Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 17 2004

I’ve noticed a couple of dangerous situations in t…

I’ve noticed a couple of dangerous situations in the past few days. The first one is the new MRT line out to Xiaobitan. The branch line train comes into the Qizhang Station using the same track as the train out to Xindian, but going the opposite direction. One of these days someone’s going to screw up their timing, a train will be a little early, or maybe a little late, and we’re going to have a crash. The line that goes out to Xinbeitou has its own track and is harmless, but this new line makes me want to stay at the rear of the train, preferably behind a large fat person.

The other dangerous situation is the Taipei Train Station shopping center. I remember hanging around upstairs before my train back to Miaoli was due to leave back when I was in the army. It was fairly clean and nice, full of medium expensive shops (or they seemed like that to me then, when I was making about NT$4,000 a month). I ventured up there after work today and was surprised at the difference: the restaurant area, once home to no less than a Mister Donut store, looks rundown and grubby. Hardly anyone was eating there despite the fact that it was 6pm. The shops have all closed, leaving a few temporary stands selling women’s clothing so dowdy it’s in danger of becoming retrofashion, and several racks of cheap Thai, Filipino and Indonesian VCDs. “No English,” the shopkeeper said as I flipped through some magazines. “This all Thai.” The bookstore in the northeast corner is still there, but that and the Lotteria are the only things I remember from before. The place was practically deserted, though I understand that laborers from Southeast Asia flood the area on weekends.

Why is this dangerous? Because it feels just like a dying mall the week before the owner decides to torch the place for insurance money. The fact that it’s the train station will probably save it from this fate, despite the fact that all the popular crowd are now shopping at 101, but it still feels doomed. Hopefully the new square in the stretch between the station and Zhongxiao West Road will liven things up again when it opens. Workers are putting the final touches on it now, and it looks like it could be interesting. Most likely it will end up being Taipei’s version of Central in Hong Kong on the weekends, but there’s much worse fates out there than that. It could become a ghost town like downtown Memphis, for example, but I doubt that will happen until 2050, when Taiwan’s low birthrate begins to take visible effect.

Speaking of Hong Kong, my visa application is still being held up, since the folks there apparently cannot or will not accept that my ID card and passport are genuine. If this keeps up, I might have to have a talk with Random Legislator (who is a kind of superhero here, in case you didn’t know, taking up the causes of any poor schmuck who can advance his caree– I mean, who is being downtrodden by The Great Red Tapewyrm).

In other news, everyone here is gathered round the TV watching our baseball team at the Olympics these days. People at work were taking bets the other day, and I joined a crowd outside the newly opened KMall to watch our boys battle the Greek team on the bigscreen TV. Every time we got a hit, or the other team failed to make a hit, the crowd cheered. This rare show of unity behind our team didn’t quite surprise me, but I wasn’t expecting it from just ordinary folks on the street. Hell, even if we get trounced in the end, even though our athletes have to change their country name to the silly “Chinese Taipei” and aren’t allowed to hear their own national anthem at the awards ceremonies, at least they were there, competing in the ring, and in my mind that makes them heroes no matter what happens.

posted by Poagao at 3:13 pm  

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