Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 14 2006

Peter’s wake was Saturday. They’d given up hope of…

Peter’s wake was Saturday. They’d given up hope of finding him alive a while ago, so it was time, I guess. Dean and I took a taxi over to Jingmei after picking up some pseudo-Mexican food from Friday’s (pretty much as close as Taipei gets), climbed the steps through the old one-story houses and barking dogs to Peter’s apartment overlooking the city. It was hot but pleasant enough, a two-story structure with a bit of a lean to it. Apparently Peter had done a lot to improve the place, painting and putting up shelves, and had plans for more, his brother Dan said. Dan flew in a few days ago from the states, and was dressed in long sleeves and a tie, unlike most of us in shorts and T-shirts (Dean was wearing a black button-down and was obviously suffering from the heat).

More and more people showed up as the sun went down. Peter had a lot of friends. More food appeared, as well as alcohol. We sat and stood, chatting. I looked at the books on the shelves: a lot of philosophy and language books, as well as a postcard to Peter from a friend in Central America, where he apparently had traveled before.

After dark Duncan, Dan, and a few others gave speeches. Everyone was quiet except for a couple of children who were too young to know what was going on. They played out on the porch as we inside raised our drinks again and again to Peter’s memory.

Afterwards, as the crowd trickled back down the hillside, I found myself reluctant to go back to my empty apartment. I decided to take the subway downtown and walk around taking night shots, getting off at Zhongxiao-Fuxing and walked along Civic Boulevard, under the overpass. By the time I reached the train station in time for the last train back to Xindian, I was tired, but still not in the mood to go home. I didn’t feel like going anywhere in particular, however, or being around people, so home I went.

The next morning I was awakened by a call from my friend Ray, who wanted to know if I was up for a trip to the beach. I had to decline, however, as I was planning to meet Prince Roy, David on Formosa, and PR’s Taiwanese teacher that afternoon in Beitou. I also wanted to shave my head and have a nice leisurely breakfast while watching The Long Way Round, which had been entertaining me and depressing me ever since I borrowed it from Sandman. Entertaining because, well, it is, and depressing because, ah, I really need a vacation. Not that ordinary people could just up and do something like that, but still.

I met PR and David at Taipei Main Station, and we took the crowded train full of people destined for Danshui up to Chungyi Station and walked down the hot sidewalk over to the Xingtian Temple, where PR’s teacher was supposed to be waiting for us. Apparently he used to live in the area and likes to return there on weekends.

As soon as we entered the temple courtyard, PR disappeared. We looked around for several minutes, but he was nowhere to be found. I was beginning to think he’d experienced sudden, rapture-esque enlightenment, only in a Buddhist sense, when he reappeared with his teacher Mr. Yao, who had brought his daughter as well.

Across the temple, in the back, ladies in blue gowns were reading religious books, arranging tables, and blessing anyone who wanted it. PR and I both got the blessing treatment, and afterwards I talked with Mr. Yao about how I could improve my Taiwanese, which is ok for basic conversation but not much else. It turns out our schedules don’t quite match, but he is a very nice man, very energetic and engaging. I can see why he likes to teach.

After the temple we walked up the mountain a bit, Mr. Yao naming the plants as we passed, sometimes breaking off a bit of leaf to pass around for chewing purposes. After passing a rather large spider, we came upon a row of houses under a large metal roof and stopped to talk with the people who farmed the land for healthy vegetables, a man and a woman. After walking around some more, we sat down for some Xiancao tea and chatted for a bit. The woman, upon hearing that Mr. Yao taught Taiwanese, grilled him on regional dialects. He answered simply that he taught the Taipei accent.

We walked back down the mountain and caught the MRT to Xin Beitou, where all the old hot springs are. I hadn’t been there in a while. It was nice. We browsed a shop full of extremely expensive traditional clothing and teapots, and then walked around the park. Mr. Yao pointed out where the cable cars up the mountain are going to depart from when they finish the system.

As we walked, we became aware of the sound of chanting, and soon we came across a large group of Buddhists chanting scriptures along with a priest on the stage. Usually that space is loud for other reasons; a rock/drum group practices in one of the nearby buildings.

Mr. Yao said we should bath our feet in the stream, which was warm from the hot spring run off, so we did. PR had to depart almost immediately after the mosquitoes attacked him, but David and I stayed on, talking with an older guy from Kinmen. He asked me what I did, but I had a hard time making myself understood. It seemed he didn’t know the word “editor”.

It was dark by the time we got back to the MRT. Mr. Yao saw us off. David had to go home, but PR and I decided to go drink tea for the remainder of the evening. As we did so, sitting in the back tatami room, we ran into Dan, who frequents that particular teahouse. It was crowded but pleasant. We got the Iron Bodhisattva tea again. We really should try a new tea, but that one is so nice we keep ordering it.

So ends yet another “what I did on my weekend” post. Seems that that’s all I write these days. Probably better than sitting around making snarky comments about my co-workers.

posted by Poagao at 5:06 pm  

1 Comment »

  1. I don’t know, I rather enjoyed the snarky comments.

    Comment by Prince Roy — August 16, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

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