Friday, January 9, 2009

The Visitor

In which Hobbes Sees Our Lives Up Close (Poor Thing)

Hobbes flew in on the evening of Saturday the third.  Katy and I took a bus (a very posh bus) to the airport.  We were both excited, and reminisced about our own arrival.  Katy made a welcome sign in Chinese.  We held it up through various stages of excitement, anticipation, hope, and then weariness at entirely the wrong terminal for a while, before figuring out that there was a much bigger terminal accessible by sky train (creepily deserted, but effective).  We collected a somewhat worried Hobbes and found our bus back. 

We came back to our apartment and more or less slept immediately that first night.  The next morning I had a one-on-one class at School 8, so we met up afterwards and had dinner at a very nice little noodle place next to Da'an park.  After eating, we went to to see the flowers again.  Katy and Hobbes hadn't seen the show yet, so we wandered around for a bit and tried the candied tomatoes (Hobbes was a fan).  I saw some sections of the display I hadn't come across yet, but went home pretty quickly afterward due to exhaustion.  Katy and Hobbes split off and went to find dinner and the meditation group.

The week was, for me, a blur.  I left on Monday morning to do some editing, met Hobbes and Katy at the vegetarian buffet that I frequent, took Hobbes with me to the School 8 area, and deposited her at a Starbucks with instructions to meet me there after I was done with my classes.  I unfortunately (and unusually) had two that day - a regular class and a make-up.  I picked up Hobbes at 9:10ish and we made our way back to the Linsen area.  On Tuesday Hobbes and Katy went up to do some walking in the northern area of Taipei, while I prepped for my Tuesday class and graded their homework.  They had an oral quiz, and all did pretty well, apart from the two girls who have been entirely uninterested in the whole class.  

Wednesday morning Hobbes and I went to walk around the area with the art park and the art museum.  The art park was closed, but we finally made it into the Story House.  Weird stuff.  It was, when we went, housing a display of television and newspaper advertisements for nine or ten Taiwanese brandnames.  Soap, soy sauce, snake oil, stationary, toothpaste (see hei ren for a somewhat amusing history), and the necessary overpriced gift shop.  No photos were allowed in the building.  After my Sanchong class, Hobbes hung out at home until both Katy and I returned from our classes (another unusual thing - I had another make-up class on Wednesday).  On Thursday Hobbes took herself around and saw the touristy bits of Taipei - Taipei 101, etc - while Katy and I had class and editing.  I got done at 7 on Thursday, after a somewhat disturbing class in which one student was upset and wouldn't tell me why, and met Hobbes at the Taipei Main Station where we got some dinner and hit up the cultural gift shop for "hey, I've been to Taiwan" gifts for the folks back home, I presume.  I tried to find a trinket with the Taipei Railroad symbol on it, but the only one available was a hiddeous little alien figure with the symbol for a head.  Anyone wishing to take up metalsmithing is welcome to send me a Taipei Railroad symbol necklace.  Perhaps I'll find an arc-welder.

Friday morning we headed to the Peace Park area.  It was a pretty park, and we had lunch before-hand at another vegetarian buffet that was quite tasty.  The Peace Park (2-28 Park) commemorates an incident on February 28, 1947.  We wandered around until both of our cameras lost batteries, and then I had to go into work.  I dropped Hobbes off at the Starbucks again, and she uploaded her photos while I taught a couple of classes.  I finished my classes at ten, by which time Katy and Hobbes had eaten dinner at a little restaurant somewhere in the Da'an area.  We all met up back at our apartment and Hobbes and I stayed up while Katy took a nap.  We left the apartment to find transportation to the airport at 4 AM.  The busses weren't running yet, but we were approached by an extra-enthusiastic taxi driver who insisted that he could take us there.

The taxi driver was very nice, in spite of our initial suspicions.  He charged a bit less than the others (we considered the possibility that it might be a scam), and he was non-intrusive for the duration of the forty-minute ride.  He played a CD quietly and let us be giddy from exhaustion in the back seat.  At the end of the ride, we noticed that the music had a lot of harmonics in common with ABBA, and no sooner had that occured to us then a Chinese version of Gimme Gimme Gimme came on.  I asked him to write down the name of the guy singing, and he pulled one better and gave us the CD.  It turns out to be a CD he burned, and written on the disc are the words "hǎo tīng de gē."

We arrived at the airport at about 5:00.  It was deserted.  There was no one at the check-in desk, and after some peering blearily around, we discovered that it would not open until 6:15.  So we sat down in the waiting area and variously went to sleep (Katy), noticed our surroundings (Hobbes), or fought an all-consuming battle against startlingly heavy eyelids (me).  The staff got there promptly at 6:15, and Hobbes checked in and we hugged our goodbyes, then Katy and I made our way back to the terminal from which the busses left.  On our way to the sky-train, we ran into a young mother with a kid on her hip, one on the way, and a touchingly devoted husband who was having trouble with their metric ton of luggage.  We helped them get their baggage together and listened to her spout "Ai-o!"s and gratitude.  We made the bus and I spent most of the trip back staring vacantly at the seat in front of me.  When we got home, I made myself a cup of tea and promptly fell asleep before being able to drink it.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Who's Hobbes?