Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 22 2002

I’ve been getting some strange reactions from peop…

I’ve been getting some strange reactions from people lately. When yet another horrendously loud activity was being held in the square downstairs on Saturday, this one involving loud kids, entry-level Christmas music and goats in a pen, I spent the afternoon out shopping. At one shop the man behind the register asked me where I learned my Chinese. “Here and there,” I answered after the customary shrugging consternation.

“You must have learned a lot of it here, because you have a really thick Taiwanese accent,” he said. When I got back to my building, the doorman downstairs asked me if I was Muslim. He had assumed I was on account of the unconventional, vaguely Middle Eastern hats I usually wear, but then observed me eating things during Ramadan and became confused about my religious orientation. I had to tell him that most of my hats were actually of Taiwanese aborigine origin.

That night was Bret and Allan’s Christmas Party out in Nangang, so I met Kirk at the Kunyang Station and the two of us caught a ride with Harry over to the deluxe split-level apartment Bret and Allan share in a large complex out there. The food was nice, with a Christmas ham, ambrosia, hot cider and cheesecake, and I met some old acquaintances there as well. I chatted and stuffed myself until almost midnight, when Harry invited me up to the Huayicun Hot Springs with some of his friends. I’d never been up there at night, much less in the winter, so I said ok. It began to rain as we drove one of the friends’ minivan up the mountain, and thick fog met us at the top and followed us down the twisty darkened paths on the other side to the springs. In spite of the hour and the weather, the road leading to the complex was filled with cars. We managed to find a space and rushed inside. It was a lot colder on the mountain than in the city, and the heavy rain didn’t help. Stripping off one’s clothes and running through freezing rain into a semi-warm pool of water wasn’t the most uncomfortable part, however. Getting out of that pool and then running around naked in search of a hotter pool was much, much worse. “Fuck, fuck, fuck a duck it’s cold!” I kept repeating as I made my way to the hotter hot springs, which were crowded with guys seeking shelter from the cold pelting rain. Oh, but that felt good. I pretty much stayed in the hot pools the whole night, especially after a particularly disappointing trip to the mud baths, which turned out to be unheated in addition to full of mud.

All kinds of guys were there, fat and thin, dark and light-skinned, everyone from students to cab drivers to gangster types covered in Japanese-style tattoos. The pools are spread out open to the elements on a hillside, so whenever the cold wind and rain gusted through you could hear the multiple splashes of guys jumping into the muddy hot water up to their necks. We stayed until after 3am and then drove back to the city. It was 5am before I got to sleep, but I was woken up at 9am sharp by still another cacaphony from downstairs. This is getting extremely annoying. If it weren’t for my lease I would be looking for another place already. I tried sleeping through it but no dice, so I joined Dean and Key on a trip up to Tianmu to forage for Christmas Dinner supplies at Wellman’s Market up on Zhongshan North Road. We managed to find quite a bit of goodies there, though the man who runs it was complaining that business has been falling off over the past few years since more and more western menu items have become commonly available here, and Tianmu is no longer the foreign enclave it once was. Nowadays the defining feature of the area is more spoiled Taipei American School kids than spoiled expat-package wives.

After arranging the turkey for Wednesday’s celebrations and meeting up with Mindcrime during lunch at Juke, we dropped off the groceries at Dean’s place and headed over to Warner Village to see The Two Towers, a very long film. It was very good in spite of its length, however. The only part I didn’t like was the insert with the interaction between Elrond and Arwen, which slowed the pace of the film and felt, well, inserted. Everything else was very good, much better than the first film, especially the first half of the first film. I can’t wait until I can watch them all back to back, an experience that will likely take about a day’s time, stopping for meals (two days for watching the extended versions). I met Dean’s friend Azuma, or “East Wind” (dongfeng in Chinese) at the theater. He just recently got laser eye surgery, will start work at an advertising agency next month, and is really into Star Wars, so needless to say he fit right into our little group. Since Sho has turned out to be No Sho, I might use Azuma for the last remaining scene instead.

After the movie we retired to Dean’s place and enjoyed a nice sit-down meal of spaghetti and sauce, followed by a good Star Trek TNG episode on TV. All in all a very pleasant day in an enjoyable weekend. I know it’s not that interesting to hear about, certainly lacking in conflict and character development, but I enjoyed it, so there. Nyah.

posted by Poagao at 4:03 pm  

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