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Tinkerbell Legacy - Living with a flying parrot

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Post Tinkerbell Taiwan 24 April 08
Post Tinkerbell Taiwan 24 April 08

Continuation from http://shanlung.livejournal.com/76199.html
(written on 15 May in between chess games)

24 April Thursday

They went back to the car and got on their way.

We got on our train and the journey we were to make.

This was a train ride that we made many times in the past, and with Tinkerbell with us as well. There was this rule that you were not to bring animals with you. But people in Taiwan are tolerant. If you are discrete enough, and your creatures do not kick up a ruckus, none of the passengers and train inspectors will spoil your day. In the past, Tinkerbell would be in her little carrier and semi concealed in a big bag for our trips to Green Island or Taroko Gorge.

The train looped down south where the mountain spine running the length of Taiwan became low enough for the train to cross to the Eastern side and looped North again. This was a very nice ride to be enjoyed. The padi fields of Chiayi and Tainan changed to fish and prawn ponds after Kaoshiong. Then after the rail turned to the East running on elevated valley sides and through tunnels in the mountain spine, we saw the Pacific ocean breaking on long stretches of beach.

In time, we reached TaiDong, a small seaside city that was also the jump off point for Green Island and Lanyu Island. We planned to look for a hotel room in TaiDong so that we could declined the kind offer of our host to stay with them.

My wife had done the packing for this trip. She seemed to have prepared for almost anything from the size and the weight of the main bag. From the weight, she might have packed in a kitchen sink as well.

The Yus added farewell gifts of Chiayi delicacies that we could not refused to take with us.

I manhandled that bag off the train. The train station was located some way from the heart of the city unlike the old train station right in the heart of the city. I knew that there were some companies out to rent little motor scooters which were very handy to get around with. We used to rent those before many times in the past. We needed that to hunt for hotel rooms.

Except in those times, we never carried such a big bag with us.

50 meters away from the station, a guy came up offering to rent motor scooter. Those were small scooters 125cc. He looked at the size of the bag and decided we needed a bigger bike, at 135 cc. That guy helped me to push, and pull, and after a long struggle, managed to fit that bag in the little well just in front of the seat. Much of that bag dangled out on both sides of the bike. But this was in a country where 4 people will ride on a tiny motor scooter without anyone turning the head.

I walked with him to his office to pay the 350NT rental. He requested to look at my driving license. I brought up the old Taiwan license to show him. In the past, only cursory looks were made. But he was conscientious and he studied and studied it. He then shook his head and told me that license expired 4 years ago. I was aghast and showed him my Australian driving license and my Singapore driving license. He sadly declined that. He also sad a recent change in the laws forbid them to rent motor scooters to foreigners.

I then thought with all those baggage, we better hire a car. With some difficulty, that monster bag was removed and we went to a car hire shop a short way down that road dragging that bag behind me.

The rental of the car was 1800NT. And as far as I know, all cars would come with a boot to stuff that monster bag into.

I went in to settle the details. Once again, they were not impressed with my expired Taiwan driving license. Shockingly, they were not impressed with my Australian driving license and Singapore driving license or with my declarations that I never had any accidents. They wanted a International driving license. I knew I had one, except that I applied for that 1 1/2 years ago, which was valid for one year. Still, I felt that was better than nothing. I searched for that in my backpack, and continued to search and search. I was getting worried that maybe I had not brought that with me on this trip.

Then from the corner of my eye, I saw a pristine International driving license appearing on the table. The lady was looking into it. Since my wife was still taking driving lessons from Australian driving instructor, and on weekends with me in Australia before we sold the car, and you have known of the horrors of teaching my wife how to drive, I concluded that she had an International Provisional driving license. I could not possibly believed that she had a driving license not to talk about an International Driving License.

Taiwanese, especially those in a backwater like Taidong, read English as well as any of you can read Chinese. In my heart, perhaps my wife could pull that off.

And I must not rock the boat to prevent us from hiring that car.

The lady went into rapid Chinese conversation with my wife, nodding her head and getting out the car hire form. It was such an amazing sight that my wife was pulling this off as all that needed to be filled was filled. I thought I better step out of the office for a ciggie.

I got back to be told the cost is 2100NT per day. As we were to leave Taidong for Hualien the next day, we needed the car for only a day. I came up with my credit card even if the cost now risen to 2100NT instead of 1800NT. I thought to myself that as long as we got that car, I need not have to drag that monster bag anymore. I did not care if they wanted to charge me 300NT more.

My wife then told me she accepted another deal from the car hire lady. Apparently they had a motel nearby, and with the hire of car, another 300NT would get us a room. They had it on Chinese Internet and that room looked very decent to me.

I quickly agreed to everything wanting to get the car key and get away before they realised what my wife had done to them.

My wife told me that was a real International Driving License and then it dawned on me nowhere will there be a International Provisional Driving License.
She took from her wallet and showed me her Singapore Driving License.

It was so hard for my mind to accept that. I recalled all the driving lessons I gave her in which I cringed. She also blogged her driving lessons in Australia in which her instructor must have cringed. I knew she had to wait a year in Australia before she could take her driving test, and she was only in Australis for 9 months.

She then told me she flew back to Singapore last November, and took her driving test there. I think I made 3 attempts before I got my driving license. Singapore driving tests are known to be so strict that many countries would automatically give you a driving license if you hold a Singapore driving license. It took me a while before I accepted what I saw and felt in my hand, that she was holding a geniune Singapore Driving License and that therefore, she had a real International Driving License.

She said she told me that before. I was probably playing chess on line, and I must have said 'Yes Dear, that is nice' and thought no further on it.

Then during the weekend, she had driving lessons from me, got chewed and screamed at, and she did not bother to tell me that again. And then we came to Taiwan in December, and with Tinkerbell lost , nothing else was important. And when Tink came back, nothing else was important either.

I asked if she blogged that as I do periodically read her blog. She told me she did.

I then recalled her snuggly asking me in early December how many times I took to pass my driving test. I thought I took 3 times even if CM remembered that to be 4 times. I thought that she wanted to use the number of times I took to generate excuses for the number of times she could fail in driving tests, and of course, I chewed her up for that.

Later on I did check and she actually did. But she wrote in such a way, and using an old stock photo from Taiwan that I never read more than a few sentences. That she passed the test was near the end which I never got to.

Can you blame me for missing that? She had so many entries of food, and stuff, and how miserable I made her when I teach her driving that I missed that.

And should you think I spoke badly of her driving skills, take a look into her blog on her driving lessons.



You are warned you might get nightmares reading her of her driving lessons.
How she passed her driving the first time from one of the strictest country such as Singapore proved miracle can happened.

You will see also after that test, she recorded her subsequent driving lessons in which your nightmares might get worse. How could I have known she passed.
I can tell you I never regret her using our money to take driving lessons even after she got her license. I rather her be alive then injured or worse.

That motel was not that far away. A guy sat with us in the car to guide us there. The room was even better than what was shown on the web, and it had a nice private patio just outside. I moved the monster bag into the room.

Shortly after, my friend Lao Tow Tse (Chinese for Old Head) called me. I never knew his name as that was his nickname, which grew to became his name. All of us called him that. He was with the forestry and wildlife department and same as his wife. We all have been very old friends, and mountain hiking friends of Cheng Hung (aka Lone Ranger). I last saw him when we came to ChiPeng with Tinkerbell in 2004. Prior to that, I and a whole bunch of CH friends stayed overnight with him in his family home in the Taiwan Rift Valley between Taidong and Hualien sometime in mid 1990s. We were going for white water rafting in some of the wildest river with crystal clear waters.

He came shortly to pick us up. And then we went to TaiDong and to his home. To meet his wife and family. I wanted to pay for the dinner. He adamantly refused, and insisted he must pay. He told me I could be the host and picked up the tab when he visited me. We knew that was very unlikely to happen as Taiwanese seldom want to leave Taiwan.

Time passed quickly as we talked of old times. I felt a bit sad when he spoke of the number of times that old group would met, and planning to meet, in this mountain or that mountain in Taiwan. I loved to have been there with them.

(chess games once again stole too much time earlier and I got to end now at 11:14pm 15 May 08)

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