Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 09 2005

The obligatory all-night fireworks are still going…

The obligatory all-night fireworks are still going strong at 2 a.m. as I type this. I went down to Bitan earlier to see if there was anything worth taking pictures of, but besides a guy passed out on the suspension bridge being dragged away by three policemen, who were in turn ignoring kids who were setting off regular bombs on the wooden slats that were the only thing seperating them from a potentially nasty (for them) and entertaining (to watch) drop, there wasn’t much going on.

Harry and I went temple-hopping on Tuesday. The days have been starting out well, with sunlight and blue skies, but then descending into cold, rainy gloom in the afternoons. It was clear when we set out from Xindian, but had clouded over by the time we sat down in the newly opened square in front of Taipei Train Station with some take-out sushi.

By the time we got to Tianpao Temple, and old hangout of mine, it was beginning to rain. The temple was nearly deserted, as always. I took some pictures of wet temple paraphernalia, one of which is now the newest picture on my photo page. Others are up on my Flickr page as well.

Afterwards I went over to Xiao Shan’s place for a new year’s eve dinner with him, his family and friends. We chatted, listened to music, and gnawed chicken parts into famous movie monsters. One of Xiao Shan’s friends/co-workers showed me his ingenious fluorescent lighting system, which consists of light plugs and power units embedded in styrofoam boards. I managed to get parts of two boards to make my own system from.

I had to leave Xiao Shan’s at around 10 p.m. so I could go meet some famous Dalai-lama related “teacher” person Harry kept going on about. “Just remember, don’t underestimate him because of his appearance,” Harry cautioned me as we rode through the wet alleys of Sanchong on his scooter. “He looks like a fat, happy buddha, but he knows a lot.”

The elevator in the building that housed our destination smelled like incense, and when the door opened it looked as if the place were on fire, so much smoke was hanging in the hall. Buddhist chant music came from the apartment in question. Inside sat a few women, including Harry’s sister and the Teacher’s assistant, a woman in her 30s with the brown dye halfway grown out of her long hair. Various pieces of Buddhist literature, posters, candles and glow-in-the dark beads were scattered around the room. Apparently glow-in-the-dark tech is big with Buddhists this year. Everyone oohed and aahed when he turned off the lights and the poster backgrounds showed up in the dull green I remember from play skeleton toys when I was a kid at Halloween.

The Teacher was indeed fat and happy looking and wore glasses. He sat at the end of the table and seemed to indeed know quite a lot. He guessed how long I’ve been in Taiwan as well as my real English name, something even Harry doesn’t know. Still, he seemed to think the Minchuan West Road area was a nice place to live, so I still have my doubts about him.

We sat around, listened to more Buddhist smash hits, munched on peanut-coated puffballs and chatted until about 3 a.m., way past the MRT’s bedtime, so I crashed at Harry’s place last night instead of coming back. It reminded me of back when I was in the army, when I would crash at his place quite often when I was on leave.

The weather appeared quite nice again when I got up this afternoon, so we decided to visit Ba-li, but as we approached the Guandu Bridge, a San Francisco-style wall of cloud rode in from the north, enveloping us in cold mist once again. We visited the Fortune God temple, walked around a bit, laughed at the usual four-hour line for donuts, and decided the weather was too much. After some more sushi from my favorite sushi-train chain Sushi Express (home of coffe jello!) an experienced marred only by the annoying Chinese New Year music everyone is playing (the worst are the ones in English -what the hell were they thinking?), I came home on a suprisingly crowded subway, watched some Battlestar Gallactica (which I mostly like, except for some odd plot twists that have yet to make sense to me), and began writing this, one of the longest run-on sentences you’ll ever be glad your English teacher didn’t make you diagram in ninth grade.

Tomorrow my friend the Carnivorous Teddy Bear, or Ted, might be coming up for a visit. I think Wayne and a friend of his, John of Sinoplice fame, might be in town as well. In any case, it’s nice not to have a plan for once.

posted by Poagao at 5:41 pm  

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