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Rob Price.Copyright 1999.
Today is June 6th and that day in the Chinese Lunar calendar this year falls on the festival known to many of us non-native Chinese as 'Dragon Boat Festival'. This festival is in rememberance of a famous Chinese poet who was also a good friend of the king. But sometime during the friendship one particular no-good-doer whispered in the King's ear (for whatever motive best known to himself) that the poet was actually against the King. The King, rather upset at the poets lack of integrity banished the poet from the kingdom. Exiled and devestated the poet threw himself into a river in what could have been a cry for help but no-one ever knew for he never resurfaced. The locals, who knew what a good chap the poet was took to their boats and looked for the poets body in a vain attempt to rescue him. Unfortunately they were too late (probably because they'd waited a while for their wives to cook a special rice cake to throw into the river to prevent the fish from eating his body.) This cake is a rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaves and called 'roa cong' or 'cong si' and is still eaten today on this day in the Chinese calendar. Also this day small swarthy Chinese men take to their boats in teams and compete against each other in the famed 'Dragon Boat Races.'
And on this day I've a few things to comiserate, yet one great reason to celebrate.
The comiseration is that it's been 'what a couple of months, what a weekend, and what a way to leave Taiwan.'
It's been hectic these past couple of months but I owe my sanity to new found friend and most recent Hess employee David Archdall (formerly singer and rhythm guitarist of 'The Sailors' and well versed drinking partner, to boot.) I've been studying at the Chinese Cultural University which is a huge undertaking if you also work. The homework has been, to put it bluntly, very time consuming but I think it's paying off. Not only that but Hess asked me a few weeks ago to edit an English Course book and I guess they were pleased with my efforts because they've also asked me to write a book. But that doesn't even scratch the surface of my problems here in the RoC.
I'm not going to go into detail about the real reason, but the weekend (and from that you'll be able to guess what's been happening in the months prior to it) was a real downer.
After six months, my latest attempt at a really meaningful relationship just collpased. It wasn't a sudden thing and I guess deep down I knew that it was on the way but really I didn't want to believe it. We've been trying to fix things but, as I heard somewhere before, 'some things just aren't meant to be fixed.'
So after having a public argument and accepting defeat and letting go for the last time, I return to where I parked my bike, only to find it nicked. I guess it's a consolation that the day after I went back to that particular area and scouted around. I found my bike hadn't been 'stolen' perse, but it had been moved, I guess with the intention of breaking the damned tough lock I'd placed on it to deter thieves like the one who pinched my first bike here in Taiwan. Anyway, at the time, I returned home dejectedly only to find home is no longer even that.
As some of you already know I'd planned to travel from around the 12th of June through Viet Nam, China and Korea etc.. eventually returning to Taiwan about a month later. Returning to the flat that I inhabit now. But seeing as the girls I share a flat with have been offered a free flat elsewhere in the city for a couple of months by a friend of theirs whose contract has ended but whose lease has not. So I either pay NT$18,000 or find a new place in a week before I leave Taiwan.
Do I need any more challenges at the moment. No, but still I can't get a flight for the 12th to Viet Nam so instead I have to go on the 13th but not even to Viet Nam, but to Bangkok (at least its about NT$2000 cheaper but that's not an issue.) The real point is, and it will become apparent why later, that I need to get to Korea before the 1st July or I miss out on a great opportunity. 'Nuff said about that. I still have to get from Bangkok across the Laos border to the Viet Nam border and into Mainland China to Qingdao on the east coast from where I'll take a ferry to Inch'on in Korea. Unfortunately I only have about two weeks to do that.
So, today being dragon boat day and not having to go to work or study I set to getting my stuff together in preperation for the big move (and believe me I have a lot of stuff so it is a big move.) First though I'd done some phoning around on Saturday after being told of my iminent and unplanned move which bore some fruit.
I looked at a place today which would be ideal were it not for the fact that it's not been lived in in over a year and the walls are almost swimming with fish. I've told the prospective landlady's sister (Ginger who was a previous job broker for me) that if it can be ship shape in the next five days I'll take it. Otherwise luckily I have a couple of good friends who've offered to store my stuff while I'm away. That's great of them but it's a pain to them and me to move my stuff from one place only to have to move it again when I come back and find somewhere definite to live. It's fun, isn't it?
This comes to the really good news I have today. After spending time with friends (Ben, Paul, Brent, Michelle, Jean, Dave, Liam et al...hopefully photos to come.) at their Dragon Boat day cum 'we've just painted our apartment' barbecue I decided to finish off the day with our good friend Mr. Archdall down at the local internet cafe that offers three hours for NT$100 (about GBP2.00) and I've received an e-mail from my mum that tells me I'm an uncle again.
Congratulations to Kim and Mitch, my sister and brother in law, on the birth of their baby girl on Sunday, June 4th - I'll you know when I can what they're going to call her ( I guess maybe even mum didn't know at the time she wrote the e-mail!)
And to all of you, I bid you farewell until I get myself across the Asian continent and back to somewhere I can get online easily.
Best wishes and love to all,
Hess Language School
Hoping E.Rd. Sec.2 No.49-1,Fl.2,
106, Taipei, Republic of China.
Mobile phone (Taipei) +886 926 122293
E-mail to Mobile phones worldwide with http://www.mtn.sms.com/
Toll free voice mail (US only): 1 877 838 6859