Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 25 2011

One wedding and a pleasant day

My good friends David and Robyn got married on Saturday. They’ve been together for as long as I’ve known them, but they decided to make it official with a touching ceremony held at the Taipei Artists Village, the site of many a late-night jam over the years. Jason presided over an impressive and apparently endless spread of delicious food and tents were set up, under which friends from all over the world mixed and mingled. Hakka singer Lo Sirong as well as Chalaw & Passiwali provided great tunes over the course of the afternoon, and I got on stage to play trumpet for a few songs while rings of guests joined David and Robyn in aboriginal-style dancing. The weather was brilliant, specially arrange, David told us, by Jason, who apparently has an in with the weather gods.

The highlight of the afternoon was definitely the vows the happy couple had written to each other. I always find myself abashed and slightly in awe of such genuine displays of mutual affection, especially between two of the nicest people I know. Then a woman asked everyone to hold hands in a giant circle and close their eyes while she gave her bilingual blessing.

Things were winding down by 7 p.m. Chenbl and I walked over to Q-Square to meet Steve and Masaharu, a friend from Osaka, who was in town for just one day. Something to do with frequent flyer miles, I gathered. Masaharu speaks almost no Chinese and very little English, and our Japanese is in its infant stages to say the least. After dinner we walked to New Park to meet one of Steve’s friends who is into Mongolian Throat Singing. He’s putting on a show early next month that I’m looking forward to attending.

Sunday morning was spent rather frantically trying to make the Water Curtain Cave somewhat presentable, as my friend Professor Wu from Kaohsiung was paying a visit. An art professor who is responsible for sending waves of students adding me on Flickr each time he uses my photos as teaching materials, Professor Wu had never been to Bitan before, despite a professed familiarity with Taipei.

When he arrived, he was amazed.”I had no idea all this was here!” he exclaimed when we went up to the roof to survey the area*. As the weather was fine once again, crowds of swanboats filled the lake, and tourists were crowding the bridge, stopping on the other side when confronted with the shabby illegal shacks surrounding the group of high-rises where I live. We had a nice lunch at the blue-roofed riverside cafe overlooking the river before retiring to the Cave to talk photography. I’m looking at publishing a photobook, but I need some direction on the direction, so to speak, and needed a fresh opinion. Professor Wu gave me some interesting views, and his advice made certain thorny issues quite a bit clearer.

As the afternoon progressed we walked down to the dock and took the ferry across to the unofficial temple, where I took photos of some gangsteresque fellows while pretending I was actually shooting Professor Wu. As the ferry glided across the sunlit water, I noticed, far above the people diving into the lake from the cliff, suspended walkways built into the mountainside. I’ll have to go explore those someday soon.

Professor Wu had never been to Dihua Street either, so we took the subway over and walked down the silent avenue among the old buildings in various states of repair. Chenbl had to remind him to ask the local gods before taking photos at a minor roadside temple, the kind where the ghosts of accident victims are pressed into service for various local duties.

Dinner was a lavish affair downstairs at Taobanwu…well, lavish for me anyway, in that it included little cups of vinegary drink in between the courses. Professor Wu had to get back to Kaohsiung on the bullet train, so we parted ways at the station. Hopefully he’ll be able to make it up next weekend to see some accoustic Muddy Basin Rambling at Huashan after Urban Nomad on Friday night.

*I should note that I am by no means recommending Bitan as a good place to live or that you should consider moving here. It’s colder and wetter than Taipei, the bridge swings in the wind, and the crowds of tourists on the weekends are truly wearing. Try Muzha; I hear they’ve still got a few spots left over there, with their fancy gondola and all that.

posted by Poagao at 2:56 pm  

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