It has been a very long day. Even though it’s now Sunday night and I am typing this in a hotel room in Rennes, France, my day started on Saturday morning with frantic packing and rushing out the door of the Water Curtain Cave wondering if I’d forgotten anything (I had). It was a balmy 27 degrees, cloudy, and for some reason I really wasn’t mentally prepared to travel.
I met Chenbl and Xiao Guo at the disappointing Japanese place in the bus station. Chenbl was showing Xiao Guo guidebooks and plans, of which I have no clue. We got on a bus to the airport, all of us wondering how much longer we’d have to wait before Taiwan finally has a proper airport metro line, and got there in plenty of time.
As we were waiting in the lounge, none other than Wu Bai, minus China Blue, showed up and sat at the next table. It was obviously him, not just from his bearing and face, but his voice as well. I know it must suck to have fans always pestering you all the time, but I figured that I talk some photography as he has published several photobooks. Though he is far superior to me as a musician, I pretty much kick his ass at photography, so I reckon it’s not an outlandish idea.
However, when I sidled up and prepared to introduce myself, I only got as far as “Excuse me, but…” before he just shook his head and covered his face. In addition to virtually screaming YES I AM WU BAI BUT THERE IS NO WAY I AM GOING TO TALK TO YOU, it was rather disappointing.
So I returned to our table and conversation, and eventually Wu Bai got up, put on his sunglasses (therefore officially becoming Wu Bai, I suppose), and led his entourage on a stare-laden walk to his flight.
In addition to Wu Bai, the airport was filled with mainland Chinese, most of whom were on our flight to Shanghai. We chatted with the stewardess about how sucky her job was, and were the only people to go through the transfer lounge except for a young woman from Keelung. She was sitting next to Xiao Guo for the Paris leg of our journey, a full 12.5-hour flight. Chenbl encouraged me to drink some red wine to help me sleep, but all I got was fits and starts. Even watching Disney’s Brave didn’t help (much).
At one point the cabin crew made an annoucement: “According to Rules, we are now going to spray the cabin with insecticide that is in no way harmful to your health.” And they did. It was like being in a cattle car, which, considering the loud, coughing, sometimes vomiting mainlanders, wasn’t too far off.
Shortly before landing, Xiao Guo and I saw a plane alarmingly close to us as we made a turn, and feet before we hit the runway the pilot gunned the engines and went around for another attempt, which was a little unsettling. No explanations were forthcoming; in fact, the pilot hadn’t said a single thing during the flight. Perhaps they did away with him and left it up to the cabin crew.
The ride to the terminal where we were meeting Carlos, who was flying in from Newark, was very long in the early morning hours. After meeting up, we took an even longer ride on a dirty subway into Paris as the sun rose. Beggars would come through occasionally, leaving slips of paper on the seats next to us with instructions on how to give them money, and then once we had ignored them for a few minutes, they would come by again and retreive them.
We walked around the city, basically all day, dodging street washers, watching the trios of automatic-weapon holding security squads, having lunch and walking through an art market with one (1) photographer who was very mediocre, and browsing a cemetary for famous dead people. We were going to go down into the catacombs but Carlos was very jetlagged and the line was atrocious.
After a delicious dinner near the station, we boarded the TGV out to Rennes, which screwed up my ears as badly as an airplane trip for some reason.