Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Oct 14 2002

The weather was brilliant on Sunday. I went to Uni…

The weather was brilliant on Sunday. I went to United Mix for a late lunch, but just as soon as I found a table I was invited to sit with a friend of Berta’s and another woman, who was both Russian and very pregnant. Then another woman arrived and began talking about the places she’d been and how Chinese was supposed to be pronounced, and then Berta showed up. With so many woman there, and one of them so pregnant I kept looking at my watch, the conversation inevitable dive into baby-related girltalk. I ate my meal quickly and silently, all the time thinking of the Paul Theroux book in my bag and how I could be reading it if it weren’t for the restrictions of polite society. Civilization can be so annoying. Berta, being the nice person that she is, tried to chat with me, but I could see that even she was distracted by all the estrogen at that table.

As a result of the atmosphere and the wonderful weather, I felt a great need to get out, out of the restaurant, out of the city. I got on my motorcycle, which has been no doubt been feeling neglected since I moved so close to the MRT, and rode up past the Grand Hotel, past the Palace Museum, and up into the mountains towards Wanli on the northeast coast. I stopped along the way and took a short nap perched on a boulder in the middle of the small river there, listening to the water rushing through the stones and the wind in the trees. Later I rode up to the peak, so high it was in the clouds, so high you can see both the Taipei basin and the northeast coast, all the way to the sea.

As I watched the sun set over Taipei, I remembered that it was the Shihlin Night Market’s last night before being torn down, so on my way home I stopped by and made my way through the crowded alleys, inching along as if we had all just gotten out of church. It seems everyone else there was also catching a last look at the famous place, one of the biggest night markets around. I took some pictures and video with my camera. Flour-covered chefs posed for me without being asked. “As a souvenir!” they would call out. “The market’s last night!” It’s being rebuilt, of course, as a large indoor market due to be opened in 2004, but it won’t be the same.

Now it is Monday again, and I am at work, although it’s a bit difficult to do anything productive as a young guy in a blue shirt is currently taking apart all of the cubicles in our office. I hope he is supposed to be doing this and wasn’t sent by some rival government office to create havoc under our very noses. That would be irritating.

As I sat at a small table outside the “Black Star Magic Coffee/Teashop” on Changan Road today before work, I watched a couple of guys go through an elaborate show involving one guy trying to give the other guy a large amount of money in checks. Both of them wore sandals, and periodically a wad of chewed betelnut would emit from one or the other’s mouth, landing in a pile on the sidewalk. The man on the receiving side kept loudly refusing the money, standing up and saying “It’s too much money! Oh!”, while the other one would look around and protest, “But I just collected it this morning!” Both were smiling broadly. Although I really like the name, I think the place might as well change its name to something a bit less ambiguous, like the “Gangster Coffee/Teashop”.

posted by Poagao at 7:52 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment