Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 27 2001

Despite the fact that there was no blue to be seen…

Despite the fact that there was no blue to be seen in the sky, it was sunny and hot in a muggy way designed to make one sweat as much as possible. The climb up Kuanyin Mountain yesterday turned out to be more tasking than any of us had predicted. First we met at the Taipei train station, and then took a bus through Sanchung(shudder) and then north towards Bali(no, not that Bali). We climbed a long ways up and realized that Kuanyin Mountain is not just one peak. There is a reason that it looks like the profile of the goddess from afar, and that is because it is a multitude of peaks, some of them quite steep. Consequently, when we came across a sign saying “To Kuanyin Mtn”, it pointed downhill to the bus stop. So, in an effort to keep things simple, we figured we would just try going Up until we couldn’t go Up any more, and then we would go Down.

The path up the mountain peak we chose consisted of seemingly endless concrete steps. Periodically we had to stop and rest. I was sweating buckets from the heat and humidity. People were coming down the path, everyone from old men to kids. One of the kids pointed to us and said “Look, pa! Americans!” Steve, being British, corrected the boy, saying “No, we’re not Americans. We’re aliens.”

“Look, pa! Aliens!” the little boy shouted pointing even more fervently in our direction.

We stopped at a pavillion where a woman had some “Super Supao” sports drinks(i.e. sugar water) floating in a pan full of luke-warm water. Every time she ran out she would go unlock a steel door and get some more. The steel door was the only thing protecting her Supao stash. The other four sides of the enclosure consisted of vegetation.

By the time we got to the top of that particular peak, the sound of the backhoe that was clearing off a peice of land next to the parth began to drown out the sound of the Karaoke echoing from the valley below. We spotted another, higher peak, the highest one in the vicinity, and headed towards it. Once there, we found a deck made out of sun-baked wood-like material whose slightly melted state betrayed its identity as plastic. From there we could have seen all of Taipei, Yangming Mountain, and Tamshui, if the mist/fog/pollution/whatever hadn’t draped everything in milky white. As it was, all we could catch was a glimpse of the river and Tamshui Township on the other side.

The hike down the other side was even harder than the hike up, but more isolated. The jungle-like setting and many interesting insects, including 7-inch long black-and-orange centipedes and the occasional crushed snake, make it enjoyable. My legs were aching by the time we reached the road, but the road down the moutain was every bit as steep as the path. We passed one curve, overlooking a small, polluted stream, where the barbed wire had been torn down and the remnants of ghost money littered the asphalt. No doubt it was the site on some fatal car accident not too long ago.

Finally we reached the road running along the bank of the river. Our plan had originally been to take the ferry over to Tamshui, have dinner, and then take the MRT back to the city, but, due to some bad communication, we ended up on a bus back through Sanchung(shudder), to the Train Station, where we had started out that morning.

After having some dinner and rather bad service at Friday’s and browsing a few electronics shops to see whether the Rio Volt has arrived here or not, I went to the 2-28 park to take some photos. The sun had set, and the presidential office was lit up quite brilliantly. If they would light up the provincial museum it would look great and give Kuanchien Road a real focal point. Maybe someday they’ll realize that.

I took the MRT back to the Taipower Bldg station and realized that I hadn’t finished my roll of film, so I went up on the pedestrian overpass on Roosevelt Road to take a few shots of the nighttime traffic. There was a girl wearing a white shirt and jeans standing there, staring out over the traffic. I ignored here and proceeded to set up some long-exposures. As I did so I head the girl crying. As I took my photos her crying grew more and more insistant, almost a wailing.

“I can’t take it anymore!” she said, over and over. As I finished the last shot and rolled my film back, I glanced over and saw that she had one leg over the railing. She saw me looking and got back down.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “TC, you should go over there and talk to her.” But you’re wrong. I have seen crazy women here before, and that would just be asking for trouble. I am not equipped to deal with this kind of situation. There is a reason people like this woman are avoided in Taiwan. My good friend Boogie even wrote a song about “Crazy Woman Number 5” or something like that (this was a long time before Lou Bega, by the way). If she did jump, though, it wouldn’t be just her, but the traffic below that would have been in trouble.

So I couldn’t just leave her there, so I went down to the nearest store, which sold appliances. I went in and asked the guy that worked there where the nearest police station was. He said three blocks. Damn, too far. So we went out and flagged down a passing police cruiser. The officers pulled over and turned on their flashing lights, which I thought probably wasn’t the best of ideas. They got out and went over to the overpass, one on each side.

Of course the girl saw all of this, I heard her screaming at them, but she left anyway. The officers came back and, shouting “It’s nothing!”, got in their car and drove off. I lingered a bit, seeing if she would come back, but I saw no sign of her.

Of course this was the moment that Melvin walked up. Melvin is my former boss from the newspaper I used to work at. He was just back from a symposium in Hong Kong, and we talked a bit as we walked through the Shi-da area.

By the time I got home, I was extremely ready for sleep. But I had told some friends of mine I would meet up with them later, so I took a shower and headed out to the Tavern, and then over to the Watershed to see my friend Ronnie, who was DJing there last night. The Watershed is nice, but it was a bit crowded and I was about to pass out, so I had to come back and crash.

The weather today is just like yesterday, but today I don’t plan to climb any mountains. Harry called and asked if I wanted to go to the beach, but I think I will stay in the city today. Right now I am enjoying my AC too much. Later I will go to the Jade market, drop off my film for processing, whatever…it’s a whatever kind of Sunday. Ants are literally invading my room. I thought that I had foiled them with the mosqito spray on my doorknob, but they have figured that one out already. Clever little creatures. I think I will feed them to my fish.

*rubs hands together gleefully in a James Bond Villain-esque manner*

Getting lots of requests for my T-shirt(no, not the one I’m wearing, the one I designed). I might have to make more…and if I do, I should probably put my URL on there and sell them through this website.

Ah, whatever.

posted by Poagao at 3:43 am  

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