2018年4月27日 星期五

Ruins 遺址

I'd be happy to tell you where these places are, but I worry it would get me into trouble.  Investigating old abandoned buildings is a tricky business, and I don't always know if it's ok to venture into certain places.  我想跟你說這二個地點在哪裡, 可是我怕惹禍上身.  進去沒有人使用的建築物不是很安全也不一定合法.

I can, however, tell you that both of these places are in Taitung City.  Both of them are also fairly easy to find, though in the case of one place you need to look up to notice it.  我還是可以跟你說這二個地點是在台東市, 也很好找, 可是其中一個地點你需要往上看才會發現它的存在.



Shrimp fishing place.  It was also a KTV.  釣蝦場.  以前也是KTV.


Many trees have crashed through the roof.  Evidence of previous typhoons.  有幾棵樹被颱風吹倒進屋頂.


Whenever it was open, it was long ago.  I've lived in Taitung City 13 years now, so it's been closed for at least that long.  它很久以前營業過.  我住台東市十三年了, 所以它休業的時間最短是十三年.


Very quiet here now.  非常的安靜.


I think maybe part of the reason they left was that this wasn't really their land.  Many of the businesses in this area have that look.  可能他們停止營業是因為這塊土地不是他們的.  這附近的商家都像這樣子.


Maybe they also had aboriginal dancing performances here.  It was very popular with tourists for a while.  可能他們也有原住民舞蹈表演.  這種表演在以前很受觀光客喜愛.


Behind the same place.  Maybe the remains of an old house?  在同一個地方後面.  以前是房子吧.


Different place, not far away.  不同的地方.  離第一個地方不遠.


It has many floors.  I think this place might still belong to the Taitung Couny Government.  它有幾層樓.  可能是台東縣政府的資產.


The VIP room in an old KTV.  Not so popular now!  KTV的VIP房.  現在沒那麼熱鬧了.


It's surprising how much stuff they left here.  Furniture, carpets, even mirrors.  I would show you a picture of the mirrors, but you've probably seen too many horror movies and wish to avoid the appearance of ghosts?  他們把很多東西留在這裡.  家具, 地毯, 鏡子都還在.  我要給你看大鏡子, 可是可能你看過太多恐怖片了, 會擔心在鏡子裡看到鬼!


The main stage.  It was probably a fun place.  他們的大舞台.  這裡營業的時候應該滿好玩的.


Bathroom with a view.  I think this was part of the KTV on the floor below it.  風景很好的洗手間.  這應該是以前樓下KTV的一部分吧.


This was also a KTV, but not the same KTV as the one above.  I'm guessing this outline was where a stage used to be.  這裡以前也是KTV, 可是跟上面的不同.  我猜想這個輪廊是以前的舞台.


The stairs on one side of the building look very evil.  一邊的樓梯看起來很恐怖.


I'm curious, does anyone reading this recognize these places from when they were open?  If so, I'd love to hear about what they were like 15, 20, or more years ago.  我很好奇, 有沒有讀者以前在它們營業時去過這二個地方?  如果你去過的話, 我很想知道他們15或20多年前的故事.

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2018年4月22日 星期日

What's Going On In Taitung 台東最近發生的事 6

Photoshop!  This place doesn't look as good in real life.

Been a while since I covered the news, hasn't it?  But hey it's Taitung, and there's never all that much going on anyway.  Without looking, I can tell you there were a few car accidents, some weather phenomena, some sporting events, the county government gave someone an award, the county magistrate went on a tour of something, and someone, somewhere launched a scheme to grab more tourist dollars.  我很久沒有討論新聞, 對不對?  還好台東那麼小, 不會有那麼多事情發生.  我還沒看新聞, 就可以跟你講大概發生了一些車禍, 奇怪的天氣, 運動活動, 縣政府頒發獎狀, 縣長參觀了些地方, 還有人提出加強觀光業的計畫.

But what really happened?  Let's take a look...  可是那些事情真的有發生過嗎?  我們再看一下...


"Try not to look bored, try not to look bored..."

A. Local News 地區新聞

1. The DPP is eyeing Taitung hopefully.  The office of County Magistrate will be up for grabs soon, and Justin Huang won't be up for reelection.  民進黨希望在台東打敗國民黨.  縣長黃健庭快卸任了.

2. Local lawmaker Liou Jao-hao, who's up for that County Magistrate seat, invited representatives from the Tourism Administration to discuss how to improve tourism in Taitung.  參選台東縣長的立法委員劉櫂豪請觀光局代表到他的辦公室談論台東的觀光業產.

3. The Puyuma Triathlon took place last weekend.  A man from Sweden completed the Ironman in 8 hours, 35 minutes.  Having competed in the much shorter Olympic triathlon the following day, I can't tell you how tired I feel when I think about swimming, bicycling, and running for that long.  上周六舉辦的普悠瑪鐵人三項賽,  從瑞典來的選手把226公里的比賽在8小時35分完成.  我隔天參加了51.5公里的比賽.  我一想到有人游泳, 騎車和跑步那麼久就感覺非常累.


I like to think they're viewing pages of the Necronomicon.

4. The Taitung County Government is leading an effort to put more TV and phone lines underground.  Jung Hua Telecom is assisting in the effort.  中華電信隨著台東縣政府的計畫把很多纜線放到地下.

5. There was a 4.7 magnitude earthquake in Taitung last Monday.  上星期一台東發生了規模4.7的地震.

6. They placed a metal roof over a local historic building.  An official in the Education Bureau explained that this measure was only temporary.  歷史建物加蓋了鐵皮屋.  教育科長表示只是臨時的保護措施.


Yikes.

7. Freaking horrible.  A local one year old was bit on the head by the family dog.  The dog bit fractured the boy's skull, and some of his cerebrospinal fluid was leaking out.  好可怕.  台東一歲的兒童被家裡養的狗咬了.  他的後腦骨骨折, 腦漿溢出.


8. As a way of promoting tourism after Hualien's big earthquake, the airports in both Hualien and Taitung will not be charging landing fees for international flights.  花蓮強震之後為了要找回觀光人潮.  交通部預告花蓮台東機場免收國際航線降落費.

9. Taitung's Hot Air Balloon Festival will start on June 30, and last for 45 days.  台東熱氣球嘉年華六月三十日登場.  活動為期45天.


Stadium was probably NOT at full capacity.

10. Taitung's team won 3 gold, 4 silver, and 2 bronze medals in the National Junior High School Games.  台東的代表隊在全國國中等學校運動會奪3金, 4銀, 2銅.

11. The Shie Guo Cheng National Little League Championship began in Taipei last Wednesday.  Taitung's team didn't fare so well.  上星期三107年謝國城盃全國少棒錦標賽在台北開幕.  台東縣隊處於落後.

12. Plans to complete Highway 26, which would have connected Nan Tian in Da Ren Township with Shiu Hai in Pingtung County, were scrapped recently.  I think this is great news, and I'd like to thank Pingtung's county government.  連接達仁鄉南田村, 屏東縣旭海的省道台26線將不會完成.  我覺得這是很完美的消息, 也感謝屏東縣政府的環保意識.


"Patty," source of joy and horror in several local men's lives.

13. Nine local men were tested for AIDS after encounters with a Thai prostitute visiting the county.  The woman was present in Taitung from March 13 to 22, and had encounters with dozens of local men.  已經有九個當地男子匿名愛滋檢驗.  他們都跟泰國籍女子有性交易.  這位泰國籍女子三月13至22在台東跟數十名男子從事性交易.

14. Taitung's Environmental Protection Bureau hopes to reduce the amount of garbage shipped to Kaohsiung.  Taitung's garbage is shipped to an incinerator over there, and maintenance of the incinerator over the Tomb-Sweeping vacation caused garbage from Taitung to pile up.  台東環保局希望運到高雄的垃圾可減少.  清明節時高雄的焚化廠進行維修, 造成台東縣垃圾激增.

15. Several students from Wu Lu in Hai Duan Township recently visited Jinmen as part of a cultural exchange.  I'm sure it was a great experience for the kids, but was it worth the money?  海端鄉霧鹿村的幾個國小生最近去金門參加文化交流.  對孩子來說當然是很豐富的經驗, 可是真的值得花那麼多錢?



16. There was another, smaller earthquake out to sea yesterday.  昨天台東外海發生了比較小的地震.

17. Yesterday the KMT held a conference to discuss their sponsorship of Rao Ching-ling for the office of Taitung County Magistrate.  昨天國民黨在台東舉辦台東縣長提名饒慶鈴懇託會.

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An Almost Completely Random Selection of Pictures 一些隨機的照片

2018年4月19日 星期四

Taitung as a Religious Experience


I. In Which "Bob" Makes a Bad Decision... or Does He?

Bob - let's call him "Bob" - was freshly arrived in town from scenic Kaohsiung.  He was six or seven beers into a pretty good night out, and he was - as people in such situations usually are - looking for something MORE.

He was at at Oklahoma Flo's when a kindly stranger offered him a little white pill.  "This is ketamine," said the kindly stranger, "And if you take this pill, your pretty good night out will soon be a pretty great night out... or even a really great night out."

"I don't know," replied Bob, "I do Special K a lot, and my family physician warned me about brain damage."

"Don't worry," said the kindly stranger, "This is special Special K, and after you take it, only good things will happen.  No brain damage.  No side effects.  Only a pleasant, almost spiritual experience, guaranteed to turn that frown upside down."

Bob thought over the proposition.  He was, after all, in a strange part of Taiwan, and even though his hotel (the Orange Hotel) was only a short distance away, he worried that somehow things might go awry.  Things often did when he partook of ketamine, no matter how safe the circumstances.

But it was indeed a cool and enjoyable evening in Taitung.  And the kindly stranger was offering the pill gratis, without attaching any sort of obligation to the exchange.  Why NOT swallow the "special" pill?  Why not make a pretty good evening pretty great?

"Come on, don't be such a pussy," said the kindly stranger - and with that the matter was decided.  Bob lifted the ketamine from the kindly stranger's hand and washed the pill down with his last gulp of beer.

"Oh God," he said, "This Special K really is special!"




II. The Journey Begins

After a few minutes, Oklahoma Flo's was transformed into a cartoon version of itself.  The lights were brighter, the colors were stronger, and it felt like every person in the bar - nay, in the world - wanted desperately to be Bob's friend and companion.

"Jesus," said Bob, "What was that pill?  That sure isn't like any K I ever had!"

"As I said," the kindly stranger answered, "It's a special kind of Special K.  And don't call me Jesus."

"Then who are you?" asked Bob, "I mean, what's your name, dude?"  

As a floating sensation seized him, he studied the kindly stranger more closely.  Only then did he notice the stranger's flowing red robes.  He was a much older man - much older all of a sudden - and in his long black hair and beard Bob could see streaks of gray.

The kindly stranger took another sip of the whiskey sour he was drinking.  "Why I'm Zoroaster," he said, "Prophet of Ahura Mazda.  And I have given you the key to the first door.  You only need walk a little way further, and after three tests you'll arrive at that which you seek."

But Bob hadn't been listening.  "What's a Zoroaster?" he added, "...and I saw you drive up in a Zace, man.  That ain't no Mazda."

The kindly stranger grinned from ear to ear.  "Zoroaster is my name," he explained patiently.  "I am also known as Zarathustra.  I am a prophet of the one true God, whose name is Ahura Mazda, Lord of Light, the Undiluted One."

"Cool, dude," answered Bob, "But what was that door you were talking about?"

"....it is the pill you just took." continued Zoroaster.  "It opens a door in the mind.  Once you pass through this door, you are in this world, the second world, between the Earth and heaven.  

You have begun to leave your earthly body behind.  After you overcome three trials, you will leave it entirely, and enter into the glory of Ahura Mazda's presence."

"Shit," said Bob, "And where's this guy who drives the Mazda?"

"In Dulan." stated Zoroaster.

"In Dulan?" asked Bob.

"Yes, in Dulan," said Zoroaster, "You know where that is?"

"Yeah," said Bob, "About a half hour north of here."

"...by car," added Zoroaster.

"Yeah, by car." affirmed Bob.

"...but we'll be walking there." said Zoroaster.

"What?" asked Bob.

"I said we'll be walking there." Zoroaster said.

"Isn't it too far to walk?" asked Bob.

"Not too far for those who believe," said Zoroaster.  "No distance is too far, if one were to find paradise after traversing it.  No ordeal is too daunting for those who would discover heaven.  Follow me, place your trust in Ahura Mazda, and soon we'll stand at His right hand."

"Fuck," replied Bob, "Heaven sounds like a cool place.  You said it's near here?  A few minutes north, right?  On Dulan... Road?  Shit, I don't even know where that is.  But anyway let me, like, get another beer for the road.  You lead the way, man!"



III. The Three Trials

Bob and Zoroaster (who rapidly became "Z" in Bob's parlance) walked out of Oklahoma Flo's and down the road beside the Tai Ping River.  After 15 minutes or so they came to Highway 11, where they turned left and headed north up the coast.  

The highway was practically deserted, and between the buzz of passing scooters they could hear the crash of waves on the other side of the Seashore Park.

"There will be three tests," said Zoroaster, "But for the faithful these will be little more than distractions.  The first of these tests will take place in Shan Yuan, an hour's walk from here."

Again, Bob hadn't been listening.  He'd been staring down at his phone the whole time, wondering if there were any girls in Taitung he could hook up with.  Line and Messenger were proving disappointing.  His phone messages offered a small spark of hope, but that girl wouldn't be free for several hours.

"Do you understand?" said Zoroaster, "Have you purified yourself?"

"Yeah, Z," said Bob, "But, like, how much farther is it, man?  Let's get some more beers at that betel nut stand over there.  Shit, you sure you don't want to just go into a KTV?  I got money."

Zoroaster said nothing, and Bob turned his attention back to various forms of social media.  Why were girls always so "busy" when he'd just scored some K?  Was it that obvious?  Or had he earned some kind of reputation?




IV. The First Trial

After a long walk they were far north of Taitung City, and Bob was still tripping hard.  At one point he stopped to have a conversation on German existentialism with some cows that lived next to the road.  But this conversation was cut short by Zoroaster's desire to make haste for the first of his three tests.  It was really too bad, because one of the younger cows made some excellent points with regard to Kant's influence over later existentialists.

Minutes later, they were following a set of sandy steps down to a beach, and they had to raise their voices over the roar of the waves.  "You must be brave," said Zoroaster, and keep the image of Ahura Mazda in your heart.  "Here," he said, stopping, "Fill your pockets with the stones.  They will be your weapons.  As David slew Goliath with a stone, so you too will defeat a still greater aggressor."

"Huh?" said Bob as he placed several stones in his jacket pockets.  "Aggressor?  Are we about to get jumped or something?  Is this private land?  Dude, some of these local guys have guns, you know!"

Zoroaster laughed.  "Local guys?  No, my friend, your adversary is far more formidable than any 'local guy' - armed or not.  Turn, and behold!"

Bob turned, and opposite the ocean he saw a monster made of sand and metal, poised as if to strike them both.  It had hundreds of eyes and large metal arms, and these arms whipped back and forth across the beach.  "Oh shit!" said Bob, "Goddamn extra-special K!  What the hell did you give me, man?"

"Fear not!" shouted Zoroaster above the monster's roaring and clacking, "Use the stones you have collected!  Strike the beast down!"

Zoroaster hurled a stone at their terrifying foe.  It struck the beast with a great crash, and the monster screamed.  "Now!" said Bob's guide, "Strike it down!"

After collecting himself a little, Bob joined in the throwing of stones.  Each stone hit its target with a deafening roar, and after they had exhausted their supply of missiles they scrambled for more, all the while trying to stay out of reach as the many-eyed beast attempted to strike them.  "Keep going!" yelled Zoroaster, "Don't give up!"

They threw stones until their arms ached, and after a long battle the monster was defeated.  Pieces of its skeleton began to fall off, and all but a few of its eyes had been blinded.  Zoroaster and Bob stood before it on the beach, panting with exhaustion.

"A great feat," said Zoroaster, "But we cannot tarry here longer.  "Our next foe is even stronger, and we will need to steel ourselves against him."

"What?" said Bob, "We're going?  But I'm tired man, can't we rest here for a bit?"

Zoroaster shook his head in response, and Bob followed Zoroaster reluctantly down the beach past the monster's corpse.  Part of him wondered at what he'd just taken part in.  Part of him also regretted not following through on a certain argument he'd posed to one of the older cows.  

What a night! he thought.  And what's that wailing sound, somewhere far away?




V. The Second Trial

Bob blacked out or nodded off at some point in their journey.  When he opened his eyes he was lying on grass, on a piece of land high above the road.  They were much further away from the ocean.  Had he walked there?  Or had Zoroaster somehow carried him?

His phone buzzed in his pocket.  As he pulled out the phone the light from the screen sent a beam across the darkness surrounding them.  It was just a girl he had texted earlier, teasing him and telling him to go to bed.

As he placed the phone back in his pocket, he saw Zoroaster sitting on the grass to his right.  There were mosquitoes everywhere, and somewhere in the blackness he heard water running.  It was a river, or maybe just a stream.

"You have awoken" said the prophet of Ahura Mazda, "And now it is time for your second test.  We will begin chanting part of the holy book, the Zend Avesta, and as we chant, our faith in The Illuminated One will reverse the waters, sending them backwards toward their source."

The older man began chanting in a language Bob had never heard before.  Bob could only gawk at the seated figure.  He was almost overcome by a desire to vomit.

"Concentrate!" roared Zoroaster.  His hand whipped through the darkness to slap Bob in the back of the head.  "Put the cares of the flesh from your mind!"

"Ow, fuck!" said Bob, rubbing the back of his skull.  The old man was surprisingly fast, and surprisingly strong.  What the hell had he gotten himself into?

"Concentrate!" Zoroaster roared again.  Fearing another blow, Bob joined in the chanting.

And as they chanted, Bob could just make out a sliver of water, ahead of them in the mosquito-filled recesses of the night.  It was some kind of channel cut into the earth.  The gurgling waters within the channel reflected the stars above, with only the sound of their voices to compete with its playful gurgling.

"Concentrate!" Zoroaster said a third time, raising the urgency of his chant.  Bob accommodated the prophet as best he could, attempting to mouth a slew of unfamiliar words.

He looked at the water once more, and as he looked it seemed to reverse direction, just as the older man had promised.  Was it really happening?  Had their chanting done the trick?  It was difficult to make out the motions of the water from where they were sitting in the grass, and part of him protested that it might just be an optical illusion.  Hadn't he seen some other such trick?  In some other part of Taiwan?

"It is done!" said Zoroaster, rising.  "Witness the power of Ahura Mazda!"

"But---" interjected Bob.

"Shut up!" said the prophet, "Our faith has done it!  There remains only the third and final challenge, which is but a short distance away!"

Bob wanted to argue, but Zoroaster was already pulling him toward a path at their left.  His phone buzzed again in his pocket, and he mournfully reflected on the fact that cavorting with young Taiwanese women - however given to teasing they might be - was always better than following old dudes down strange roads in the dark.

Somewhere far away Bob heard that wailing sound again.  It was getting closer.




VI. The Challenge

Along the way Bob had to stop and puke into a canal next to the road.  Zoroaster kept urging him on, but he was so very sick, so very terribly sick.

When the scenery had stopped spinning around him, they continued up the highway.  Before long they arrived in Dulan, a small town north of Taitung City.  To their left they saw the old Dulan sugar factory, and a little bit farther ahead they saw a small bar set into a row of other businesses.  Several tables and chairs were set out in front of the bar, and the place looked very crowded.  Bob had a vague memory of the bar, and thought he might have visited it before.

A few minutes later, Zoroaster was leading Bob into the bar.  "Ready yourself," the older man said into Bob's ear, "For the final test is at hand!"

Bob wobbled onto a nearby stool and sat right in front of the wooden bar, where a young woman was serving beer from a tap.  "Beer," he said to her, "And a shot of-- actually, just the beer."

A second later Zoroaster clapped him on the back and erupted into forced laughter.  Everyone in the place turned to look at the two men.  "What the fuck, man?" said Bob, trying to clear his thoughts.

"HA HA HA," exclaimed Zoroaster, "YOU'RE RIGHT DUDE, THESE GUYS AROUND HERE CAN'T SURF FOR SHIT!!!  I BET YOU CAN SURF BETTER THAN ALL THESE FUCKERS!!"

Bob spit his beer across the bar.  What was Zoroaster talking about?  What was going on now?

"FUCKING HOMOS SURF LIKE TOURISTS DOWN FROM TAIPEI," Zoroaster continued, "MAYBE IF THEY WEREN'T SO BUSY BEING HOMOS THEY COULD SURF BETTER."

Bob barely had time to collect himself before three patrons sitting at a nearby table began arguing among themselves.  "Sit down, Clark!  He's not worth it!" said one of the patrons.  "No, Antonio," said Clark, "You and Jim better back me up!"

The next thing Bob knew, Clark and his two friends were standing in front of him and Zoroaster, pointing directly at Bob.  "What did you say?" said Clark, "You think you're such hot shit?"

"No -- I," started Bob.

"Yeah," interrupted Zoroaster, "He does.  And if you homos aren't too scared, I say we go down to Rob's Reef and see who the better surfer really is.  Longest ride wins.  I've got 1000 NT that says my bro here can make all you guys look weak!"

"Wait--" said Bob, "But I don't know how to--"

...but by then it was already decided.  Zoroaster was discussing terms with the three men, and they were already on their way to a set of cars parked on the other side of the street.

"This will be a sure victory for you," said Zoroaster.  "To the beach, and the final test!"




VII. The Final Test

"Hey, wake up," said one of the surfers from the bar, lightly slapping Bob's face.  The four other men were standing above where Bob was lying in the sand.  Two of the surfers were holding surfboards.

"You're a wild man!" said one of the surfers, "Didn't you say you wanted to come out here?  It's almost sunup, man.  Time to get it on!"

Bob did his best to stand up, unsure of what was happening.  Images of the night's exploits flashed in and out of his consciousness, filling him with both confusion and a sense of dread.  He inwardly vowed never to take strange pills from strangers in bars ever again.  Unless, perhaps, there was really nothing else going on that night.

One of the surfers handed Bob a surfboard, apparently an extra from the bar they'd been in.  They were at the ocean, though Bob couldn't remember them driving there.  There was sand all through his clothes.  This sand poured out of his pockets as he stood up and then followed them, half delirious, to the water.  Zoroaster followed just behind Bob, patting him on the shoulder.

"You have done well," said the older man.  "There only remains this, the final test, wherein you challenge the champions of this realm.  If you prove your worth here, you will be worthy to see the face of Ahura Mazda soon after.  The Lord of Light be praised!  All things fall within His plan!  He purifies the faithful!"

"Yeah whatever," replied Bob.  "What... what was all that in the bar, man?  I can't surf to save my life.  Are we really doing this?"

"Indeed we are!" laughed Zoroaster, "And your level of skill is not important.  Place yourself upon the right wave, and Ahura Mazda will guide you."

Bob would have questioned the prophet further, but he saw by the other man's expression that it wouldn't be any use.  The sun was just then coming up over the rim of the ocean, and it was a tranquil scene, if nothing else.  "Just hold my phone," said Bob.  "Shit."

"LET THE CONTEST BEGIN!" yelled Zoroaster as Bob paddled meekly out to sea.  "TWO WAVES EACH, AND HE WHO RIDES LONGEST, WINS!!!"

As Bob continued paddling, he saw the first of the three surfers catch a wave and slide past him toward shore.  A minute, perhaps.  Then the second surfer caught another wave, and lost his balance.  The third surfer caught the largest wave yet, and lasted longer than the other two.  Then all three went out a second time, and Bob was left floating alone beyond the shore, watching them from a point behind where the waves were breaking.

"Fuck me," he said, watching the three surfers assemble on the shore, near Zoroaster.  "What have I gotten myself into?"

Fear mounting within him, he looked back, and it was as if the whole ocean was rising into a single wave, converging at a point just behind where he was floating.  He panicked, but then quickly regained his composure, and stood up on the board.  The wave rose and rose, and almost before he knew it he found himself surfing through a barrel that went on and on, to emerge on the other side, just up the beach from where the four men where cheering.  He managed to surf all the way back to the shore, right to where two police officers were waiting to greet him.

The cheers from down the beach died out, and as Bob looked into the faces of the policemen he knew that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong.




VII. A Quest Interrupted

Hours later, Bob found himself in a police station.  He was exhausted and had a powerful thirst, but unlike Zoroaster he hadn't been handcuffed to the bench where they were sitting.  He was free to make trips to the water dispenser across the room.  After the two officers had escorted both himself and Zoroaster to the squad car, he had nodded off in the back of the vehicle, only struggling back to consciousness after he was led into the station lobby.

His phone buzzed on the bench next to him.  It was a local girl he kind of sort of knew, asking him if he wanted to have lunch.  He almost texted her his location, but then thought better of it.

Besides himself and Zoroaster, there were three police officers milling around the room.  The officers were all speaking Chinese, and Bob had no idea what they were talking about.  They looked back to Zoroaster often, but seemed not to notice Bob during his trips to the water dispenser.  Had he wished to, Bob could have run straight through the front door and out into the parking lot.

"Be of good courage," said Zoroaster.  "You have completed all three tasks, and proven your faith in Ahura Mazda.  You will be standing before Him soon, and He will reveal the truth of your quest."

"Great," sighed Bob, at once realizing that he was, after so many hours of deliriously following this other man around, finally sober.  The "extra-special K" was out of his system at last.

After another hour of waiting, one of the police officers, a pretty young woman in her 20s, brought over a form for him to sign in several places.  Bob had no idea what purpose the form served, but the policewoman smiled ingratiatingly, and it seemed that whatever trouble he'd gotten himself into would soon be over.  She spoke to him in a halting sort of English, and he understood little of what she said.

After he signed the last of the forms, another officer said, "OK, you go now," and gestured toward the front door.  Bob was thoroughly confused by the command, especially since he didn't know why he'd been arrested in the first place.  He stood up hesitantly, and walked in the direction indicated.

"But, wait," he said slowly as he opened the door and stepped into the blinding sunlight, "Why did you bring me here?  What about my friend?"

The officer, an man in his 40s, had a much better understanding of English.

"You don't know?" said the police officer, "Wa!  I think you have very many beer last night.  We catch you at beach.  You and you friend cause much trouble."

"Much trouble?" Bob asked, "What kind of trouble?  I don't remember so well..."

The police officer chuckled.  "You break windows at Shan Yuan Hotel last night.  Then you break inside Water Running Up.  Then we need pull you out of ocean when we find you.  I think you don't go surfing again.  Not safe for you.  Our clothes still wet."

Bob thought this over.  The monster with many eyes.  The stream that had reversed course.  The surfing challenge.  What had really happened the night before?  Could he trust his memory?

"You go now," the officer affirmed, "We keep your friend."

"Uh, he's not really my..." Bob stuttered, "But... why keep him?  What did he do?"

The police officer chuckled again.  "He's not like you.  He live around here.  We know him.  Mr. Joe Astor - he's very tricky.  We know he sells drug around here.  He's in BIG trouble.  You don't have friends like him, OK?"

"OK," Bob said, turning to look at Zoroaster (Joe Astor?).  The prophet failed to return his gaze.  All of the majesty had gone from his presence, and he looked defeated.  He looked very old and very worn out.  His robes were also gone, replaced by a red tie-dyed shirt and a pair of loose-fitting red pants. 

"Bye bye," said the police officer, urging Bob outside, "You have a good day."

"Uh, sure," Bob said, perplexed by the recent turn of events.  He stumbled down the stairs, blinking at the brightness outside.  He had to find a place to think things through.  He had to find a quiet place to collect himself.  A nearby 7-11, perhaps, or...




VIII. A Revelation

...but then he looked up into the sky, and instead of the sun he saw a regal figure, sitting upon a throne, surrounded by angels made of fire.  The angels circled around the throne as the figure, clad in flame, extended a scepter toward Bob, who stood transfixed in the parking lot.  Bob, overcome with the terrible magnificence of the enthroned figure in the sky, didn't know whether to shout for joy or start crying.

"I am Ahura Mazda," boomed a thunderous voice across the blue skies.  "Do you know me?"

"No, I... yes!" moaned Bob in a kind of ecstasy.  "I mean, you look just like... just like... Zoroaster..."

"Yes," thundered the celestial presence, "You do know me.  Zoroaster, which means 'Undiluted Star.'  That star is Me.  I am He who has led you here, and I am He who you were seeking.  The prophet and the message, the seeker and the one who is sought, all of these I am."

"Yes!" said Bob, "Yes!  Yes!"

"...and now that you have found me, I will be with you always." said the man in the sky.  "Welcome to paradise."

And then the figure vanished.  Bob blinked, and it was only the sun he was staring at, blindingly bright.  He fell to his knees in the parking lot, panting with exertion on the hot bricks.  There were people outside the confines of the police station, all staring at him from the road beyond a short wall.  In between tormented gasps, he tried to blink away the sunspots that danced between him and the passerby who were studying him so intently.  

They had not seen what he had, it was clear.  They were only staring at the crazy foreigner, the man who had been talking to the sun.




IX. A Discovery

After collecting himself Bob wobbled back into the police station.  Tears were running down his face, and his mind reeled with the implications of what he'd just seen.  "God..." he kept repeating, "God..."

All he could think to do was to return to the bench where Zoroaster was handcuffed, and to ask the older man what had happened.  He desperately needed some kind of confirmation.  He desperately needed to have what he'd just seen explained to him.  The regal nature of that enthroned figure had shaken him to his very core, and his heart told him that he had just looked upon the creator and sustainer of the universe, the Lord of Light, Ahura Mazda.

The policeman who escorted him from the station was waiting just inside the doors.  He had apparently been standing there the whole time.

"Why you shouting at the sky?" said the officer, "You crazy?"

"I don't know," sobbed Bob, "But I need to see my friend in there.  Is it OK?"

The policeman thought this over.  "OK," he said, stepping aside as Bob reentered the lobby, "He's not going anywhere."

But as Bob and the policeman reentered the station, they saw that Zoroaster was gone.  There was only a pair of handcuffs left as evidence of his presence, still fastened to the bench where the prophet had been, just moments before.  The two other officers in the station were staring, silently, at the place where Zoroaster had been.

"Where your friend?" said the policeman, "Where he go?"

Bob could not answer the question.  He could only wonder if what he was seeing was what he was really seeing, or if the special special K had yet to wear off.



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Note 1: "The Undiluted One."  Nobody actually knows what "Zoroaster" or "Zarathustra" really mean.  "The undiluted one" is the most impressive translation I could find on Wikipedia.  There are much less impressive translations, many of them having to do with camels.

Note 2: I'm aware of the Don Quixote similarities, but I'm still not sure if this story came from a half-remembered encounter with Cervantes' novel or if it was inspired by the quixotic character of certain foreigners living in Dulan.

2018年4月12日 星期四

A School for Rice and a Park for Water 米國學校跟親水公園

Last week I discovered something very important.  I looked down at my leg - towards what I thought was a mosquito - and realized that a completely different kind of bug was biting me.  What kind of bug it was I have no idea.  我上禮拜發現一件很重要的事情.  我以為蚊子在叮我的時候, 往腿部一看發現叮我的昆蟲根本不是蚊子.  我到現在還不知道那是什麼昆蟲.



Strange insects were attacking me in the midst of our fourth grade field trip.  It was the usual "Rice School"/Guanshan Water Park thing - a trip I've taken twice already.  奇奇怪怪的昆蟲在我們學校戶外教學的時候叮我.  這一次戶外教學的目的地是以往的米國學校跟關山的親水公園.  我已經跟學校去過三次.


As you can see in the picture above, the Guanshan Farmer's Association has given up on the Guanshan "Flower Sea" for the time being.  Growing all those flowers exhausts the soil, and the sunflowers are probably their way of letting the soil "rest."  你從上面的照片看的出來, 最近關山農會不再種他們的花海.  種那些花耗費太多的土壤養分了, 目前的太陽花大概是讓土地 "休息" 的意思.


As for the "Rice School," it's not incredibly interesting, but as field trip destinations go it's not bad.  Half the classes sorted rice into different types, while the other half made "glutinous rice balls" with a red bean filling.  After an hour or so the halves switched activities.  米國學校不是很有趣, 可是對戶外教學來說是個不錯的地方.  二個班級探索稻米種類, 另外二個班級去做紅豆麻糬.  差不多在一小時之後交換項目.


Guanshan was very quiet that day.  Just a couple days later, during the five-day weekend that followed, it was CRAZY.  那一天關山很安靜.  但在這之後的五天連假中關山變得好誇張.


After the "Rice School" we visited the Guanshan Water(front) Park.  米國學校結束以後我們去關山親水公園.


The park was practically empty.  During our entire time there I saw maybe five other people.  公園沒什麼人.  我們在那裏的時候我只看到其他五個人.


This stream is behind the park.  I was surprised at how clean it was.  I'm sure it helps that very few people live around here.  公園後面的小溪.  我沒想到這裡的小溪那麼乾淨.  這是人口少的好處.


But it's a sad place for Mr. Train.  The municipality office has abandoned him near the stream, behind a building.  Now he's a home for plants.  可是這台火車先生很可憐.  鎮公所把他丟在小溪附近的角落.  他變成了植物的家.


This is probably the most famous view in that park.  I really wanted to jump into the water.  應該是公園裡最有名的景色.  我很想跳進去水裡.


And this is the Ecological Pond, on the other side of the park.  I'm not big into watching birds, but I've heard it's a great place to do so.  這是另外一邊的生態池.  我不是很喜歡賞鳥, 可是聽說這個地方滿適合這個活動.


Not sure what this thing is supposed to be, but I bet it looks super evil at night.  我不知道這個東西的用途, 可是晚上的時候一定很恐怖.

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2018年4月2日 星期一

Social Studies 社會 5, First Semester 上, Unit 1 第一單元


The Chinese text below was taken from the textbook published by Kang Shuan 康軒文教事業.




一 One: 台灣在哪裡 Where Taiwan Is

臺灣是我們生活的舞臺, 藉由認識臺灣的範圍及地理位置, 可以了解我們生活的地方及鄰近的國家.  透過經度和緯度的標示, 則更能說明臺灣的位置.  Taiwan is the stage on which the events of our lives occur.  From a knowledge of Taiwan's size and geographical position, we can understand the place we live in, and also the countries near us.  After learning about how latitude and longitude are determined we can better explain Taiwan's position.




1: 臺灣我的家 Taiwan, My Home

臺灣的範圍與形狀 Taiwan's Size and Shape

臺灣地區包括臺灣本島, 澎湖群島, 金門, 馬祖, 南沙與東沙群島, 釣魚臺列嶼, 以及綠島, 蘭嶼, 琉球嶼 (小琉球) 等周邊大小島嶼, 總面積約三萬六千平方公里.  Taiwan's land area includes the main island, the Penghu islands, Jinmen, Matsu, the Spratly and Dongsha Islands*, the islands near Diaoyutai, Green Island, Orchid Island (Lanyu), the island of Liou Chiou (Little Liou Chiou)**, and many other island of varying sizes.  It's total area is 36,000 square kilometers.

臺灣本島是一個南北長, 東西窄的島嶼, 直的看, 形狀像一顆甘薯; 橫的看, 形狀像一條鯨魚.  Taiwan's main island is longer from north to south, and shorter from east to west.  Looking at it from top to bottom, it looks like a sweet potato.  Looking at it from left to right, it looks like a whale.

臺灣的鄰國與鄰海 Oceans and Countries Near Taiwan

臺灣四面環海, 東邊是地球最大的海洋 -- 太平洋, 南邊以巴士海峽和菲律賓為鄰; 西邊隔著臺灣海峽和中國大陸相望; 北邊越過東海, 有日本, 南韓 (韓國) 等鄰近國家.  Taiwan is surrounded on all sides by the sea.  To the east there is the world's largest ocean, the Pacific.  To the south there is the Luzon Strait and the Philippines.  To the east Taiwan is separated from Mainland China by the Taiwan Strait.  To the north, beyond the East China Sea, there is Japan, South Korea, and other nearby countries.***

優越的地理位置 An Important Geographical Position

臺灣位居亞洲東部和太平洋的交界, 地處日本和東南亞的中點.  無論是從亞洲大陸進出太平洋, 或在海上南來北往, 都會經過臺灣, 交通位置相當重要.  Taiwan is in East Asia, at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  It lies between Japan and Southeast Asia.  Regardless of whether you are going from the Asian landmass or the Pacific Ocean, or from the north or south over the sea, you will always pass by Taiwan.  This makes it an important transportation hub.

受地理位置的影響, 自古以來臺灣居民就和各地往來密切.  各種魚類常經過臺灣四周海域, 候鳥南北遷徙時, 也常以臺灣為休息站或過冬的地方.  因此臺灣的文化多元, 種植物種類繁多, 是一座生機盎然的美麗之島.  As befits its geographical position, Taiwan's peoples have come here from many different places.  Many types of fish pass through the seas around Taiwan, and birds migrating from south to north use Taiwan as a rest stop or a wintering ground.  For these reasons Taiwan has a very diverse culture, in which many types of crops are cultivated.  It is an island full of beauty and vitality.****




2: 臺灣的經度與緯度 Taiwan's Longitude and Latitude

經緯線 Lines of Longitude and Latitude

在地球儀上, 可以看見許多縱橫交錯的線, 從北極連接到南極的線稱為經線, 每一條經線都有 一個度數, 稱為經度.  On a globe you can see many lines crossing over each other.  The lines going from the north pole to the south pole are called lines of longitude.  Each line of longitude has a numbers along its length, and these are called longitudes.

將地球從中間橫切的線稱為赤道, 和赤道平行的線稱為緯線, 每一條緯線都有一個度數, 稱為緯度.  The line dividing the globe in half is called the equator.  The lines parallel to the equator are called lines of latitude.  Each line of latitude has numbers along its length, and these are called latitudes.

認識經度 Knowing Longitude

世界各國將通過英國倫敦格林威治天文臺的經線訂為0度經線, 以東稱為東半球, 以西稱為西半球.  東半球的經度稱為東經, 西半球的經度稱為西經.  東經和西經各有180度.  國際上通常以E表示東經, W表示西經.  Every country in the world agrees that the meridian passing through London's Greenwich Observatory is 0 degrees longitude.  To the east [of this line] is the eastern hemisphere, and to the west [of this line] is the western hemisphere.  The lines of longitude within the eastern hemisphere are called "eastern," and the lines of longitude within the western hemisphere are called "western."  Both the eastern and western hemispheres are divided into 180 degrees.  The letter "E" is used internationally to signify eastern lines of longitude, and the letter "W" is used to signify western lines of longitude.*****

認識緯度 Knowing Latitude

赤道為0度緯線.  赤道以北稱為北半球, 赤道以南稱為南半球.  北半球的緯度稱為北緯, 南半球的緯度稱為南緯, 北緯和南緯各有90度.  國際上通常以N表示北緯, S表示南緯.  The equator is at 0 degrees latitude.  North of the equator is the northern hemisphere, and south of the equator is the southern hemisphere.  Lines of latitude north of the equator are called "northern," and lines south of the equator are called "southern."  Both the northern and southern hemispheres are divided into 90 degrees.  The letter "N" is used internationally to signify northern lines of latitude, and the letter "S" is used to signify southern lines of latitude.

臺灣的經緯度 Taiwan's Longitude and Latitude

利用經緯度, 可以明確標示出地球上每一個地點的位置.  臺灣本島大約介於北緯22度至25度, 東經120度至122度之間.  Using lines of longitude and latitude, we can determine the location of any place on Earth.  Taiwan's main island lies approximately between 22 and 25 degrees north latitude, and between 120 and 122 degrees east longitude.

緯度與氣候的關係 Latitude and Weather

地表各地的氣候, 可從緯度的高低來了解.  大致來說, 緯度愈高的地方, 氣候愈寒冷; 緯度愈低的地方, 氣候愈炎熱.  The Earth's climate can be understood using lines of latitude.  Generally speaking, the higher the degree of latitude, the colder the weather is.  The lower the degree of latitude, the hotter the weather is.

臺灣島的氣候, 可以北回歸線為界.  北回歸線以北的地區, 緯度較高, 屬於副熱帶氣候; 以南的地區, 緯度較低, 屬於熱帶氣候.  The weather in Taiwan can be divided along the Tropic of Cancer.  Areas north of the Tropic of Cancer lie at a higher latitude, and are sub-tropical.  Areas south of the Tropic of Cancer lie at a lower latitude, and are tropical.

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*I had to look these islands up on Wikipedia.  The Nansha Islands are a series of coral atolls closer to Vietnam, and are considered part of the Spratly Island chainThe Dongsha Islands are even further away, not far from Malaysia.  Taiwan's claim over both island chains is disputed, and both are occupied by the military and inaccessible to the public.  Unless, perhaps, you are a fisherman.

**Liou Chou is off the coast of Pingtung.  You can take a ferry there from Taiwan's main island.  "Liou Chou" (琉球) is, by the way, the Chinese name for Okinawa.  People usually add the "Little" to its name to distinguish it from the island in Japan.

***Japan has a few islands that are even closer than that.  Yaeyama District (Okinawa), directly east of Yilan, is not far away at all.

****As is oft overstated, Taiwan's former name "Formosa" or "Ilha Formosa" means "the beautiful island" in Portuguese.

*****This part of the book makes more sense in Chinese.