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Tinkerbell Legacy - Living with a flying parrot

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Tinkerbell and her new extended family 12-17 April 2008
Tinkerbell and her new extended family 12-17 April 2008

12 April Sat

It was another typical April morning in Taipei. The sky was grey and rain was pouring down. You need to love Taipei and Taiwan to appreciate this kind of weather.

We checked out of our hotel and caught a cab to Taipei Main Railway Station and got on the High Speed Train reaching Chiayi just before noon. Not withstanding all the verbal reminders from the train's loudspeakers, my wife managed to forget her handphone. Perhaps she was too busy trying to pack half finished drinks into a plastic bag that I then threw away. We spent the rest of that morning in Chiayi HSR station making reports of a lost handphone.

Mr Yu and family drove up to the station to pick us up.

It was definitely a happy moment to see them. And from the corner of my eye while I was greeting and hugging them all, I saw Tinkerbell swaying away on her perch hung in the car. We got into the car. My earlier thoughts of scolding Tink or letting Tink scold me melted away the moment I reached my hand to her and she gave me a little nibble. She jumped onto my shoulder to nibble my ear and climbed back on her perch. She was wearing a purple harness made by Mr Yu for her as that old harness was cut away after her rescue. That was not a good fit but it did not matter. I will be making more harnesses for her as soon as I get all the stuff needed for that.

Mr Yu then took us all to this cold noodle restaurant. I took Tink on my shoulder for the first photos of us together and with the kids.

We then received a call from the High Speed Rail. They had found my wife's handphone. We were told that we would be able to pick that from their office in Chiayi on this coming Tuesday. It is only in Taiwan that you can leave a handphone on the train and that will be recovered and returned to you.

It's so good to be in Chiayi with our old friends again.

The return of Tinkerbell allowed that. I would not even have been able to return to Taiwan if Tinkerbell had not returned to all of us.

Later that afternoon, Mr Yu was taking his kids to a local festival. We went with all of them and Tinkerbell. It was the old Tinkerbell setup. There was not the time for me to put into place all the precautions that I had written about earlier. Much of the time, Tinkerbell was carried with her perched on her rod & reel instead of her being on my shoulder.

I was being very paranoid and with her line was wound around one of my fingers just in case.

Later in the evening, we all went to Mr Shi (ferret) for karaoke with our other friends. Lots of Taiwanese titbits and tea and booze so we all could sing our best. This was a much happier karaoke session than the last karaoke time when Tink was missing.

13 April 2008 Sunday

During the hunt for Tinkerbell, in between the searching, I and my wife prayed at some of the temples in the vicinity of Bantienyen for the safety of Tinkerbell and her well being.

This was also the day that we were to meet Ms Chao's family who was instrumental in the early return of Tinkerbell to Mr Yu. Ms Chao's family are organic farmers living near the TaoYuan hamlet of the district of Juchih.

Of course, Tinkerbell came with all of us in Mr Yu's car. On the way to see them, we stopped at the temples to give our thanks for Tink's safe return. Then we drove into the winding valleys and ridges of Juchih which were next to Bantienyen.

At that time of the search, and with Tinkerbell missing, I still appreciated the beauty of that area. Except at that time, that beauty was so painful to us then. I recorded that deep into my heart as a memorial to Tinkerbell that I thought I never would be with again. I never expected myself to be back there.

On this morning, I saw again how awesomely enchanting an area that was, without the fear induced by the vastness of the search that I had to cover. Mr Yu turned of the road that I got to know during that search onto side roads that I had not the time to get onto and then onto the track that led to Ms Chao's family farm. Tinkerbell was actually taken by Ms Chao to her farm where she was eventually returned to Yu and to all of us.

When she and her SO (Mr Zhang) greeted us, I thanked them from the bottom of my heart. I showed them the photos that recorded the travels of Tinkerbell and us all over Taiwan. Tinkerbell was flown a few times to show her just how it was between Tinkerbell and us. They had never seen Tink fly as she was kept in a cage while waiting her return to Mr Yu. Ms Chao told me the thanks should be to her former boss who rescued Tink. She then showed us around her organic fruit farm set on the side of the valley.

It was kind of embarrassing that she insisted on giving us all fruits and veges even though I got to accept that as typical of the generosity of the Taiwanese.

The Chao family then got into their car to guide us to where Tinkerbell was recovered. We drove to Bantienyen and beyond to a place just below the pavilion where Tink was lost. On the way, I kept a lookout for those rescue posters that we had put up in those days but did not see any of them from the

That place was called TzeYun SanChuang or Purple Cloud Villa. I had covered this place before. At that time, I thought it to be a holiday resort with a big steel gate and lots of individual chalets inside. I left her wanted poster with what I thought to be the reception at the gate. I had not
realised that this place was a gated community with individual houses or I would have gone inside and contacted all of them. The house where Tink was rescued was described as hsiao mu wu or 'little wooden house' as a generic name. Instead of a tiny cottage as given by that humble name, it was a mansion set on the side of the mountain with a spectacular view of the temple below and Chiayi after and all the way to the Taiwan Straits. This was the Chiang family country home that they use as a meditation retreat as well. That family was away doing charity work that day so I could not thank them.

We then came down the mountain where the Shi and the Wu family joined us all for lunch. I had the pleasure of grabbing the bill for this lunch. It was too embarrassing to me the number of times that our other Taiwanese friends paid for lunches and dinners.

After that lunch, the Chao family left us. We then went to farmer Leow's place up the mountain behind the restaurant. Tea, fruits, titbits and booze were laid out in his courtyard. This is the kind of easy informal friendship that I had missed so much when we left Taiwan and the Taiwanese took so much for granted.

They found it difficult to understand how formal friends were in other countries. People came and went through the whole afternoon. I was so delighted that Ms Chao came on later that afternoon to join all of us. Her organic farm is in the same area and perhaps just a km away. It's incredible how Tinkerbell got the nicest people to know each other.

14 April Monday

The three of us went back to BTY on the little motorbike in the morning. There were others that wished us well in our search that we wanted to thank. We stopped by the schools and the lady with the grey as well as that elderly couple with the greys. They were delighted to see us with Tinkerbell in her harness.

As we rode up the mountain road to BTY, we were surprised to see many of our posters still pasted on the side of road. We had not caught sight of any of those posters when we went up yesterday in the car even though we kept our eyes out for them. I thought then that as 4 months had gone by, the rain, the wind and the sun would have taken down all those posters.

We rode slowly up until the pavilion beyond BTY. You understand that we declined to stop and go into that pavilion as we saw from the roadside that the posters in the pavilion were gone.

We then rode into Juchih stopping now and then to remove the posters until we reached the farmer with the Blue Magpies. He was the one who gave me that lead to the first positive sighting of Tinkerbell when I had lost all hope. He was happy to see us with Tink and to see her doing her recalls at my cues. We stayed on with him for a while enjoying his tea and said our hellos to his blue magpies.

We went down the mountain and back into Chiayi city. To say hello to Mr Tsai (who had notified all the bird shops) and to thank him with Tinkerbell. He said we were lucky to catch him as he had just returned from judging body building competitions in one part of Taiwan and would soon go to another part of Taiwan to judge more competitions.

Tinkerbell's new harnesses had to be made. We bought the thick shoelaces with double weave and we went to that ZhonLian fishing gear shop at WenHua Road to pick up those swivel joints and to get fresh Dyneema line to replace the old line spliced at too many places. And to thank that proprietor Mr Chew in person as well. He knew us from 7 years or so ago when I first bought that reel and Dyneema line for Tink. Then in that December when I saw him again buying stuff to try to get Tink down. I had called him from Australia when I got news of Tinkerbell's return.

He was delighted to see me with Tinkerbell on my shoulder. Then his face dropped when he saw that reel & rod assembly I had made for Tink. He told me with such a beautiful bird like Tink, he could not bear that I used such a shoddy rig that was falling apart to take her out. He insisted as his gift to Tinkerbell that he would do a more beautiful and professional reel & rod assembly. He told me he had the tools and the material and that knowledge that I obviously did not have. He incorporated a reel stopper that will not fail. Then he painstakingly created a work of art.

15 April Tuesday

We got up very much earlier this morning even if it was not the 430am when we were searching for Tinkerbell. We were to meet Ms Chao and her SO at BTY at 830 am to introduce us to the Chiang family who had first rescued Tinkerbell.

We stopped for breakfast a few km from the mountain. The folks there asked if that was the same Tinkerbell that they saw in posters earlier. They were delighted that she was back again with us.

We then rode up to BTY. Ms Chao and SO were in their car at the carpark and we followed them up the mountain on our bike. The Chiangs welcomed us into their beautiful house set on the side of the mountain. They were elderly and distinguished-looking couple living much of the time there with their golden retriever.

Mr Chiang is one of the Taiwanese industrialists in food processing. His sons were given control of the company with him devoting much of his time with his wife to charity works and Buddhist meditation and setting up of his garden and retirement home on the mountain above the BTY temple complex.

I told him the earlier story of Tinkerbell and showed him photos of us together in Taiwan and her webpage. Mr Chiang then told us what happened.

They had Tinkerbell for a week to ten days before her return to Mr Yu. He was working in the garden when he first noticed Tinkerbell perched some distance away from him. He thought Tink to be a local bird. As many birds do go to his garden, he thought no more of that. Then the next morning when he woke up, Tink had flown up to his patio and perched on the railing outside the main door. His dog was barking at her. He then saw Tink had her harness on with that short length of line that was left. He then knew Tink was not a wild bird like he thought the day before. He was worried that his dog might hurt Tink. When he went over to Tink, Tink hopped onto his hand.

He first took another line to attached to Tink harness leaving her outside. Later on, he brought Tink down to the vet who cut away the line and he bought a cage to keep Tink in. He left the cage out on the patio during the day and brought the cage inside the house in the night. He gave Tink parrot food that she ate and ate. She ate so much the first few days that he and his wife were worried.

Tinkerbell was whistling and talking away from the time when she was with them from that first day. Now, Tinkerbell never talked or whistle with strangers around unless she was on her motorbike. Tinkerbell must have felt empathy with the Chiangs for her to do that.

He apologised for the delay in the return of Tink. They never saw the notices for her. I could understand that very well. In the ride up in the car a few days ago, my wife and I could not see those notices even though we were keeping a very sharp eye out for that. We only got to see the posters when we rode up slowly on the bike.

It was only when Ms Chao visited them and told them about the search for Tink and showed them a poster that she kept that the Chiangs knew. Mrs Chiang said she was heart broken when she lost her dog a few years ago and understood the pain of losing a companion. In the few days that they knew Tink, they had already become attached to her. But there and then, they told Ms Chao to contact the Yu family immediately and to get Tinkerbell back to us.

Mr Chiang told me that after Tinkerbell, he was thinking of having a parrot as well. I told him that everything and anything that I know will be at his disposal and I will be more than happy to serve as a guide to him. I told him he should look for a parrot himself and that he would know in his heart if that bird was for him.

The morning passed quickly. We went down to BTY and were his guests for lunch, after which we said our goodbyes.

Tinkerbell chose the finest family each time she was lost. She first led me to the Yu family and their friends. With that last episode, she led us to the Chaos and the Chiangs.I just hope that there will be no third time. The stress is too much for me and for all of you.

We then brought Tink to Yu in his factory and left her there. Then we went to an Internet cafe to start on this writeup. I did not have that much time as I did spend time with Yu kids trying to help them with English.

16 April Wednesday

I created 4 new Tinkerbell harnesses and retired the harness made by Mr Yu. We thought of riding up to the Zen temple to remove posters. After that few days, our bones were feeling too tired. So we opted instead to go to the Chiayi park.

This was also to test and work out new safety procedures.

Tink's carrier would always be with us on the bike. In this case, after we parked the bike, we took the carrier with us as well. That served as a place of safety for Tink should we not keep our eyes on her. We went to a pavilion in the park, the one which we had used before for the iconic Tinkerbell photo with another pavilion in the background.

Tink's rod & reel were velcroed to the backpack. When we wanted to read, Tink was placed into the carrier with the door closed. Tink did not mind that at all. She was taken out from time to time to fly about. Then she was placed back into the cage.

We were very stiff. Shortly after lunch, we send Tink to Mr Yu in his factory. We went to the GuoHwa swimming complex to soak and relax in the hot pools and jacuzzis.

In the evening, Mr Yu took us to enjoy a speciality of Chiayi, BBQ freshwater eels and fried noodles. The food was delicious and very soft.During that meal, one of my crowns came out. It was from a root canal job done lone time ago. I was paying the price of not going regularly to dental checkups. Travelling and working as I did in many different countries, I was either too worried of the quality of dental work or the cost such as in Australia. At least I felt lucky this happened in Chiayi with very good quality dental services and relatively inexpensive too. Many Japanese often fly over to Taiwan for dental work.

17 April Thursday

I went to my dental clinic in Chiayi hospital this morning. They still had my records of 4 years back. I was told by them that my teeth had gone from bad to worse. They will need a couple of months at least to fix me up which was time I did not have should I want implants. I opted for a quick temporary solution and they will get my dentures ready by Saturday.

This meant that much less to write and the chance to catch up and be current with the Tinkerbell blog. Surely you all do not want a blow by blow or drill by drill account of me in the dentist chair.

The days here were wettish and not suited to take Tink out. The afternoon was spent in the Internet cafe doing this update.

In the evening we went for sashimi at the 'hole in the wall' Japanese restaurant. They had known of Tinkerbell's loss and were happy to see her back. The wife said she still has our namecards.

18 April Friday

Wettish day this morning. We spend the time in Yu home doing this blog and uploading photos.

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Seeing Tink

Shanlung, so nice to read about your visit - I think our animals know when they're in trouble and need to find a human to help them. Tink was very smart in finding the Chiangs. I had a dog once who was lost, and on the third day he sat like a little statue on the porch of a house until someone came out and rescued him.

One question: how do you pronounce "Chiayi"?

Roberta : )


Chee - eee - ah - yee

Re: Seeing Tink

Ah! Just the way it looks! :D

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