Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jan 01 2008


Here we are in the much-anticipated year of 2008. In a way it seems too soon, but 2007 was wearing on me, and the new year seems to bring with it a sense of motion I’ve been missing as of late. Last night I met Harry at the Kunyang MRT station after work. We then cabbed it over to Bret and Alan’s Nangang apartment, where they had set up not only a delicious banquet featuring ham, but also a Dance Dance Revolution game on the big rear projection TV. It wasn’t as big a group as in years past. I’d hoped to talk to my Dominican friend Lorenzo about possibly spending Chinese New Year in Kyoto this year, but he wasn’t able to come this time. We toasted the new year with champagne and watched Taipei 101 consumed by fireworks on TV. It looked quite impressive, but I was glad I wasn’t out in the cold.

One of Bret’s friends drove us back downtown, through amazingly dense crowds to the intersection of Zhongxiao East and Dunhua South Roads. The streets were filled with cars, scooters and mostly young people, more than even rush-hour traffic before a holiday. Harry and I took one look at the long lines waiting to board the MRT and set off walking west along Zhongxiao. It was after 2am, and the streets were filled with people, and though most of the shops were closed, the few that were open were doing brisk business.

We walked to the Zhongxia0-Xinsheng MRT station and joined the long lines on the platform. Train after train, all filled with passengers, came and left with hardly any time between them. Eventually we managed to squeeze onto one and took it to the West Gate Station, where we planned to check out the activities at the Red House Theater Square. Many other people got off there as well; apparently it was a happening place to be on New Year’s Eve.

The atmosphere in the square behind the Red House Theater, however, was unnerving. There seemed to be a lot of “tourists” instead of the usual crowd, and there was a strange tension in the air. A group of loud foreigners walked past, one of them hitting me with his shoulder. Trash littered the ground, and trucks hauling things away shined their headlines across the scattered tables. I didn’t feel like staying; it wasn’t the same place. Harry picked up on it as well, and said he was going home.

Back at the subway station, I got a message from Eric that he was at The Source, so I stopped by there. When I sat down at the bar, I noticed a guy with his head in his hands. It was my neighbor Greg, who had apparently drunken himself into a stupor. Eric and I chatted, mostly about movies, and drank tequila until 5am.

The MRT was running 24 hours that night, so I walked down to the Kuting Station, buying some fruit on the way. McDonald’s was crowded with people, and traffic was still heavy in the pre-dawn chill. Back to Bitan, where I finally made it to bed sometime after 7am. It had been a long time since I’d stayed up to see the sunrise, but there wasn’t much of one this first day of the new year. Instead, it was cloudy and grey.

Still, I’m glad it’s 2008; it feels like this year has a great capacity for change, not just for me, but for the world in general. Presidential election in both Taiwan and the US are pivotal for both countries. Add to that the Beijing Olympics and several other global concerns. On a more personal level, it is my hope that I will be able to see the finished movie in a theater at some point this year, as well as the English-language version of my book in bookstores. While I’m at it, I’d like to spend some time traipsing the streets of cities like Paris and Prague, taking pictures to my heart’s content.

Upon a glance at new years past, however, it seems that all of the above goals are at least several years old. Each year I say I want to get the movie done, get my book published in English, and take a trip to Europe. It’s been so long. Should I even bother listing them any more? Still, I do feel that this year is going to be different. It has to be, for some reason I can’t put my finger on. Just a feeling.

We’ll see. I guess that’s the point.

posted by Poagao at 12:19 pm  


  1. hey, just got in to Shanghai. i’ll be here for two weeks. i emailed pasden to see if he wanted to hang out, but he seems non-commital. guess he is busy with school and/or chinesepod.

    well, i’ll be working here most of the time anyway and for my only weekend i’m planning to check out ningbo and surroundings.

    Comment by prince roy — January 5, 2008 @ 6:45 am

  2. Have a good time in Shanghai, PR. Take some pictures of the old houses before they knock them all down.

    Comment by Poagao — January 5, 2008 @ 11:56 pm

  3. any parts of the city you particularly recommend for that?

    Comment by prince roy — January 6, 2008 @ 2:51 am

  4. I dunno, I was only there for a few days, but the old neighborhoods you come across walking away from the river from the Bund I guess. Behind the “Burger King” building.

    Comment by Poagao — January 6, 2008 @ 2:57 am

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