Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 05 2002

The air yesterday was full of smoke, probably from…

The air yesterday was full of smoke, probably from burning rice fields. I couldn’t even see the mountains from my window, as I usually can. I took the MRT up to Beitou Station, walked underneath the elevated tracks up to the sign of the Two Hats in a Truck, whereupon I headed up the trail towards Miantian Mountain. On the way I passed an old sign pointing the way to Guo-an Buddhist Temple, so I turned left and walked up to take a look.

The temple looks very old, likely over a hundred years, and is made of stone. It might have been abandoned at one point, but it appears that very cheerful Buddhist volunteers are in the process of completely rennovating it, building wooden pavilions and new concrete steps around it. I followed a path behind the temple until it ran into the road again, just at the entrance to a gated community, the “White House Villas”. A foreign woman sat in front of the gatehouse reading an English-language newspaper. I sat on the road barrier and drank some water. Every so often a shuttle bus would drive up, and one of them produced a little foreign boy, apparently the one the woman had been waiting for. The security signs at the gate were all in English. It all looked rather desolate, located halfway up the mountain as it was, and I wondered what kind of isolated existance the people there led. The houses were quite nice, but the lack of people would take some getting used to, I’d think.

I continued up the mountain a ways and then came back down on another road, this one leading past more little communities of very nice houses, some with very nice cars parked in front, although I didn’t see a soul. Once, as I was taking another hiking path, I came across an abandoned traditional Taiwanese homestead. The roof of the place was gone, but it looked as if it was quite nice at one point. An empty ornamental pond gaped underneath the shadow of a dead tree. I uprooted all of the standing water containers lying around what was left of the front yard in the hope that I could prevent a small fraction of mosquito births, and in the process created a nice little torrant as the water spilled off the patio and down into the neighboring bamboo grove.

I was making my way to the Fuxinggang MRT station, which meant I had to walk through more crowded areas, seemingly full of kindergartens, as the sun began to set. At one point I passed the Beitou Tianbao Temple. Since the Wuji Tianbao Temple out past the trade center is one of my favorite temples, I decided to go have a look.

With the exception of backing onto a mountain, this Tianbao Temple was nothing like the other one. I walked into the courtyard and was immediately stared at by two groups of people on their knees at both of the side doors. The sound of shouting and incoherent cursing came from within. It sounded like they were in the middle of a divination of some kind, so I cancelled my plans for a bit of rest and water on the temple terrace and continued on my way, passing an interesting woodshop along the way. Hordes of Political Warfare College students were marching down a mountain road as I approached Zhongyang Road, section 3, past which the MRT station lay. The students were dressed in white, with the college badge embroidered on the front, and they seemed very happy and carefree, totally unlike most of the political warfare officers I encountered when I was in the army.

My feet and legs were quite sore from all the hiking by the time I reached the Arts Center for my sword lesson. I learned quite a bit of new moves this time, even though one of the other students, a woman who was obviously more advance than I, kept complaining that I sucked. I know I suck, that’s why I’m here, I wanted to tell her, but I held back and just ignored her. I also spent a lot of time wrestling with Plasticman, who gave me some good Tuishou instruction as well. But after a couple of hours of that, I was ready for bed. I couldn’t rest just yet, however, since Alien was having a party at Q-bar to celebrate her 40th birthday.

Everyone was there, Sandman, Maoman, Maurice, Alita, Rowan, a lot of folks I knew vaguely and many others I didn’t know at all. I didn’t touch the food or drink, as I had a rather bad time the last time I did that, and even if one had nothing to do with the other, and even if I probably built up some immunity to Typhoid, I’d rather just play it safe. We talked until the wee hours of the morning, but the attraction of a shower and bed grew strong enough to outweigh the attraction of staying any longer, so I bade everyone farewell and came home.

I should have done work yesterday instead of galavanting around in the mountains. I should have done some work for the book, editing, all of that. At least I got out, something I was feeling the need for, and you got a bit of a story out of it as well, so I suppose it wasn’t a total loss.

posted by Poagao at 3:13 am  

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