July 10th, 2005

A morning in the army boot camp

We left early in the morning from Yu's house in his car. It could have been even earlier. I also got to understand the problems many had with flighted parrots at home. That was never a problem with me in the past. But as you knew, everyday I trained Tink to come to me on recalls and to fly from point to point. Tink would come almost all the time to me on recalls. Also when that did not work, I could just pick up my Bimbo or Zorro to get Tink zooming down.

I showed the harness to Tink and asked her to come. She was not convinced at my sincerity and flew into the other room remaining high above. She also doubted the sincerity of Yu. Our collective pleadings failed. I had to resort to placing hula hoops that she disliked on those high places. Those hula hoops worked like a magic charm repelling her. She would fly there, hover a bit, and flew off. Finally she ran out of high places and landed on the kitchen table. She then accepted the harness with ducal dignity as if she was never leading us in a chase. Maybe she got out of wrong side of the bed. Maybe she was in a huff at me for not toadying to her when I got back and saw her, said a hello, and went on to plan English lessons with Yu's eldest son.

I pointed out to Yu again the seriousness of proceeding with clicker training and constant recall exercises. I thought half seriously to myself that maybe Yu should get a little kitten and use that kitten the way I used Bim, or Zor .

This time, Yu told me he would leave those hula hoops at those high places.

We collected more of his relatives to go to open day at an Army base camp to see one of his relatives. He told me, but my chinese was not good enough to make my way through the maze of intricate relationships. Since Tink was was us, that was enough for me and where we went to was not so important to me at all. Still those relatives sitting behind in the car kept wondering aloud why she did not talk or whistle. I had to tell them TInk did not like to do that with strangers around.

Thousands of other Taiwanese were there for the day, with bags of chicken, sausages and other goodies to spread on the little patch of shade they taken over for the picnic.

4-5 young army national service men joined us. Perhaps one or all are relatives but it did not matter.

I could not find any branch suitable for tink but a knot close to a tree trunk and not very comfortable for her. Then I thought at the way she loved to perch on the clock which was even less comfortable. And the chase she lead us in the morning. So she went on that half inch stump sticking out of the tree about 5 feet from the ground.

All was well as we ate and Tink was bribed by sticky rice from a 'bak chang' which was tasty glutinous rice with beans and fatty pork embedded in it , wrapped with huge bamboo leaves into a pyramidal shape and boiled. Trust me, it taste better than it sounded.

She got pieces of chicken bones that she chewed for the bone and the marrow. She got her drink lovingly presented to her and lychees. She insisted I hold it up to her beak which made me thought her perch was not a good idea after a while.

Luckily, the bak chang rice stuck well to the craggy trunk. I plastered a glop of it to let her chew on and went back to eating.

Now and then, she was showned off on flighted recalls. Bugged me like crazy she was so good outside and so bad in the house.

After a while, she thought my choice of perch was a bad idea too. To gain some peace, I had this brilliant idea of using the ring perch in the car. She loved it as I hung it from a branch so she could chew on the ropes twisted around that ring, walked it to the end to make it tilt at crazy angle.

That looked so good that I thought of taking a few photos for my record and to show you. I got out my camera to be frowned at for being a potential spy in taking photos of a boot camp where army recruits were first taught one end of the rifle from another end. I explained that even commercial satellites above could take better pictures than I could not to talk about the really sophisticated military satellites which might even show the pimples on the faces of those in the boot camp.

My explanations did not go down well. But I sneaked a few shots anyway.



I was thinking that ring perch was such a good idea that I thought of borrowing that from Yu's car. Until Tink showed me her capacity to be entranced by my good ideas was limited. Or maybe the other way around.

At any rate, she flew to my shoulder. By then, I had my fill of goodies and she was lovingly allowed to be on to chew my ear and my glasses.

That came to an end and the army guys went off to wherever they went off to and we went back to the car for the long drive back. The drive was monotous and it was a bright afternoon. We all fell asleep. I opened my eyes a while later to note that Yu as the driver had not fallen asleep with the rest of us. The rest in the back were fast asleep.

Then Tink talked and talked and whistled and made funny noises and tallked.

Later when we reached their house and they woke up, they parted with us vocally wondering if Tink ever talked. I kept my mouth shut and Yu looked ahead and smiled.

Then at Yu's house, it was only 4 pm and it was still a beautiful afternoon. There was not that much time but LangTang still strike me as a nice place to be just with Tink.

We got off on the bike and made our way there yet again. With me periodically digging into one of the 6 new books I bought, and taking her for recalls, or me just watching her at her preening, the hours passed by. She then tested me on how well she last trained me by abruptly flying over me to my bag.

She stood on it and eyed my camera. I showed her how well I took her lessons to heart by declaring I would pack and go. She forlornly gave a half hearted bite on the backpack zipper and allowed herself to be lifted off that back to the bannister.



LangTang is a rather big lake. We rode on the perimeter road to soak in the feeling. Then we went for my favourite fried beef noodle shop with out of this world beef stomach, beef tendons and stewed beef in clear soup.

She loved the noodles and might have love the rest except I love them even more and refused to share that with her. I did give her the veges though but she disdained them to toss onto the table.

She gobbled up about one fifth of the large plate of noodles. She might even have taken more except I finished the remaining 4/5 and had nothing left for that greedy pig.

So after that dinner, we went back to leave her at Yu and I came here to this cybercafe again.

At 120am now, I be going soon and that man in tuxedo or that guy in t shirt and shorts will have to wake me up later this morning.

Embarassing mistakes

I better start by correcting a most embarassing mistake I have made. Even in the last entry, I thought of doing it there and then, but I did not.

*deep breath*

Folks, there was no Yu (sound like she) family looking after Tinkerbell for me for the last year. It was and is the Yeo (sound like Leo) family that is looking after Tink. I know that I have been refering to them as the Yu family all these while. I found out about that only on Friday night when I mentioned about the small dinner and drink party.

Shi came along later that night with more beer and his own special brand of wine for his hair. Shi went back to that topic of tiger bone wine, asking me if I like to try that. He told me even more of the mechanism how that was made. That in Vietnam, tigers are shot for the bones. I declined as gently as I could telling him the bones are better in the live tiger itself. More and more drinks flowed. It was a fairly tipsy Shi who then threw me the bombshell why I kept calling Yeo as Yu. I was tipsy myself but thought Shi was more tipsy. After all, I was never corrected by Mr Yeo (YU) or his wife ever since I met him on the night he handed Tink back to me.

I was so bloody embarassed when Yeo (Yu) smiled and said Shi was correct. But since he knew my chinese was not that good and that I was refering to him in good faith, he and his wfie did not correct me out of courtesy and fear of embarassing me. He said he knew my reading of chinese was rudimentary and never read his name written in chinese. I then thought it over and realised my wife might have mentioned that to me, but in my righteousness as Yeo (Yu) never corrected me, I thought she was wrong. Then I guess my wife gave up and stopped hassling me with that.

Shi must have been drinking even more than before as he never mentioned that in the past either until that friday night when I got back from Taroko Gorge.

Folks, what more can I say. The Yu family was and is the Yeo family actually.

We agreed last night that Sunday afternoon would be spend in the water world complex in Chiayi. I had always enjoyed that place in the past and knowing that the Yeo kids liked that and the summer being hot, readily agreed. Since there would not be that much time in the morning to take Tink out, we decided to try Tinkerbell again in that wonderful pastoral area where she was taken out to free fly that ended with me getting to know the Yeo family.

I thought that day being a sunday, whatever devices being used in the airport might not be on that day.

So at 1030am, I rode out with Tink and Yeo was riding pillion. Both of us were watching her very carefully as both of us had personal experiences of her spooking in that area before.

We went back to the exact same spot where Tink was taken to free fly over two years ago. Both of us agreed on the ride there that Tink looked very uptight. I stopped that bike and we both relaxed there closely watching Tink. No signs of spooking. Then I tried a simple recall from just 8-10 meters away. Tink might have been very very unhappy with the two of us. She took off and circled away. I thought that was going to be a flyabout but it clearly did not turned out to be that way despite my several recall attempts. I increased the drag on the reel until she came to a halt in the padi field. We both walked there and were very apologetic to her. She stepped up and we went back to the bike and road off.



It was only when we were well away from that area that she was visibly relaxed again. We went back to Yeo's house and took off her harness to let her be. I mentally cancelled my plans to recheck the other spooking area near that pavilion at Dragon Eye I mentioned before.

She was then caged up until we came from from swimming. When we got back, she was taken out to accompany me and Yeo's eldest son as I took him to his first English lesson from me in a nearby pavilion.

Tink was rather nice and other than a few nibbles at the book and a few half hearted attempts to grab my ciggies. I found the Taiwanese relied on an incredibly complex system for English phonetics that honestly made very little sense to me. I believed I managed to show him a much simpler way as to how the sound of a multisyllibic word can be guessed at by just looking at the components of that word. Piece of cake to you and me. But just that little bit was such a relief to him.

I found I also need to fine-tuned Mr Yeo as how to live with a flying parrot. Tinkerbell was on the high basket when Yeo stood up and raised his hand high with a cup to offer a drink to Tinkerbell.

I told him he should not treat Her Grace like a bloody Queen. I hold the cup and asked Tinkerbell to fly to me if she liked a nice drink. She did not. That was her choice. But I told Yeo he must not wait on her, hand and foot.

No more of standing up to offer her choice pieces of food. Those goodies should be shown her and that she be rewarded with that only when she flew down, and even better if she flew down on cue. After all, if she can just stay on the high baskets and food and drinks brought up to her beak, why would she bother to do recall cues at home. It would be good for her soul to do a bit more efforts to meet us at least halfway.

That would lead to a more considerate Tinkerbell and much better for her and everyone else.