Sunday, January 20, 2008

The End

Its two days after we've finished our walk and I finally am able to write a little bit about the experiance.

The last few days we treked pretty hard doing at least 15 miles or more a day.
The last stretch of the walk was pretty insane as we were exposed to this incredible wind. We were walking along the ocean and for whatever reason, it happens that this section is always very windy. We were blown very hard for a couple of miles and that was quite challanging. Eventually we made it to the town of Kenting and we celebrated by going out on the streets with all of the other middle school aged kids. Cool huh! We stayed there for a night and then I requested we leave as it was a beach town and I am not a big fan of beach towns.

Interesting/hilarious note: So of course in a beach town you have people dressed and acting "beachy" You know. Loud shirts,"Cool kids" riding fast through town...except it was all Taiwanese people. Now heres the funny part: In the midst of this Asian beach town there was one white kid (besides me). He was alone, BUT, he wasn't dressed like the other weird white people that come to Taiwan...He dressed like an American, White, Beach Thug. It was as if some strange porthole in Daytona Beach had swallowed him and his buddies were too busy looking at girls through sunglasses at night and pulling up their oversized jean shorts to notice he had been swallowed. He looked lost. I felt a little bad for him, but I was also laughing hysterically while I asked Jeff repeatedly, "Did that just happen?"

Ok, up until now my blog has been for laughs and a little for thinking and a little for facts. I'm gonna wrap it all up neatly like a nurse allergic to obtuse angles, and I just might get deep or philisophical. Don't say I didn't warn you Hickory Joe!

Dr. Strangewalk: A strange title for a strange trip. Why did I call it this? Because I had a feeling that it would be strange, after all, we had very few plans. Interestingly, the times when we had the most plans were the least satisfying. You hear that notebook planner! Unsatisfying!
It was indeed a strangewalk; sometimes we walked into the same characters repeatedly, sometimes we walked at night, sometimes we walked into family parties, sometimes we walked on beaches, sometimes we walked on mountains, sometimes we walked on strange metal beasts that walk a lot faster than we do, using rubber spinning devices. Thats why it was a strange walk. Now some might say, it wasn't completely a "walk." That is true. We ran once. But seriously, while we did get rides, they added to the adventure and humanity of the trip. For instance, had we not accepted the first ride, we may not have lost the camera, or we may not have gotten to live in a Bhuddist monistary.
Also, had we not accepted the ride from William, we would have missed out on a wonderful interaction with a fellow human. On the other hand, if we had gotten rides the whole time, we would not have had many of the enriching experiances we had. For instance, while we were walking, a white guy on a moped passed and said, "Hey you gotta get a bike!" We had a good laugh. However, only about a mile later we stopped and had a feast with a family that invited us into their party. This happened about 3 times on the trip and is something that would not have happened if we had only been getting rides. So I guess like the last bowl of porriage, this trip was Juusssttt Right.
It is on a trip like this that you more easily recoginze the strange forces guiding all of us. It becomes more evident when your walking and you "by chance" have a run in with someone or something amazing that was a function of another "chance" encounter that you had earlier that put you in that situation. So I guess we're talking about fate. Or something.
If you look closely, something is guiding us. Maybe you call that coincidence. Maybe I call that God. Whatever you call it, we've all experianced it and it is truly a strange phenomenon.

I guess this goes along with the belief that nothing is good or bad. They're all just events that happen, and you immidiatly interpret them as good or bad, but in terms of their effect on your future, bad events can lead to good events, good events can lead to bad ones. SO what's the point? I guess that everything is. But you don't know what anything is until you do it. So that doesn't mean you don't have free will. Your freewill is. So whatever you do, it is.
This is truth. But there are many truths. I'm sorry if I sound like that guy at that party...

SO here's the other truth...that we all like happiness and that human interaction is a great way to experiance more fufilling happiness.
So, being and optimist, try to be as happy as possible. Don't let things that give you that empty happiness take over your life. Be thankful for what you have, you have a lot. I don't care who your thankful to. You coild be thankful to coincidence... But so long as you and I and everyone, especially in the U.S. how incredibly good we have it. Never take that for granted. Also never take a mosquito-free house for granted.

Finally, I suggest that everyone travel as much as possible. I realize I am incredibly lucky to be able to do this and that everyone can't. But try to work towards it. And travel in unconvential ways and do unconvential things in your travels. It will make you think a lot, and thats good...

I want to thank everyone for reading my trying to be funny blog which may sound a bit trite at times, but is what it is. Or was.
I think I might stop. I think that my adventures in Taiwan were interesting and I hope they made you think a little or at very least made you laugh a tiny bit. Thats what I'm here for.
I doubt that my adventures in College Park Maryland will be nearly as interesting.
It would be something like:
Went to school today. Smelled a pretty girls hair as she passed and shivered with delight.
Ate the same lunch I always eat. I'm still completely unsure as to what I want to do wiht my life.

Thats no fun. So unless theres massive support for the continuation of this blog perhaps under a different name, I will stop. Also, if you have any suggestions for my blog subject matter like horticulture or small buisness economics in west Africa please send them in as well.

I thank you all for your love and I send it out to all of you just the same!

Last note: The picture is of me and a dog we met along the road who followed us and was very cool. Cooler than all the mean dogs that barked at us. I named him Slinky. Oh yeah, and Jeff and I have terrible intestine sickness haha, so please pray for our well-being.

Ok in ending I'll write a few thoughts of mine and possibly...Jokes!

About an old man walking out to the road from within the grass:
His walking feet were strange; they were separate ideas wobbling differently in the same direction, like a similie.

Me pointing to strange colored piece of something:
"Jeff, whats that?"
Jeff: "Blood"

Todays Famous Doctor of the Day: Dr. John (Musician...great!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Car sick

I once wrote a strange song it went like this:
I'm in a really weird mood
I'm in a really weird mood
Too much Coffee in June
I'm in a really weird mood
Ooo Baby, The rain's going Shhhhhhhhhh
You should listen to her
Ooo Baby, The rain's going Shhhhhhhhhh
You should listen to her

Well, the Chorus doesn't really have anything to do with anything.
The first part was written after I filtered coffee 4 times over in Brazil in an attempt to remain awake and studying. The result was a restless night of kind-of studying which ended in a morning ordeal where I disciplined the family dog for peeing on my backpack and the mother of the house scolded me harshly. That's another story though.
It's about coffee, the song, and I may never be able to enjoy it again after yesterday's experience.

I'll give it to you like a bad car exhaust; in spurts. Here we go:
Native Taiwanese mountain museum. Natives dance to westernized music. I'm disgusted.
I think about how native populations seem to get the short end of the stick, everywhere. The show ends. They come out with products for sale. Capitalism. Not their fault. People must survive first, and do so happier second. Not the other way around. My ethics our a luxury born of money. Its all over. We get coffee. Terrible mistake. I drink the coffee. Our stoic Taiwanese police officer driver takes us back out to see other things. I feel sick. And miles to go before I don't. And miles to go before I don't. We stop at an overlook. Then back down the mountain. Nausea. Then up another mountain. Winding Roads. Nausea. Deep Breaths. See pottery. Feel better. Back in the car. Feel worse. And miles to go before.... 2x. We go back down the mountain. We go up another winding mountain. The birthplace of Taiwanese baseball. Of all baseball? Rainy. Back down the mountain. Whew, its gotta be over. Nope! Up another winding mountain. Empty stomach Coffee bad mistake. Ok. We're down now. It ended. Smooth ground. Better right? No. He's a fast, aggressive driver. Acceleration. Pass slow car. Acceleration. Halting stop. Acceleration. And miles to go... Finally to dinner. Soak up Caffeine. Rice. Rice. Rice. A Taiwanese FBI man is pressuring me continuously to drink beer. I want none of it. He wants me to want it. I do not. I turn him down. Byow (I don't want). Byow. Byow. Byow. Byow. I will not take part in your assertion of masculinity. My beard already does that. Byow. Byow. Byow. Dinner ends.
Teatime. NOOOOOOO. More caffeine. I decline again. Byow. Byow. I feel good. We get to the place we're staying. I sleep. Before I go to sleep I think of caffeine; my head hurts. Curses. Goodnight.

So in conclusion, coffee is great, but might not be great for me anymore. I hope everyone enjoys their coffee. Moral of the story (If you say it like a guy with a nerdy, Jewish, New york accent [guy from Family guy or Woody Allen] its a lot funnier) Say it with me now:
Empty stomach, Coffee and mountain roads are a terrible, terrible idea.

I would last like to make a note about dogs here in Taiwan.
Today we counted: 19 dogs barked at us as we passed.
These dogs have owners and must be trained to bark at men with lumpy hunch-backs. We must look like strange creatures. The stray dogs, however, never give us trouble. Its interesting seeing stray dogs, since we have none in America. The dogs enter buildings and are not escorted out. I think it's really funny to see a stray dog enter through an automatic sliding door and for there to be no repercussions. The stray dogs are just as cute as other dogs and yet people scoff at them. Probably because their dirty. But they don't have to be dirty... Anyway, if they're around when you're eating they give you the puppy dog eyes and you feel sorry for them and give them some food. They're, in my opinion, cooler than many of the man-owned dogs here. Man I'm tired...sorry if that passage wasn't up to par. I guess I need some Coffee.

The last two days, where we stayed with Jeff's Uncle, have been much more structured an un-enjoyable. I like it when we do things like we did today where we see another road leading off the side of the road we're on, and one says, "Hey you wanna go down that way." And the other says "Okay." And we do. And even if it ends up like it did today where we had to walk through sand, by some train tracks and then hike up through some brush, its still worth it. Its nice to be on foot going wherever you please. I saw a police prison van go by. I felt grateful for my freedom. We all should. If you were raised somewhere else, someway else, it might have been much tougher for you to be read this post, as you have other things to worry about. Same with me and writing this post. SO we're all pretty damn lucky. I digressed. Walking:
Do it. Try it. It's great. You see more. You feel more. And you don't have to worry about getting carsick.

Today's famous doctor: Doc from Snow White

Today's item: I actually wrote two posts today. So I'm not being completely straight forward with you so sorry in advance. Here's a segment from a book I'm reading called Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut which is hilarious and fantastic. I strongly recommend it.

"That was the main reason the people in Midland City were so slow to detect insanity in their associates. Their imaginations insisted that nobody changed much from day to day. Their imaginations were flywheels on the ramshackle machinery of the awful truth."

I enjoyed this paragraph and if you did too or are curious, please, buy this book. Tell em Steve sent ya. That way I get a commission. Good day to all!

Oh yeah, We couldn't upload pictures, so I found these Wombat pictures to put up instead. Hope you enjoyed them!

Finally, Seriously. I was just typing and then Jeff said, "whoa, that woulda been bad." I looked over and his email account was open and he was writing the first line of an email. This is what it said:
Dear professor Bonner,

The Continuing Story of William

It was night, we were walking on a tight jungle road with our flashlights out and the frogs were belting their clicking hiccup. We were tired, we had walked about 34 Kilometers. (Pictured is a self shot of Jeff, myself and the night of January 10th 2008.)
Note: We walked down a mountain road and we walked by silent houses with doors wide open.
Its enjoyable to look inside as you pass and get a one second look at their life. Its the same thing that happens when you pass someone and their talking with a friend and you get a on second clip of their life.
Incidentally, the most interesting one of those I heard was in Chapel Hill North Carolina. It went like this:
"If your still coughing on Sunday it means your okay."

Seeing people's life for a minute, while they arn't aware of it catches them in their most natural state, which is a fantastic phenomenon.
Where was I? America. Now I'm in Taiwan...I continue...
We were walking and a van stopped about 30 meters ahead of us. Jeff clutched his knife. I stayed back a little. Jeff started talking. He said. "hey this guy will give us a ride to the next town." I was tired, he was tired, we accepted the offer.
Inside was William.
The ride started off like this "heh heh heh heh" and ended with William speeding away and us left to sleep on a pier.
His van had no middle seats. The smell of Dog permeated the air. He struggled to put his dogs in the trunk section of the van while we put our stuff in the car. And we're off!!! Heh heh heh, behind us constantly.
He starts talking and has probably the best English I've heard this trip so far. He has a nasally voice and his speaking and mannerisms remind me of Woody Allen. First reason to think this: driving. As we left he swerved to the point of throwing me onto Jeff as he reached for what I'm guessing was some sort of nut on the front passenger's seat.
Let me tell you first though: William is a terrific guy and was excellent to us, and I'm a better person for meeting him, so this is in no way to belittle William, simply observation.

So he started talking a lot and for once I could get a word in, because he spoke in mostly English.
He told us he was an art teacher and other things about him while intermittently he would stop suddenly to show us a place we could camp, and then if we said we wanted to go a little further he would quickly agree and speed off. Once he stopped and then backed up in the road to show us a street sign. We stopped at a 7-11 or as I now call it, Seven Enlighten, and he had a smoke. William was a thin man, in white, gray clothes with no shoes and a fisherman's hat on. Later we found out he was a monk.
He was great to us and brought us to the pier where we were to sleep. We said goodbye and took a picture. It is pictured above. It features William's dog smiling mischievously (if that's a word).
As he went back to his car and took his powerful dogs, they encircled him in chain and he walked to the car in baby steps. Jeff and I marveled at our luck at being picked up and not having to walk on the road at night while simultaneously having met a great, hilarious character. We went to sleep.
Fast forward two days. We're walking away from where we stopped to have tea with a family we met at a place where the water flows upwards. Do I really need to explain that sentence?
Fine. We stopped at a place where the water flows upwards. It actually just a tiny stream that seems to be flowing up a hill. It was pretty unspectacular. Everyone that went there, according to Jeff's translation was saying something along the lines of "That's it?" I thought of the idea to set up a camera to get people's candid reactions of the stream, for laughs sake.
We met a family there, and then set off down the road walking. When we got to an overlook, the same family was there and they invited us to drink tea. So we did. And it was good.
We said our goodbye's to them and as we left the area we heard a yelp and saw a familiar van.
It was William.
He lives in a place to the north of Taitung, but works in Taitung so he's always travelling that road. He had turned around and come back to pick us up, to take us for another ride. We obliged.
How could we say no?
It was then that we found out that William was a monk.
He took us to the Taitung area and asked, "would you like to swim in the biggest swimming pool in Taiwan?" I didn't know. Neither did Jeff. We said we'd check it out. As it turned out, it was just a square pond, but kinda cool nonetheless.
He then took us to a place that had interesting rocks and told a store owner he knew nearby to give us ice cream. She did.
Finally we got a vegetarian meal and went to a hot spring. It was fantastic. William was a very kind monk who stressed the importance of helping one another when it looks like someone else needs help. He, as well as the rest of the people I have met along the way, make me thankful that such people exist. I am/will be a person like that and I hope everyone else follows suit!
I guess the moral of the story is:
Always take rides from a guy in a van at night; your life will be better as a result.

Today's famous doctor of the day: Doctor J

Today's funny "item": So it came to me in a dream that the refrain in the songs' "I wanna know have you ever seen the rain" and "wastin away in margaritaville" are very similar. I had been singing "I wanna know have..." along the walk and Jeff said how he liked that song. I thought it was okay, but was kinda singing it for novelty purposes, just like I've been singing Sugar Ray and Cher in my head. So then today I came to a hilarious conclusion when I sang
"I wanna know have you ever margaritaville" It looks stupid on this screen, but sing it, right now. Sing both parts with the same notes as their original songs. I---- wanna know, have you everrr Marg ar ita ville. Hilarious right? Well I could tell Jeff wasn't a big fan. I sung it again. He got mad. I laughed. That happened at 5:30 today. It's around 8:00. I'm still laughing. I'm actually laughing in a closed mouth right now and Jeff's right next to me...I guess the Margaritaville addition really pissed him off...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Principal's Office is Empty, His Glass is Full

Full of Liquor. Thats right. So is the Vice Principal's. So is the Gym teacher's. Let me start from the beginning of this section of the story and then I'll work my way sideways through the minor events of the last few days.

We walked about 27 kilometers yesterday and were looking for a rest stop when we came upon an elementary school. We had been told, before the trip, that elementary schools and schools in general were good places to sleep, so we went in. As we neared the building we saw some people sitting at a table near the school. We asked if we could sleep there and they said "sure." Then they invited us to eat food and drink with them. It was only after I sat down that Jeff informed me that we were sitting with the principle, the Vice Principal, the gym teacher and another regular teacher. It didn't take very long to realized that the gym teacher was pretty hammered. The rest were getting there. We ate some crab and some soup and then they offered us this certain type of liquor with a 58 on the bottle. Jeff said, "here, have a sip." I had a sip.

It felt like lightning. I didn't really need much more, after a first small glass, but the gym teacher insisted. By insisted I mean poured it into my glass even as I was saying how I was fine.

So it goes. The night was funfilled, eating, drinking, joking and playing games with the drunk elementary school administration of the small Taiwan town of Jhuhu.

Pictured above is a picture jeff snapped in the morning when the kids came to school. I was sleeping. They were not. The kids were very cool and quite curious.

I would be too if two foriegn hobos came to sleep under my elementary school pavillion.

Lets work backwords now. Yesterday. Slept on a pier after another long day of walking. I woke up to the sounds of motors on fishing boats starting as they left for the day. We were at a fishing pier. Our breakfast was noodle soup although a local suggested we buy a fresh fish and grill it at a park nearby. We're lazy and not good at scaling and cutting fish.

Another man we would meet down the road was.

As we walked we took a random backroad to take a rest and look over the ocean. When we did this, we passed the beginning of a little party. They invited us under a tarp to drink rice wine and eat candy. We did. Then a man arrived with a fresh fish and started cutting it. After about 10 minutes he brought over what he had cut: fresh sushimi aka raw fish. We ate the sushimi with nose burning wasabi and sticky rice. It was delicious. The wasabi almost killed Jeff and I.

Earlier in the day we had passed another small party on the side of the road and they too invited us in for some food and a drink.

One of the old men there "Mistah Tien" as he said it, was also present at the above mentioned party. It was quite a coincidence since the next party with the sushimi was at the next town and we just picked a random road and we met him there. This leads to my conclusion about coincidences. People say "oh it was just a coincidence" to explain strange events. We say it as if what happened can be explained by some sort of logic. This logic as well as the presence of, say spirits, cannot be proved or disproved. Thus, its interesting to think about what might be causing the coincidences in all of our lives.

Thats right. I got deep there for a minute.

So heres the end of the post.

Todays famous doctor: Dr. Scholls

Headline of the day: Drunken Pair walk across Taiwan, Lead Stray Dogs to Presidential Victory

(Note: This references people giving us rice wine and then us continuing to walk, the fact that Jeff has this idea that he's going to get a pack of stray dogs to follow us down Taiwan by offering them food and building their trust, and the fact that the presidential election is coming up)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Monk Business

I got yelled at by Monks today for cleaning improperly.

They are really peaceful kind people, although one gave me a little bottle of strange oil for mosquito bites, because I was scratching, and then I said thank you in Manderin and he just gave me this sort of sarcastic look. They are really cool though, even though I couldn't understand what they were saying and had to use Jeff to pass me the wisdom.

I wondered sometimes:
What if Jeff is giving me false wisdom. This wisdom is from Jeff's mind, not the monk. Can Jeff really speak Manderin? What is the realtionship between the Manderin language and Manderin Oranges? All thing I will probably never know, but in conclusion the 2 night all expense paid stay at the Bhuddist monestary was fantastic!

Another interesting experiance I must share happened before we got into the Monestary. We were walking through a town and then this guy started saying hey, asking where we were going and such. (or so I assume, Jeff never tells me anything. We just don't work well together. We don't talk anymore. Its not like it used to be.) That was all a weird break-up style joke, but back to the man that accosted us. He bought us these nuts that your supposed to chew to give you a "buzz" (as teens these days say). I thought it was food. (Jeff never tells me anything.) I started chewing it, this man and his cohorts who had surrounded us were looking on expectantly.

Nothin. I felt nothing.

So then he invited us into his "storefront." Inside I heard what sounded like the clinging of Poker chips. It wasn't, it was dominoes. But it was gambling. So apparently we had stumbled into an underground gambling game with dominoes. So we did the only logical thing: we sat down and had tea. When I asked to go to the bathroom, they pointed me in the direction of it, and on my way there I noted that we were in an abandoned house, all except for the room with the gambling. So yada yada yada, We drank lots of tea, had our fun. Got my name written in Chinese and left. And it was good.

So finally on this post on January the 8th in the year Two thousand and Eight, I have been requested to show some of my dirtiest scribblings from the trip. I hope this suffices:

A cartoon labelled Badmitten, where theres a Man sized mitten on one side of a net, smoking a cigarette with tatoos covering his fingers and an angry glare. He is swinging to hit the birdie over the net.
Brand name for fake poop makers: Shampoo

Heres a poem about firework factory workers:

The new years city explosion after the building explosion was brought to you by the Peking factory.
Chien Kashai made the bomber that crazed American towell-goers
Bien Shu Min made a child cry
Zhu Wei Chow killed a pyrotechnician
Chen Chi Wong finished a finale that sent funslaves home in throves, smiling into their pillows
But Chiang Fu Shun threw two pale colors in the sky so low the crowd didn't leap in fire-moan Ooo's
He fought his way to the clouds but made it only a meager 20 meters, just barely touching the dispersed smoke of his buddies
It was simply unspectacular
But he had no idea what he hadn't done
Nor did the others know what they had done
They all were coming home from a 12 hour monday,
Hands of soot and verticle eyes as they whispered the words "Good Night"
To their sleeping wives.


Olimpus Rex
The Barnaman Bailey Irish Creme
Cut with odd armhairs
That gave him faux muscles
Thats enough of this nonsense! These pictures are some of those from Hualien city in Black and White and a scene from walking, in color.

Todays famous Doctor: Dr. Phil

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The 7-11 to Spirital Enlightenment

So this post I'll try to be succint. Lets go through where we've slept during the time here on the road:
Night 1: Giant, empty hostel somewhere by the sea
Notes: Cold, I woke up, jeff was over by the window watching the morning sun with a blanket wrapped around him: he looked like a Bat.

Night 2: Old lady's house in the town of Yilan
Notes: The town was awesome, had a great feel...tactilly.

Night 3: Basment of Yilan University Lecture Hall
Notes: It was kinda cold and at about 5 am some ladies came in to do some excersizes to typical Chinese music. We kept sleeping.

Night 4: By the train tracks in the town of Shin Cheng
Notes: We went to a night market the day we got in. It was fairly magical, warm sea breeze, palm trees. The actual sleeping part was a little rough due to mosquitos and very loud trains passing by, but it was fun none-the-less.

Night 5: On a platform 2 miles down a trail in Toroko National Park overlooking Several Waterfalls.
Notes: It was beautiful in the day. Everyone left the trail, Jeff and I made a fire, and ate noodles.
We pitched our tent on the wood overlook and woke up and put everything away before the first visitors came. I woke up in the middle of the night freaked out for some reason. It was kind of hot in the tent and the waterfalls were pretty loud. Had some weird dreams; it was great.

Night 6: Bhuddist Monestary
Notes: After we got out of Toroko National Park we started walkin down the road. Same ol same ol. We got tired after a few hours and decided to take a break at a 7-11. We sat on a bench outside the store and then Jeff saw the sign for the Tzu Chi Academy. That was the place we were supposed to go to, although when we stopped, we had no idea of this. So we went into the grouds of the Monestary, and immidiatly were in a Bhuddist prayer time in the temple. After that we ate dinner and a glorious shower (separatly) and joined the other volunteers in sleep. We woke up at 3:50 am, like all mornings at the monestary, and were in another prayer service by 4:20 that lasted about 2 hours. After that, we volunteered, shovelling rocks at a construction site on the grounds and later, making chocolate candy. Soon we'll be back there to eat lunch, probably pray again and then go to sleep. We'll leave tomorrow.

So there you have it, a little synopsis of the last few days. I kept it as breif as possible. I'm at a University right now, and I can't upload pictures. Trust me though, we look awesome!!!

Next post, I'll list the various rides we've gotten along with pictures and zodiac signs.

Praise the 7-11 that gave us the gift of the Bhudda.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Little Better All The Time

Last night we toasted to improvement.
Today was beautiful.
The city of Ilan is a little big city. Its got all the lights of a big city at night, with a small, beachy sort of feel.
Jeff and I ate breakfast. Ilan is full of kind people. Some say "hello" and wave.
Where we ate breakfast, after our soup, rice, bamboo, meat and clams, the owner gives us a Guava fruit, which I think tastes like fresh cut grass embodied in a fruit. It was delicious. Then she gives us another. We are greatful. We pay and leave. Two American dollars per person.
Then we go down to get another, cheaper digital camera.
Jeff and I sat and sipped coffee at a coffee bar on the corner of a street and enjoyed the first day of warm sun. It felt wonderful.
We went about town today, getting things done, eating and writing on our blogs. It's 4:32 pm right now and I'm not sure if we will walk today.
Today was not as exciting in a reading-about-it sort of way, but it was absolutly glorious not to have an unfortunate incident occur. Knock on wood.

Today's famous doctor: Dr. Pepper

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It Can't Get Any Worse

We awoke in the dark single room on the third floor of the giant hostel refreshed. A good 12 hour sleep will do that to you. Spirits had risen as our internal body clocks were starting to change. We started walking early and walked a good 20 kilometers by the end of the day. The walking day was tiring, but satisfying. We passed lots of interesting things: Shrines on moutain tops to our right, the ocean, beaches, temples, taj mahal looking structures, and boats to our left.
Oh you shouldn've seen the pictures, they were wonderful.

Now your thinking, "but steve, you have a camera, and internet access, why should wonder what the pictures look like when you could just show us?"

The answer lies in The Great Nikon Tradegy of January Second Two Thousand and Eight.
We were taking a look over an beach and Jeff started asking some people for directions.
A few minutes later he came over to me and said, they can give us a ride to Ilan (pronounced ee lon). We were tired and needed to get to Ilan to meet a relative's friend's mother, so we accepted the offer. (Note: this was done with careful planning and we figured we needed to get to Ilan sooner than later so that we could get to the South quicker, past a dangerous section of highway. We really are walking!)
So they picked us up at a small restuarant. I had my pack and a Nikon Digital SLR camera. I got distracted. The camera stayed behind with the asphalt. The car left for Ilan. We got to the city of Jiaosi to go to hotsprings. At this time the Nikon was no longer hugging the asphalt. A truck driver was hugging our Nikon. The truck driver got something to eat. Then he sung a Karoake song. Our theif was a singer. Jeff says: Where's the camera. I check the car. I Freeze. That deep freeze that you freeze when something is terribly wrong. We return to the restaurant. The restaurant owner tells us all. A survallence camera is nearby. We drive to the police station. I am silent. We ask to see the camera footage. They drive with us back to the restuarant. They speak to the man. They are getting angry. I don't know why. I hope I havn't caused more trouble. They talk. I stand silent. We leave. They will call us to tell us if they can access the camera footage. Phone ring. The speak Chinese. I can't interpret the sentiment. Then.
Tiang gi mey yo jo le.
Jeff turns to me and translates:
There is no Hope.

The camera is lost.

They friendly people that had picked us up had bought coffee and popcorn for us. I didn't eat.
Jeff later called it "the saddest popcorn".

We got to Ilan later, ate, drank "Taiwan beer" and slept.
I realized that the Beatles song "It's getting better" is about failure.
So indeed I have no hope for getting the camera back, but there's always hope for things
getting better since as the Beatles say in the same song, "It can't get any worse."

Today's famous doctor: Dr. Doom

January 1st was a Dangerous Day

This post if for New years day. The start of our adventure. We were sent off by Jeff's aunt and uncle in the usual way that I've become accostumed to leaving people who's language I do not speak. It ends in "Shei SHei" (Thank you) and "Tsai Chien" (goodbye). We set off crossing a red line painted on the road as our first official step. Walking on a busy highway is just as glamourous as it sounds.
Loud. Diesel. Dangerous. Some words that come to mind thinking about it. The shoulders are okay and will get better in the south. To avoid walking on the road, we saw a lower road that lead by the train tracks. We started walking near the train tracks as it was quieter except for the occsional train. We calculated that our walking would be a safe distance from the train. It was. Barely.
As we walked we ended up going on a thiner bridge-like stretch with a 15 foot drop to our left. We started on this stretch, Jeff voice recording, both of us looking ahead. All of the sudden:
A Train.
We did that thing that you do when your in a dangerous situation and you don't think and you don't remember what you thought after the fact and you just act:
I think that's the definition of survival.
We quickly sat, feet dangling off the ledge, ready to jump if need be, and ducked as the train passed at 60 miles per hour 2-3 feet to our sides.
Jeff was recording the incident the whole time and upon listening to it again, the whole series of events from the first Train whistle to the time that the Train had passed, couldn't have taken more than about 5 seconds.

After the incident Jeff said, "Lets get outta here!"
We got out of there. I came to the conclusion later as we continued walking on the road that
You live and learn, as long as you don't die.
Luckly, we learned.

Not long after, around dusk, we stopped, both of us mentally and physically exausted (we got about 3 hours of sleep that night.) We went to a giant, cold hostel that housed no one but us, and went to sleep. It was 7 pm.

Today's famous doctor: Dr. Kavorkian