Posts Tagged ‘wandering’


Shying away from the camera...

I went for a little walk this morning to run errands and what should I see but chickens in the park!  Not my park, but Dalong Park a little way up the street.  My park is the frog park, although I’ve never seen the little guys; I’m guessing Dalong Park is the chicken park!

They were hilarious, scratching and squawking in the leaves.  I gobbled at them a few times, but they weren’t having it and just bounced away quickly.  I had more luck whistling to the caged bird hanging by the mechanics’ near the shoe store.  At least he cawed back.

All in all, a fun, animal-filled jaunt, all in less than an hour.

It wasn't hard to catch up with them, though!


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Life news round-up

Last Friday I was walking home from the bus stop when I saw three boys practicing weapons in my neighborhood park.  When I asked what they were doing, the boy with the rattling spear said it was for a temple fair in Luzhou.  Tragically, as it was the end of the night, my brain and my Chinese were shot and I couldn’t really formulate any good questions before he lost patience or interest and turned away.  I do have some video of a temple’s fighting group somewhere; I’ll have to find it!

I’m going to Malaysia on Friday, basically right after I take the foreign service test (and bomb, presumably).  It’ll be a lovely distraction, since I also had a big ol’ final today for Chinese.

Speaking of Chinese, I have been having a grand time with my language exchange buddy, who I feel really gets the short end of the stick.  His English is already so good that he focuses more on me.  Last time, he brought a comic book version of The Art of War (which rocked!) and this collection of Chinese ghost stories which I have in mind as a gift for a certain middle school bff.

My other personal time one-on-one is a lawyer who just wants to discuss news, which is fine by me!  He’s quite articulate and challenging; I really only work hard to keep up, not to help his English.  Last Sunday we talked about Taiwan and China, and what he thinks could happen if China were provoked.  It was a little bit chilling.  We almost got into their one child policy, but I told him to hold off until our next meeting; I want to take info about the gender imbalances in India and China.  Contrast their policy differences that have done nothing to fix this problem and such.

The last piece of news relates to a wonderful hash I attended that same Sunday.  The weather has been rainy and gray this past week and half or so, but that day it was perfect for a mountain run.  The cloudy sky kept the temperature comfortably low but never let fall any significant rain, and the hares led us through some crazy trails including a piss-scented valley, an illegal canyon (man-made), and about 3 hours of 87° uphill slopes.  I exaggerate, but only a little.  For me, though, the best part was my Chinese fluency that day.  It recovered fully from the incident with the weapons boys and–my favorite part about the Taiwanese hashers–got few criticisms and even fewer compliments.  As it should be!

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Voyage of re-discovery

I went walking tonight to buy sundries, and I re-discovered how close I am to a really cute area near the Confucius and Bao-an Temples.  Less than 15 minutes walking put me in the midst of a mini-night market with a decent selection of street food!  I’ll have to go back with an empty stomach sometime.

I also discovered how much I need black clothes here, because I wore a navy blue shirt out and it was black when I got home.  I can’t put antiperspirant everywhere, so I’m thinking black is the only good choice.  Good thing I look nice in it!

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The forest park

I’ve missed the park since the weather changed.  When I first started classes at the end of April, I only knew one route to school and it required me to walk across the biggest park in Taipei: Da’an Forest Park.  It’s a wonderful oblong close to the center of the city, and passing through it made my commute just that much better.  There were many paths to choose through the trees and fields, and people were always doing something.

Of course there were the standard stretchers and muscle-pounders and tai-chi-ers, but the most amusing was an old man in a wheelchair.  His carer must have stepped away for a moment because he was sitting alone facing a bench.  However, slightly atypically for a wheelchair-bound person, his feet were propped up on the bench, and atypically for anyone, his pants were down around his ankles.  He was wearing boxers, 謝天謝地, but his spindly old legs were just basking in the breeze for all and sundry to gawk at.

Most of the sights are much more refreshing and pastoral: birds and squirrels, shaded and root-riddled spaces under groves of slender but wide-spreading trees.  There is a man-made hill that really adds to the texture of the park and some spreading grass that’s lovely to see.  There’s also a pond up in the north corner, but I don’t usually get over there unless I have a lot of time.  It’s fenced, and that takes away from the magic.  Anyway, my own little Lanzhou Park has a great pond with the loudest frogs I have ever encountered.

In addition to the weather, I discovered a bus stop right in front of school that saves me walking in the sun and humidity, but I’ll give up the convenience as soon as fall comes again just for the pleasure of spending time in the park.

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Plum rain

In spite of the humidity, the recent weather has been pleasant; it’s now undeniably spring and the rains have come.  They’ve tapered off since the thunderstorm of my last post, but they’ve begun to bring something even better: that spring rain smell!  They’re also very gentle, more drizzles than showers, but they manage to keep from being sticky and oppressive.

On today’s run in Bali, we stayed on the road a lot, which was a blessing as I had new shoes and I brought a co-worker and friend along for her first exercise in a long time!  It wasn’t the most amazing hash, and the high point came early on, but there were some amusing bits where we ran through a golf club as members were playing and were thoroughly scolded by a security guard.  The last bit was also quite lovely, but cramped and very hard to run as the trees were very close and the undergrowth was very high!  It put me in mind of reading the descriptions of the Old Forest in The Fellowship of the Ring.

Now, the high point.  As we came up a steep hill, the road smoothed and flattened and we passed by some houses (not the lovely old brick ones, although we saw a beautiful example of that during the run) with a good concrete front yard.  Two little girls were playing and probably wondering at the unusually heavy traffic past their house, and when my friend and I came by, we were included in the game.  The game was waterguns.  It was so refreshing, and they were thrilled to shoot strangers.  They were adorable and accommodating (when I asked for more, they obliged immediately), and without a doubt the best thing all run.

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The signs said pumpkin, but I lean toward squash.

Taipei is by no means a concrete jungle devoid of green, but what it does lack is open spaces.  The Flora Expo satisfies that need and adds in vast beds of flowers and shady groves of trees.  One of my favorite parts was the bower of ornamental pumpkins, squashes, and tomatoes, partly for their shade value, and partly because they have such a clean smell: not sweet like flowers or cold like pines, but rather a green and summery smell that is very refreshing.  Whenever athelas is mentioned in Lord of the Rings, I think of this smell.  Well, that or rosemary.

Speaking of rosemary, let’s address one of the problems of learning Chinese: you can’t just look at it and sound it out.  When you try (as I often do), you often mix sounds together.  Rosemary is a perfect example.  When I saw the sign nestled in the stalks, I thought “I can read that!  That’s mí​moxiāng​!  What an amusing and adorable name.”

Well, a little research once I got home revealed that 迷迭香 is actually pronounced mí​dié​xiāng​, and I was confused because I fused two characters into one sound sometime back in my memory.

This was a soccer stadium, but I'm not sure if these are the stands or just part of a courtyard.

Other highlights of the Expo were the temple fighters and the culture pavilion in general, as well as the country pavilions from Japan, the US, Taiwan, and others.  I’ll come back to these in future posts.

Most of my enjoyment of the Expo came from basking in the masses of flowers and the smells of so much greenery.  I’ll leave you with a double rainbow that I saw in spite of the muggy and rainless weather.

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The glass is… not broken?

Every time I get fed up with my job (bear in mind today was my first day back from vacation, yet I still feel the need to vent), I look at this picture and remind myself that it could be worse.  For this reason I say the glass may be empty, but at least it isn’t cutting my mouth to ribbons when I try and drink from it.

Positive thinking!!!


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