Remembering a Training for Drillers in Taiwan
One of my most enjoyable and satisfying consulting jobs was in Taiwan, teaching drilling in 1984. The client had two young women meet me at the Taoyuan International airport in Taipei, take me to lunch and then take me to another airport and put me on a plane to my destination in Taitung, Taiwan. These young women spoke excellent English (I understand that they both worked for American Express).
Arriving in Taitung, I was met by Mr. Yeong, the client, and my interpreter, Mae Len. From that time forward, Ms. Len looked after my needs. This included everything from putting my shoes on my feet to removing bones from any fish placed before me. Later, Ms. Len bought me flip-flops. It’s the custom in Asian countries to remove your shoes when entering any home.
The following day, we went to several well sites. One was a hand dug well at a police station where the client explained that an employee was at the well by himself. Unfortunately, the employee had been asphyxiated by carbon monoxide fumes in the well. He fell in the well and drowned.
Following that, we went to several drill sites on which we worked rigs that I later learned were owned by Mr. Yeong. It was then that I learned that he owned several Japanese cable tool drills.
My interpreter didn’t travel with us and, not being able to speak or understand the language, I seldom knew what was coming next. One day we caught a bus and traveled to a boat dock where we boarded a large work boat and traveled toward China, I think. Arriving on Wong Ann Island, we rented two Vespas and rode them to a large cemetery. There was a non-working cable tool rig in the center of the cemetery. It was discussed in Chinese, then we returned to the boat. Mr. Yeong said two words to me: “DeepRock?” “No DeepRock!,” I responded, referencing the fact that the locations we had visited were mostly boulders and were not suitable for drilling with a DeepRock-manufactured drill.
We traveled to another island, this one unknown to me. Being a fishing village, there was no place to sleep or eat. Mr. Yeong left me and his friends on a park bench and he rode off. Soon he returned with the mayor of the city and he invited us to eat and stay the night with him. This was Mother’s Day and the mayor apologized that all they had was lobster. We ate, enjoyed beer and went to bed. The beds were limited to hard bamboo mats. The following day, we visited several local business people, and a Buddhist temple. We said our goodbyes and headed back on the boat.
I was there to teach Mr. Yeong to drill air and mud rotary drilling using a DeepRock DR-100, which I did at other sites.
On my second trip to Taiwan several years later, the drill site was on Green Island, Taiwan. Green Island is a resort island for the Taiwanese and an international scuba diver favorite because the water is so clear. We arrived on the island by plane and, since there were very few cars on the island, the local police rented Vespas. The police looked at me and shook his head. “You’re too big; you take my scooter,” he said. It was a black and white Honda 175 and I think it said “police” on the sides.
We stayed at a small hotel in Nanliao Village. The people and children were kind and friendly. A crowd of children would hang onto me as we walked everywhere. Later, while undressing, I found paper coins in my pockets. I asked my driller associate, “Why these?” He said that the children think you are a Buddha. They are giving offerings to the gods.
In my time spent drilling on the island, I drove my cycle everywhere. There was an 11-mile main road around the island, which offered many sights. I visited The Sleeping Beauty, a washout in the rocks that resembled a lady sleeping; Jhaorih Saltwater Hot Springs, where hot water flowed into the sea; and Guanyin Cave, where people visit the “Goddess of Mercy,” an underground cavern that has a stalagmite that supposedly looks like the deity. There was also the Taiwan Prison, which I didn’t visit.
Before departing Taiwan, I was given a going away party attended by the many new friends that I had met, and included lots of food and sake. They urged me to drink the sake, but I told them I wanted to remember getting on the plane. They must have gotten me on the plane OK — I don’t remember. However, when I arrived home and opened my suitcase, there were things that I hadn’t placed there and gifts for Bess that I hadn’t bought.
Traveling in this foreign county where these people took the time to introduce me to their culture, families, home and comfort will always bring back cherished memories for me.
For more Porky columns, visit www.nationaldriller.com/porky.