Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My brother Jamie comes to Taiwan; Taipei

Taipei. 2 brothers. 2 days. Too much to see and do. Taipei. City of light. City of pollution. Big city. Fast city. Glass and steel city. Hop on Pop city. And I quote from that most incorruptible and incontrovertible opus, wholly meritorious and estimable chef d'oeuvre, and literary incandescence:

We like to hop.
We like to hop on top of Pop.
You must not hop on Pop.
Mr. Brown upside down
Pup up.
Brown down.
Pup is down.
Where is Brown?

There is Brown!
Brown downtown.
Fun at Taipei 101.
Brown at 101 downtown.
Now this non-limerick is done.

Phew! Rhyming that much is hard work. Back to some regular prose. Look at those! Robots. Lots and lots. I've lost the plot(s). Gundam is a popular Japanese animation/comic-book franchise that has been snowballing since 1979 when the TV series Mobile Suit Gundam was first shown on TV. A block away from the hotel in which we stayed in Taipei we found this shop which sold Gundam... stuff. Lots of... stuff. I had to get a photo of my brother standing next to the human-sized version.

After climbing to the top of a hill in Shilin, we were rewarded for our effort with this view of the Taipei cityscape. The Danshui River is bordered by green parklands and the traffic teems along the roads. The Taipei 101 rises above the morass of concrete and glass like a giant stalk of bamboo. And on top of everything, a HEAVY BLANKET OF SMOG. Yuck!

After making our way down the hill in the gathering gloom we wandered along to the Shilin Night Markets. I was impressed by how the market went on and on, and on. And on. And in different sections. It's quite big.

The shot of Jamie with which I will end this photologue: Jamie standing in front of the Paris Hilton store in Taipei. I can't say that we planned it this way but it was just too good an opportunity to miss. I wish that I could say we went in and looked around but
a) I didn't want to go in because I wasn't interested in any of the products on display.
b) I didn't want to go in because I probably couldn't afford any of the products on display.
c) I don't like Paris Hilton much.
Actually those weren't very good reasons but they gave me an excuse to construct an alphabetised list, something which I like doing.

Early the next morning we caught a shuttle bus to the airport. I think we caught the bus at about 5am. Outside the bus station a taxi driver offered to take us to the airport for a low rate but perhaps out of habit I declined; it could have been a good deal. At the airport Jamie checked in and then we went downstairs to a restaurant where breakfast was being served. As usual I had trouble deciding on what to have and intended to choose the "western breakfast" up to the point where my order was taken whereupon I spontaneously requested the beef noodle soup. It turned out to be a good idea. Jamie wasn't really hungry because we had already eaten breakfast after we left the hotel. In that case I don't know how I managed to get through a huge bowl of noodles only a couple of hours later. Sometimes you're better off with the indigenous food (in this case, noodles) rather than an imitation of a foreign dish because you never know how it might be different.

As is the case with so many friends and relatives of those about to fly, my last sight of Jamie was as he walked through the gate towards the security checkpoint. Once he was gone there was no longer any reason to be in Taipei or the airport. I bought a ticket on a regular bus and was taken from one end of Taiwan almost to the other. I can't remember what I thought about. Perhaps I reflected on my relationship with my brother. Perhaps I thought about home, wherever that is. More than likely I was too tired to read but unable to sleep on the bus. And then I was home again. Home. It has been on my mind lately. The home I grew up in that no longer exists. The home that is my mother's house. The home that is my father's house. The home I share with Andrea. The home I might have with her in Canada, or Australia. Perhaps Australia is home. Perhaps Collie is home. Perhaps for a short while, for those nine or ten days that Jamie was here, this was a bit more like home.

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