Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Sep 18 2003

I took a longish ride on my motorcycle yesterday. …

I took a longish ride on my motorcycle yesterday. First I headed north up into the mountains where I seem to recall an old friend of mine, Qian Wei-min, lived when I first came to Taipei looking for a job. I was staying with him at his family’s villa for a time, and he’d give me a ride on his scooter all the way into Taipei every morning to look for work.

I continued on down the other side to Route 9, which runs towards Pinglin in one direction and Wulai in the other. I headed towards Wulai, stopping on the way to look at the damn in the Xindian River, then crossing the bridge, which was flanked on the other side by scores of tourist lodging and dining places. I then headed up a narrow valley through which a stream ran. Some guys were fishing where a small dam had created a bit of a pool. It was a hot day, so I stopped and sat on a rock in the stream for a while watching as a family prepared for lunch on the banks of the stream. The mother got a little fire going while the baby daughter threw pebbles into the water, and the father, equipped with a scuba mask, net and blue flipflops, wandered around in the deeper bits fo the stream looking for fish they could fry and eat. Occasionally he would stop to make a call on his cell phone. I asked one of the fishing guys if the water was safe. “To swim in? I guess so,” he told me. “But I wouldn’t drink it. I throw all the fish I catch back in, and so does he.” He pointed at another fisherman.

I passed several empty villas on my up the valley, followed by several Tu Ji Cheng places where large groups of revellers could have banquets along the stream. The road was twisty but in good condition, and soon there weren’t any buildings around at all. I stopped at an intersection, uncertain which way to go, when I spotted a small shack advertising food and drink, so I went over to ask directions and have a bite to eat.

The owner was an elderly woman. She was chatting with an older guy that might have been her husband, and an aborigine worker who was repairing the tin roof. When I asked her why she decided to put up a restaurant up in such an isolated location, she told me that she was born and raised just across the road, and after many years persuing a career in Taipei, she decided to retire back at her old home. The Tu Ji Cheng places often turned down solitary customers, and many travellers just wanted a simple meal. I asked about the empty villas. “It’s not ‘quiet’ enough for them,” she said.

“Huh?” I said, stupidly.

“Ghosts,” another customer, a guy who had just driven up in a car, interjected. “Haunted.”

“That’s bullshit,” the old woman retorted. “They’re just city folk who aren’t used to the sounds of the mountains. One time I worked for a pig farm up on the mountain. The fog was really thick, and nobody would work there because the walls shook and people found blood spots in the mornings. I knew that it was just cats hunting rats in the crawlspaces, and the blood was rat blood.” She shook her head, smiling.

I had a hard time finishing my noodles, as they weren’t very good, but I could hardly complain since any food out there is hard to come by. I elected to take another route back to the city, the road that led up over Lion Head Mountain. At first it was quite nice. I passed a couple of seemingly abandoned Taoist temples, and at the summit the whole of Taipei basin was spread out, Taipei 101 sticking out rather incongruously from the rest of the city, its still-unfinished spire every bit as high as the mountain on which I stood.

On the way down the other side, however, the road was under constuction, with big dump trucks lurching around the narrow corners followed by dense clouds of dust. The decline was so steep I was afraid my brakes might overheat even though I was using engine breaking as well to ease the burden on them.

I was tired and sore from the ride by the time I got back home, so I napped until it was time for sword practice, which has become half sword practice and half Tui-shou practice. Oddly enough, I arrived exhausted and left refreshed.

I went to RT Mart this morning and found that they have a sale on basic bicycles, so I picked one up for NT$1500. My living room/dining room still echoes every sound, so watching TV in there is a bit weird. I should get a rug or something, but the only rug place I knew, the one on Zhongxiao East Road near the Jianguo overpass, has been torn down, and I’m loathe to rely solely on Ikea crap for my carpeting needs. Some posters would be nice as well; too many empty white walls.

In other news, the first spot we did for Via is up on their media website now. No word yet on when the second spot we did is going to be up, as it’s still in post production.

I’ll put up some pictures from my ride later on, if any turn out to be any good, that is.

posted by Poagao at 7:08 am  

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