Limited Zakka (Taiwan Digest)

(All Taiwan photos online at the olde Flickr page.)

August 9:

Here at the scene of my favourite movie of the young millennium — Edward Yang’s Yi Yi — but don’t recognise any of the film’s locations. I do suddenly have a strong desire to watch it again, though (natch).

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It’s an easy enough, if quite expensive, city for the first-time visitor to arrive their dimpled ass in — plenty of English signage, very pedestrian-friendly, very clean, fast Internet, excellent transit, fabulous air quality — but it’s rather boring in my first impression.

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In re parks rule no. 15: In one park I visited was a staffer operating a leaf-blower, and in another was an open-air karaoke hoe-down. In my assessment, both activities very greatly disturbed public tranquillity — and despite my longstanding apoplexy at the sound of the former, the latter may actually have been even a tiny but more disturbing…

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August 10:

This is odd: People keep initiating conversations with me in Mandarin, and when I indicate that my knowledge of the same is approximately two words (plus a couple few that it perhaps shares with Hokkien — the language in which Malaysian Durians are named), they begin speaking to me in English instead — and their English is really fucking good. So why don’t they just begin speaking English straight away? My best guess is that most white people here are expats or other residents with some level of fluency in Mandarin? It’s a head-scratcher.

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August 12:

Taipei may be boring, but the hiking opportunities served by its mass transit system are truly stupendous.

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August 13:

One location; two views.

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August 14:

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Hi! You can wang me, you can hang me, you can mang tang fang b-bang me…but don’t you EVER Shakadang me, ain’t it? These are some right proper Chinesian landscapes, here — enough to make one suspect those Taoist sons of bitches knew a thing or two about a thing or two. But “…the shrine was destroyed again by the forces of nature”, “The clear sound of a bell has a power that can exceed the imaginations…”, “You can see Liwu River emanating from the mountains and running eastward…”: Whose dimpled ass up and authored these goddam info boards, anyhow — frickin’ J to the double-R Tolkien?

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August 15:

Infoboard word of the day: “Trodden”.

Infoboard snippet of the day: “…the masterpiece of the gods that is Taroko Gorge.”

Infoboard full sentence of the day: “These winter visitors add even more color and music by their participation in the daily avian festivities that take place here all day, every day.”

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August 19:

Shit, NOW what am I supposed to do to-day?

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August 19:

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Older Chinesian produce-hawkin’ ladies are the best — so averse are they to displaying anything looking slightly other than perfect that as soon as they see your dimpled ass showing even the minutest interest in the relegated fruits, they rush over and offer a scorchingly good deal to take the entire lot off of their hands. So it was with these purple Dragons, here, which I scored for only fifty Taiwanese dollars (that’s about 1.666 if you’re counting in greenbacks). You can see that they’ve begun to develop some blemishes, which is aight because that’s in point of fact the stage at which they taste their absolute bestest. (Some people say that this is only true for white Dragons; but in my experience, it works for the both of them.) These ones weren’t quite as good as I thought they were gonna be — but were nevertheless fantastic value for the cashmoney.

Also: Turquoise fog lines for the win!

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August 21:

Huhn, that’s trippy — I lived on Boren Avenue in Seattle for five years, and now my hostel in Kaohsiung is just off Boren Street. Well, the former does run through Little Saigon, so I suppose there must be some connection?

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August 21:

Which pic you prefer — with the tankers, or without? My bro’ Chris Hind is against the editing of photos, ’cause he says it’s not the truth. But I say, to hell with the truth — give me instead an image unsullied by human fuckery…

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August 22:

Uh, remember that time that rather than actually eating my Mangoes, I made a goddam fort out of them instead? In fact, there were some even bigger ones on offer — but I didn’t have enough for the down-payment!

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August 22:

Another city, another fantastic hiking opportunity on the outskirts of town — this one only about forty-five minutes’ walk from my hostel. The trails are more mosquitoey down here in the south than up north (where there are shockingly few of them), so at any given time you’ll have about a half-dozen bites working their ways through various levels of intensity — but it surely is worth the annoyance. And the trailhead has even got a nice, flowing spring-fed pool one can walk around in after thee hike to help ease the jarring of the return to city life.

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And necessity that is, as this city is suckage writ large. Why? Because scooterpocalypse — which, despite the word’s undeniably comedic sound, is not the least bit funny. Can’t work out whether the mad scooterists actually don’t see pedestrians, or are actively trying to run our dimpled asses down; either way, it’s a huge pain in the backside. And, even, where there are city blocks with sidewalks, they’re either jam-packed with parked scooters, or with scooters locomoting through at top speed as though the sidewalks are their own exclusive causeways. It’s superfucked.

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By the way, a crazy fuckin’ synchronicity happened on the day I arrived here when I passed by this goddam Pachinko Palace just a day or two after having referenced to my sister the family Pachinko machine of days gone by. Had planned to go hiking again to-day, but it’s a all-out rain day, so I was like, “I’m gonna go get me fuckin’ Pachinko on instead!” Which I did attempt to do — only to be greeted, two paces inside the door, by a terrible, enveloping cloud of cigarette smoke. So, my great Pachinko adventure lasted all of about ten seconds. I mean, what fucking year is this? Taiwan’s cigarettes are the most noxious-smelling on planet Earth, too — at least that I have ever experienced. (Although admittedly there aren’t very many smokers; but there are more of them in the south.)

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My other gripe is that the fruit down here in the south was supposed to be (according to what I’ve been told on several occasions) much better and much cheaper than in the north. In fact, I reckon it’s about the same on both counts — which is to say, consistently decent, rarely excellent, pretty expensive. But in fact, the fresh markets here — though they are quite large — close up shop in the early afternoon, while the ones up north stay open from early morning ’til well after dark; so fruit-shopping is actually much more convenient in the north.

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Oh, and guess what else? There aren’t any assgun nozzles here?! I’ve never seen a C.R. in all of Asia whose crapper wasn’t fitted with an assgun nozzle — unless it was some outback squatter with a cistern instead. But certainly not ones that were toilet-paper-only…until I arrived here, that is. Stupid.

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August 23:

Well I guess one good thing about a dystopia would be that assuming you had a chip implanted, you could probably just call up a concordance of yourself any time you wanted to know which words you’d used most during your lifetime. For me, I think the top two would be “motherfucker”/”motherfuckin'” and “mosquitoes”. (Of course, I very frequently use them in the same sentence, so for gambling purposes, that would probably be considered a correlated parlay…) Number three, I’m not sure — maybe “jackanapes”?


August 24:

Back at Hualien: Another “gorge-eous” day in Taiwan. I’m strongly considering expanding my holy trinity of Yellowstone, Annapurna, and Hampi to a quadrinity (there’s such a thing, right?) including Taroko. Yeeeeee!


August 25:

Natural motherfuckin’ molecules, y’all! Accept no substitutes.

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August 27:

Your guess is as good as mine!


August 28:

Will this be on the quiz?

August 28:

Being that the summit was totally socked in during my first visit a few weeks back, I to-day made a second bid to clamber up Mt. Qixing and avail my dimpled ass of its (purportedly) epic 360-degree views. No dice, alas: Socked in again — although at least this time ’twere sans the lashing rain and winds of the first visit. The rolling mist did occasionally part just enough to give a tantalising glimpse of what might lay beyond; but it was only upon descending below the cloudline that one was able to better appreciate the mighty fine fineness of this landscape. I’ll tell ya, a son of a bitch could find hisself stone addicted to hiking in Taiwan — indeed, I know of one such son of a bitch whom already has become. Will return!

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In case you wondered, the three most annoying things about Taiwanesian people: They chew with their mouths open; the motorists drive as though completely unaware of the existence of any pedestrians; groups of hikers carry on as though it’s New Year’s frickin’ Eve whilst solo hikers accompany themselves with loud music blasting out of their backpack regions.

p.s. “Clinometric map”? “Vicinal recreation sites”?

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