shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009

27th March 2009 2:30PM Start entry time from an Internet cafe next to my hotel around Sungshan railway station

Photos of this trip found in Flickr collection
Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009

I have said my last goodbye to Tinkerbell early this morning. She was on the parrot tower when I came down the stairs with our bags. She stood there silently and bowed her head as I approached her. She almost never allowed head rubs until the evening time. But it was as if she knew I was leaving this morning. Why not? I told her yesterday that that was the last day, and last evening, I told her it was the last night I spend with her.

Still, when she bend her head as I approached her with my goodbyes, I was touched more than I expected. I left with a final scratch telling her that was from all her friends around the world who followed us all these years.

Then we went into Mr Yu's car to send his kids to school in the early morning at 630am. We had a typical Chiayi breakfast of fish and noodles and taken to the High Speed Rail Station at Chiayi that I had taken part in the building of.

Then we caught the High Speed train at 836am reaching Taipei at 10am and eventually checking in early in our usual hotel near the Sungshan railway station.

I had planned to start writing this blog early. But as we registered in the hotel, a screw in my spectacles snapped and a glass lense dropped out. That required a hunt for optician in the neighbourhood who repaired that and refused any money for that job. By then, it was too near lunch. We had to go to one of our favourite restaurant VeryThai in Taipei Fushing North Road. The quality and the deliciousness of the food there must be taken to be believed in. This is the best Thai restaurant I ever been in both inside and outside Thailand.

And eventually, that brought me to here to this point in the Internet cafe.

So many days had passed by. So many things occured. And yet in a strange juxtaposition, time seemed to pass by in a few blinks of the eye.

It seemed like just yesterday when on 15 March we took the plane first to Dubai and then to Hongkong and landed in Taipei in afternoon of 16th March Monday.

We checked into the hotel near Sungshan railway station with the bustling vibrant Lor Her Jia night market opposite us, and the Internet cafe I first got to know in writing that bitter report 'Yuan Fen Tse Dou Tser li' in Dec 2007 when I thought I lost Tinkerbell in BanTienYen.

My old friend ChenHung was the first to greet us as we joined him and his wife for a delicious sea food dinner that can only be gotten in Taiwan that evening. Me and my wife gained the first of a long anticipated respite from the curries and BBQ stuff we have had for a year in Oman and the Middle East. Later that evening, me and my wife went on into the Lor Her Jia night market to stuff ourselves silly with the delectable titbits and traditional delicacies.

The next morning 17th March Tuesday, we went to a traditional breakfast place in the nearby neighbourhood of MingSheng Ser Chi where we lived in for the many years in Taipei since 1990 on an on-off basis every time I worked and lived in Taipei. The LaoPan and his wife the LaoPan Nian knew us from those days, and in our every subsequent visit back to see Tinkerbell. He saw us from across the road and shouted a welcome across as we went to have his fabulous HsiaoLungTanPow (small meaty pork dumpling in translucent rice dough filled with delicious soup) with SianDouJian (salty soy bean curd) . I was too late to follow through with my usual visit to my Taijichuan classmates at KuoFuJiNianGuan (SunYatSen Memorial Hall). That morning, inspired by the flowering of the rhododendrens that lined the road from the airport to Taipei, we went up to YangMingShan mountain that overlooked Taipei where the blooms were much more vibrant as expected of the Cherry Blossom festivals on posters all over Taipei. I had been up YangMingshan mountain many times before and never tired or jaded by it still.

But this trip to the garden of YangMingShan mountain became that much more special to us.

I have this love for the Taiwan Blue Magpies from the first sight I have had of them in an aviary long time ago. Ever since then, I tried to catch sight of them in the wild. I spend many days in remote mountain side hoping for a glimpse of this beautiful shy bird. I was told that the Blue Magpies could be seen in YangMingShan mountain that I just nodded my head with a weak smile in politeness.

We were about to head down to Taipei but I thought I visit the toilet first with my wife waiting ourside. I came out to have her asking me if some birds above were drongos. I then heard metallic cries and lifted my head. To see two birds at treetop flying across the clearing of the garden. With deep metallic blue bodies, and white scallop tails flaring out as they landed , with deep red beaks. I was electified, not quite believing my eyes. I gave a hoarse whisper to my wife that they were the Formosan Blue Magpies that we had been searching so hard and so long in the wild. And we saw them flying in a park with thousands of people below.

All thoughts of leaving the garden left us. There were seven to eight of them flying from branch to branch above us in an almost synchronised display in flights I could swear were made for the fun of it. Two would take off from different trees at the same time, and each would land on the branch the other took off from. The sun back lit them bringing out the dazzling purple blue of their feathers. I wished I had a monster SLR with monster lenses to capture all their beauty. They made their weaving display oblivious of me with my open mouth as I watched and admired them in disbelief that they were playing above us. That that moment in time, and in the vastness of YangMingshan, that they and us were in about the same spot and at the same time. If I had not gone to the toilet, and walked on, we would never have known of them.

We watched them as they moved slowly down the trees and down the slope of the mountain and out of sight before we could bring ourselves to move on. It did not matter to us that we came down YangMingShan too late for the lunch we planned to have in VeryThai that day.

See this report with stunning photos of them in the wild

"The Long-Tailed Fairy of the Forest

It was on 18th March Wednesday morning that we took that high speed train from Taipei reaching Chiayi 90 minutes later at 1pm that afternoon.

Mr Yu had Tinkerbell with him on that old ring as he drove up to collect the two of us. I had the broadest smile on my face and in my heart as he came up to us. Even if Tinkerbell seemed aloof to see me after a year of absence, she step up readily to my hand when I reached to her.

01 1st meeting

Photos of this trip found in Flickr collection
Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009

More photos in this set
1st meeting at Chiayi HSR station

Mr Yu was quick to re-addict us to the delights of Chiayi cuisine and he brought us to a duck noodle shop for lunch.

02 duckstew (2)

Then we were in his house to remain as his guest when we were in Chiayi. It was with mixed feelings. I loved being his guest but had felt our happiness there was not really that fair in that our stay imposed on him and his family. I tried many times to stay in a nearby motel but he and his wife would have none of it. And seriously, we love staying with them and his family and part of the circle of friends and relatives of theirs.

I had written regularly and posted up on the Internet during earlier stays with them. This was not possible in this trip as friends and relatives dropped in regularly in the evening and we were delighted to see and spend time with them all. The Internet in his house was slow, and their PC had this Chinese Operating System which reverted to Chinese often, making it that more difficult for us to write from his house. Leaving them to go to Internet cafe and returning late each night and thereby waking up late and going out late with Tinkerbell was not that attractive either.

The motorbike I gave to him as Tinkerbell dowry in 2004 was returned to me for my use. So as soon as we settled in, we took Tinkerbell out on a motorbike ride. That was to my old friend, Mr Chew of that fishing shop in Chiayi. There were stuff I needed for Riamfada such as good swivel joint and Hawaiian Clasp that I used for Tinkerbell and not found in Muscat. We had photos of Riamfada and our cats in their wadi outings that we printed as many of our friends in Chiayi did not use Internet. I told Mr Chew I needed material for two line holder like that for Tinkerbell to make that in Muscat. I felt too embarassed to ask him and was very pleased when he offered to make those two and even more beautiful than the work of art he made for Tinkerbell. I told him to name his price and was embarassed when he asked for what appeared to be a nominal sum. When he finished and gave that to me on Sunday 22 March. At a later stage when we are back in Muscat, you will see what he made.

We then rode back to Mr Yu house that Wednesday afternoon stopping at a vacant lot near his house to give Tink some recall exercises. Tink made up with my wife enough to accept stepping on her shoulder

05 vacant lot (3)

She flew to me readily on recall cues. At each offer of sunflower seed, she took that seed and threw that violently to the ground. As if I demeaned her by such offers.

The days there passed. Events there merged.

Mornings would have us riding out on the bike. After riding to Mr Yu in his factory (we woke too late) to say hello to him, we would go to have the MiGer (sticky rice with savoury pork) for breakfast with Tinkerbell having her share.

08 old migao place

We enjoyed ourselves riding on that little bike. That might be in Chiayi, or along the roads in the padi fields around Chiayi. We might come across a temple procession that we than stop and waited for them to pass.

Photos of this trip found in Flickr collection
Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009

More photos in this set
On the roads in Chiayi

03 on the roads (4)

03 on the roads (14)

04 procession (2)

There were many places that we liked to go such as pavilion beyond Dragon's Eye, Tsaoling, TserJuo, BanaYuGu. Distance, and the desire just to relax and have little excitment brought us to LangTang day after day. That was and will always be a wonderful place for us.

Needless to say, we have little desire to go to that pavilion at BanTienYen, or even to that lovely temple at BanTienYen itself.

We made a special visit to see the farmer with the Formosan Blue Magpie. I seemed to have developed a special rapport with him. I rode up to his house on top of the ridge just as he was starting on a walk to BanTienYen across the valley with his granddaughter. If I was just a minute later, we would have missed each other. He saw us, came back up and brew tea for us all in his tea table. That was one of the most fabulous of tea table carved by him from a gigantic granite stone as a self taught mason. The master brewer chair was an integral part of the stone. Only photos could do that justice but as those photos had him as part of the picture, and as I am reluctant to show his picture, you never will have an idea just how incredible his tea table was. His grand daughter stayed with us and enjoyed with him the photos of Riamfada and cats. Which he said was amazing as she was normally so shy she would hide and not come out even with familiar friends. Hours passed by with him. Then we said our goodbyes to his pair of blue magpies. They perched quietly as I went over. Which amazed him enough to say they must have remembered me and accepted me.

15 blue magpie (2)

15 blue magpie (3)

Many a days we would ride on to our favourite spot, an idyllic place by the side of LangTang lake with creaking bamboo clumps and trees where we stayed, walk about, playing with Tinkerbell and just enjoying those moments we spend there. She would preen and preen while we read. Then she would decide to fly over to snatch my ciggie box. I moved it away to another part of the balustrade and she would fly there. Or she would fly to my backpack to give it a chew. I would take her to various places to do recalls. She refused to accept any sunflower seed for all those recalls.

Photos of this trip found in Flickr collection
Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009

More photos in this set
Tinkerbell at Lantan

10 lantan (38)

10 lantan (3)

10 Lantan recall (2)

I mentioned over the evenings, we got to meet all our other friends, the Shi family who took over Zorro the ferret and gave him happy times until Zorro passed on, the Wu family who had Halftail, a much loved cat until he was stolen away, the Leow family who lived on a mountain farm and Wu Suai Ker, the best dressed guy of our group and a few other families. They prepared such wonderful and delicious home cooked dinners that I felt embarassed. This was a time where the financial tsunami hit all countries and all people. They told me that they normally would not eat that well. But my coming over was a good cause for all of them to celebrate and enjoyed themselves while we all were together. At one such dinner at the Shi house, Wu's lovely daughter showed me she still kept Halftail photos in her hand phone. That was reason enough for me to show and delight her with Dommie and Katie wandering in Oman wadi with us and Riamfada. I told them all my home in Oman or anywhere else would always be opened to them whenever they can visit us.

We gave them all a holiday from us when we took a holiday and the mountain train to Alishan mountain. We left on that train to Alishan to find that all covered in mist broken by pouring rain on Monday. We hoped for better weather on Tuesday to find the mist got thicker and the rain even heavier. We got back to Chiayi late Tuesday afternoon as planned.
It was one of those things. You have read my earlier reports that having good weather in Alishan was , is , and always will be very chancy.

Mr Yu hardly did flights with her. He enjoyed doing recalls when I was around. and I guess I should be satisfied with that. Still, Tinkerbell loved him very much. I am very happy for that. We all visited Mr Leow in his mountain farm and had dinner there. Later in the evening, Tinkerbell would fly on her own to Mr Yu shoulder and bowed her head for head rubs followed periodicaly by mouthing of his finger. I was really pleased by the affection shown between the both of them. And in her own way, showing to me I had to move on.

In a way, I moved on too. I noticed to my embarrasement , and to the delight retorts of my wife, I miscalled Tinkerbell by calling Riamfada from time to time. But when I was with Riamfada, I had also miscalled her calling her Tinkerbell.

I was very happy to be back and see her again and that she was well and loved. It was a comfortable and satisfied feeling to be with her. Years had passed and while our lives intertwined for a while, our paths had parted and we each would be on our own ways.

I should mention a few interesting incidents with Tinkerbell on this trip. We always known she understood us very well. But we still could not but struck at the way she showed us that.

I mentioned before that Riamfada managed to overcome the Hawaiian clasp that I used to secure the leash line to the harness. My wife mentioned that to Tinkerbell. To our surprise, Tinkerbell attacked that clasp/swivel with a vengence not shown before as if she was affronted that my wife told her Riamfada overcame that. She was about to free herself when I changed the rules of the game. I had bought bigger and stronger Hawaiian clasp from the fishing shop and subsituted that bigger clasp to replace the one Tink was about to defeat.

Tinkerbell used to be free in her room but she took to roosting on top of the door and pooping down the side in area difficult to clean. She was then kept in the cage. One evening when I took her to her room, I placed her on the parrot tower and told her if she remained there and behave herself and not go and perch on top of the door, she would not be placed into the cage. The next morning, I came down to see her still on the parrot tower. Thursday was the last day we would go out with Tinkerbell. I came down to tell her that morning. Unlike other days when she raised a small fuss before she allowed me to harness her, she bend her head and inserted it into the harness for us all to go for that last breakfast and into Renyi/Lantang.

When we rode on the bike out of the house and at the first traffic light, I noticed I forgot to hook the secondary clasp that secured Tinkerbell to the bike. I had forgotten that a few times before and thought nothing of it as Tink always stayed on the perch on the bike. But at that light, I spoke to my wife I forgotten to secure the bike line to Tinkerbell and that I would do that the moment I crossed the road. While waiting for the light to change, I and my wife were talking of Riamfada, and laughing at how Riam showed us she could fly backwards. The light changed and I moved. Tinkerbell looked intently at me and started to flap her wings. To my shock and horror, she rose up and up vertically from the perch. She kept pace with my slow bike and hovered as if she took note of what I said, and to show me she knew that too. I could not stop in the middle of that busy cross road. My wife was terrified and so was I. My wife grapped her line and Tink flew and landed on her shoulder just as I stopped by side of the road. Her harness was then secured to that secondary clasp. Parroty jokes can be very hard to take or to handle. Tink must be very annoyed with us that we dared to talk of another bird and of her flying backwards and decided to show us so could she.

The time now is 1130pm. A 2 hour dinner break was taken. My wife was along side me doing the uploading of the photos she took while I wrote this blog.

I wished I had the time to write much more rather than the disjointed notes of this time with Tinkerbell.

We will be relaxing and enjoying ourselves in Taipei until 31st March when we will fly back to Muscat Oman.

Taipei Station over and out.

Photos of this trip found in Flickr collection
Tinkerbell - Rhapsody in Spring 2009


If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice


hit counter code

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.