Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 01 2010

another year

Hard to believe it’s 2010 already. I still find myself typing “19–” sometimes, and more often than not I’ll type “200-” before catching myself. Funny how our brains screw things up.

Ray, Chenbl and I took a drive in the country on Saturday, heading down to Sanxia, where we stopped to take pictures of some fishermen on the river, and then to a Buddhist temple that was getting ready for some kind of celebration, most likely new-year related. Red paper lanterns were strewn all over the basement parking lot. Upstairs, men were polishing the golden statues and women were sweeping the great hall.

We drove on, getting momentarily lost in Sanxia before finding the road to the tiny village of Sanmin, where we had lunch at an old-fashioned restaurant by the river that runs through the town. We were the only customers at first, but soon other parties began to arrive. The place had holes in the walls to let the wind through. We walked around the town after lunch, taking pictures of each other playing butcher behind a sausage stand and petting the daschund of the owner of the local Chinese medicine shop. The dog would walk up and toss itself on the ground in front of strangers, begging them to rub its tummy.

We got back in the car and kept driving, out to a place called the Batcave. “And here I forgot my bat costume,” Ray said as we pulled up to the gate, where a couple of older aborigine guys were sitting and chatting by the ruins of an old bathroom. The road to the Batcave was an uphill path, still slightly mossy and slippery after the recent rains. We passed an observation tower, and then the path dove into the forest and across a stream that gurgled pleasantly.

We rounded a corner, and my mouth fell open. A fissure opened up above the mountainside on both sides, waterfalls flowing and splashing down one corner at the distant far end. I could see where the bats must have congregated, but the huge open space underneath would also have been great natural shelter for aborigines, with a large hill of rocks in the center like a pulpit. It was almost a religious space, the legendary water curtain cave come to life. I prowled among the rocks in the stream and climbed up next to the waterfalls, taking pictures. It was supremely cool. I wonder what the place is like during a typhoon.

Ray and Chenbl were getting impatient, though, so we went back to the car and off to see one of Chiang Kai-shek’s old villas in Fuxing Village’s Jiaobanshan. It was interesting, but too much has been changed, and fog rolled in, obscuring the views. Ray complained about not being able to take any good pictures in such conditions, but I liked the soft light. It was weird to think of the Chiangs walking around that very area, playing games with the kids and having barbeques. One of the barbeque pictures on the wall was dated the very day I was born, strangely enough.

We had some peanut-butter and chocolate toast and tea at the cafe overlooking the trees stretching into the fog. Again, I kept Chenbl and Ray waiting while I took pictures. That happens a lot when I’m traveling with other people, even other photographers. I’m always off somewhere taking pictures of things nobody else is particularly interested in, and then when they’re taking shots it’s my turn to be bored.

The town was deserted as we walked back down the main street to the car. Everyone had gone back home. A mentally disturbed man walked alongside us for while as the fog was floated across the empty road.

Dinner was various types of tofu and some noodles from a stand on the Daxi Old Street. I was tired and cranky, but satisfied with the day’s activities. The ride back to Taipei was spent mostly in silence. Even Chenbl, who is one of the most talkative people I’ve ever known, was silent. Then again, Chenbl can fall asleep in a chair within seconds.

I took quite a few pictures, and I probably won’t post them for a long time. But that’s a subject for another blog.

posted by Poagao at 1:39 am  

1 Comment »

  1. Upstairs, men were polishing the golden statues and women were sweeping the great hall.

    That could be pervy on so many levels.
    But I really would like to see the pics of the batcave.

    Comment by sandman — February 10, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

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