it’s not something that you would– you couldn’t pick it up with a Geiger counter, for instance. And there really wasn’t anything in our arsenal that could detect that. And apparently the Air Force had something because they were out there and they had signs up: ‘Stay Away’. And my boss got on my case, wondering how come we didn’t have a device like that. And I was able to explain to him that it was pretty rare that we would have to look for something like that. And that kind of device would be cost prohibitive. And so I managed to calm him back down.
Anyway, I got to Hong Kong. And one of the things that I really liked about it was because it was still under British rule that pretty much everything was in both English and in Chinese. Whereas in Taiwan, you were lucky if you found any English and there wasn’t a lot of people who spoke English. The Americans had left Taiwan after Vietnam — they used Taiwan as a place for R&R [rest and recuperation/relaxation] for a while during Vietnam, but that had been 20 years now. You know, nobody was learning English and it was hard to find people who spoke both Chinese and English.
So, when we got to Hong Kong, it was quite different. I just felt a lot more comfortable because I had been around and knew what was going on. If I went into a restaurant, the menus would be in English and Chinese. Whereas in Taiwan, they’re in Chinese. And I’d go into a restaurant in Taiwan and I wouldn’t have a clue. But I’d work with the waiter and we’d figure something out, but it was always a bit of a guess because we never really knew what we were going to get. But again, it was delicious, it didn’t make any difference.
In Hong Kong, I knew what I was going to get, but it was more expensive. That was one of the things I noticed. Hong Kong was not cheap. One of the things I wanted to do was some shopping and I was looking for a particular electronic device. And the thing that I found was that they had every model and make of the stupid device on the face of the earth, ones I hadn’t even heard of. They had the one I wanted, but it wasn’t necessarily a good price. It was okay though, so I did pick it up. I also bought some pearls when I was there. Pearls were a decent purchase, so I bought a nice string of pearls for my wife.
TSR: That’s nice.
Richard: I don’t think she’s ever worn them.
TSR: My wife is the same. She wanted pearls, got them, and I think she’s worn them once. Women, they love pearls, but then they don’t wear them.
Richard: Yeah, yeah. It’s got to be just the right dress or whatever.
Richard: Anyway, I was exploring around the island. I was staying on the mainland. Hong Kong, in those days — there was the island of Hong Kong and then the mainland, which was called Kowloon, which was also there to support the island. That’s where the airport was, and water treatment, and all that kind of stuff, as well as a lot of housing and everything. So to get over to the island, you take one of the ferries and go over. Now, I think they have a tunnel that goes underneath from the island to Kowloon. And so you can take that and make better time, but back then they didn’t have that. It was okay, though, it was kind of fun taking the ferries. They went on a regular schedule. I didn’t even know what it was because it wasn’t in English.
Anyway, one of the other reasons I went to Hong Kong, it was the only way you could get a visa to go to Mainland China — through Hong Kong. Now, I had no idea why that was true. So, that’s what I did. I went into Hong Kong. And then early one morning, I got on a boat and I can’t remember the name of it. Anyway, it took off and went up into Mainland where they dropped us off and we went through customs and immigration. They dropped us off in one of those special areas where they were allowing a little bit more lax, I don’t know, customs. And the kids all had these beautiful dresses and pants and shirts. I went to one of the schools and as we moved around town, you could really see the colors. It was really nice. And then they put us on a bus. And we headed north. And when we left this special zone and got into mainland China, boy, what a difference. It turned to gray.
TSR: I can imagine. This was your first-ever trip to China?
Richard: Yeah. And we proceeded north and we ended up in Guangzhou, which is one big, sprawling city. The bus took us to a couple of places, supposedly ones that were interesting. We ended up in an American type hotel where you could sit and have a drink or whatever. And then they put us on a train. And that train only went from Guangzhou to Hong Kong with a lot of stops in between. We had dinner on the train and got off in Hong Kong. One of the things they did when we were in Guangzhou, they took us to the zoo because they had a giant panda there and they wanted to show us.The panda was unfortunately in this big concrete exhibit. It really was like it was in jail, and it was really sad to see.
TSR: Yeah, that’s sad.
Richard: I have a buddy who collects coke bottles, but he only wants them with the coke still in them and the cap still on. So, I attempted to purchase one at the zoo and they wouldn’t sell it to me. I even got one of the folks that was showing us around who spoke really good Chinese and English, and I told her what I wanted and she chatted with the vendor, but she said no, they wouldn’t sell it. I thought that was pretty odd. I’ve often wondered, why wouldn’t they do that? Anyway.
TSR: Yeah, that’s a good question.
Richard: One of the other things I noticed while I was there at the zoo, was they had a — it wasn’t really a merry-go-round, it was more like one of those exhibits that would go round and round, but it could also go up and down, like if you were in a car or an airplane or something. And in this case it was an airplane — for kids, little kids. You get in the airplane and you’d go round and round and up and down. But they had mounted full scale AK-47s, or whatever the Chinese equivalent was, on the front of these airplanes.
Richard: So, the kids went round and round and pretended to fire these big guns. I thought that was pretty crazy. This was a good 30 years ago, so the Chinese hadn’t really opened up a lot. They were just beginning to allow tourists like us to come in. That’s why we had to kind of go through Hong Kong to do this.
TSR: Did it feel like a very oppressive society? Were you able to sense that?
Richard: We couldn’t really see that because we really weren’t dealing with the locals. There were young, educated folks who kept saying, “Ask us any question.” But you know, you hate to put people on the spot and you’re not really sure you’re going to get an answer that’s not scripted for you, anyway. So, we didn’t really press them too much. The only time we went without these folks was when we were in this hotel and it was mostly foreigners there. So, we really couldn’t get a feeling for how oppressive or not oppressive the government was. So, I don’t really know. Well, 30 years ago, this was before Tiananmen Square and you know a lot of things have happened since then. So, you would think that they were the least bothered by the government and they were probably trying to figure out a way to express that concern about finding themselves in jail.
TSR: Yeah. Well, I remember when we talked about your second China trip [in interview #1] you explained that you had to be pretty careful about what was said, even at the hotel.
Richard: Yeah, the hotel was bugged. We knew that whatever we said they were going to hear. And it was funny because we’d be in meetings, particularly in Taiwan, and I would say things and they were trying to hush me up, and these were things that I’d say freely if I was in the United States dealing with somebody there. I wasn’t saying anything that was out of policy by any means. But for whatever reason, they didn’t want to upset the guests too much. I mean, upset the…
TSR: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Richard: Yeah. Anyway, it was interesting. There were times in meetings when I would make comments and I could see they were really offended by my words. So I had to be careful because they would take things personally. And sometimes I would do it on purpose because I wasn’t getting the cooperation I wanted. So I would make these comments and it didn’t always work. Sometimes it backfired, but generally it helped me get the help I needed to make it work.
TSR: Yes, I understand. Now, back to the first China trip. What else went on?
Richard: Well, I think that was it. That trip was pretty short. It was basically a day… a long day, but…
TSR News Group: That’s pretty crazy. I notice that each place seemed to have its own defining characteristics. So, with all of these interesting experiences that you had in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, you must have liked one place best. I know the one where you liked the food best, but overall, which one has remained closest to your heart, and why?
Richard Runyon: Well, you’re right. I like the food in Taiwan.
TSR: Yeah. I’ve never been [to Taiwan], but good food is enough to make it a favorite in my book!
Richard: I made a lot of friends while I was in Taiwan. One of the reasons I went to Hong Kong was because my father told me it was his favorite city that he’d visited.
TSR: And he visited a lot of cities, too.
Richard: Yeah, he did. So, I enjoyed Hong Kong a lot, but it’s not that way anymore. It’s completely changed now that the Chinese have taken over the administration. It’s kind of interesting. I’ll give you a little bit of history. The island of Hong Kong was ceded to the British government after the Second Opium War in the 1800s. The British won the war and one of the concessions was [the claim to] Hong Kong. So, that was outright owned by the British. But as things progressed, they realized that the island wasn’t big enough to handle all the other things that needed to be handled, like sewage plants, water treatment plants, airports, all those kinds of things. And they all ended up on leased land; Kowloon had a 99-year lease. So, that’s where the lease was that ran out. It wasn’t Hong Kong. But as Hong Kong couldn’t exist without that lease, they were pretty well forced to give it up as well. It was owned by the British. So, it’s kind of like an interesting side note.
TSR News Group: Yeah, it is. I never knew any of that before, but it’s fascinating. Well, that just about wraps up this installment and what a thrilling one it was. Also, readers might be interested in knowing that this phase of the [‘A Story to Tell’] series marks the beginning of a kind of sub-series, in which Richard Runyon is going to be focusing on his experiences all over the world, and just like this current chapter, it’s going to be presented logically, meaning in terms of geography and theme, all with the usual goal of making it the best overall story possible. It’ll be even more of a travelogue than usual and just as much fun.
For further reading, please visit Richard Runyon’s official website, as well as his upcoming “Richard Runyon’s Storybook” series website.
For the original version of this press release, please visit 24-7PressRelease.com here