Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Nov 18 2003

A while ago I was contacted by Pilot Production’s …

A while ago I was contacted by Pilot Production’s Globetrekker series. They said they were doing a show on Taiwan and Hong Kong, and wanted to interview me and have me on part of the show, based on Randall‘s generous recommendation. They asked me about interesting things in Taipei, and I, being a big fan of the show, made some suggestions. In the end, they decided they wanted to feature Snake Alley, touristy as it is. But first they wanted to check it (and, I presume, me) out before actually bringing in Meghan, the ‘traveller’ on this episode.

I was waiting for Melvyn, the producer from Singapore who contacted me, at the Longshan Temple MRT Station when I noticed another non-Chinese guy hanging around the area. I wondered if he was waiting for Melvyn as well. He looked like an in-and-out hippy English teacher from a distance, but when he walked up I could tell his attire was significantly more expensive than that. It turned out that he was another producer from The Pilot Productions, in the U.K. We chatted a bit before Melvyn showed up, and then we went to check out Snake Alley. I gave Melvyn the copy of my book I bought the other day.

I had thought that Ian Wright had already done a Taiwan episode for the Lonely Planet show. I even heard the two producers making references to Ian’s previous experiences in Taiwan, but the British producer denied it when I asked. I suppose I could have been mistaken.

We browsed the various snake restaurants, and I translated a bit, although Melvyn, being Singaporean Chinese, could speak a fair amount of Mandarin as well. The U.K. producer asked me what I thought of Taiwanese independence. “Taiwan’s already independent, basically.” I told him.

“But don’t you think Taiwan should formally declare independence?” he asked.

“I don’t see what good it would do,” I replied. “The U.S. and the U.N. wouldn’t acknowledge it, mainland China would be the only country to react, and I don’t know if that would be such a good thing.”

“But don’t you think Taiwan should formally declare independence?” he asked again.

“I personally don’t think most Taiwanese who live here would support that. People here just want to keep living their lives they way they have been, and most don’t support immediate independence or reunification.”

“But don’t you think Taiwan should formally declare independence?”

It seemed like he’d already made up his mind on the subject. Perhaps he reads the Taipei Times and actually believes it represents true Taiwanese sentiments. Perhaps he’s like many foreigners who feel the need to rally to a cause to make their stay here more significant. I don’t know. I could tell he wasn’t too happy with my answers, though.

We visited some more snake stalls, and I established what time and day would be best for the TV crew and Meghan to come back and film the segment. Originally the vendors refused to let anyone film the actually killing of a snake, but eventually we found a couple who didn’t mind killing a snake for the camera, as long as we paid for the snake. Afterwards we were browsing the adjacent night market for filming possibilities. I told them there were much better night markets around, but they wanted to incorporate the night market with snake alley on one shoot.

“Oh, here’s a CD by Zhang Zheng-yue,” I said to Melvyn, who was looking at pirated DVDs. “He’s a famous singer now, but he was in the entertainment corps when I was in the army, so we saw him on TV every Thursday for political education programs.”

Melvyn looked at the CD. “In Singapore, the entertainment section is where they put all the fags,” he said.

“What?” I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard him correctly.

“The faggots. In Singapore they put them all in the entertainment section.”


The British producer had finished his search for cheap DVDs and concluded that their upcoming trip to see the burning boat in Central Taiwan was going to be relatively boring. In any case, we had reached the end of the night market, and my two companions had to go back to the Grand Hotel, where they were staying.

Melvyn gave me my book back, claiming he couldn’t read it, before they caught a taxi and left. I had the feeling I hadn’t lived up to their expectations. Not surprisingly, when it came time to film the segment, they said the crew wasn’t feeling well after taking the boat from Orchid Island, so the shoot was delayed for a couple of weeks. They never called back, so I assume they either didn’t film it or filmed it with some other, more visually interesting foreigner. I don’t know. It’s a bit disappointing to miss the chance to see their production, as I do enjoy their shows quite a bit and would love to see how they work. I suppose I’ll just have to do my own stuff and be happy with that.

posted by Poagao at 2:42 am  

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