Thursday, September 01, 2005

Oh Lord, Stuck in Zhuwei Again (apologies to Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Typhoon alert, no school, a boring day at home. Yes, the wind is blowin' outside my door - but no rain right now. Yesterday was another story. When I left for school, rain was coming down in sheets, and although I was wearing a rain poncho and carrying a large umbrella, I ended up soaked walking through puddles and having rain hit my legs. No problem, dried quickly, and once I got to Taipei it wasn't even raining. Lots of rain last night, along with strong winds, but when I see the devastation that Katrina wreaked in the Gulf states in the US, this little old blow here seems like a spring breeze (the worst winds were recorded in Keelung, close to where my friend lives, 103 mph, and we had a total of 37 flooded areas around central Taiwan). Thankfully, the second typhoon seems to be veering north, going toward Japan, and will likely miss us. I'm glad, because it's a lot bigger than this one! Satellite photo:

I promised an update about my week, so here it is, and it's a long one. Last week itself was pretty run-of-the-mill, nothing much special. In fact, I barely remember it at this point, so I guess it wasn't too noteworthy! I already discussed the movie day, and I think that was the highlight. The rest was just hanging out with Hiyoshi after school. Oh wait.....I did have a meeting with two sweet gals, Lisa and Trista, who will be my new English students. We were supposed to start this week, today, but that pesky typhoon came along, so we'll start next week. They asked me if three of their friends can join us, so I'll be teaching five - four girls, one guy. Wish me luck....

The weekend was another matter, very fun. I went with my friend Natari on a road trip to Taichung, where she was taking her mother to participate in an all-day Buddhist ceremony related to Ghost Month, and also to do some errands related to her father's business. Her mom's thing started early, so we were supposed to head out at 6:00 a.m. Sadly, the MRT doesn't start running until 6:00, so I couldn't get to Nat until almost 6:30.

Arrived safely in Taichung, dropped Nat's mom off, and headed for (if I remember correctly) Da Jia, to check out a dam that had collapsed during the 1999 earthquake and is now a memorial site (as well as a working dam). It was pretty impressive, and I was totally pissed that my digital camera picked that day to decide to die a horrible death. So, I have no photos of the places I visited, crap. After the dam we went to a fancy rest area called Qing Shui (Clear Water) for some coffee. It's quite a tourist trap, and they trapped me good. I spied a candy stand that had Jelly Bellies and made a beeline for it. Oh joy, they also had Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other American candies! The price seemed OK, $90NT for 100g. The problem is that grams mean nothing to me, since I'm used to pounds and ounces. I had no idea how much (or little) 100g was. I filled up a large bag with Jelly Bellies and smaller ones with Reese's and some licorice pastels, then headed to the checkout. Holy shit! It was $826 NT - that's $25 US! It was too late to put them back, all the Jelly Bellies mixed together, so I just paid for it. Now I know that 100g is a little over 3 ounces and that $90 NT for 3 ounces is outrageous. Live and learn, huh? But boy, those Reese's sure taste good....

After finishing Nat's errands in Taichung, we went to Lu Gang (Deer Harbor) to check out the old temples and tourist sites. That's where we spent the most time, wandering around the Lao Jie (Old Street) and visiting the many temples, all of them quite old. The Matsu temple was great, and since it's Ghost Month, it was quite crowded with people there to pray and offer ghost money and other things. The area around it is a pedestrian-only section with lots of little stalls with interesting food. Had some yummy e ah jian (oyster omelet) and a deep-fried oyster thingy for lunch. The Long Shan (Dragon Mountain) Temple was undergoing serious repairs and wasn't all that interesting, but I'd like to go back when it's renovated and check it out - it's huge, over 100 sq. meters. We walked and walked and walked, mostly trying to find what the tourist map had billed as the "Wall of Pot" which of course had me laughing hysterically. It's actually a wall made up of large pottery jars, and after finally finding it, it wasn't worth the effort to get there!

Nat drove our exhausted selves back to Taichung to get her mom, and we headed back to Taipei around 9:30, arriving in time for me to take the MRT home. Nat was a bit panicked at the thought that she might have to keep on driving another half hour to get me home :) Fell into bed around 12:30, very pooped.

Sunday morning I spent studying for my upcoming Monday test, writing Chinese characters over and over and over..... I write Chinese quite well, but not so well from memory, only if I first look at the character. I'm proud to report that I did very well on the test, scoring a 97%. Hope I do as well on the one next Monday.

Sunday afternoon I took off to meet up with Charlene and head for Luxy ( for the Bungee Jumping Party. This show was Monkey Insane, XL, and Six Plus, three of Taiwan's hottest bands, their music a mixture of rock, rap, hip-hop, and nu-metal. Now, if you go to Luxy's website and watch the video they have, you'll see a completely different scene. The night I went, it wasn't filled with the sexy, glitzy chicks (thank the goddess), but the heavy-metal, head-banging crowd, mostly very young kids. That's my kind of folks, because I don't deal well with the bling-bling girls and guys and prefer to be around tattooed and pierced people. The concert rocked, with all the bands putting on awesome performances. I adore Monkey Insane, and I'm fast becoming an XL fan and picked up their CD at the show. Six Plus wasn't bad, but their music doesn't have what grabs me and makes me buy the CD, although it was fun to listen to at the show. The best part was the finale, when Wu Bai & China Blue's bass player, Xiao Zhu, came out to join all three bands for a rendition of "Lonely Tree, Lonely Bird" which brought the house down, yeah! Xiao Zhu is very involved with Taiwan's independent music scene and was one of the promoters for this show. A bunch of us Wu Bai & China Blue fans were there: Natari, Xiao Sui, Sherry, Xiao Niu, and Charlene and I. Also one guy, and I don't know him very well and can't remember his name, cute fella with longish hair streaked with red. We sat up at the front, right by the door to backstage, so we saw Xiao Zhu before the show and said hello to him. After the show we found Da Mao in the audience and got to say hi to him, too. He was looking quite good, very buff as if he'd recently been working out. Almost didn't recognize him with his crewcut, though!

So anyway, that was my week, and this week my Monday through Wednesday was very ho-hum. Hiyoshi and I went for a pizza blowout at Pizza Hut on Monday, stuffing ourselves to the gills. Strangely enough, I've managed to lose the 6 pounds (2.8 kilos) that I gained since I got here and now weigh a tiny bit less than I did when I arrived. Hopefully I can keep losing as I continue to walk. Of course, sitting at home watching a typhoon makes one eat more than one should.....maybe tomorrow the weather will be better.

1 comment:

aetherwellen said...

Damn, that's soome overpriced chocolate! Let me know if I can send you some from here eh? :)