Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jan 02 2022

New Year

So, it’s 2022 now. On the 31st I met up with Chenbl and some of my students at the City Hall bus station for a long-delayed outing. I got there first despite thinking I’d be late again, so I walked around and tried out some allegedly blueberry-flavored bread from the 7-Eleven there. The results of the analysis showed no evidence of blueberry flavor, alas. We caught a bus out to Badouzi and walked eastward along the coast, to the scenic railway platform facing the rocks on which fishermen braved the cold wind, splashed by the largish waves. I hopped down onto the tracks at the end, where I could see that trains weren’t using as they were covered in grass, but still, for those playing at home, I must stress the importance of not straying onto active train tracks for photography or any other purposes, really, basically because trains are huge, silent and deadly things, particularly if you’re not on them but around them.

We kept walking over to our destination, the photography exhibit on coal miners by Chang Chao-tang at the HOHO Base, a complex made largely of cargo containers that is operated by photographer Ching-tai Ho. The entrance to the exhibit was fraught with potential lawsuits as far as physical dangers went, perhaps to get visitors in the right frame of mind to appreciate the photos inside depicting the dangerous conditions under which the miners operated before the 80’s. There weren’t many photos, it being a small space, with quite a few repeating scenes, but it was a nice exhibit. The villages in the area tend to be populated by cats, and, true to form, one cat watched us approach through a window. When we eschewed the neighboring restaurant, out of which snaked a long line of people, for the HOHO art space/restaurant, we found a well-fed grey cat sitting on a bench near the cashier/chef, who was none other than Ching-tai Ho himself. I sat down to pet the cat, and she jumped onto my lap and sat down to be petted, which was probably the best thing that happened to me that day. It’s been too long since I had a contented cat sitting on my lap.

Brunch, had in the container upstairs, was delicious; they use good stock for their recipes, and the cinnamon tea and carrot cake filled up the corners nicely, all while looking out at the seascape opposite. I wish it were more convenient to get to; I can only imagine how he stays busy on weekdays.

We had planned to take the bus over to Keelung, but it had begun to drizzle, so we took the train to Ruifang and walked around there for a while before heading back to Taipei. Nobody was interested in fighting the NYE crowds, so it was good to get back to the Water Curtain Cave and get to bed just as the fireworks were dying down.

The students were asking about next semester’s class and if we were going to resume…all I could tell them was that we’d see where we were regarding the COVID situation at the time. I still expect that Omicron will eventually make its way into the general population here, and how the government will react is a question. Fortunately a good portion of the population has been vaccinated, but if we’re going to keep to a zero-covid strategy I’m not sure how that will work. The past weekend has seen record crowds out and about, not just here in Bitan but all over the country, it seems, and I wonder if everyone is thinking the same thing: Get out now before the shit hits the fan. But then again I’m fairly cynical about these things. And also it seems that other countries, at least the Western ones, seem to be rolling over and giving up. No masks, no mandates, parties galore, everyone just saying Fuck it and then claiming surprise at record infection numbers.

So what’s the plan for this year? The usual: No plan, really. Do things and hope things get done. Good things, anyway.


posted by Poagao at 8:16 pm  

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