9/24/2007

Accident in Kaohsiung & Still Hoppin' Mad



Over the past few weeks, this clip has been making its way around the Internet. Luckily, the poor guy wasn't hurt too badly. The reason it appeals to me is that, even after eight days, I am still seething about my own accident (see my "Riding to Yangming" post below).

My friends keep asking me why I didn't sue the guy that rammed me off the road and into a tree. My wife is at this moment shaking her head, saying "you used to have such a healthy body." But it's like the police officer said, "C'mon, this is Taiwan." What good is suing the guy going to do? Even if I win, I know I can't collect.

When I say that I can't collect, I'm thinking of two instances in particular. First, my ex successfully sued her boss for not paying her salary. After she'd won, however, the police told her she'd need to provide them with the bank account number(s) and the address of her employer (I am not shitting) before they could collect.

The second instance came when my friend Eric (the Eric of my riding team who wasn't maimed - also see "Riding to Yangming" post) was hit on his big bike by an oncoming truck, which happened to be driving in the wrong lane coming around the corner on a narrow mountain road. Eric was actually launched over the truck. He landed standing up on the other side while his NT$200,000 bike was smashed into bits. The cops told the driver of the truck that he'd have to pay for it, and even worked out a monthly payment schedule of NT$20,000 for him to follow. Eric only received his first payment. When he made later enquiries at the police station, everyone had amnesia.

Tomorrow is Mid-Autumn Festival, Taiwan's national holiday celebrating BBQing. I'll be getting out of Dodge for some much needed cooling off. Luckily, today is my last day of antibiotics because I can really use a drink.

9/19/2007

Secret Garden Restaurant




My friend Eric introduced me to this restaurant, which is a bit down the northern slope of Yangming Mountain (Taipei, Taiwan). The food is pretty standard Taiwanese cafe grub: dried out club sandwiches, Caesar salad with sweet Ranch-like dressing and Parmesan powder, NT$200 teacups of Blue Mountain, etc. But with its cool Mediterranean colors and lush garden, it's one of the most beautiful restaurants I've seen here.



This was the view from the front gate of Secret Garden Restaurant. There were I think three of the "satellite" dishes.

9/16/2007

Riding to Yangming



I was coming down Yangming Mountain on my bike and moving into the shoulder as the cars in front of me were slowing. Suddenly, a scooter tried to pass me to get to the shoulder first. This was the second time he had tried to do this; the first time was back a ways but I'd managed to close the gap before he get to it. This time he made it, by ramming me off the road and into a tree (I have no idea how he would have proceeded as my friends were in front of me in the shoulder and the cars very tight on the road). Anyway, I was going fast, around 50 km when this happened, and am lucky that I had my helmet on. At the exact moment that I was bouncing off the tree and landing in a bush, my friend Eric was going head over heals as a car in front had cut into the shoulder and forced him into the curb.

I was dusting myself off when my wife called and asked me what I was up to. She said to call the cops immediately. When the cops arrived, the driver of the scooter had the gall to explain that I had rear-ended him, which didn't really account for me doing a header into a tree or the smashed-in front part of his scooter (which he showed to be photographed as evidence). I still won because I had blood and was the loudest, and the police officer judged that it was scooter driver who would pay my hospital bills. When the police officer asked me if I was "satisfied" I explained that I was not because the driver was lying. Then I asked if it was legal to lie to the police at accident/crime scenes, but was told: "Come on, this is Taiwan."

All told, I have torn tendons in my shoulder (so I can't lift up my arm), scrapes on my face and legs (see pictures) and cuts on my arms. I didn't need a tetanus shot because I just had one last year after I cut my finger off. Some nice kids at ER let me go in front of them because they said my accident was more serious. For me, this cancels out the asshole on the scooter. He had to write an apology which I signed with a recommendation that he learn to drive. Plus, he had to listen to his mom berate him on the phone for being dumb enough to stick around after hitting someone instead of high-tailing it out of there. Eric had a few bruises and a torn riding shirt. His last words were: "this was fun, looking forward to next time."



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9/09/2007

Fulong (福隆)


Fulong (福隆), Taiwan


I noticed this sign in Fulong (福隆), Taiwan. I'm wondering if the Yanliao Bikeway hooks up with (or is) the Tsaoling Trail (草嶺古道). According to the locals, Tsaoling was built in 1807 during the Yang Ting Li (楊廷理) era from Mongchia (艋舺) to Ilan (Yilan or 宜蘭). The trail is probably a lot older though, predating the Chinese by hundreds of years. There are several reasons I'm supposing this. First, the Dutch penetrated the Fulong/Ilan area in the 1640s. By the 1650s, 45 regional Kavalan (瑪蘭族) Aboriginal villages answered to Dutch administration. It's highly unlikely that Dutch sailed around the northern tip of Taiwan to get to the Ilan plain as it was a bitch to land on the northeastern Taiwan shore. Secondly, the ineptitude of the Ching Dynasty Chinese in road, rail and harbor engineering is well-documented. I mean it took them ten years to build 42 km of railroad in Taiwan before the Japanese took over.


Mother and daughter pretend to sleep after conning my wife and five-month-old baby out of seat

My wife and I decided to take our daughter to see the ocean for the first time. This was also her first trip out of Taipei. Even though I've been in Taiwan for a decade, it was still a learning experience.

My first lesson came when I went to buy a bottle of water. It was my turn to pay when someone butted in front of me, waving a NT$100-bill. When I asked him to line up, he answered: "I'm just getting change."

"I'm just getting a bottle of water. The woman behind me is just getting a steamed pork bun," I replied, realizing that all you need to do to be excused from acting like a total prick (and that goes for even if someone from your group sees you) is act like your situation is urgent or unique.

My second encounter came on the train to Fulong (福隆) twenty minutes later. We didn't have seats and we didn't care - Fulong is just an hour and change from Taipei. We would just put our five-month-old daughter in her stroller and hang on for the ride, no big deal. After we boarded the train, my wife sat down in an empty seat to change her grip on our daughter while I unfolded the stroller. No sooner had she done so than another passenger (pictured above) produced a ticket and told my wife and daughter to get out of her seat. The passenger and someone I'm assuming to be her daughter sat down. The train pulled out of Taipei Train Station and we were on our way.

At the next stop, however, another passenger boarded, showed a ticket and promptly booted the woman's daughter out of the seat that my wife had been occupying. So I realized that this woman conned a mother with a five-month-old baby out of a seat so that her own twenty-something daughter could have it.

The trip back to Taipei was even more discouraging. My daughter started to cry, so I had to pick her up and hold her in one arm, grabbing on to a window nook with my free hand to balance. Still, nobody in that carriage offered us a seat. 30 minutes later, an elderly man finally tried to make me take his. The guy had walked from the other side of the carriage, past 50 indifferent faces, to do so.