Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 12 2001

Harry was going to come by this afternoon to drop …

Harry was going to come by this afternoon to drop off some CD’s, so this morning I went and picked up my laundry, checked my receipts to see if I’d won NT$2 million (I didn’t), organized my photos and had a little photoshopping fun with Dean, who actually used to be a security guard back in Canada.

At about 3:30, however, Harry called and said his stomach hurt, so he wouldn’t be coming over. The weather outside was brilliant, and I didn’t relish the thought of languishing in my room for the rest of the day, so I went out on my balcony, opened the window, and looked to see where I wanted to go. The hills of Beitou looked particularly inviting, and I hadn’t been up there in a while, so there I went.

Every time I go to Beitou I wonder why I don’t live there. Sure, it would take longer to get to work, but it’s such a nice, peaceful place. Even before I got there, when the train to New Beitou opened its automatic doors, I could catch a whiff of the burnt sulphur from the hot springs. Water is omnipresent in Beitou…if the sound of babbling brooks drives you crazy, don’t go. But if you’re like me and find it the most pleasant sound you can imagine, Beitou is the place to be. Little streams are everywhere, crossed by tiny bridges and falling down minute waterfalls. After only walking for a few minutes, I had left the chaos of the city behind; it was quiet I was surprised to be able to hear the crunch of dead leaves under my feet. The air was fresher than in the city as well, and the smell of trees and water mixed in a rather pleasant fashion. I even found a Tallow tree, just like the ones we had in our front yard when I was growing up in Florida.

More people live in actual houses in Beitou, real structures with yards, garages and the like. Families stroll and people walk their dogs. I realize that it’s prohibitively expensive to live up there, but it’s nice to be able to walk around and at least imagine living there. At one point I was about to take a picture of myself in one of those corner warning mirrors when, all of the sudden, I heard the unusually low-pitched growling of a very large dog right behind me. By reflex my finger pressed the the camera button and I ended up with this shot of me wondering exactly what that thing is making snarling noises behind me. It turned out to be some kind of husky/german shepard mix, and its beef was apparently not with me, but with another dog down the street.

I left them at it and walked up past the houses to areas where farmers were tilling terraced fields, and then back down again. The sun was setting as I walked up the stream on the other side of the MRT station, past the traditional hot spring baths where I like to go bathe in the winter. They had redone the sidewalks since I was last there, with stones preventing cars from completely blocking pedestrians. They’ve even redone the drains, which are artful, swirly affairs designed to entertain as well as drain! I wonder if they actually work. A tour bus was making its way up the narrow road and I watched as it knocked the side mirror off of a toyota parked on the shoulder. The bus driver got out, made sure he had enough room to escape without further damaging the car, and then drove off.

As night falls upper Beitou becomes not a little spooky, as there are many old abandoned Japanese-style houses covered with decades of jungle-like vegetation lying in the darkness just out of the reach of the streetlights. I decided it was time to go back, but instead of taking the MRT at the New Beitou station, I set off along the winding concrete path built underneath the elevated line back to the Beitou station. Since the MRT follows the original Japanese railway tracks, the buildings are already built up around the line. The area beneath the MRT tracks is enclosed on both sides by the backs of mostly older buildings, and it almost feels like it is indoors. People sit outside the back of their shops on folding chairs, talking. Lots of cats can be seen slinking around. One man was watering the bushes down there, as apparently they never get any rainwater. Various colors, from the red of ancestral shrines to the fluorescent white of offices, spilled from windows along the way. I liked the outside-but-not-outside feel of it all. I will have to go back there during the day, just to see what it’s like then.

I could be wrong, but is this really the best choice for naming your coffee shop? I saw this shop on my way back home. I even got off the train just to take this picture.

So my unplanned weekend has actually turned out quite well. I had a feeling it might.

posted by Poagao at 3:19 pm  

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