Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 11 2001

Things always come up on unplanned weekends. This …

Things always come up on unplanned weekends. This morning as I was cleaning up a flood I inadvertantly caused by poking a hole in the washbasin where I keep my turtles, Steve called. He wanted his CD’s back and suggested we meet. As I had no plans, I suggested lunch at Grandma Nitti’s and a hike afterwards, so we said we’d meet at 1:30. I was late, of course, and Steve had already started eating by the time I got there. The meal wasn’t bad, but it was nice to escape the crowd of mostly foreigners loudly enjoying their weekends.

We took the MRT up to the Jiantan Station and proceeded up into the hills behind the Grand Hotel. I’d been up there before, but not as far as Steve had. We passed groups of Taiwanese people exercising, playing ball and listening to blaring music on portable radios. As we proceeded, there were fewer and fewer people, and the wooden walkway degraded into a dirt path with stones set down the middle. I took a few shots of the city through the haze. Once, when Steve and I had taken off our shirts and were sitting by the side of the path, a couple of older women walked past and glared at us with a mixture of horror and disgust. I guess I could be in better shape.

By the time we reached the Christian cemetary, the sun was low in the sky and all of the mosquitoes deflected by my generous dousing of “Off” went straight for Steve, who was pointing out how some of the graves seemed to have been broken out of rather than broken into. I told you Steve was eerie.

On our way down the mountain we passed through a complex of buildings belonging to a local betelnut farmer. His bathtub was out on the patio and chickens ran in and out of the house. It looked quite ideal, surrounded by bamboo and betelnut trees (the government has recently announced that it is going to cut down all the illegal betelnut trees to avoid undue soil erosion. I hope they remember to plant something in their place). As we reached the road a group of loud woman began screeching with laughter at our presence. “Look! Foreigners!” they screamed in Taiwanese. “They’re walking out of the cemetary! Why would they walk all that way? It’s so strange!”

Hoping to explain our presence, I replied “We walked over from behind the Grand Hotel.” But this just set off a torrent of hilarious incredulity that a foreigner could speak Mandarin. I considered telling them to watch what they said in Taiwanese, since I understand that as well. I decided, however, that that would have been just asking for even more trouble, so we just turned around and kept walking, past a new, well-advertised apartment building ironically called “Secret Garden”, down past a military base to Bei-an Road. There we took a bus back to the train station.

“Are you hungry?” Steve asked, to which I replied “A bit.” We then decided to see if we could get out on the roof of the Asiaworld department store building, which is right next to the Mitsukoshi building. We took the elevator to the 24th floor and then walked up to the 27th floor. As soon as Steve tried to open the door to the roof, a piercing alarm sounded. Visions of police squads filled our heads, but we decided to see if any of the other four roof exits were open.

None of the were, of course, but the stairwells were rather bizarre. I have no idea what they were doing in those stairwells, but it seemed to involve bodily fluids in some capacity, as there were splotches of red trailing down the walls, ending abruptly in a large red stain. Next to it was a similar pattern, but in black. “The only thing scarier than bloodstains are wierdly colored bloodstains,” Steve commented. I think it might have had something to do with an obviously dead dot-com on the 25th floor. I imagine the last days must have been terrifying.

We went back down and started looking for a Muslim restaurant Steve remembered going to on Bo-ai Road, but this search was just as futile as our search for an open door to the Asiaworld roof, so we settled for wonton noodles at a shop where the owner suspected us of being German. As we ate, he rode a scooter inside the restaurant and parked it next to us. Then he went outside and rode another one in. And another. Soon we were surrounded by scooters the owner had parked inside the restaurant, which more resembled a parking lot by that point. Actually, I noticed yet another swastika, this time emblazoned on the gas tank of a motorcyle on the street near the restaurant. Swastikas are big in Taiwan. I think this one is definitely not Buddhist, although I wonder why the guy also had a flag from down under stuck on his bike as well.

Steve left to catch a bus home, so I went to the 2/28 park and snapped a couple of photos before getting on the MRT back to the Taipower building. It is now almost one o’clock in the morning, so I doubt I will be going out again tonight, much as I’d like to find that new place, the “G-something” and meet some people. I’ve added a banner graphic to my Cast of Characters page, and updated the member list as well. I think I’ve done enough for one day.

posted by Poagao at 4:48 pm  

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