2018年5月25日 星期五

Riding Around Jer Ben 在知本騎摩托車

Jer Ben is about 20 minutes south of downtown Taitung.  In administrative terms, most of it is within the Taitung City limits, though parts closer to the hot spring area are actually in Beinan Township.  從台東市區到知本開車要20分鐘左右.  在行政區的劃分中知本算是在台東市內, 可是比較靠近溫泉區的地方實際上是卑南鄉.

If you're travelling south on Highway 11, eventually you'll come to a sign announcing Jer Ben, just before the bridge that crosses the Jer Ben River.  If you take a left before the bridge, you'll wind up in a weird "no man's land" near the ocean.  The Taitung County Government wants to build a solar power facility in this area, though I couldn't see any signs of construction.  台11線往南, 你會看到知本的標示牌.  這個路牌在還沒過知本溪的那座橋前面.  如果你在橋前左轉的話, 你會來到一個靠海的奇怪且無主的空地.  台東縣政府有在這裡蓋太陽能發電設施的計畫, 可是我在這裡沒有看到什麼工程標示牌.

Jer Ben also has its own train station, though the station is far from where most people in Jer Ben actually live.  This picture is looking north, towards Taitung City.  知本也有火車站, 可是火車站離市區有點遠.  這張照片朝北邊往台東市看的.

Turning right off Highway 11, you head up a hill into "downtown" Jer Ben.  The only noteworthy thing on this road is the Hei Song Goat Pot restaurant, which is pretty good.  But of course it's summer now, and who wants to eat goat pot when it's so hot?  離開台11線右轉就是往知本市區.  這條路上唯一值得注意的只有好吃的黑松羊肉爐.  可是炎熱的夏天來臨時誰想吃羊肉爐?

Finding the hot springs the first time can be tricky, but if you see this 7-11, you know you're headed in the right direction.  See that blue truck?  The hot springs are up that road.  很多人第一次找溫泉區的時候就迷路了.  但是看到這家Seven的時候, 你就知道你走對方向了.  看到藍色的卡車嗎?  去溫泉就往那條路走.

There are more forested areas as you approach the hot springs.  Watch out for snakes!  溫泉區的森林地比較大.  小心蛇!

This entire complex is for rent.  I'm sure they want a ridiculous amount of money for it, but I can't imagine a cooler place to live.  The parties would be epic!  這個地方出租.  應該要不少錢, 我覺得住在這裡應該很棒.  可以舉辦最好的party.

And this is the view from their front porch.  這是他們看台上的風景.

There's some light farming going on in the hills around here, but nothing as extensive as you'd see in Tai Ma Li Township, to the south.  在山坡上有些農夫種菜, 可是這裡的農地比南邊的太麻里小很多.

This is the hot spring area, on the Jer Ben River.  At the other end of this valley is the Jer Ben Forest Recreation Area.  這是知本溪上的溫泉區.  山谷的另外一邊是知本森林遊樂區.

They've been digging up the river bed quite a bit.  The ducks love it here.  他們一直在挖知本溪的河床.  附近的鴨子很喜歡.

Looking the other way, toward the ocean.  The river mouth is where Highway 11 merges into Highway 9.  This is also the boundary between Taitung City and Tai Ma Li Township.  往海的方向看.  這是溪口, 也是台11線和台9線連接的地方.  這裡也是台東市和太麻里鄉的邊界.

One of Tu Di Gong (the "Earth God")'s many temples.  土地公廟.

Further up the valley.  The Royal Formosa, Dong Tai, and A Ya Wang hot springs are all further up the left bank.  往山谷走.  老爺, 東台和ㄚ一ㄚ旺溫泉都在左邊的溪岸.

Highway 9, on the way back home.  The Pacific Ocean is just beyond the trees.  It was a hot, hot day, and I have the sunburn to prove it.  回家路上的台9線.  太平洋在樹林後面.  那一天的天氣很熱.  我都曬紅了!

Related Entries 相關的文章:

Ruins 遺址
What's Going On In Taitung 台東最近發生的事 6
Taitung as a Religious Experience
A School for Rice and a Park for Water 米國學校跟親水公園

*Before I mentioned climbing into some abandoned building in Jer Ben and taking pictures.  I drove down there but couldn't find a way in!  Jer Ben, by the way, has a lot of cool abandoned buildings, none of which I was able to get into that particular day.

2018年5月22日 星期二

Peeling an Onion

We're at the bar (as always) when I pull out my phone.  The usual routine.  Line followed by Messenger, followed by Instagram or Gmail.  I see more of your pictures and I start to remember.

"Who is that?" one of the guys says next to me, "You know her?"

He caught me.  Scrolling down through your bikini pics, thinking of who you were then, and who you are now.  A smiling face at parties in other cities.  Brown skin and arms wrapped around a variety of men.  I'm aroused and embarrassed, nostalgic and afraid.

"Yeah, I know her," I reply.  "She was one of my students, long ago."

He laughs.  "Well she sure has grown up since then.  You be careful who catches you studying those pictures."

I nod, and think about another you, years before.  How many years before, exactly?  Well, I don't exactly like to think about it.  Let's just say that I was a different person then, too - and not only because of the decade or so that's passed us by.

I can still see you there, in that school office.  And I can see your teacher's face, purple with rage.  She was always so angry at you, and there was nothing you or anyone else could do about it.  You had to stand there, impassive in your school uniform, bearing the full brunt of her fury.  We all wanted to help you, of course, but there was nothing we could do, and there was no way to intervene.  Thinking of this now, I can only hope that you've forgiven us.

15 minutes or so later, the storm would pass and the office would return to normal.  You'd walk out of the office with that same defiance, that same untouched demeanor, and it was only when I later passed you in the hall that I'd see the tears in your eyes, and the way your hands trembled.

Three years of that for you.  How many minutes of your life were spent thus, yelled at for imaginary infractions?  And the truth of the matter was that you hadn't done anything at all.  The truth of the matter was that your teacher didn't like your pride.  She hated the fact that she couldn't break you.  She hated your beauty, too.  And your youth.  She knew, as we knew, that you didn't really belong to that school, or to this town.  She knew, as we knew, that all her angry words were wasted.

Here you are again, on my phone.  Some kind of costume party in Taipei.  A sea of sexy smiling women, yet somehow you outshine them all, and make them look ordinary.  My God, those guys in Taipei must fall down like wounded animals before you.  I can just see you walking through restaurants and cafes up there, striking them speechless with your very presence.  And their girlfriends and wives - how they must hate you.  Just like that teacher hated you, so many years before.

A friend jostles me, and I'm dragged from my reverie.  I clumsily switch off the screen.  "Hey man, what you looking at?" shouts another guy over too-loud pop music, "You need to stop staring at your phone, dude!"

Yes, I do.  But I'm also thinking of a time not so long ago, when you asked to meet at a local convenience store.  You tricked me that time.  I thought it was going to be you and several classmates, but later, at the convenience store, it was only you sitting there before me.  How had I left myself so open, I wondered?  How had I become so exposed?  Again my mind reeled, caught between ecstasy and fear.

We sat next to the window and talked about the school we once shared, many years previous.  You said you kept in touch with some of your classmates.  You said I was the only teacher you really liked.  You said you were happy in Taipei - happy and very "free."  And as you said this I knew that you could destroy me if you wanted to, if only I was weak enough to let you do it.  My God, I thought, what had I gotten myself into?

Yet - whether fortunately or unfortunately I'm still unable to say - you left not long after.  You walked out into the summer night, and at that moment I knew you hadn't pursued me as an act of kindness, as a way of thanking me for friendly words given to a very young girl.

In the bar, years later, I think of how strong you are now, and how far you've come.  No teachers to yell at you now.  None of them would dare.  You walk the world in your own way, and I have pity for anyone foolish enough to cross you.  

Some might say that the world has made you hard, but I'd say that the world has made you just hard enough.  One day all of those parents and teachers will understand this too.  Some of them, exercising a kind of selective amnesia, might even congratulate themselves over the person you've become.

"Damn she's fine!" says another person at the bar, a foreigner I've only just been introduced to.  I look down at my phone, and stare at the screen full of pictures.  "You know her?"

"Yes," I say, "But I'm not sure if she's still the person I remember."  Whoever you are now, and whatever you're doing, I worry for those of us who love you.

Related Entries:

Stuff That I Hate 我很討厭的一些東西
Taitung as a Religious Experience
Two "Funerals" 二場喪禮
Test #2

P.S. - Before anyone I know reads this and starts thinking too hard, I'd like to make the following points: 1) I grabbed the pictures from Google, having entered "Taipei bar girls" (台北酒吧辣妹 and 墾丁辣妹) into the search box.  2) Any events described above happened more than 10 years ago.  3) The woman described in this story is actually a composite of two different women.  4) One of these women did a complete 180, and is now very religious.  The other one?  Let's just say it's easy to make her acquaintance, but it'll cost you.