Today I thought it would be a Fun Thing to try and run up Elephant Mountain. I am not able to run the China Hash tomorrow, and today it actually stopped raining for long enough for me to put on my (damp) kit and start running.
It was a Fun Thing to some degree, but I never actually saw the Elephant. I ran about 5km, following a hand-drawn map (well actually I thought I was following it, but I was going the wrong way), and ended up lost in a graveyard (quite a familiar one, actually, as I’d been through it twice already with the Hash on previous occasions). I asked for directions from a bunch of students and then from a variety of very Taiwanese locals — everyone was really sweet and friendly and warm, which after the nastiness I’ve had from the office at school recently was a lovely reminder of how welcoming the Taiwanese actually are. I must have asked a dozen different times how to get to Elephant Mountain, and each time they gave me directions which I promptly forgot.
Eventually I ran through the same temple for a third time and the people living there took pity on me and sent their two teenagers with me to try and find the way to Elephant Mountain. Turns out they didn’t have a clue either, and I eventually was picked up by a lovely girl on a scooter who took me home. I was frozen by the time I got back, as I was wearing sweat-drenched t-shirt and shorts, which is just perfect for a ride on the back of a scooter in cold damp weather. And no Elephant.
Later on I was waiting for the bus, and this old lady came up to me and starting talking in Taiwanese, despite me telling her I only speak Mandarin. She was very patient and persistent, and eventually I stopped trying to resist and realized I could sort of guess what she was saying. She seemed to understand my responses in Mandarin just fine, so we had a little conversation with each other, her in Taiyu, me in Guoyu… she was really cute. It’s weird cos I always think of Taiwanese as being utterly inaccessible to me, but I suppose there must be some sort of similarity to Mandarin along the line. I don’t know why, I’m feeling a lot of love for Taiwan at the moment.
When I was running, one of my secret favourites came onto my iPod — Just a Ride, which I want to hate because it’s sung by some ditzy blonde called Jewel, for Chrissakes, and because I knew and loved the original Bill Hicks sketch in question several years before I heard this song, and Bill Hicks should not be associated with happy-dippy pop songs. But it’s still a favorite, I love the words and I love how every time I hear it I instantly feel better. I haven’t been wearing it recently because I dislike wearing jewelry (do you hear me, “Jewel”?), but I have a bangle engraved “it’s just a ride” because it is really one of my most fundamental beliefs. Church of Bill Hicks, yeah.