Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 03 2003

I got tired of staring at the computer screen yest…

I got tired of staring at the computer screen yesterday afternoon, seeing what kind of reaction the Lady X Episodes were getting. Either people like them or they don’t, so I decided to shut off the damn machine and go watch the sunset in Tamshui instead. It’s been a while since I had an afternoon free to do such things, and I’m still getting used to not having a deadline hanging over me. Granted, without a deadline we never would have finished, but it’s nice to have it done.

As the train passed Beitou, however, I changed my mind about Tamshui and got off at Guandu to have a look around. The neighborhood immediately surrounding the MRT station is rather old and even traditional, full of old people sitting around on sidewalks and watching TVs from outside their houses or just chatting. I walked up the hill to the Arts University, which I’ve never visited before. It’s a nice little campus, isolated on all sides by woods, with a great view of the city below. All of the buildings are brick and concrete, some with ivy covering them, and while this is typical of Taiwanese buildings, you can tell there was some effort put into making the buildings suitable for the artsy crowd. I took some pictures of myself in the mirrored signs. The campus is basically one street that winds along the hillside, first through grassy fields, then campus buildings, and culminating at an enclosed swimming pool and a large track. The pool was closed unfortunately, although I was longing for a dip by that point. Instead I walked up to the ridge of the hill, my progress encouraged by a bee that wouldn’t leave me alone. At the top of the ridge the mouth of the Tamshui came into view. The cidadas were deafening, and in the distance I could see a solitary apartment block, the word “Fountainbleau” inscribed on its side with elaborate script. I walked down along the ridgeline, past a technical college with large tree-covered lawns, its emptiness reminding me again that school was out for the summer, recalling the sumptuous feeling of seeing returned textbooks stacked up along the walls of classrooms. On down the hill was a large military base, and through crowded streets a row of tall buildings. On the other side of the buildings was a cliff facing the river, I knew from riding past on the MRT, but I had never been on the other side of them. The street behind the buildings is like a deep canyon due to the high-rises, no doubt full of extremely rich people, I thought. When I examined the ads on the front of a local realty, however, I found that the places were pretty cheap, no doubt because we were further away from downtown. At the end of one alley, lined with older, two-storey houses with little lawns, one place caught my attention. It was perfectly located, with one side facing the cliff overlooking the river, but it seemed to have been abandoned for quite a long time. An 80’s-era Honda Civic sat rusting away in front, its windows smashed, and the lawn was overgrown. I wondered who had lived there, driven that car, and what had happened to them.

I thought that I had a long walk ahead of me back to the MRT station, but it turned out to be just a short way back down the hill, through the old neighborhoods. Crowds of people getting off work were streaming out of the station as I approached, making me glad I had the day off even if most of them make more money than I do. With all of those high-rises, I wonder how many people crowd that station every morning? It must be a madhouse. Unless most of them have cars, in which case the traffic must be horrible. It’s entirely likely, however, that both situations exist simultaneously.

Later, at sword practice, one of the students had brought his 4-year-old daughter with him. She played with a little dog one of the other students had brought along while we practiced, but periodically she would nearly get stepped on by getting too close to her father, who was usually busy grappling Tui-shou with another student. The little girl would only answer to Taiwanese, and even then only with hand signals. “She’ll learn enough Mandarin in school,” her father said. “Her big brother only speaks Mandarin now.”

The heat and humidity made for tough going, though, and by 10pm I was beat. Not having had dinner yet after my hike was probably also to blame. Still, while it was no real vacation, I was glad to have gotten out for a bit.

I’ve exchanged the Sight and Sound of the Moment for the first time in a long, long time. The sight is just me getting my tire fixed, I’m afraid. Nothing special there. The sound is “The Wandering Song”, a lovely 40’s Chinese song.

Unfortunately, Blogger has tried to “fix” what wasn’t broken by upgrading to a much more buggy and unstable version, my Chinese blog is all ???ù, and Blogger Control is completely useless as no one ever answers problems. I wish we had the choice of staying with the old version, i.e. the one that worked just fine.

posted by Poagao at 3:29 am  

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