Posts Tagged 'travelogue'

Three Cackling Birds

Old World Babbler

On a Monday morning, I was greeted by three cackling birds, sitting on my balcony. I heard them as soon as I woke up. Waking up is strange. It’s like when you emerge out of water. The sounds and sights are all muffled and blurred. You make your way back into reality. Slowly, the world comes back and you start hearing things again. I noticed that I start hearing things first before seeing them, because my eyes are usually closed.

One of them had a cockroach in his mouth, which he quickly dropped, because he was quite excited. They all were. He tried to get it back, but it had fallen down to the ground floor. I like on the 4th. They were all cackling along, to each other and at me. My pets were looking at them strangely, especially my cat Yoda. She didn’t like them and wanted to pounce on them. She started making the strangest sounds.

The birds continued cackling while I continued with my morning routine. When I went out to walk the dog, they flew to another balcony, and promptly came back to cackle some more. They were still on my balcony when I left for work. They stayed in our courtyard for a few hours. They must have been someone’s pet birds. Maybe they had escaped. Their wings weren’t clipped.

Their cackling was quite loud, not melodic, and they seemed to be having a jolly old time. Spike wasn’t too bothered, but the cat definitely wanted to hunt them down. While it seemed quite harmless, it made me feel somewhat weary for most of the week. I’m not superstitious, but it was strange waking up that way. It was also eerie the way that they stayed at my window for so long. For some reason, I imagined them outside the frosted glass of my bedroom window, which is on the other side of the apartment. I’m not sure about this, but it could have just been the loudness of their cackling.

I was on edge, but nothing happened. It was just another random encounter of life.

Six Snarling Stray Dogs

Six snarling stray dogs came at me and Spike this afternoon while I was walking Spike. They went for Spike, who was pleasantly going about his business at the park. They acted like a hunting pack and were growling, snarling, and snapping. When I saw them approach and surround my Frenchie Spike, who was off leash, I ran at them, shouting and swearing loudly, using my umbrella to scare them.

And scare them I did. They ran off, almost as quickly as they appeared. I pursued them until they were gone. Umbrellas work well with strays, who are usually scared of them and run away. Most strays are scaredy cats; they’ve grown used to men harming them, so they stay away from people who make noise and have umbrellas or sticks.

I realized I hadn’t been afraid and I’d be damned if some ruthless strays would hurt my Frenchie. Spike didn’t move during the exchange. He’s a dominant dog, but he knew that he was outnumbered. They didn’t hurt him either. One of them snapped at his neck and jowls, but I started my charge before they drew blood. Maybe I should have yelled ‘Sparta’.

Life at the Small Dog Park

I still take Spike out every day to the dog park. The membership has slightly altered over the last year. Most of the people who used to come don’t come together anymore. This is down to an annoying dog owner, who was referred to as a “hick” by another Taiwanese. It was implied that she was ignorant of a lot of things. I don’t see her anymore. The language encapsulated her hickness from me.

This means that most nights, Spike hangs out withe a bunch of playful Border Collies, who are quite nice dogs. There’s Star, who’s got a genetically cued herding instinct, and keeps circling other dogs in an effort to herd them. When it doesn’t go her way, she gets really annoyed.

Most nights, I take the time to visit the terrier club that meets every night. I’ve known them for a while and I’ve noticed that Spike, the old dog that he is, likes to interact with them more than with bigger dogs. When Spike was younger, he enjoyed playing around with the big dogs. The big dogs play rough. At around 7 years old, Spike likes it easier.

There is a small poodle named Ciao Pan who keeps porking any bitch that is his size. He is relentless and will screw her for hours if possible. There’s Cue Cue, who keeps wanting to play with an injured terrier. The owner keeps him in his arms, and Cue Cue as well as Ciao Pan keep jumping up on the owner, trying to get to the terrier. They are also relentless in this. It makes me laugh, and I don’t hide that. It’s definitely funny seeing a small fluffy white dog screwing another dog. The other terrier owners try to take their dogs away, but the poodle keeps at it.

Cultural Vista: The Young Rich Neighbor

There’s a young man from a family on the ground floor who used to drive a Honda CRV. It was slightly pimped out and new. Recently, he exchanged the CRV for a Mercedes-Benz C class with Brabus decals and wheels, as well as another Merc, a CLK. Both cars are from a few years ago. The man is in his twenties and I haven’t figured out what he does. His house is the Cat Factory. The man and his family are quite nice, always saying hello and responding to me.

I still wonder what he does.

Pain

I had hobbled home from the hospital. Some neighbors wondered what had happened. I told them in my limited Mandarin about the accident. I hobbled back upstairs to my apartment and finally was able to put my leg up. My legs had gotten the worst of the fall. I must have somersaulted over the front of the car, as it had hit me at an angle, impacting my scooter and throwing me over the top of it. I remember waking up in pain with blood flowing down my legs.

Continue reading ‘Pain’

Shit I Saw on my Way to Work This Week

New work is a bit further away than old work, but it’s still within 10-15 minutes of my house by scooter. However, there is a lot more traffic and I get to see some crazy stuff on my way there.

  • An accident between a scooter and a Mini. The scooter driver had a baby with her and she was fine, but it looked bad overall
  • A truck transporting natural gas containers with one that started spewing the gas loudly

My New Daily Routine

Usual art supply suspects: Tombow ABT, Sakura Pigma

For the month of July, my daily routine wasn’t that filled up. I still worked about 8 hours a day, but it was nothing to write home about. Now, for the month of August and probably for the rest of the year, I’ll be following this routine, which includes 35 hours/week of teaching, 10-15 hours/week on writing, 10-20 hours/week on my business, Asterisk*Cycles.

The trick in surviving grueling routines and long days are power naps as well as little pockets of goodness, which are easily wasted if you aren’t careful.

Continue reading ‘My New Daily Routine’

Traffic Signs: Better Late Than Never!

Traffic signs are a problem in Taiwan

Why? Because people don’t tend to follow them. This photo was taken in the MRT.

Scooter Culture

There’s one thing that you quickly learn while living in Asia, it’s a scooter-based culture. After a while, you see that car drivers, lorry drivers, and taxi drivers all drive like scooters. It’s one of the most absurd things that I noticed. While I’m sure that there are plenty of good drivers in Taiwan, I’m just impressed at how badly some of them drive. It’s just obscene.

In the last two weeks alone, I’ve seen about 5 scooter-based accidents. It’s quite horrific to see. My last accident was last summer and I ended up somersaulting over the hood of a Mercedez-Benz, whose driver had cut me off, from oncoming traffice: he was a kid coming from the opposite side and crossed the double line, meaning that I had nowhere else to go but over his hood. Luckily, I had my motorcycle jacket, helmet, and thick gloves on. I quickly learned that being sweaty is the price to pay for being safe.

I have never sustained an injury while driving my scooter in the last 4 years. I have been in one accident and a few scrapes and falls, but since I wear a reinforced motorcycle jacket, it just rolls off. I also wear thick jeans and hiking boots.

While I do admit that I drive fast, as fast as possible sometimes, I am quite safe. I stay away from the taxi drivers, buses, and slower scooter drivers by staying ahead. There’s always some drivers who are faster than I am and I never try to keep up with them. I always stay at my speed and weave my way through traffic.

Since I drive as fast as I can, it’s probably good that I only have a 125cc scooter. Ideally, I’d upgrade to a PGO 200cc or a Kymco Ego 250cc, or even a real 500-600cc motorcycle, but since I’ll only be staying 1 or 2 more years here, it’s a waste of money.

There’s an art at staying safe while driving fast. The trick is not to drive too fast, especially in heavy traffic.

Taiwan Land of the Four Eyes

My new Gucci eyeglasses

Yesterday, on my way home from work, I stopped at the usual optometrist store. I bought the cleaning solution, AO Sept, that I use for my disposable lenses. I use the liquid every day, since I take out my contacts every night, ―sometimes I only wear them for a few hours. It fizzes and bubbles the accumulated proteins away, letting me easily use a disposable Acuvue daily for a few months. I didn’t take this route lightly. Johnson & Johnson was sued by people in the US because their daily products were the same as their monthly disposable contact lenses. The only difference was that you pay a lot more for the monthly ones.

Continue reading ‘Taiwan Land of the Four Eyes’


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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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