Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 27 2002

I am feeling annoyed. There are multiple reasons f…

I am feeling annoyed. There are multiple reasons for this, but we’ll get to that later. First things first: My trip to Yanshui.

Dean has been nagging me all week to accompany him and Brian down to the annual traditional fireworks festival in Yanshui, which is a small town in southern Taiwan that comes to life one night a year and then promptly blows itself up. According to my shaky memory, a long time ago there was some sort of plague ravaging the town, and when things were at their worst, the remaining residents set off some fireworks, which seemed to end the plague, so now they do it every year.

The last time I was down in Yanshui for the festival was back in ’89 or ’90, and I still have a scar on my wrist from it. It was incredibly violent, huge throngs of people pushing and shoving against each other in a way that makes one fear for one’s life, “god palanquins”, born by the towns thuggery, would literally toss people out of their way, and building-sized arsenals of fireworks were set off, mostly aimed at the crowds. My jacket caught on fire and a firecracker penetrated the only unprotected surface of my body, i.e. my wrist, the one that didn’t have a watch on it. Of the five of us who went down that day, none was spared some sort of injury, and by the time we returned to Taichung, where I was living at the time, the interior of the car was covered with blood. When we left Yanshui at dawn, we passed burning scooters barely visible though the heavy smog.

I was feeling in an adventurous mood yesterday, i.e. I was bored and feeling sick of Taipei, so I told Dean I would go with them. So we all packed into Kay’s little white Daihatsu and headed south.

In the 12 or 13 years since my last visit, things have become a great deal tamer in Yanshui. The deaths of six people the day before the festival might have had something to do with this, but when Dean, Kay, Brian and I arrived at the town last night after a 3-4 hour drive, it seemed shockingly underpopulated compared with what I remembered. People weren’t shoving against each other, and I didn’t even get in any fights with any god-palanquin thugs this time around. We walked into town, having parked on the outskirts, found Graham and Eoghain, and then followed a firetruck making its way through the crowd to where the racks of fireworks were being set off into the crowd. People began hopping up and down when the barrages came, since fireworks get lodged and explode if you don’t move around quickly. The smoke was thick and Kay’s asthma wasn’t liking the situation. She did manage, miraculously as everyone else was ducking exposives, to engage in some window shopping.

The explosive barrages came without warning, especially if you didn’t happen to be looking when they set them off. I was talking with Graham at one point when unabashed terror crossed his features before he hastily slammed his helmet visor down. I knew what was coming and had just closed my own visor when the rain of fireworks began to shower down upon us and the crowd began to jump up and down. I tried to take some pictures of the fireworks themselves but most of them came out like this.

At around 2am we strolled past the rave the foreigners were holding at a warehouse -a sign in Chinese proclaimed “Dances with Foreigners”- and left Graham and Eoghain there. There was a lot of foreigners in Yanshui this year, I thought. Probably because of the rave. The rest of us walked back to the car. I took one last picture of some fireworks across a field before we left. It was good to be out of Taipei and in the country, although my nose is still filled with the remnants of last night’s smoke.

It was a fun experience, but my back didn’t like the hours spent cooped up in a Daihatsu and going to bed at 5am this morning. I debated not going in to work today, and I probably shouldn’t have bothered. The IT department still hasn’t figured out how to hook up our Internet access, so I just sat around and played pool with my co-workers. I was so bored I even tried out the new shower, which is far nicer than what I have here at home.

Speaking of home, my landlord told me yesterday that I can’t have a cat. This confirmation of my previous suspicions, added to the lack of water pressure, the mosquitoes, the road noise, etc., is causing me to seriously think about moving. The mosquitoes are especially annoying. I still don’t understand how the buzzing kind of mosquitoes successfully evolved rather than the kind that doesn’t announce its presence and get slapped.

One of the local publishers, one which I had previously had high hopes for, called me tonight and suggested that nobody here would be interested in my book. “All of the guys here have already been in the army; they know what it’s like,” she told me. “Your book is written for non-Taiwanese people. What people here in Taiwan want to know more about it you and your shady background. So you would really need to write another book if you want to get it published here. Tell you what, you write another book, and then call us, ok?”

Oh, well. So much for that brilliant idea. I guess I am going to have to do things the hard way after all and try to get the damn thing published in an English-speaking market, which is going to be pretty tough, especially from Taiwan. All of the people I thought I knew in the publishing industry don’t seem to eager or able to help me out, so I’m just going to have to email a shitload of agents/publishers and hope that I can get someone’s attention. Could take years, that.

In other news, someone emailed me that my splash page has turned up on a Spanish-language website talking about the origins of weblogging and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’. This is bizarre. The article doesn’t mention me; I can only assume that whomever wrote the article just found me in the links of the sites they were actually writing about. Could be worse, I suppose.

Tomorrow is 2/28, or “Peace Day”, in commemoration of the 2/28 slaughter back in 1945 here. I will probably spend most of the day in a horizontal fashion. I feel like I’ve hit a wall in the publishing thing; maybe I need to approach it from a different angle. I don’t know. It would be a shame to have come this far and then still not be able to get the damn thing published. It’s a really annoying thought, and the mosquitoes aren’t helping my frame of mind much, either.

posted by Poagao at 4:46 pm  

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