Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 16 2001

Another wasted Saturday…ah, but it felt good to …

Another wasted Saturday…ah, but it felt good to just stretch out on my bed and know that nothing was on my schedule for the entire day. So I doodled in my sketchbook, caught up on some reading, configured my webcam to broadcast The Poagao Channel (Channel 285680 on Earthcam TV) whenever I feel the need to become the object of visual voyeurism in addition to the literary voyeurism I usually subject myself to in this journal. I also watched The Godfather DVD I bought recently. The good stuff, ’twas.

This morning I was awoken at about 7am by someone shouting/singing in arabic nearby. I poked my head out the window to find Hsinsheng South Road filled with hundreds of people milling around. Then I realized that today was the day muslims can start eating again after fasting for Ramadan, and there was a huge celebration at the mosque next door. Various chants, which I assume went something like “Nothing like fasting to build an appetite” were traded between the crowds and the person on the loudspeaker. By 9am it had pretty much died down, and the sun came out.

I did get some writing done, but eventually I decided I had to take some advantage of the nice weather, particularly since it’s all that much rarer in December, so I bought some sandwiches and walked down to the NTU campus to eat and read. The nice thing about NTU campus people is that they are so assured of their English ability that a foreign-looking person tends to be beneath their notice, which is nice.

After lunch I walked across Roosevelt Rd, aiming for the river. I passed a few empty apartment buildings and wondered why they were empty until I noticed the high-voltage power lines running behind them. I can’t imagine living with that threatening hum 24 hours a day, either.

I kept walking towards the river, passing the amusingly named Drinking Water Museum, recalling the good old days back when there was actually potable drinking water in Taiwan. Further on down the road I passed a series of amusing murals depicting the various stages of a standard military obstacle course in a sort of anime-esque style painted clumsily on the wall underneath an elevated highway. The sounds of young men’s voices came from behind the wall, and I stopped to take some pictures.

I was just snapping the last of the murals when one of the men, wearing the blue jumpsuit of an MP, came over and told me I couldn’t take pictures of the murals. “What? Are there military secrets to found in these awful….uh, awfully cute paintings?” I asked him. He was about half a foot taller than me and looked quite stern, but sorry, I’ve served with MPs before and he didn’t scare me. I was finished taking pictures anyway, so I just said “Ok, fine,” and walked away. Just for your reference, here are the “top-secret” murals the MPs were so concerned about keeping me from photographing:

1. Start! This is the beginning of the obstacle course, if you hadn’t noticed.

2. Barbed wire. Here’s a hint: go underneath it.

3. What looks like log-rolling is really crossing over either shark- or small-mountain-infested water using gray logs. Secret: Grow extra arms. Shhh!

4. Pole-climbing. The trick to this is to hide behind the pole so the enemy won’t see you.

5. Jumping over a log while running from a comically-depicted pursuing tank. I’d probably go around the log, but that’s just me. I’m not quite sure how not having a mouth or nose is supposed to help here.

After I finished wandering around down by the always-depressing riverside park, Kirk called and said he wanted to go shopping for videogames, so we arranged to meet at T-zone. While I was waiting I watched the traffic and noticed two large-capacity imported bikes dodging through traffic. The problem with larger capacity motorcycles here is that everyone in Taiwan is used to having these little scooters they just drive flat-out all the time. People drive as fast as they can go, and that is going to have to change. Unfortunately, most of the people who are, at least initially, be able to afford the larger bikes are going to be rich young people, who tend to be the absolute worst drivers there are, probably due to a combination of belief that they are young and cannot die couple with a belief that they are rich and cannot get caught. Another problem is that police here are used to passing out tickets for such things are making a right turn on red rather than for dangerous driving or speeding.

All of this is either going to have to change, or traffic is going to get very bloody very fast. In the case of the latter, I might just shelve my plan to buy a new motorcycle and do what Kirk does; take the MRT and buses everywhere I go, unless it’s out in the country somewhere.

When Kirk arrived, he showed me a reindeer antlers headband he bought for NT$100. It lit up and played “Jingle Bells” when he put it on. I told him it was the tackiest thing I’d seen all day, but I have to admit it did cheer me up.

It seems that the Ramadan festivities are still going on downstairs this evening in the form of music and other events. I like it.

posted by Poagao at 11:11 am  

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